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Outdated laws and regulations hinder the UK’s CBD and medicinal cannabis industry

In a special discussion paper, Maple Tree urge the Government to reduce the red tape hampering what could be a multi-billion-pound industry that is transformative for domestic patients.


Outdated laws and regulations are currently hindering the UK’s CBD and medicinal cannabis industry. With the economy in difficulty and unemployment rates climbing, Maple Tree’s paper calls on the government to review its restrictive approach to the cannabis industry, which could be worth billions of pounds and create tens of thousands of jobs.


  • If red tape is reduced, the medical cannabis market could be worth £2 billion, create 50,000 new jobs and transform patient access.

  • Convoluted laws mean the UK currently imports the great majority of its CBD products and 100% of its medical cannabis, despite being one of the largest exporters of medical cannabis in the world.

  • Maple Tree’s discussion paper offers ten recommendations to government on the outdated laws and regulations hindering the industry.

  • Written by cannabis consultancy Maple Tree and Mackrell.Solicitors, the paper is supported by a host of leading industry bodies, including Prohibition Partners and the Primary Care Cannabis Network.


Not only would the emergence of a domestic cannabis sector help stimulate the UK post-pandemic, it would transform access for the 1.4 million individuals currently sourcing cannabis illegally for medical reasons, who are in desperate need of affordable cannabis medicine.


In November 2018, the government announced medical cannabis could be prescribed for patients by specialist doctors, but so far just three NHS prescriptions and 6,000 private prescriptions have been issued. Despite being one of the largest exporters of medical cannabis in the world, currently, the UK imports 100% of its cannabis medicine and the majority of its CBD products due to the government’s contradictory legislation on medical cannabis, and the convoluted licencing processes required for businesses entering the space. Sadly, patients themselves have largely footed the bill for these issues, with the majority of prescriptions paid for privately by patients and their families.


Recommendations to Government:


  1. Reform the high-THC cultivation/ controlled drug licence system.

  2. Allow the cultivation of the hemp flower in order to extract CBD under an Industrial Hemp licence.

  3. Increase the THC limit from 0.2% to 1% to align with international competition.

  4. Ensure the application of the Novel Foods Regulation to cannabis related wellbeing supplements does not impinge upon smaller market participants.

  5. Encourage wider, appropriate patient access too, by allowing General Practitioners to prescribe medical cannabis.

  6. Introduce an “Office for Medicinal Cannabis”, as implemented by other jurisdictions such as the Netherlands.


The discussion paper is supported by sixteen industry heavyweights including Prohibition Partners and the Primary Care Cannabis Network. Its findings refer to distinct areas of the cannabis industry, including CBD, Hemp and medical cannabis.


Download the full discussion paper which includes findings on medicinal cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD).

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