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Five years ago, the UK stood at the edge of a revolutionary change in its medical and economic landscape: the legalisation of medical cannabis following a landmark legal battle.

As Maple Tree pause at this five year mark to reflect on the journey so far, we're positive about the achievements so far and cautiously optimistic about the UK’s ability to navigate the challenges that lie ahead.




Despite initial legislative challenges, the UK's medical cannabis industry holds considerable potential, with the possibility of generating £2 billion in revenue and creating 97,000 jobs. Since 2019, there has been a consistent increase in private prescriptions for unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs), surpassing 140,000 between November 2018 and November 2022. This growth signifies a growing acceptance and acknowledgement of the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis, with numerous patients reporting improvements in symptoms and overall quality of life.

However, the industry faces several hurdles. Being in its early stages, it struggles with issues related to quality, distribution, and cultivation. While the prices of cannabis products are aligning with market expectations, consultation costs remain variable, reflecting the industry's evolution. A significant issue is the low public awareness about the legality of medical cannabis. Additionally, restrictive prescribing practices, limited mainly to specialist consultants acting privately, pose barriers, with only a handful of NHS prescriptions issued.

Maple Tree proposes six key recommendations for the UK government:

  1. Enhance NHS funding pathways for CBPM prescriptions.
  2. Enable general practitioners to prescribe cannabis for common ailments.
  3. Amend the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to encourage overseas investment.
  4. Review NICE guidance to expand CBPM prescriptions on the NHS.
  5. Allow cultivation of hemp flowers for CBD extraction under industrial licenses.
  6. Establish an Office of Medicinal Cannabis for consolidated legislation and licensing.


These recommendations are aimed at improving patient access, clarifying guidelines for practitioners, and promoting a more conducive environment for business investments.


The full report provides further detailed insights and findings, charting the course for the sector's development in the coming years.

UK Medical Cannabis: Five Years On (2023)

  • A digital download (PDF)

    • Maple Tree Consultants
    • 2023
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