Can cannabis be the next billion-dollar industry in the UK?


The European market could represent more than 100 billion pounds by 2028

Hannah Simon, Director of OperationsEuropean Cannabis Holdings (ECH), explains why cannabis could hold the key to a successful sector as attitudes change.

Many UK citizens may be surprised to learn that the UK is already recognized as a global player in the burgeoning legal cannabis market. After all, products are not widely available for purchase for UK consumers, and there is little or no mention of it in public life. While much of the business conversation in the industry is focused on North America, the national discourse to date in the UK has focused on local patients, the personal stories and generally a lack of infrastructure throughout the region.

Yet figures from the International Narcotics Control Board UN paint a picture almost unrecognizable. Figures show that the UK is one of the largest legal cannabis producers in the world. In 2016, for example, the UK's production of legal cannabis has doubled to 95 tons. To put the numbers in context, this means that the UK is responsible for the growth of almost half of the world's legal cannabis that year (44,9%). The following year, the United Kingdom was then responsible for 69% of world legal cannabis exports, the majority going directly to the United States. Behind the scenes, the UK has been quietly busy becoming one of the world's largest producers and exporters of cannabis for medical use.

Since 2000, political developments and dominant discourse have changed around cannabis, with more and more European countries developing medical programs and establishing prosperous industries in the process, according to consulting firm figures Prohibition Partners, the European cannabis market could represent more than 100 billion pounds by 2028. That's more than twice the sales Apple made in the region last year.

Progress has certainly accelerated over the past year. In November 2018, and much earlier than many analysts had expected, the Home Office introduced new legislation that makes medical cannabis legal. It was as a result of pressure from courageous patients like Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell who helped make history, with Dingley having received the first legal cannabis order in the country. In the process, ECH opened the first medical cannabis clinics in the UK to help patients with chronic diseases, and two more are expected to open before the end of the year in Birmingham and London.

Change attitudes?

From an investment point of view, the positive attention of the national media, the increasing global attitudes and the growing number of countries moving towards the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes have now opened the door to some British cannabis companies to float on London's public markets. Already supported by fund managers, institutional investors and, more recently, state investment funds.

Navigating the cannabis market has its complexities. Street retailers, such as Holland and Barrett, have already successfully promoted the CBD ranges to boost sales, as consumers have shown growing interest in CBD products, from lip balms to snack bars. But this is still the case, the CBD market remains in a legal shadow zone, with regulators catching up with the level of innovation in the private sector.

Power Woman

The 18 may, global market players will travel to London to discuss these developments at the Women, CBD & Medical Cannabis Conference at the Hilton London Paddington Hotel. An interesting aspect of working in such a new industry is how it has been particularly bottom-up for women. This is for two main reasons: first, because this industry is really trying to understand the consumers, a population of consumers that has almost doubled in size in the United States in 2018.

Second, because the formation of a new industry has meant that leaders have adopted sustainability and equal opportunity practices at the heart of their business. This is why women's empowerment in the global cannabis industry for medical use has become a major theme in 2019, and why the number of women in management positions continues to consistently exceed the national average.

While UK medical cannabis regulations are undergoing a new reform, companies will recruit large numbers of ambitious and career-oriented women, and the possibilities will only grow. Recently, calls have been made to European Parliament for the development of a regional resolution on cannabis for medical use, while the United Nations has published positive results on CBD and THC studies. This is an exciting time for women and for the UK as a whole.

source: Financial Director

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Tags : BusinessEuropeUNPoliticUK

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