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, COO ofEuropean Cannabis Holdings (ECH), explains why cannabis could hold the key to a successful industry 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, the products are not widely available for purchase to UK consumers, and there is little to no mention of it in public life. While much of the business conversation in the industry centers around North America, the national discourse so far in the UK has focused on local patients, personal stories and generally a lack of infrastructure throughout the region.

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

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. This is more than twice the turnover that Apple made in the region last year.

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

Change attitudes?

From an investment perspective, the positive attention of national media, the growing global evolution of attitudes and the growing number of countries moving towards legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, have now opened the door to a few UK cannabis companies so they can float in London public markets. Already supported by fund managers, institutional investors and, more recently, government investment funds.

Navigating the cannabis market has its complexities. Street vendors, such as Holland and Barrett, have already been successful in promoting CBD ranges to drive sales, as consumers have shown increasing interest in CBD products, from lip balms to snack bars. But this is still the case, the CBD market remains in a legal gray area, with regulators catching up with the level of innovation of the private sector.

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Power Woman

On May 18, 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 particularly upward it has been for women. This is for two main reasons: first, because this industry is really trying to understand female consumers, a consumer population that practically 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 opportunities practices at the heart of their operations. This is why empowering women in the global medical cannabis industry has become a major theme in 2019, and why the number of women in leadership positions continues to consistently exceed the national average.

As UK medical cannabis regulations undergo further reform, companies will recruit large numbers of ambitious, career-oriented women, and the possibilities will only widen. Recently, calls have been made to European Parliament in favor of the development of a regional resolution on medical cannabis, while the United Nations published positive results from studies on CBD and THC. It is an exciting time for women and for the UK as a whole.

source: Financial Director

Tags : BusinessEuropeUNPolicyUK
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