Interestingly though this is all reported in the Daily Telegraph broadsheet and to those of you not au fait with British media and politics, the Telegraph is monikered by most, as the “Torygraph”
Does this mean battle lines are being drawn within the Conservative party between those who are determined to keep cannabis as a scheduled drug and those who see the opportunities in medical advances. Although we’d imagine their real interest is in future tax revenues.
The Telegraph write
In October the UK will host what is believed to be its first medical cannabis conference, an international jamboree of weed-based therapies in London.
It may seem like an eccentric choice, given cannabis is illegal in Britain. But Saul Kaye, the Israeli entrepreneur behind the event, is confident the country is on the cusp of decriminalising marijuana and ushering in a “green rush” of investment. It is a phenomenon that has already gripped his homeland, creating a multibillion-dollar industry and around 500 companies. It is also one of the fastest-growing industries in the US, where medical marijuana is legal in some states.
Internationally the industry is worth around $20bn (£15.5bn) and is forecast to reach $100bn by 2020. The UK is a long way behind.
“If the UK doesn’t have a regulated cannabis industry in two years I’ll retire,” Kaye says confidently.
Will the UK join the party?
The law remains an obstacle, but could soon change. The Home Office highlighted a blog by its junior minister Sarah Newton on drugs policy in April, the notes to which state the Government’s view is that cannabis should be subject to “the same regulatory framework” as other potential medicines, subject to approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
It adds: “The MHRA is open to considering marketing approval applications for medicinal cannabis products.” So the Home Office might not stand in the way of medical cannabis products as part of its battle with recreational use.
The MHRA might have objections though. All medicines must meet its standards for effectiveness and safety.
So far only a very small number of cannabis-based drug treatments are approved for use in the UK. Sativex, a peppermint-flavoured mouth spray derived from cannabis produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, is an approved treatment to ease loss of muscle control in people with multiple sclerosis, but it is costly and rarely prescribed.
More therapies are on their way. Last autumn, the MHRA determined that products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a derivative of cannabis, can be prescribed. It was a breakthrough for medical cannabis. It does not contain the psychoactive part of cannabis, called THC, that gives people a high.
At the London conference CannaTech, in a former brewery in the east of the city, he expects a mix of international companies and investors to mingle. In the US – where more than 20 states permit cannabis for medical purposes – the investment market is big business. It even boasts investors specialising just in cannabis companies, such as Privateer Holdings, which invests in businesses with the family of the late Bob Marley.
Kaye says Europe has some catching up to do, but adds: “It’s a significant industry that can’t be ignored any more.”