Current cannabis laws are “not fit for purpose”, according to one of Britain’s top think tanks, as the country misses out on lucrative revenues and wrestles with higher crime.
Britain stands to gain billions each year, should it adopt more liberal reforms such as the US and the Netherlands, researcher at the Social Market Foundation, Jake Shepherd told City A.M.
Shepherd, author of the Westminster think tank’s report, said the UK’s illicit cannabis market is estimated to be worth £2bn a year – but is currently in the hands of criminal gangs.
“There is therefore a huge amount of money that could, under different cannabis laws, represent considerable gains for the wider economy,” he said.
In just one US state, Colorado, the legal cannabis retail market contributed the equivalent of £26.4bn to its GDP in three years and pulled in some £9.2bn in tax revenue.
However, Shepherd pointed to potential issues with market-regulated models, as they raise concerns about “potentially increasing harm, through economic incentives”, similar to the alcohol and tobacco industries.
Michael Walker, director Purity Hemp, urged that the UK “must learn from those countries that have legalised cannabis for recreational and medical purposes and present the economic and lifestyle facts and figures to allow real UK reform.
“The hypocrisy is that the UK is one of the world’s biggest government-licensed medical cannabis producers and exporters of cannabis-based medicines.”
Speaking to City A.M., Roby Zomer, CEO of London-listed cannabis based medicines firm MGC Pharma, called the UK’s current legislation “extremely difficult” for the medicinal sector.
Despite operating at the highest level of pharmaceutical compliance, MGC Pharma said the CBD boom of the past few years had worked against the medicinal industry.
“The waters have been muddied by the variety of commercially oriented wellness products that have nothing to do with true medicine,” Zomer added.