The nascent UK cannabis industry is stuck in a catch-22 situation, with vast potential investment resources held back by laggard legislation and a conservative reluctance to enable progress.
Speaking at the Cannabis Investor Forum in October, delegates were united in their view that the UK government needs to fast-track legislative reform in order to capitalise on the potential cannabis boom experienced in other, more enlightened parts of the world.
Speakers pointed out that family offices are particularly ready to invest and actively looking at the market for entry. But the driving force for innovation will only begin when smart entrepreneurs are given the ability to secure the right licences to supply commercial volumes of cannabis – a situation that still appears distant.
Trichome is one such company gearing up to enter the UK market with pharmaceutical-grade cannabis. It aims to reduce import prices with more locally produced European supply, but emphasises the need for legislative reform that currently only allows specialist doctors to prescribe – and who are licensed individually through medical cannabis clinics.
Elsewhere, other speakers pointed out that pharmaceutical cannabis is more of a local market play, underscoring the difficulty to internationalise due to country-specific variations in regulation and legislation.
Indeed, legislation in the pharmaceutical cannabis arena means money is being wasted on very long lead times when there are many other potential commercial avenues to pursue.
The consensus was that the right kind of regulation is needed and welcomed – more compliance and long-term vision being essential.
The positive social and environmental impact of cannabis also needs to be given a platform. Cannabis crops act as extremely effective carbon sinks due to their rapid growth. Pure hemp, in particular, may be one of the best ways to actively fight the emissions problem, enable sustainable investment in cannabis and combat climate change.