NEWS
The UK Could Make $4.3 Billion From Weed Sales, But Needs to Legalize First
The UK, which produces more CBD than any other European country, could corner the the EU’s weed market — if Parliament legalizes, that is.
Published on January 7, 2020

The UK could rake in over $4 billion USD by 2024 if it legalizes weed. The problem is, legalizing weed looks unlikely under the nation’s current conservative government.

A new report from Prohibition Partners, a British cannabis marketing analytics firm, estimates that the UK could generate $3 billion USD (£2.3 billion) in four years from recreational and medical cannabis. If factoring in the UK’s CBD market, that total jumps by another $1.3 billion (£1 billion), for a grand total of $4.3 billion in cannabis sales by 2024.

Referring to the UK’s burgeoning hemp and CBD industries, Prohibition Partners’ co-founder, Stephen Murphy, told Consultancy UK that Britons are already seeing the financial and economic boons of medical legalization, but the nation isn’t tapping into its full pot-laden potential. 

“Despite being the largest exporter of medical cannabis in the world, the UK currently imports 100 percent of its cannabis-based medicines prescribed to patients,” Murphy said. “The opportunities in the sector remain immense, however. The numbers of consumers are likely to increase as access to medical cannabis improves, most recently evidenced by the licensing of Epidyolex, a cannabis-based medication for epilepsy soon to be reimbursed under” the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the nation’s medical regulatory agency.

These figures may be low estimates, though. While the UK currently registers over 330,000 medical marijuana patients, which makes up just 0.5 percent of its population, a November survey conducted by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis estimated that nearly 1.4 million Britons were buying black market weed for medicinal purposes. That’s over four times as many patients purchasing illicit weed than there are registered patients going the legit and legal route. 

Of course, all of these figures assume that the UK will legalize within the next year. At the moment, the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson dominates the UK Parliament, and the conservatives haven’t been terribly friendly to marijuana legalization. 

However, Johnson’s new policy advisor, Blair Gibbs, not only supports legalization, he’s also a member of the nation’s Centre for Medicinal Cannabis, the same organization that conducted the medical-black-market poll from November. 

“Canada's plan to legalise cannabis is a rare example of bold policy and good government,” Blair tweeted in 2017. He followed up in 2018 by tweeting, “Canada is rightly praised for legalising cannabis in a modern yet responsible way.” 

A cross-party coalition of UK Members of Parliament, which includes senior members of Johnson’s closest advisors, predicts that the UK will legalize marijuana sometime in the next five to ten years — which, by then, may have missed the chance to milk a major cash cow.

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Randy Robinson
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Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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