A British cannabis company will soon be planting the seeds for one of the country's first legal harvests of high-THC cannabis plants. No one will get a chance to smoke these dank legal buds, however, as they are being used to conduct research on how medical marijuana can treat respiratory conditions and other ailments.
The United Kingdom Home Office has granted Sativa Cultivation and Extraction Ltd (SCE) a Controlled Drug License, allowing them to cultivate, produce, possess, and supply cannabis plants containing over 0.2 percent THC content. This company, based in Somerset, England, is a subsidiary of Sativa Group PLC, a leading producer of hemp-derived CBD products in the company.
"This high-THC cultivation license complements our low-THC Industrial Hemp license... that was granted in April 2018, and we continue to work with the regulators to broaden the suite of licenses as the group expands its operations," said Dr. Nick Horniman, Director of Regulatory Affairs for Sativa, in a statement.
The company will be growing high-THC plants using seeds sourced from a licensed supplier in Europe. These seeds have a 12-month growing cycle, allowing the company to grow multiple crops of weed each year. The Home Office has already inspected SCE's new secure cultivation facility and approved the firm's procedures for handling and securely transporting their crops and disposing of all residual waste and byproducts.
After the plants reach maturity, they will be dried, and liquid cannabinoids will be extracted from them using pressure and heat. Once extracted, these cannabinoids will be shipped to King’s College of London, where researchers will use them to conduct studies investigating how individual cannabis extracts could help treat inflammation and assorted respiratory ailments.
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"We are delighted to receive this license, responding to calls from regulators, government, and healthcare providers for further research and development into the efficacy of medicinal cannabis,” said Sativa CEO Henry Lees-Buckley in a statement. “We are committed to operating at these high standards and to partner with King’s College London, to help establish a clinical pathway for patients to access medicinal cannabis."
The approval of the high-THC license is indicative of the UK's slow, but growing acceptance of medical marijuana. The UK government prohibited all forms of cannabis until last year, when the Home Office finally legalized medical marijuana in response to public outrage over a young boy who nearly died when cops took his CBD medicine.
Doctors have been reticent to fully embrace this new law, however, and medical marijuana treatments are not covered under the country's public healthcare system. As a result, families are still struggling to find affordable cannabis treatments for children suffering from epilepsy.