It doesn’t look like UK officials will relax the region's cannabis laws outside of the medicinal space anytime soon. In Britain, there’s a lot of interest surrounding medical cannabis and CBD. However, that interest has yet to blossom into a free market for recreational cannabis.
Plus, medical cannabis manufacturers in the UK have no interest in supporting this cause. For these reasons, legislation that might allow recreational cannabis use in the United Kingdom is at a relative standstill.
For the answer to the question, “Is cannabis legal in the UK?”, keep reading.
The Birth of Medical Cannabis in the UK
In 2017, a 12-year-old child from County Tyrone, Ireland suffered an epileptic seizure. The seizure occurred hours after officials confiscated cannabis oil the mother purchased to help with the child’s condition.
News of the event soon hit the press. Retellings of the story created a significant public outcry. Weeks later, the UK legalized medical cannabis.
At the time, the event was the biggest cannabis story in Britain. However, this story didn’t quite galvanize the legal cannabis industry in the United Kingdom.
The Ongoing UK Cannabis Debate
In recent years, noted neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta reversed his decision on the use and benefits of medical marijuana. With the doctor’s endorsement, many people have gotten behind the medical cannabis movement. Now, prestigious publications, such as the British Medical Journal, express their support for the legalization of cannabis.
Gupta argued that the United Kingdom war on drugs costs every taxpayer approximately £400 each year.
Is Cannabis Legal in the UK?
Still, recreational and medical cannabis remain largely illegal in the UK, with a handful of exceptions for medical purposes.
Elsewhere, many countries are practicing leniency with cannabis. In Portugal, for instance, drug possession that doesn’t involve violence has been decriminalized. There, cannabis consumption hasn’t increased.
State of the UK Cannabis Industry
Even investors have gotten behind the cannabis industry. Some investing experts forecast that the legal cannabis industry will soon generate $4.9 billion.
Nevertheless, it’s a risky business to invest in the cannabis industry in the United Kingdom. There, cannabis is considered criminal property.
For this reason, possessing an interest in a cannabis company could be considered money laundering. Resultantly, investors could face a year or more in prison for investing in cannabis stocks.
As of November 2018, the government made medical cannabis legal for certain medical conditions. Still, the industry is tightly regulated. Patients there must have a license to access medical cannabis.
Furthermore, there’s no government policy outlining acceptable uses for medical cannabis. There’s also a lack of guidance there regarding the amount of THC allowed in cannabis products.
In theory, investors can now place funds with international medical cannabis companies, but they must follow strict rules. For example, the company must operate similarly to a United Kingdom medical cannabis manufacturer. To date, however, this practice remains an untested theory.
There’s Not Much Desire in the UK to Change the Status Quo
In the United States, cannabis legalization is moving ahead at full tilt. However, there isn’t much happening in this regard in the United Kingdom.
More than half of the British population supports cannabis legalization. However, industry watchdogs don’t expect the legal status of cannabis to change anytime soon.
In the US, changes in the law have made the legalization of cannabis inevitable. However, these kinds of cannabis laws are absent in the United Kingdom.
There are big differences in the cannabis space in the US and the UK. The globally despised war on drugs waged in America never took root in Britain. Resultantly, mass incarcerations haven’t ruined the lives of many individuals for harmless crimes.
Plus, the UK hasn’t experienced the opioid epidemic. So, consumers aren’t as upset with the pharmaceutical industry in the United Kingdom. Also, the UK doesn’t have a considerable group of veterans suffering from PTSD who are desperately searching for alternatives to synthetic medications.
In short, there’s little motivation for change regarding the cannabis industry in the United Kingdom.
The UK Experiment With Legal Cannabis
The United Kingdom considered legalizing cannabis well before it was even a thought among American politicians. In 2001, UK legislators used the London Borough of Lambeth as a testing ground for legal cannabis. During the experiment, lawmakers partially decriminalized cannabis.
Lawmakers say they saved 650 man-hours during the experiment. They also saved a ton of labor in the form of reduced paperwork. More importantly, the area became much more relaxed.
The experiment lasted for approximately six months. However, the effect that it had on policing remains.
A few years later, the UK rescheduled cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug. In other words, those who violated UK cannabis laws were sentenced to two years instead of five.
Some thought that the UK would eventually legalize cannabis after its reclassification. However, legislators reclassified cannabis as a Class B drug in 2007. Now, any efforts to legalize cannabis in the region have come to a halt.
Can You Grow Cannabis in the UK?
To answer the question “Is cannabis legal in the UK?”—Technically, it’s illegal to grow cannabis in the United Kingdom.
If you're caught doing it, you could face a sentence ranging from community service to 10 years in prison for possessing cannabis.
However, some cannabis fans have found a workaround. Now, certain groups have started using a new system. The system might help you if you were ever to face a court case for cannabis possession in the UK.
According to UK law, there are four categories of cannabis growers. Category 1 cannabis growers maintain an operation that produces enough product for commercial distribution.
Each category produces a lower amount of product, with Category 4 producing the smallest quantity. Category 4 growers raise nine or fewer plants. This practice is considered a domestic operation.
Now, some growers have started posting notices. The notice states that their operation does not have criminal intentions. Those who use the tags place them on their nine plants in their grow location.
This tactic is meant for a group of cannabis users who are part of a collective. The collective consists of consenting adults.
Members of the collective use the tags to show that they want to avoid engaging with the black market for cannabis. For this reason, they grow and share cannabis in a closed community.
For Now, Cannabis Is a No-Go in the UK
Groups, such as the previously mentioned collectives, consist of medicinal cannabis users. They also consist of recreational cannabis users who don’t want to associate with the illegal cannabis market.
Nevertheless, both groups want the safest and fairest way possible to access cannabis. Also, these collectives wish to access cleaner strains than what’s available on the streets.
However, collective participants also want to show courts that they’re not growing cannabis to support organized crime. The cannabis collectives enable these individuals to show that they’re not commercial growers. However, this system is as of yet untested.
So far, no one in a collective has been raided. Therefore, it’s unclear if participation in a collective can protect an individual if officials should decide to pursue action.
However, collective members do have something working in their favor. An official for the National Police Chief’s Council expresses that cracking down on cannabis has never been a priority. Furthermore, Sara Thornton—first Chair of the council—says that officers are more likely to record a cannabis-related incident instead of conducting an investigation.
Eventually, cannabis collective members hope that they can work with UK officials. Ultimately, they’d like to foster better relations with local law enforcement.
Everything You Need for a Healthy Crop
Now you know the answer to the question, “Is cannabis legal in the UK?”
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