Medicinal cannabis has massive potential to boost the global economy

On 2 December 2020, the United Nations reclassified medicinal cannabis from the category that has held it back for decades. Cannabis for medicinal use is officially no longer categorised as one of the world’s most dangerous drugs.

This sea-change in global drug policy is hugely important for the burgeoning medicinal cannabis industry. The path is now clear for investors, growers, product developers and scientific researchers to unleash the potential of medicinal cannabis to treat the one billion people around the world who could benefit.

Crucially, this change also gives a boost to global economic recovery following 2020’s catastrophic pandemic.

Medicinal cannabis has huge potential to boost the global economy

For the last few decades, the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotics 1961 has held the medicinal benefits of cannabis back. This applies to the whole gamut of extractions from the cannabis plant, from cannabinoids that don’t get you high (such as cannabidiol or CBD), industrial hemp and marijuana.

The vote this month was based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and others to decide whether to reform international cannabis laws. And finally, the idea that cannabis is a high-risk drug with absolutely no medicinal or therapeutic benefits is no longer the official global policy.

Amid the global chaos of COVID-19, this reclassification paves the way to a coherent regulatory stance on medicinal cannabis. This will boost investment, research and development and allow millions of people to find out the benefits of medicinal cannabis.

More countries than ever before are opening up to the massive potential of the global cannabis industry. The sector is set to be an important driver for economic recovery following the pandemic.

Hope for patients and for more research and development

Unsurprisingly, the days immediately after the vote saw cannabis stock rise sharply as investors jump on board. And the pathway is now open for cannabis to become the basis for an international economic boost. Commercial cannabis must be destigmatised in the minds of investors and consumers alike, and this is definitely happening more and more.

This vote and the growth of the medicinal cannabis industry so far provides much-needed hope for people suffering from all kinds of illnesses and chronic pain conditions. It also allows scientists to fully unlock the potential of all of the compounds from the cannabis plant.

It also means that we are finally on our way towards a commercial cannabis economy at a global level. We may not yet know quite how this will work, but when this global regulatory framework is in place, there is huge scope for the medicinal cannabis sector to drive job creation, commerce, economic growth and sustainability.

The UK Government must change its stance on medicinal cannabis

Currently, there are more than 50 countries around the world that have given the green light to medicinal cannabis programmes. Countries including Uruguay, Canada and15 US states have also legalised the recreational use of cannabis.

Underlining the shift in collective thinking, the formerly immovable United States voted Yes on 2 December. This builds on a sector that has demonstrably worked with high investor yields and people clearly benefitting from medicinal cannabis.

Over in the UK, the Government is starting to consider the sector’s potential for economic recovery. Slower than the US and other countries to embrace the wellness and health benefits of medicinal cannabis, we will likely witness the UK Government grasping the economic lifeline of the industry.

As the economic damage to the UK becomes more and more apparent, the stage is set for new industry sectors to come through. And while there is generally a negative attitude in the UK regarding the perceived negativity of medical cannabis, this is changing slowly but surely.

Changing traditional scepticism surrounding medicinal cannabis

Many people in the UK don’t even realise that medicinal cannabis products have been legal for specialist doctors to prescribe since 1 November 2018. It’s not easy for patients and those suffering from chronic pain to access these treatments, and the price of the private prescriptions are often prohibitive.

The issues holding the medicinal cannabis sector back in the UK include a lack of understanding for stakeholders. An added problem is that the UK will only accept results of research from the UK, effectively ignoring all of the data being uncovered around the world.

These issues mean there is a lack of data available is limited, and that the Randomised Control Trials (RCT) needed before the NHS will commission a drug are not happening for cannabis products. And while these issues could feasibly be solved relatively easily, much more important is shifting the political conversation surround medicinal cannabis.

This shift in attitude is more important than ever given the economic damage done by the pandemic.

Medicinal cannabis could help to repair the economy in the UK

A report from Prohibition Partners, which was published earlier in 2020, it is estimated that the UK’s legal cannabis sector will be worth more than £2.3 billion by 2024. And despite all of the internal issues and attitudes towards medicinal cannabis, the UK is the biggest exporter of the product in the world. The global industry is flourishing, and now has to be the time for sceptics to leave behind their outdated views and for the Government, investors and business to fully embrace the potential of this sector.