Are governments profiting from the cannabis industry while their people suffer?

In our earlier blog we discussed how the system of drug classification is motivated more by politics and profit, than by accurate scientific research or health benefits. Nowhere else is this better exemplified than in the bastion of democracy that is the United Kingdom. 

The UK government continues to treat cannabis as a schedule B restricted drug. This means recreational users can face up to five years in prison*, while medical cannabis treatments sought by epilepsy or multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers are largely unavailable**. 

Children with epilepsy denied life-changing medicines

As recently as April, UK authorities confiscated cannabis oil worth thousands of pounds from Emma Appleby, a mother simply looking to provide effective medicine for her daughter who suffered up to 300 seizures per day. Other diets or medications had provided to be ineffective, or resulted in side-effects. Cannabis oil had an immediate and life-changing effect. While ‘technically’ cannabis medicines are ‘legal’, they are not being prescribed by doctors.

At the same time, the UK has cultivated the world’s largest medical cannabis export business. By providing licenses to UK pharma companies to grow and develop cannabis (medicines), the UK managed to leapfrog even cannabis-liberal Canada as the planet’s biggest medical cannabis dealer. 

The medical cannabis industry is growing fast…

The global industry is growing exponentially as we speak, with projections in the tens of billions of dollars being openly discussed. As of 2016, the UK accounted for 44.9% of the world’s medical cannabis exports, so UK pharma companies and the UK government (via taxation) stand to make a not-so-small fortune.

This brings a number of pretty serious questions to bear: if the UK government believes cannabis to have medicinal benefits, then why is it depriving its own populace? And if the UK government does not believe cannabis has medical benefits – as it keeps claiming – then why is it licensing UK companies to sell a worthless product for hundreds of millions of pounds to other countries? 

MBC says:

Regardless of the debate around recreational use, medical cannabis should be available for people who need it. If the UK government thinks this industry is a legitimate export business, then it should make the same provision for its own population. Its failure to do so appears to be a prime example of politicians and big business prioritizing profits and covert taxation, while avoiding an honest and open debate about how the cannabis industry can benefit all of us.

* Custodial sentences have softened as cannabis has become more socially acceptable in the UK

**An extremely limited number of epilepsy sufferers have been granted licences for medical cannabis after fighting their way through the UK legal system