UK Revealed As World's Largest Producer Of Legal Cannabis
A new report from a UN body has revealed that the United Kingdom is the world's largest exporter and producer of legal cannabis.
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Whilst the news may seem hard to believe - marijuana isn't even medically legal in the UK - it's true. According to the UN's International Narcotics Board, in 2016, the UK produced 95 tonnes of legal cannabis, more than double the total of the previous year. That's a staggering 44.9% of all the legal cannabis in the world!
2.1 tonnes was exported from the UK, making it responsible for 67.7% of the world total.
Canada wasn't far behind (which makes more sense), producing 80.7 tonnes in 2016. Canada is set to legalize marijuana this year.
'No Therapeutic Value'
The news has been met with intense criticism of the UK government's drug policies. A drug reform lobby group has criticized the UK government, saying they have "consistently refused to allow medical cannabis in the UK on the basis that it has 'no therapeutic value'".
Whilst marijuana legalization has taken strides in both the U.S. and Canada, laws in the UK remain restrictive.
There is no medical marijuana program in the UK for patients suffering from conditions such as epilepsy, causing many to be angry at the government for allowing its citizens to continue suffering.
Steve Rolles, Transform's senior policy analyst said: "It is scandalous and untenable for the UK government to maintain that cannabis has no medical uses, at the same time as licensing the world's biggest government-approved medical cannabis production and export market.
Where is it going?
So where is all this cannabis going? Well, a significant part of the UK's legal cannabis production goes towards a cannabis-based medicine called Sativex, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals. It is available on prescription for patients such as those suffering the effects of multiple sclerosis, but it is only on the NHS in Wales.
If marijuana were to be legalized in the UK, even on a medical-only basis, the country could stand to become a prime example of how medical marijuana can be available to anyone who needs it. The NHS has been in operation in the UK since the 1940s and offers free health care to anyone in the country. This includes a number of prescribed medications. One of the concerns cannabis advocates have in the U.S. is how medical marijuana can be accessible to those in need, as marijuana is not currently included in health insurance plans. Whilst it remains unlikely that the UK will be headed towards legalization anytime soon, increasing noise is being made surrounding cannabis in the UK.