Brexit is a somewhat divisive issue. The two sides, remainers, and Brexiteers are so fiercely polarised that the mere mention of Brexit is enough to turn any comment section into a morass of point scoring bickering. Regardless of your own personal stance on Brexit, it is a political reality.
The UK will leave the EU and its trade laws and regulations. One of the regulations it will leave behind is the prohibition on recreational cannabis. This leaves the door open for full legalisation, licensing, and sale of recreational and medicinal cannabis products.
For the time being, the UK is part of the EU, and as such is beholden to the EU laws regarding cannabis.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports that cannabis is one of the most popular illegal drugs in the EU. Estimates indicate that one in eight people aged between 14 – 34 years have partaken of cannabis in the last year. This means that across the EU up to 20% of young adults use cannabis, and nearly three million consume it on a daily basis.
There is a general prohibition on cannabis in the EU with certain exceptions. Debate challenging this prohibition has reawoken by the change in attitudes surrounding the recreational use of cannabis. Proposals to legalise cannabis have been swamped in controversy. Some are concerned that legalisation will lead to the wider use of cannabis and cannabis related issues.
As it stands, the EU laws on cannabis state that there may be provision to cultivate and sell cannabis for medical and industrial use. Any medicines created from cannabis may be licensed by the EU or licenced on a national basis, however, no country in the EU officially authorised smoking cannabis for its medicinal properties.
All of the member states in Europe view cannabis possession for personal use or sale as an offence. There have been several proposals for full legalisation presented in various member state parliaments over the last number of years, usually by opposition parties, but most have been rejected. At the moment, no national government in the EU is in favour of cannabis legalisation.
The EU doesn’t have a ban on all cannabis-based medicines. The approved medicines can range from capsule tablets, teas, and oral sprays. However, NO country allows smoking of cannabis for medical purposes. Smoking medicinal cannabis is not allowed for two main reasons; firstly, there are many different strains of cannabis, and each contains a variety of cannabinoid chemicals. A huge amount of variation can arise from plant to plant due to tiny changes in the growing process; this makes it incredibly difficult to regulate like a traditional medicines. Secondly, inhaling smoke from cannabis isn’t considered a healthy way to administer medicines.
At the moment, only four EU countries have legal processes intended for the distribution of medical marijuana. Stativex, a MS medication made out of THC and CBD, has been approved by the European Medicines Agency, and it is currently authorised for use in 18 EU states.
The EU doesn’t have a unified policy in regards to CBD. To figure out the legal status of CBD, you really have to look at each member state individually. This isn’t a perfect analysis, but going into the legal quagmire of each state would be a truly herculean task.
There are three main categories of CBD law on the books in the EU. One category is total prohibition, this means that any product derived from the cannabis plant is banned under all circumstances. The only state that falls into this theory is Slovakia.
The second category is the legalisation of cannabis products with a level of THC that falls below a certain threshold. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and has been shown to have beneficial properties. This gets it a pass in many jurisdictions. The EU has a list of approved hemp strains that have an acceptable level of THC, this list consists of around 50 species.
The final category is the full legalisation of all CBD products regardless of THC content. This isn’t a widespread policy, and the only real example of this category would be certain areas within Holland.
The UK is currently beholden to the laws and regulations of the EU. Depending on the Brexit deal, the UK may be able to rid themselves of many of these regulations; giving them freight over production and distribution within their borders. This could potentially open the door to allow full legalisation of cannabis.
Projections indicate the post-Brexit, the UK will take a major hit to its economy. Legalising cannabis could be a good way to counter this. The USA has been enjoying a huge surge of tax revenue and job creation in the various states that have legalised cannabis. It is projected that the profits from cannabis will overtake the profits of the soft drink industry, and currently, it is the fastest growing job sector in the country.
Brexit will create economic turmoil for the UK, but if they legalise cannabis, they may be able to keep their economy in the green.