Major UK review could lead to medical marijuana legalization

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United Kingdom-British Virgin Islands medical cannabis dispute

The United Kingdom is embarking on a full review of the medical benefits of cannabis that experts say could put the country on a path towards legalizing MMJ.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced the review in the House of Commons, saying, “If the review identifies that there are significant medical benefits, then we do intend to reschedule.”

That move could pave the way to the U.K. becoming one of the largest medical marijuana markets in Europe.

Javid said the review will take place in two parts:

  1. Part One, led by U.K.’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies, will consider the evidence available for cannabis-based medicine.
  2. Those results will inform which cannabis products make it to the next step. Part Two will be led by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

In the short term, the government will establish an expert panel to advise ministers of any applications for cannabis-based medicines.

Experts say cannabis cannot be practically prescribed or supplied to patients in the U.K., since its classification as a Schedule 1 drug deems it has “no therapeutic value.”

Currently, a special licence is required from the the Home Secretary for researchers and patients to access medical cannabis.

One exception to this rule is Sativex, which has been available for use as a medicine without the need for a Home Office licence since 2013.

“The government is being led by the World Health Organization’s (pending) review on THC, and despite an announcement today from the Minister for Health supporting, it is unlikely that we will see a major change in the next six months,” said Stephen Murphy, managing director of Prohibition Partners in London.

“We would expect medical cannabis to be legal in the U.K. in the next 12-18 months.”

GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH) has the only cultivation license in the U.K.

Matt Lamers can be reached at

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