6th May 2021
By Emily Ledger
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Today (6th May 2021), the Association for the Cannabinoids Industry (ACI) and the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) have released their report ‘Green Shoots – Sowing the Seeds of the New UK Cannabis Industry’ – an assessment of the size of the UK consumer CBD market.

According to the report, the CBD sector has surpassed the forecast set out in a previous report from the CMC in 2019. While the sector was predicted to be worth £526 million in 2021, actual estimated annual sales in the sector are expected to generate £690 million.

The report also argues that the UK has now inadvertently become a global leader in the cannabinoids marketplace. In recent years, the UK has developed “the most evolved regulatory framework in the world for CBD” as interventions from the Food Standards Agency and the Home Office have come to the forefront.

In spite of this, the authors of the report argue that more still needs to be done to ensure a safe and effective, including more government intervention and investment, in order to optimise what is described as “Britain’s quiet cannabis revolution”.

Among several recommendations made in the report, ‘Green Shoots’ echoes the findings of another report published recently – the need of meaningful reforms to the UK hemp sector. It claims that domestic restrictions on hemp cultivation in the UK mean that the bulk of profits are going to overseas producers.

This is because farmers in the UK are currently forced to destroy the most valuable parts of their crops – the CBD-high flowers and leaves. Another report by Volteface – an advocacy organisation for drug policy reforms – points out that “draconian” hemp legislation forces farmers to burn up to 80% of the crop, equating to millions of pounds every year.

CBD cannabis
Young cannabis plant

The report makes several other recommendations including the development of a dedicatd agency to license and oversee the growing cannabinoids industry, and a new centre of excellence to fund, synthesise and disseminate the best new clinical evidence to boost the medicinal cannabis market.

The authors of the report also call for urgent reform of licensing policy to steer and harness the emerging scientific evidence across the whole spectrum.

Steve Moore, Co-Founder and Strategic Counsel to the CMC and ACI, commented:

“With new government support the accidental consumer cannabis revolution that has allowed CBD to become available on every high street in the UK could become permanent, nurturing hundreds of new businesses, thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in exports.

“It’s hard to imagine there many more industries that could benefit almost immediately from the proposals set out in our report.”

Paul Birch, Co-Founder of the CMC and ACI, also commented:

“The size of this cannabinoid sector is now impossible to ignore. Today’s report reveals that sales of CBD products up to the year end of April 2021 are valued at £690m, almost a third higher than our last projection in 2019.

“Almost without notice and certainly by accident rather than design, the UK has improbably become the world’s second largest consumer cannabinoids market.”

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