The UK’s the world’s biggest producer of legal cannabis

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The UK grows and exports more legal cannabis for medicinal and scientific use than anywhere else in the world, but doesn’t let NHS patients have any.

What it means: UK government policy doesn’t recognise any medicinal uses of cannabis. But according to the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board, we produced 95 tonnes of the stuff in 2016 – 44.9% of the world total. Most of it is grown by a pharmaceuticals company which makes the UK’s only cannabis derived medicine. It’s on offer in Wales, but not in the UK, unless you pay for it privately.

Legalisation campaigners are saying it’s hypocritical that official government policy states cannabis doesn’t have medicinal uses, yet it licenses growing and exporting it. They say a lack of access is forcing people to turn to the illegal market, a problem that countries with legal access to cannabis don’t have.

The government sets the rules that define what can and can’t be produced and traded in the UK, so it seems strange that it’d allow businesses to make money out of growing weed for medicines (which seems like an acknowledgement that the medicines exist and work) without letting citizens access those treatments.

Then again, maybe the government’s just saying business is business, and if there’s a market for the goods somewhere else, there’s nothing wrong with making money off it, even if we’ve not legalised it for medicinal use ourselves.

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