Medicinal cannabis makes strides in the UK but access to treatment needs improvement

In November last year, the government announced the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in the UK for patients via NHS prescription. Since then, the UK’s medicinal cannabis market has boomed, attracting media attention and international investment.

The move prompted the opening of the UK’s first cannabis clinic in the Greater Manchester area earlier in March, offering treatments for patients suffering from chronic pain and other severe neurological or psychiatric conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana.

Even more unexpected sources have shown interest in entering the booming cannabis market: the FT has reported that the Church of England is considering investments in medical marijuana and relaxing existing bans. The CofE has a 12.6 billion pound investment portfolio.

On 24 January 2019, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) sent a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations recommending that cannabis and associated substances be rescheduled in the international drug control framework to facilitate the trade of these substances for medicinal and scientific purposes.

At least 30 countries and 33 US states have now legalised medicinal cannabis, a trend which continues to spread globally. Research by Prohibition Partners and the Davos World Economic Forum pointed towards Europe’s medical cannabis market doubling in size in 2019.

The European Union has been one of the institutions at the forefront of making medicinal marijuana available. Over two years ago, the German parliament approved the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use. This marked the beginning of a Europe-wide wave of legalisation following in Germany’s footsteps.

In Germany, around 40,000 patients have already been prescribed cannabis-based prescription drugs, which amounted to more than 30 Million EUR revenues in the first half of 2018, making the country one of the three largest medical cannabis markets in Europe, along with the Netherlands and Italy.

Malta, one of the most innovative nations in Europe, has implemented some new laws and now allows the licensed growing and export of cannabis to other European countries.

The latest nation to embrace the opportunities offered by medicinal cannabis is Gibraltar. In a recent announcement, the government revealed it wants to establish a “world class ecosystem” for medicinal cannabis research in Gibraltar and will consider licensing “a select, highly reputable and well-resourced” group of investors in the sector.

While European countries seem to be progressing in the sector, eight months after formal legalisation, the reality does not quite match up to expectation. Patients in the UK are reportedly experiencing numerous problems accessing medicinal marijuana, as despite legislation being in place, the system is not yet fully responsive to patients’ needs.

Since the legalisation, many NHS patients have been denied access to cannabis treatments, blamed on slow bureaucracy. Official figures are not available but the number of NHS prescriptions has been low, perhaps less than 100, reported the Independent.

Currently in the UK, there is no dedicated medicinal cannabis regulatory system, making the drug harder to access. Cannabis products are only available on the NHS labelled as “specials”, which can only be prescribed after other types of treatment have been tried. The pharmacies distributing cannabis medical products also need a special licence, further narrowing the avenues of access.

These barriers highlight the lag between the different set of legislations involved in bringing cannabis-based medicines to the hands of patients. “We knew there would be a period where the education system needed developing for health professionals — but this has not yet been rolled out, and we don’t know how long it will take, or how responsive they will be,” said Henry Fisher, chief scientific officer at Hanway Associates, a cannabis consultancy firm, to Wired UK.

Nonetheless, this seems to be a common pathway countries go through when they change their regulation on the matter, until we bridge between policies and user access: “We’re hoping that individual doctors will prescribe, and see that once they’ve done it once, and it’s worked, so it’s a useful medicine. Then it will pick up: for example, in Germany, it took two or three years for the medical profession to catch up,” added Michael Barnes, a neurologist and cannabis expert.

Markets start to welcome cannabis projects as regulations soften around the world

As more countries become more open-minded in adopting the use of cannabis for multiple applications, particularly medical treatment, markets in North America and Europe are witnessing an unprecedented inflow of companies and projects working with hemp products.

Cannabis-derived plants can offer a multitude of uses. Hemp, a ‘softer’ plant of the cannabis species, is a very useful crop that can be turned into everything from clothes to shoes, paper, animal feed and building insulation.

But the current cannabis market craze is largely focused on the area of medical and healthcare products. Cannabis-related products are used for preventing Alzheimer’s, decreasing anxiety symptoms, treating effects of autism and epilepsy, relieving arthritis, reducing nausea and even helping prevent cancer.

According to data compiled by Mordor Intelligence, the global cannabis market was valued at USD 7.7 Billion in 2016 and is expected to reach USD 65 Billion by 2023.

Sales of hemp products in the US reached $1bn (£760m) in 2018, according to New Frontier Data, with the US having legalised the cultivation of hemp across the US just before Christmas ̶ welcome news for farmers.

Furthermore, the data from New Frontier shows forecasts for US sales of hemp products reaching $2.6bn by 2022. At the same time, it predicts global hemp industry sales to jump to $5.7bn by 2020 — from $3.7bn in 2018.

The hype is indeed real, so much so that a university in the US is now offering a degree in Marijuana studies, within its Chemistry school.

A success story: Canada

The flagship of cannabis market prosperity is Canada. The country legalised recreational cannabis use in October last year and since, the market has witnessed impressive growth and companies moving towards the sector.

Just a couple weeks ago, the FT reported that the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index fund has grown to $1.3bn in assets, making the world’s first cannabis exchange traded fund set to become the second most profitable ETF in Canada, after returning more than 50 per cent so far this year.

Canada is also home to the leader in the global cannabis industry, Canopy Growth Corp., with a market value north of $16 billion.

Carol Pepper, advisor at Pepper International, told CNBC that legalisation of pot in Canada had “blown through expectations”. The numbers impressed investors and bankers around the world, which seem to inspire a European wave of openness towards cannabis projects.

Market Opportunity in Europe and the UK

In light of the massive growth in Canada, markets in Europe and the UK are welcoming the inflow of so-called “pot stocks”. According to Bloomberg, cannabis medical companies have shown significant interest in listing in European markets, including the UK.

In the region, the medicinal cannabis market in 2028 will be valued at Euro 55 billion, with the recreational cannabis market worth 60 billion Euros across both primary and secondary services to the cannabis industry, assuming that all European countries have passed legislation by 2023.

In November 2018, the UK government gave the go-ahead for specialist doctors to start prescribing cannabis-based medicines. This led to the opening of the UK’s first cannabis clinic in the Greater Manchester area earlier in March, offering treatments for patients suffering from chronic pain and other serious neurological or psychiatric conditions.

If cannabis stocks are ̶ for the moment ̶ a niche market, loosening in regulation in the UK has been seen as positive for the markets and offers the chance for pot stocks to go mainstream.

At the moment, the biggest marijuana company is London’s Sativa Investments Plc at about 26.8 million pounds ($33.6 million) on the NEX Exchange, but this scenario is set to change throughout 2019.

It has recently been reported that Jacana, which grows medical-use cannabis in Jamaica, is considering a stock market float on AIM later this year. The company raised $20m (£15.08m) in private investment in 2018.

Other companies showing plans to list are European Cannabis Holdings, responsible for helping in the arrival of the first legal shipment of marijuana in Britain earlier this year, and Emmac Life Sciences.

Nick Davis, chief executive of law firm Memery Crystal, which is advising cannabis companies to enter the London market, said to This is Money that there are many companies targeting both the main market and the AIM.

‘I think this will be the year that there are a significant number of listings — though it’s predicated on no change to regulation here. ‘I’d be surprised if there weren’t a dozen companies across AIM and the main market by the year-end,’ he commented.

Bloomberg also hints at other European companies that are signalling to make an early move into the cannabis scene: Paris-based Gour Medical AG, which plans to produce medical cannabis products for animals; StenoCare A/S from Denmark and Dermapharm Holding SE from Germany both focusing on medical and pharmaceutical cannabis applications.

Markets start to welcome cannabis projects as regulations soften around the world

As more countries become more open-minded in adopting the use of cannabis for multiple applications, particularly medical treatment, markets in North America and Europe are witnessing an unprecedented inflow of companies and projects working with hemp products.

Cannabis-derived plants can offer a multitude of uses. Hemp, a ‘softer’ plant of the cannabis species, is a very useful crop that can be turned into everything from clothes to shoes, paper, animal feed and building insulation.

But the current cannabis market craze is largely focused on the area of medical and healthcare products. Cannabis-related products are used for preventing Alzheimer’s, decreasing anxiety symptoms, treating effects of autism and epilepsy, relieving arthritis, reducing nausea and even helping prevent cancer.

According to data compiled by Mordor Intelligence, the global cannabis market was valued at USD 7.7 Billion in 2016 and is expected to reach USD 65 Billion by 2023.

Sales of hemp products in the US reached $1bn (£760m) in 2018, according to New Frontier Data, with the US having legalised the cultivation of hemp across the US just before Christmas ̶ welcome news for farmers.

Furthermore, the data from New Frontier shows forecasts for US sales of hemp products reaching $2.6bn by 2022. At the same time, it predicts global hemp industry sales to jump to $5.7bn by 2020 — from $3.7bn in 2018.

The hype is indeed real, so much so that a university in the US is now offering a degree in Marijuana studies, within its Chemistry school.

A success story: Canada

The flagship of cannabis market prosperity is Canada. The country legalised recreational cannabis use in October last year and since, the market has witnessed impressive growth and companies moving towards the sector.

Just a couple weeks ago, the FT reported that the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index fund has grown to $1.3bn in assets, making the world’s first cannabis exchange traded fund set to become the second most profitable ETF in Canada, after returning more than 50 per cent so far this year.

Canada is also home to the leader in the global cannabis industry, Canopy Growth Corp., with a market value north of $16 billion.

Carol Pepper, advisor at Pepper International, told CNBC that legalisation of pot in Canada had “blown through expectations”. The numbers impressed investors and bankers around the world, which seem to inspire a European wave of openness towards cannabis projects.

Market Opportunity in Europe and the UK

In light of the massive growth in Canada, markets in Europe and the UK are welcoming the inflow of so-called “pot stocks”. According to Bloomberg, cannabis medical companies have shown significant interest in listing in European markets, including the UK.

In the region, the medicinal cannabis market in 2028 will be valued at Euro 55 billion, with the recreational cannabis market worth 60 billion Euros across both primary and secondary services to the cannabis industry, assuming that all European countries have passed legislation by 2023.

In November 2018, the UK government gave the go-ahead for specialist doctors to start prescribing cannabis-based medicines. This led to the opening of the UK’s first cannabis clinic in the Greater Manchester area earlier in March, offering treatments for patients suffering from chronic pain and other serious neurological or psychiatric conditions.

If cannabis stocks are ̶ for the moment ̶ a niche market, loosening in regulation in the UK has been seen as positive for the markets and offers the chance for pot stocks to go mainstream.

At the moment, the biggest marijuana company is London’s Sativa Investments Plc at about 26.8 million pounds ($33.6 million) on the NEX Exchange, but this scenario is set to change throughout 2019.

It has recently been reported that Jacana, which grows medical-use cannabis in Jamaica, is considering a stock market float on AIM later this year. The company raised $20m (£15.08m) in private investment in 2018.

Other companies showing plans to list are European Cannabis Holdings, responsible for helping in the arrival of the first legal shipment of marijuana in Britain earlier this year, and Emmac Life Sciences.

Nick Davis, chief executive of law firm Memery Crystal, which is advising cannabis companies to enter the London market, said to This is Money that there are many companies targeting both the main market and the AIM.

‘I think this will be the year that there are a significant number of listings — though it’s predicated on no change to regulation here. ‘I’d be surprised if there weren’t a dozen companies across AIM and the main market by the year-end,’ he commented.

Bloomberg also hints at other European companies that are signalling to make an early move into the cannabis scene: Paris-based Gour Medical AG, which plans to produce medical cannabis products for animals; StenoCare A/S from Denmark and Dermapharm Holding SE from Germany both focusing on medical and pharmaceutical cannabis applications.

Markets start to welcome cannabis projects as regulations soften around the world

As more countries become more open-minded in adopting the use of cannabis for multiple applications, particularly medical treatment, markets in North America and Europe are witnessing an unprecedented inflow of companies and projects working with hemp products.

Cannabis-derived plants can offer a multitude of uses. Hemp, a ‘softer’ plant of the cannabis species, is a very useful crop that can be turned into everything from clothes to shoes, paper, animal feed and building insulation.

But the current cannabis market craze is largely focused on the area of medical and healthcare products. Cannabis-related products are used for preventing Alzheimer’s, decreasing anxiety symptoms, treating effects of autism and epilepsy, relieving arthritis, reducing nausea and even helping prevent cancer.

According to data compiled by Mordor Intelligence, the global cannabis market was valued at USD 7.7 Billion in 2016 and is expected to reach USD 65 Billion by 2023.

Sales of hemp products in the US reached $1bn (£760m) in 2018, according to New Frontier Data, with the US having legalised the cultivation of hemp across the US just before Christmas ̶ welcome news for farmers.

Furthermore, the data from New Frontier shows forecasts for US sales of hemp products reaching $2.6bn by 2022. At the same time, it predicts global hemp industry sales to jump to $5.7bn by 2020 — from $3.7bn in 2018.

The hype is indeed real, so much so that a university in the US is now offering a degree in Marijuana studies, within its Chemistry school.

A success story: Canada

The flagship of cannabis market prosperity is Canada. The country legalised recreational cannabis use in October last year and since, the market has witnessed impressive growth and companies moving towards the sector.

Just a couple weeks ago, the FT reported that the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index fund has grown to $1.3bn in assets, making the world’s first cannabis exchange traded fund set to become the second most profitable ETF in Canada, after returning more than 50 per cent so far this year.

Canada is also home to the leader in the global cannabis industry, Canopy Growth Corp., with a market value north of $16 billion.

Carol Pepper, advisor at Pepper International, told CNBC that legalisation of pot in Canada had “blown through expectations”. The numbers impressed investors and bankers around the world, which seem to inspire a European wave of openness towards cannabis projects.

Market Opportunity in Europe and the UK

In light of the massive growth in Canada, markets in Europe and the UK are welcoming the inflow of so-called “pot stocks”. According to Bloomberg, cannabis medical companies have shown significant interest in listing in European markets, including the UK.

In the region, the medicinal cannabis market in 2028 will be valued at Euro 55 billion, with the recreational cannabis market worth 60 billion Euros across both primary and secondary services to the cannabis industry, assuming that all European countries have passed legislation by 2023.

In November 2018, the UK government gave the go-ahead for specialist doctors to start prescribing cannabis-based medicines. This led to the opening of the UK’s first cannabis clinic in the Greater Manchester area earlier in March, offering treatments for patients suffering from chronic pain and other serious neurological or psychiatric conditions.

If cannabis stocks are ̶ for the moment ̶ a niche market, loosening in regulation in the UK has been seen as positive for the markets and offers the chance for pot stocks to go mainstream.

At the moment, the biggest marijuana company is London’s Sativa Investments Plc at about 26.8 million pounds ($33.6 million) on the NEX Exchange, but this scenario is set to change throughout 2019.

It has recently been reported that Jacana, which grows medical-use cannabis in Jamaica, is considering a stock market float on AIM later this year. The company raised $20m (£15.08m) in private investment in 2018.

Other companies showing plans to list are European Cannabis Holdings, responsible for helping in the arrival of the first legal shipment of marijuana in Britain earlier this year, and Emmac Life Sciences.

Nick Davis, chief executive of law firm Memery Crystal, which is advising cannabis companies to enter the London market, said to This is Money that there are many companies targeting both the main market and the AIM.

‘I think this will be the year that there are a significant number of listings — though it’s predicated on no change to regulation here. ‘I’d be surprised if there weren’t a dozen companies across AIM and the main market by the year-end,’ he commented.

Bloomberg also hints at other European companies that are signalling to make an early move into the cannabis scene: Paris-based Gour Medical AG, which plans to produce medical cannabis products for animals; StenoCare A/S from Denmark and Dermapharm Holding SE from Germany both focusing on medical and pharmaceutical cannabis applications.