UK Acknowledges Medicinal Benefits

It’s true. The same government that as recently as last year deemed cannabis “a significant public health issue” has stated that cannabis can have a number of positive medicinal effects. 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency recently completed a review of CBD and the potential medicinal benefits after it was brought to the agency’s attention that the United Kingdom had no regulatory status for CBD. After completing their review, the MHRA found that CBD could improve a number of “physiological functions” and that CBD in fact met the definition of a medical product. 

This finding provides evidence that is essential to potentially legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis within the UK. The MHRA’s review also marks a drastic departure from a government that appeared to cement marijuana’s status as an illegal drug just last year. 

In the summer of 2015, the government was presented with a petition that requested the legal use, production and sale of cannabis within the UK. The petition, which had well over 200,000 signatures, stated that legalization of cannabis could create more than 10,000 jobs, generate £900 million in taxes each year and save as much as £400 million in the costs associated with policing the crop. 

The petition quickly gained popularity, but was  just as quickly stifled by the government, which stated, “Cannabis can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society.”

While the United Kingdom appears to be softening its stance on cannabis, this change is in line with cultural shifts – at least those here in America. A Pew Research Poll conducted at roughly the same time as the UK’s petition showed that a change of opinion on the crop has become common. 

Of the 1,500 people surveyed, 53 percent supported legalization, while 44 percent did not. The poll went a step further and asked if people had changed their mind on the crop’s legal status, and 21 percent said that they had once believed cannabis should be illegal, but had since changed their mind. In comparison, only 7 percent had once thought it should be legal, but not believed it should be illegal. 

As more evidence emerges it stands to reason that more people will come around on legalization. In the UK, acknowledging the potential benefits is an important step, and it will be interesting to monitor the political climate surround cannabis in the upcoming months.