Kate Middleton cancer UK cannabis market
Kate Middleton cancer UK cannabis market

The UK's Cannabis Market is Worth Over $3.3 Billion a Year, Will Cancer Headlines Push Legalization Forward in England?

England is a billion euro market and the Royal Family's cancer diagnosis could help legalization.

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Sunday Mar 24, 2024

kate middleton cancer cannabis UK marijuana market

As NPR reported, Catherine, Princess of Wales, has cancer, she announced in a video message released by Kensington Palace on Friday, and is in the early stages of chemotherapy. In the video, the former Kate Middleton, 42, said the diagnosis was a "huge shock after an incredibly tough couple of months."

The cancer was found during testing done after she successfully underwent major abdominal surgery in January, Kate said. She did not specify the type of cancer or its stage.

Would legal cannabis, or illciit cannabis be part of Kate's possible treatment, depending on what cancer she has and at what stage the cancer is at?  Does England have legal medical marijuana that has her cancer as a qualifing condition?  If not, could Kate tap the illicit market for cannabis in England?  A slipery slope for sure being part of the Royal Family, no?

The illegal cannabis market in Britain is now estimated to be worth £2.6 billion annually, posing a significant challenge for authorities due to the growing interest in its potential for pain relief. Despite being classified as a class-B illegal substance, the Institute of Economic Affairs' market estimate underscores the substantial size of this underground trade.


According to findings from medical clinic Mamedica, annually, three million Britons access the illicit cannabis market, with over 600,000 purchasing it for self-medication purposes. Moreover, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly exploring cannabis as a treatment option for health conditions that have proven resistant to traditional medications, according to the firm's analysis.


Recent reports from Mamedica indicate that nearly eight million chronic pain sufferers have unsuccessfully tried up to three different medications, spurring interest in medicinal cannabis. Globally, the medical cannabis market is presently valued at $13 billion, with projections indicating it could surge to over $57 billion by 2028.


Despite the increasing acknowledgment of cannabis's therapeutic advantages, constraints within the UK's public health services prevent general practitioners—73% of whom are willing to prescribe cannabis—from doing so, according to Mamedica. Jon Robson, Mamedica's CEO, underscores the importance of raising awareness and improving accessibility to legal, regulated medical cannabis as pivotal steps toward transitioning users away from the illicit market, potentially fostering growth in this sector.


Since the UK government legalized medical cannabis in 2018, progress has been sluggish, with only 1,000 patients receiving licensed prescriptions compared to over 20,000 through private prescriptions. The privatization of the sector is identified as a driving force. Yet, the absence of licensed cannabis-based medicinal products remains a significant barrier.


Robson emphasizes the significance of customer experience and satisfaction in expanding the medical cannabis industry, highlighting notable quality challenges, cost, service, and supply chain challenges. He further notes that the intricate landscape of cannabis in the UK reflects a clash between long standing legal restrictions and a shifting perception toward its medical utility. This is coupled with the increasing accessibility and understanding of cannabis-based treatments.

The Current Legal Landscape

The ongoing discussion on cannabis legalization in the UK is gaining momentum, akin to the persistent growth of the weed plant. While nations worldwide are increasingly recognizing the advantages of legalized cannabis, the UK has been somewhat cautious, although there are signs of change.


Presently, cannabis in the UK is categorized as a Class B drug according to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. However, there's a glimpse of advancement. Since November 2018, specialist doctors have been able to prescribe cannabis-based medicines in the United Kingdom legally.


Nevertheless, the question persists for many: "Is cannabis legal in the UK?" The straightforward answer? No, not for recreational purposes. Nonetheless, Britain may not be far behind as global attitudes toward cannabis continue to evolve.

Decriminalisation Efforts, Public Opinion, and Economic Impact

In recent times, there has been a significant movement towards decriminalization. London's Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has taken steps to decriminalize drugs in the capital, sparking both praise and criticism.


Furthermore, public support for legalizing cannabis is on the rise, with reports suggesting that only 32% of the UK population opposes the idea. This shift in public opinion begs the question: "Will cannabis become legal in the UK soon?"


Apart from the social and health considerations, there's a compelling economic incentive. Following the example of our German counterparts, a study estimated that legalizing cannabis could bolster the German economy by approximately £4bn annually and generate 27,000 new jobs.


Could the UK experience similar benefits? It's plausible, given the burgeoning cannabis market already in existence.

Predicting Cannabis Legalisation in the UK

The global trend towards cannabis legalization, evident in various countries, including moves toward decriminalization and full legalization, prompts speculation about when cannabis might be fully legalized in the UK. Several factors contribute to this discussion:

  1. Global Trends: Observing countries like Canada and Uruguay, which have legalized recreational cannabis, can inform the UK's decision-making process. Positive outcomes in these nations could influence UK policymakers.

  2. Medical Cannabis: The UK's allowance for medical purposes in November 2018 indicates a changing perspective on the plant's therapeutic potential.

  3. Public Opinion: Only 32% of UK residents oppose legal cannabis, according to a 2019 YouGov survey. However, increasing public support may pressure political parties to reconsider their stance over time.

  4. Economic Benefits: Countries like Germany, experiencing significant financial benefits from cannabis legalization, could prompt the UK to consider similar advantages, particularly amidst post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.

  5. Political Climate: The stance of political parties, especially those gaining support from younger and BIPOC voters, could influence the pace of cannabis legalization. A party advocating for legalization could accelerate the process if it gains prominence or forms a government.


Considering these factors, while pinpointing an exact timeline is challenging, a cautious estimate suggests that the UK could witness significant moves towards cannabis decriminalization or legalization within the next 5-10 years. This may begin with broader decriminalization efforts followed by regulated recreational use, similar to approaches in other countries.


However, predicting political outcomes, especially on contentious issues, entails uncertainty. Rapid changes could occur due to unforeseen events, shifts in public opinion, or evolving global trends.

The Changing Perception of Cannabis

Several factors are influencing the discourse surrounding cannabis legalization in the UK. Firstly, decriminalization is viewed as a potential avenue for addressing racial and social disparities. A recent analysis of police data by House of Commons researchers has indicated a decline in cannabis possession offenses. However, it has also revealed persistent racial biases in arrests and prosecutions, highlighting the need for reform in this area.


Additionally, the increasing recognition of the medical benefits of cannabis is shaping the conversation. Despite the legal complexities, products such as CBD flowers and hash are already widely available in the UK, underscoring the plant's therapeutic potential and driving interest in further exploration and regulation.


Political platforms also play a role, with parties like Labour showcasing progressive stances on drug policies in their manifestos. This indicates a potential shift towards more liberal approaches to cannabis and drug regulation within the political landscape.


Looking ahead, the trajectory suggests that it's not a matter of if but when the UK will legalize cannabis. Whether motivated by potential economic gains, societal advantages, or evolving public opinion, the momentum for legalizing cannabis in the UK is stronger than ever.


However, the road to full legalization will be marked by debates, research, and public discourse. Those curious about the current status of cannabis in the UK or pondering its legal status will need to monitor developments, anticipating potential shifts and hoping for progress towards a more permissive stance on cannabis use and regulation.





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