The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) and Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) estimate the UK’s consumer cannabidiol (CBD) market will generate £690 million ($976 million) in annual sales in 2021.

This figure surpasses predictions made in the seminal market sizing study undertaken by the CMC in 2019, which estimated the market would be worth £526 million ($744 million) in 2021. 

The new estimate comes as the CMC and the ACI introduce their report “Green Shoots - Sowing The Seeds Of The New UK Cannabis Industry.” The report concludes that the UK now has the most evolved regulatory framework in the world for CBD and other consumer cannabis extracts, citing recent interventions by the Foods Standards Agency and by the Home Office. 

However, the report calls for more government intervention and investment to ensure that the UK optimizes what it describes as “Britain’s quiet cannabis revolution.”

“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,” said Steve Moore, co-founder and strategic counsel to the CMC and ACI. “It’s hard to imagine there many more industries that could benefit almost immediately from the proposals set out in our report.” 

The report claims that, due to domestic restrictions on hemp cultivation and processing in the UK, the bulk of the profits for this industry are going overseas. This is because UK farmers must destroy the parts of the hemp crop which lucrative CBD is extracted from.  

The report argues that the market represents a key growth sector for the UK and it is time for the government to adopt a proactive strategy to seize opportunities in the cannabinoids sector.

The report makes 20 recommendations drawing on a submission recently made to the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform, established by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in February, to stimulate post-COVID economic growth. 

The report authors call for:

  • A dedicated agency to licence and oversee the industry 
  • A new center of excellence to fund, synthesise and promulgate the best new clinical evidence to boost the UK’s nascent medicinal cannabis market 
  • Urgent reform of licensing policy to steer and harness the emerging scientific evidence across the whole spectrum, from agri-science and plant genetics, to novel synthetics, new therapies and clinical trials

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