Why is It Taking So Long for the UK to Rollout Its Medical Marijuana Program?
Progressive cannabis reforms are rising everywhere across Europe and North America, especially in the United Kingdom. Despite the public interest in medical cannabis reforms, the U.K. government is not prioritizing the industry like other European countries.
For a country as large and prominent as the United Kingdom, with about 65 million residents, the majority of cannabis advocates within and around the country consider the government’s refusal to expand the medical program odd. Since 2018, the medical cannabis program in the U.K. has only benefitted a few people. The requirements for patients to be registered within the program are extremely limited.
Cannabis in Europe and North America
The U.K. has strong ties to the European Union as well as the North American countries, so it has a first-hand idea of the rate at which these countries and their states are embracing medical cannabis reform more than ever.
In Europe, Germany is leading the industry and currently has the world’s largest and most profitable medical cannabis industry. Apart from medical cannabis, countries are also looking into adopting recreational cannabis. Malta set a record by being the first European country to legalize the drug for recreational purposes before the new year.
As one might expect, not all countries can have the same medical cannabis laws. Some countries have only decriminalized the drug for a few disease conditions, while others have extensive medical programs that cater to hundreds of thousands of patients annually. Based on medical cannabis programs, the United Kingdom is currently the worst country in Europe.
The United Kingdom’s Medical Cannabis Program
Last summer, the U.K cannabis program prescribed medical cannabis to less than five patients. Unlike most European countries, where thousands use medical cannabis products and more are registered under the medical program,
The Labor MP representing Manchester Wythenshawe in Parliament, Jeff Smith, proposed a medical cannabis access bill in the House of Commons in 2021. The bill, if considered, would have expanded the medical cannabis program in the country. This would have made the drugs accessible to patients who desperately need them at fair prices. Sooner
or later, the United Kingdom will have to approve a medical cannabis reform to bring the country up to speed with other European countries. Smith’s bill would have resulted in a major improvement to the existing cannabis policies.
The last time Jeff Smith spoke about the bill, he pointed out the reluctance of other Parliament members to consider the bill. He added that the medical expansion bill was going nowhere and was more or less dead.
The Urgent Need for A Proper Medical Cannabis Program In The U.K.
Currently, at least a thousand U.K. residents are suffering from critical illnesses that can be adequately managed or treated with cannabis-derived drugs. Still, they have little or no access to these drugs. Those that do have access to our base at exorbitant prices. The rest manage by illegally purchasing products off the street without confirming just how suitable these products are for human consumption.
The reluctance of U.K. lawmakers to pass efficient medical cannabis regulations or set up a proper and accessible medical cannabis program will result in thousands of people living low-quality lives and suffering needlessly. For hundreds of cancer patients, their lives can be elongated with cannabis drugs. For those whose lives can’t be elongated, they can die peacefully without pain.
There are dozens of states and countries with successful medical programs that the U.K. can emulate, rather than choosing to let the program remain stagnant. Lawmakers need to understand that they won’t get it right until they try.
Getting That Cannabis Program Up and Running
The most effective way to get to Parliament for a compromise is by applying pressure from the grassroots levels. For instance, in the United States, communities rallied around to draft medical cannabis initiatives for lawmakers to approve after a majority vote. The U.K is operating as a democracy; hence the country has to maintain the status quo if those are the wishes of the majority.
Although the U.S. has yet to approve the use and sales of medical cannabis in the country, it gave its states the authority to do so. Currently, out of the 50 states in the U.S., only 13 have yet to sign medical cannabis bills into law. The U.K. can emulate the United States. Or it could go all in and emulate other European countries like Germany.
The tides are turning, and times have really changed. If the U.K chooses to maintain these current policies and programs, they could be labeled as unresponsive and inhumane to the conditions of their citizens. The best time to enact this change is now.
The Benefits of a Broad Medical Cannabis Program
The unavailability of alternate drugs like medical marijuana means patients are hooked on opiates, and in a few years, the U.K. could experience an opiate crisis. A comprehensive medical cannabis program will keep the constituencies from having to deal with this issue.
A broad medical cannabis program also comes with an economic advantage. Most countries with large-scale medical cannabis programs have realized massive profits from the programs. Most importantly, the U.K needs to prioritize the welfare of its citizens and understand that an expansion will be in the best interest of all parties involved.
The racial discrepancies in enforcing drug prohibition laws are another reason for a more radical medical cannabis program and better policies.
The prospects of the United Kingdom moving ahead with an expansion project for its medical cannabis program are bleak. What’s even bleaker is the prospect of legal recreational cannabis. The U.K needs a push to do the right thing, and cannabis advocates need to apply this much-needed pressure for change to occur. It’s not fair to the thousands of patients who are directly suffering from the absence of this expansion. Hopefully, the lawmakers will be influenced by the major cannabis reform developments in the U.S. since they have refused to be moved by the European medical cannabis programs making waves.