Cannabis: The Problem With Defining Products Around THC Content

Cannabis: the problem with defining products around THC content

Sam Doucette/Unsplash, FAL

Cannabis policy is undergoing a global revolution. Around the world, laws are changing. In the US, there are now 15 states in which cannabis for adult-use purposes is legal, and nearly three dozen where it is legal for medical purposes. In 2018, Canada became the first G7 country to legalise cannabis for all purposes, following the first country to do so, Uruguay. More than 40 countries, on every continent except Antartica, have implemented a legal framework for cannabis, primarily for medical purposes.

In the UK, consumption of cannabis – and cultivation, production and distribution that is unlicensed for non-medical or non-industrial purposes – is still illegal, subject to a warning or a fine of £90. Penalties for possession and supply production range from five to 14 years in jail, unlimited fines or both.

But in November 2018, the UK government legalised medical cannabis, marking the opening of its legal, regulated market. This followed news that Billy Caldwell, a young boy with severe epilepsy, was hospitalised after his cannabis medications were confiscated in June 2018. The process of reform was expedited after the UK public called the morality of the government into question.

Despite legalisation, patient access remains restricted – the few hundred people who have obtained medicines have primarily done so through private healthcare. In this context, the fact that the UK has historically been the world’s largest exporter of medical cannabis is something of a surprise. This paradox cuts to the heart of many of the trends across the global cannabis market.

The CBD market

Although medical cannabis access is restricted, there is another popular, legal cannabis market where over-the-counter cannabis-based products are available. They are predominantly made up of a cannabinoid called cannabidol, commonly referred to as CBD, which as an isolated compound is legal in the UK.

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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