What Brexit Means For The European Cannabis Market

May 16, 2019 02:58 pm ET
What Brexit Means For The European Cannabis Market

With Brexit looming above Great Britain like a rain cloud, dark and ready to burst like a swollen pimple, many British cannabis advocates are scratching their heads. The implications of their country departing from the European Union could either spell dark times or high times, depending on how the affair pans out.

There are a few options, and the choice lies in the British Parliament. Before going over some of the speculations, we should learn a little about the history of cannabis in Britain.

Cannabis in Britain

The history of cannabis in Britain dates back to 1928. This was when it became illegal to possess and use cannabis in all its forms, thanks to the cleverly-named Dangerous Drugs Act. The good leaders of Britain, in passing this law, began the long road of civilized resistance. During the 1960s, the counter-culture movement—spurred in part by the United States involvement in Vietnam as well as the rise of British rock—brought cannabis use to a new high. There were more reported arrests for marijuana possession by the end of the decade than ever before.

The 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act classified marijuana as a Class B narcotic. This meant that cannabis was considered a moderately dangerous drug. To highlight their lack of understanding, Alprazolam (Xanax) was filed as a Class C drug, meaning that it belongs to the class that sees the lowest risk for harm and carries the most lenient punishments. Class A is reserved for the hard stuff, like cocaine, opium, LSD, and magic mushrooms. Much like the drug scheduling in America, Britain’s classifications were overdue for an update. In 2018, marijuana dropped from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug—a substance that has medical value. It is still controlled but with the right prescription may be obtained.

Despite the illegality of cannabis in the UK, Britain remains the world’s largest exporter of medical marijuana.

Brexit and the EU

If Great Britain decides to leave the EU, cannabis will be harder to get in from the EU due to the potential trade restrictions that could happen. This, coupled with the fact that medical marijuana is legal in Britain but impossible to receive, leaves Brits up a creek with no paddle and heavily reliant on the black market for their herbal needs.

Further, if Brexit does go through, Brits will face restrictions across Europe. This includes trips to Amsterdam, where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes—if you are an EU citizen. Trade restrictions against Britain will more than likely tighten the borders. This may stifle drug trafficking from Europe and elsewhere, though the black market will find a way to thrive, as it does when under scrutiny.

This does not mean that everything is so bleak. On the contrary, it may spark some creative ventures to push cannabis to potential patients. Also, if the voice of reason is listened to, medical marijuana will get further sorted. If that succeeds and politics do not get in the way, the path to recreational marijuana use may be a possibility. Though that is the light at the end of a weird tunnel, it is a light. Nothing is outside the realm of reality.

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