What would decriminalising cannabis in the UK really mean?

April 13, 2023

For those who are in any doubt at the moment, it’s important we stress that cannabis is still a prohibited substance at the time of writing in the UK. You’ll see people growing cannabis online in all sorts of settings, swearing by the health and wellness benefits and claiming that a California style full legalisation is here in all but name. It isn’t and that’s really important to get across.

If you want to benefit from the proven health and wellness benefits of cannabis legally, the only way to do it at the moment here in the UK is with CBD. Products that are ethically sourced and fully tested by independent experts, like those that make up our Londonderry CBD brand, are the only ones we’d trust enough to put into our bodies. But that’s a story for another day — today we’re diving into decriminalisation of cannabis, what it means, and what it would actually look like if it came into effect tomorrow. 

What would the UK look like if cannabis was legalised?

There are those who will tell you till they are blue in the face that if cannabis legalisation came into effect like it has in the US, there would be something of a free for all in terms of the abuse of banned substances. Cannabis has, for years, been unfairly painted as something of a gateway drug because of the reported number of Class A addicts who start out by experimenting with cannabis. While every case of life-altering addiction is undoubtedly a tragedy, the statistics quoted are misleading. 

What they fail to take into account are the sheer number of people who experiment with cannabis, many for health and wellness reasons, and never even think of progressing to harder substances. This isn’t proof that cannabis is a gateway drug and that legalisation of cannabis will lead to something akin to an epidemic of Class A addiction; it is quite the opposite. 

You only have to look at states in the US where cannabis has been legalised for several years to see that this is not the case. Even in states where the rates of Class A abuse, and associated arrests, exceed those in the UK, cannabis is not acting as a gateway drug. So, if we don’t think it would lead to a rise in the use of other substances, what would it lead to?

There may be ways to buy cannabis online legally in the future 

This is an attractive proposition for those who want to smoke cannabis, or take it in other forms, purely for medicinal reasons. The idea of buying a small amount of cannabis from a street dealer of unknown origins would become a thing of the past with proper restrictions and regulations around the sale of cannabis. 

Opening it to be sold online would not only be safe and more convenient for many, but truly accessible for those most in need. It’s worth noting that if you want to benefit from all proven positive effects cannabis can have on your life, our Londonderry CBD brand can already help you do that without any of the psychoactive THC being present. 

The idea of buying cannabis online, and seeing the tighter regulation needed to make this happen in the first place, is an attractive one for lobbyists. It would also see the movement of large scale cannabis growing away from illegal organisations and towards fully accredited farms and industrial growers. One potential issue here is that criminal associations who have a vested interest in retaining the ability to make money from cannabis may attempt to move in on legitimate businesses. This is where legislation, and the resources to re-enforce it, need to be given real teeth to make sure the changes are truly sustainable in all parts of the country. 

Could a cannabis prescription UK model be viable?

While at the minute, the current state of cannabis UK legalisation doesn’t prohibit medicinal cannabis being prescribed to certain patients, it’s basically impossible to get a prescription. This has a lot to do with misguided notions of cannabis and the risks associated, and less about the actual efficacy of the plant to do what the patient wants it to. 

If cannabis were fully decriminalised in the UK and Britain became a country where cannabis is legal, we can expect this to have a sizeable impact on the number of cannabis prescriptions granted. Doctors would immediately be free of the worry of prescribing something which is illegal under other settings and would have significant resale value — one of the primary concerns of GPs at present when faced with the prospect of prescribing cannabis. 

For the model to be workable, there would first need to be a trusted and accredited network of growers who are able to produce, harvest and distribute their products on a national scale. Without this level of UK-wide coverage, you would run the risk of hotspots quickly popping up whereby areas with suitable supply could be targeted by opportunistic cannabis tourists. Those areas in which supply was unsuitable or inconsistent would then leave themselves open to criminal activity as illegal organisations looked to profit from filling the gap. Clearly proper planning on a national scale is needed to make this type of shift in the way cannabis is seen workable. 

When will cannabis be legal in the UK?

Last but not least, let’s not dodge the leading question we’re asked as we put in the hard yards to build a natural UK-based CBD brand you can trust. Everyone is trying to predict when cannabis will be legalised, but unless you’re actively looking to set up an industrial growing farm, there really is little to be gained from speculation. 

The law and accompanying legislation moves much slower than daily life, with a law that takes two years or more to pass being commonplace. While this may be highly frustrating for those in the pro cannabis lobby, it’s important that changes in the law are never brought about through knee jerk reactions. 

It’s also key to remember that, regardless of the science, there are some people who will never get beyond the current image of cannabis as an illegal gateway drug. While it would be nice to bring all of those detractors with us, there are people in life who will object to anything, regardless of the evidence that’s put to them. In our opinion, the best approach is to be open and honest about the science, willing to accept that there is still work to be done on both sides, and to keep everything cordial and polite. 

Too often these types of potentially divisive issues descend into social media slanging matches online to the benefit of no one and the annoyance of virtually everyone. What we want to do here is take the high ground, allow science to speak for itself, and continually push for the gradual, liberal change that makes the UK system work. It may not always be quite as fast as we want it to be, but if we can persuade those in charge to trust the science, we can be confident we’ll get there in the end.

Back to Blog