How will Cannabis legalisation change in 2023 in the UK?

February 27, 2023

In recent years cannabis has changed from being viewed as a purely recreational drug popular mainly with specific sections of society to a potential health and wellness revolution. Brands like our Londonderry CBD business have been driving this change, in no small part thanks to our commitment to raising awareness of the stringent third party testing all of our products undergo. So, how is this feeding back into the law and the journey towards getting cannabis legalised?

This article is a deep dive into the main theories for change surrounding the move towards cannabis legalisation in the UK. One of the most important things to note here is that this article is a commentary and an opinion piece, rather than a definitive timeless. We have no direct control over the speed with which cannabis UK legalisation moves, but we can contribute to the direction of travel by continuing to promote and highlight the quality of our products. 

Is cannabis illegal in the UK?

Firstly, we should add the disclaimer that while cannabis itself remains illegal in the UK, CBD is fully legal and increasingly tightly regulated. This is great news for anyone looking to make use of all the proven health and wellness that CBD can provide, all without the side effects which can be caused by THC. Now we’ve gotten that important caveat out of the way, let’s make some predictions on when cannabis will become legal in the UK. 

Laws of this nature typically take at least 2 years to pass from beginning to end, sometimes much longer. It would be highly unusual then if it turned out that you could buy cannabis online legally in the UK in 2023. While this may be frustrating to many who are reading this, it is for a very good reason. 

The law is ultimately there to keep us all safe and to regulate behaviour so that it does the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. If you just want to be able to legally buy cannabis then you might not think that this is the case, but stop and pause for a moment. Imagine a world in which the law was changed literally overnight and cannabis legalised in the UK tomorrow. Would this be a good thing? No, unequivocally this would be a bad idea. 

For the cannabis industry to be legalised (remember we’re not talking about CBD products like our own here folks) it needs to be legitimised. This means that while street dealing and small level home growing are a major part of the illegal cannabis industry at the moment, this cannot remain as the status quo. As with any widely available health/recreational product people put into their bodies, cannabis would need to be tightly regulated. No country where cannabis is legal has legalised it without checks and balances in place. 

Take an example: a first time user buys low grade street cannabis from an untrustworthy supplier in an attempt to self treat their social anxiety. In the hypothetical world of overnight legalisation of cannabis there would be nothing wrong with this from a legal point of view, but what about the health of the user? How would they know what they’re actually putting into their body is the substance they need? How would they check the purity and efficacy of what they’re consuming? And how would they be able to manage and plan their dosages over time?

What will happen if cannabis is legalised?

In a world in which cannabis was legalised overnight with no changes to the way the industry runs, this would clearly simply not be possible. There’s no shame in admitting this, it’s actually enlightening to think about the legalisation of cannabis in this way because it shows you what the process is all about: keeping people safe and well to the highest possible degree. 

Other changes would also need to be made which would then completely change the nature of the cannabis industry if it were to become the legal brother of the CBD industry. Growers and suppliers would need to be certified, a standard of independent testing would need to be set up, and the businesses who were now making money would have to do one very important thing: start paying tax. 

This all adds up to so much more than a mountain of paperwork — it would be a significant step change in the way cannabis legalisation would have to unfold. The reason we’re highlighting this is to demonstrate that cannabis legalisation is not moving slowly for the sake of it, but because of the sheer amount of work that is involved. 

If everyone is to be able to have a reliable, safe and health-conscious experience with cannabis — in the same way they already can with our Northern Irish CBD brand — a lot of ground work needs to be done. It is for this reason that we don’t foresee it happening within the next 2 years. 

One of the other obstacles that needs to be overcome is the prevailing attitude of the legislature to cannabis. While many people are increasingly coming round to science that clearly shows how CBD can treat everything from anxiety to chronic pain, cannabis retains something of social stigma in certain circles. The problem here is that the very people who are ultimately responsible for the granting of cannabis UK legalisation are some of the people who are most disconnected with the changing face of cannabis. 

While we don’t want to turn this into an anti-political class opinion piece, it is well worth noting the narrow social backgrounds many of our elected officials come from. For this reason, we see it as imperative that we continue to do everything we can to keep raising awareness of the health and wellness benefits of cannabis use, and the ways in which CBD is already legally helping people all over the world. 

This plays into the fact that one of the things the law is supposed to do is reflect the broad social consensus of the population at large. One of its core aims is to protect a way of life that the vast majority of reasonable people feel is safe, adequate and appropriate. And while no one will ever be able to convince every single person in the UK cannabis should be legalised, we can all come together to drive a very strong prevailing sentiment. 

What are the next steps to legalisation?

If you want to see cannabis legalised, keep pushing out the data and social benefits that can come from reduced anxiety, better mental health, and ways to manage chronic pain. CBD is a major player in this, and when contrasted to the current state of the cannabis industry in the UK, can be used as a clear demonstration of the progress that can be made in a relatively short space of time. 

This will not only help raise awareness of the issues and benefits, but help break the social stigma that still heavily surrounds cannabis in some quarters. Ideal if you want to make change in a sustainable, long term way that will turn the will of the people in favour of the scientists who best understand the benefits of this incredible natural creation. 

Back to Blog