It may not be the most famous “Battle of Britain,” (yet) but unlike the last one, a green invasion has certainly taken hold in the UK and is here to stay.

As of November 1, cannabis as medicine is available (theoretically) via doctor’s prescription, and further rescheduled as a “Schedule II” medication. Where this leaves dronabinol (rescheduled to a Schedule III in many places, including the U.S. is another story). Regardless, that access is mostly theoretical as those on the ground begin to realize the scope of the problem now in front of them.

As in Germany, the UK has taken the first steps to integrate cannabinoids into its public health system. Like Germany, this also means that the NHS could be on the hook for some large cannabis orders. But that is the future.

Right now, as in Germany, things are a bit of a mess. On the ground reports from advocates indicate patients cannot find doctors, let alone legal supplies.

These two countries share a great deal of history at this point far beyond the ancestry of the British Royal Family. They are about to embark on some more when it comes to cannabis. Whether or not Britain Brexits.

A Brief History Of UK Cannabis Reform

As in other places, there has been a long battle on medical if not social acceptance in the UK. During the 1970’s, in places like East Finchley, if not Primrose Hill and the Mayfair set, the zeitgeist of the times was very pro-pot in general. Remember this was also the hub of the Beatles, David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, The Stones, Sting, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ralph Steadman, Mary Quant, Elaine Paige, Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde and so many more. Go down Camden Loch, or Portobello Road, and certainly to large parts of Brixton and the unreconstructed, pre Canary Wharf East End, and the smell of sensimilla was never, really, all that far away. It was linked inevitably for those whose life was sound-tracked by it, to the tunes from Capital Radio, still in its pirate broadcasting barge on the Thames days.

However Thatcher, the Irish Troubles, The Cold War if not the ’80’s changed all of that. There were many reasons that the drug war came to Britain in many of the same ways it came to the U.S. In 1998, the same year that residents in D.C. voted for medical use in the U.S. GW Pharmaceuticals obtained the first license to become a cannabinoid-focussed pharma company. Everyone else faced draconian penalties.

Fast forward to the modern world cannabis reform in the second decade of this century, and like elsewhere, things are a’changing. That said, like elsewhere, it took a few children almost dying and a few brave families to take a stand to finally push the needle this year. And in this case, a great deal of the pushing was done by a single mom determined to make the world a better place for her epileptic kid.

Now, with medical reform on the table, patients, doctors, advocates, and the industry enters a country with its own problems and drama, but as rich in history as the plant itself.

Meghan Markle marijuana is just the start of it. Although perhaps she might make her mark best and first, like Princess Di did before her, in AIDS clinics, by championing the medical question firmly. Given her penchant for cookbooks for good causes, what about one on edibles for patients there, Megs?

Learn the latest about the cannabis industry and network with top investors, entrepreneurs, and advocates at the International Cannabis Business Conference. Next up for the ICBC-San Francisco, California on February 7-8, 2019. Get your early-bird tickets by January 18th to save. 

After San Francisco, the ICBC heads to Barcelona, Spain, on March 14th and Berlin, Germany, from March 31st to April 2nd. Stay tuned for more exciting locations in the near future!