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Cannabis Tea With The Queen?

united kingdom

GW Pharmaceuticals wins the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2021 – what next for the British market?

GW Pharmaceuticals, the sole British medical cannabis cultivator and producer, known mostly for Sativex and Epidiolex – has been granted a prestigious award. Namely the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. For those unfamiliar with the prize, it is a tradition that has been around since 1966 when it was first established, by Royal Warrant, to promote British companies who exported their products.

The fact that a cannabis company might win the award is, in its own way, an industry first. However, when it comes to the history of GW Pharma, this should not be surprising. The company was established at the end of the last century as the only British company that could cultivate cannabis for pharmaceutical purposes.

Today, the company’s drugs for MS (Sativex) and a form of child epilepsy (Epidiolex) are exported globally. 

The biggest problem of course for acceptance – if not sales? Both drugs are on the highly expensive side of the equation. So much so that the country’s own health department – the National Health Service – did not cover it until a bulk purchase with the company could be negotiated (within the last 24 months).

Studies have also shown that drug tolerance (within a year) is an issue the company has still to negotiate.

Beyond that of course, the politics around creating a monopoly on medical cannabis production while denying the same medicine to the British public (also while former Prime Minister Theresa May’s husband was a major shareholder) has always rankled the rest of the industry. 

The reality? Reform so far in the UK has come, in fact, in spite of, not because of GW Pharma.

What Next?

At this point, after several years of imports from other places – starting with cannabis oil that treats epilepsy and other conditions that GW Pharma medications do not – the entire cannabis discussion is already more than just one company.

Both cultivation and extraction facilities are getting off the ground – and obtaining hard to get certifications that will allow them to compete with GW Pharma for the first time. 

Beyond that, cannabis reform at least of the decrim kind is at least on the agenda of the newly elected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. 

GW Pharma, in other words, may have won the right to have tea (or at least an audience) with good Queen Lizzie. In the meantime, the rest of the industry is evolving around it.

Be sure to book your tickets now for the International Cannabis Business Conference when it returns to Europe – Summer 2021!

United Kingdom