Alfie Dingley, Victoria Atkins, the Royal College of Nursing… More and more stories are making headlines relating to medical cannabis in the United Kingdom. They reflect both the growing interest in medical cannabis and what many view as its imminent regulation. To top all that, Cannabis Europa, the largest conference about medical cannabis in Europe, will take place in London on Tuesday 22nd May.
Right now, everybody is waiting for the Home Office’s response on whether or not they’ll grant Alfie Dingley a license to import medical cannabis from the Netherlands. On the other hand, we’re in the absurd situation where the drugs minister is not able to comment on cannabis because of a conflict of interest.
Patients and campaigners who have been fighting for a safer access, like the United Patients Alliance and the APPG on Drug Policy Reform, will be represented at the conference. Also present will be Canadian and European investors, who see the United Kingdom and Europe as a great opportunity for growth in the medical cannabis industry. They are joining regulators, campaigners and patients to decide what medical cannabis will look like on this continent.
Now that foreign investors are eyeing the UK as their next growth market, it is an incredible opportunity for policy makers in the UK to actively consider a viable medical cannabis policy for this country’s patients. Ultimately, they are the beneficiaries of what we businessmen/women, campaigners, regulators and politicians are trying to achieve.
As the UK Government has consistently denied safe and legal access to patients, it’s understandable that some will argue that foreign investment is a threat. It can be, if there is poor or no regulation. But this is not what Volteface, nor other sensible voices for reform, are trying to do. Working together hand in hand, public authorities and the private sector can achieve reform which will give rise to an industry keeping the interest of patients at its core. The high level of interest that entrepreneurs are taking in Cannabis Europa and medical cannabis in the UK is an opportunity for the British Government and its regulatory bodies to come forward and create a medical cannabis regulatory framework that works for all.
This is why Volteface will be present at Cannabis Europa. Our Director Steve Moore will take part in a panel discussion on Mobilising (public) Opinion: Can We Change Medical Cannabis Policies? He’ll be sharing the stage with The Mail On Sunday’s contributing editor and Volteface Board Member Ian Birrell, Sam Hall from Brightblue, and Sarah Bain from Nesta Co. The panel will be chaired by Demos Director Polly MacKenzie. This panel will be exploring how campaigners and entrepreneurs can work together to increase public advocacy and lobby Government in favour of better medical cannabis policies for all parties involved.
It doesn’t take much experience in public affairs to understand that the wind is changing. Public opinion has shifted. Campaigners are more vocal than ever. Canopy Growth and Canaccord Genuity, two of the largest players in the legal cannabis industry in the world, will involved at the conference via either speaking at or sponsoring it. Investors and entrepreneurs are moving more and more capital into the industry. Policy makers like Volteface and the Adam Smith Institute are preparing the ground to establish a viable regulation framework. The only ingredient we’re missing is political will. Hopefully Cannabis Europa will help to trigger it by showing decision makers what advanced work has been done to prepare the UK as best as possible for the wave of regulation of medical cannabis that in coming.
Pierre-Yves Gallety is Political Advisor for Volteface think tank based in London, UK.