The United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) tells us that in 2016, the United Kingdom was the largest exporter of cannabis in the world. Canada might have ramped up production since then but the country only produced a second-place snagging 80.7 tons that year, compared to the 95 tons produced by the UK—a whopping 44.9% of the world’s total marijuana production.
We don’t hear about UK weed because almost all of the UK’s cannabis production and exports are for a cannabis-derived prescription medicine from GW Pharmaceuticals, called Sativex, which uses a mix of THC and CBD to treat muscle stiffness and spasms from multiple sclerosis. Since the British government doesn’t classify Sativex as a cannabis product, it doesn’t ban it as it does virtually every other form of the plant and its parts.
But oddly enough, to the British government, marijuana has no medical value.
Following news of the INCB finding, though not necessarily spurned by it, Jeff Smith, the Labour MP for Manchester Withington and Labour whip, wrote an editorial outlining the practical reasons for legalizing cannabis, at least for the sake of public health.
He points to studies from drug policy think tank Volte-Face and from Dr. Marta Di Forti at King’s College London confirming that drugs in the hands of the black market lead to a ramping up of drug potency and toxicity, a degradation of its medicinal values, and higher instances of drug-related mental health issues.
Smith commends Washington state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board, whom he met with on a recent trip, for upholding “strict age limits and health warnings on all packaging” that allowed the state to collect $1B in tax revenues without an increase in use among youth and other fictional side effects used to scare lawmakers off of legalization.