What’s Trending In The Cannabis Space; A Look At The UK market

Cannabis or Hemp has been known for long to be a psychotropic substance. Also known by the name marijuana in some countries, the most harmful property of this substance is its ability to affect the cognitive abilities of a person among its known ill-effects. The substance is also addictive, making the person using it becoming dependent on it until he becomes terminally incapacitated. Due to these properties of raw cannabis and its harmful effects on the populace, the governments of countries around the world have largely taken a negative stance on the possession and usage of this substance and have restricted its cultivation and processing without proper authorisation like most other known psychotropic substances. Such restriction on cultivation and processing had in the past restricted medicinal investigation into the biochemical properties of this substance to a certain extent. The recent spate of discoveries being made about the many useful properties of the substance has made it one the most sought after substances for the treatment of some of the most difficult to treat ailments.

By the year 2020, the state of development in the medicinal cannabis space has reached a certain level of criticality. Australia has now legalised cannabis cultivation and processing; Canada is slowly inching towards a more liberal regulatory posture towards the substance, and in Europe, Germany is now the largest market for companies that produces therapeutics derived out of this substance. Going forward in the year 2020, below three trending dynamics will lead the maximum activities in this space.

  1. Cannabis is expected to gain more ground – The usage of the substance in its medicinal avatar is expected to definitely see an expansion during the year. More and more companies will enter this space and offer a diversified number of medicines. An increasing number of medical practitioners will prescribe medicines that would be derived out of Cannabis while there would be significantly more patients than today who would be benefiting from the application of these medicines. As news of the beneficial aspects of the substance leaves the shores of the countries that have allowed its production and usage, more and more countries will take notice and will be prompted to follow suit. At the beginning of 2020 vast populace of the world are still deprived of Cannabis-related therapeutics; as time progresses the market will expand.
  1. Cannabis as vaping product is anticipated to expand outside of US – The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of United States of America has recently put a ban on vaping products after pressure from various anti-drug groups and several alleged deaths after the usage of these products. In the aftermath of the ban, however, there will be a decline in the vaping-delivered cannabis product market, as the United States provides a very large market for the product. However, the product is expected to witness an increased usage outside of the United States in countries that have either legalised the substance or are now inching towards liberalised legislation. The major countries where such expansion could happen are Australia, Canada and Germany.
  1. Further refinement in understanding of the compound could lead to positive legislation – As we write this article, significant research work is taking place to better our understanding of the beneficial properties of Cannabidiol or CBD, the active compound found in the Cannabis plant, which is the key potent biochemical with multiple medicinal applications. Numerous studies and research work have proved that this substance, when isolated from raw Cannabis, does not have any psychotropic properties. As a further refinement of our understanding of this substance happens and gets documented there will be greater acceptability of these products. Necessary groundwork in this regard already exists with further progress expected in 2020 and beyond.

United Kingdom has been a bit slow with regards to changing its mindset for Cannabis and its medicinal properties. The country has been slow in changing its regulations while countries like Germany and Italy have already enacted enabling legislations. There are only a handful of companies in the United Kingdom that work with Cannabis and most of their produce is exported in the absence of enabling legislation to market in the country.

Below are three important British pharmaceutical companies that have a significant cannabis portfolio.

  1. GW Pharmaceuticals – The company is headquartered in Cambridge in the United Kingdom. The company has developed two medicines derived out of Cannabis called Sativex, for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and Epidiolex for the treatment of Epilepsy. The former is legally sold in the United Kingdom while the other has got approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration in the year 2018. The company has a licence to cultivate and process Cannabis in the United Kingdom legally and produces hundreds of tons of this substance each year. The company also has a partnership with Bayer under which the latter has the marketing rights of Sativex in the United Kingdom. The shares of the company are listed for trading on the NASDAQ.
  1. Associated British Foods Plc (LON: ABF) – The company is a London Stock Exchange listed, diversified group company offering a wide range of products and services which are marketed through many widely known brands and enjoy a high degree of autonomy, with operations in 52 countries across Europe, Southern Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia. The group has five reporting segments being Agriculture, Sugar, Ingredients, Retail and Grocery.

The company is also one of the largest legal producers of Cannabis in the country and is the primary supplier of raw materials to GW Pharmaceuticals.

  1. Futura Medical - This company is a United, Kingdom-based pharmaceutical research and development company. The company has a number of therapeutic candidates in advanced stages of clinical development that have the promise of providing treatment for various human ailments. The company's therapeutics are in the form of gels and creams and are intended to be absorbed via the human skin. The company has named its therapeutic as DermaSys and also has a joint venture with CBDerma Technology to explore possibilities in Cannabis-based therapeutics delivery via the transdermal route.