Lawrence Stephens


Thanks to regulatory liberalisation in several countries, the global cannabis market is flourishing, most notably in respect of medicinal and wellness cannabinoids. Currently estimated to be worth more than $12bn, estimates of its projected global value by 2025 range from $40bn to $70bn.

The cannabis industry is primarily divided into three sectors: medical cannabis; the cannabidiol (CBD) wellness sector; and industrial hemp. No single piece of UK legislation directly governs cannabis. Instead, the primary laws and regulations fall under three headings:

  • Controlled drugs legislation;
  • The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA); and
  • Product class-specific legislation applicable to the CBD wellness sector (food, vaping, and cosmetics laws).

Sustained campaigning by patients’ families and by doctors has led to significant change in UK cannabis legislation. On 1 November 2018, the UK legalised the use of medical cannabis through the rescheduling of specific categories of medical cannabis products from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, which made it legal to produce and prescribe cannabis-derived products.

Schedule 2 cannabis products for medicinal use are referred to as “cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans” (CBPMs), which can now be prescribed to patients by doctors who are on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register.

The legal complexities on how such products are regarded, both in the UK and internationally, invariably make it difficult for businesses to navigate. They need the support of an experienced legal team in dealing with a dynamic and difficult set of regulatory and commercial challenges.

Our Regulatory Solutions team has advised cannabis-related businesses on all aspects of their business operations. Led by Ricardo Geada, a leading UK lawyer in this space, the team has advised several prominent global brands in the medical cannabis industry and the CBD wellness sector.