According to the latest UN report, the UK continues to be the main exporter of medical cannabis worldwide, producing 19.7 tons, or 77.8 per cent of global exports of medical cannabis in 2018. In comparison, the Netherlands produced 3.0 tons, or 11.9 per cent of global exports, followed by Canada; 1.8 tons, or 6.9 per cent.
British Sugar saw the writing on the wall for sugar production in 2016 and wisely, they diversified. They were granted a licence to cultivate medicinal cannabis in their 18-hectare greenhouse facility in Norfolk, UK.
The company won a contract with the UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals who sell Cannabis-based drugs Savitax and Epidiolex, the latter of which was approved for use by the FDA in the USA. The UK followed suit in 2019. Epidiolex is now the only Cannabis-based medicine which can be prescribed in the UK. This was happening at the same time that the Conservative government was insisting that cannabis had “no recognised medical benefits”.
The Managing Director of British Sugar, Paul Kenward, is married to British Conservative MP and former drugs minister, Victoria Atkins who is firmly against de-criminalising cannabis. Theresa May’s husband, Philip May, works for the company that owns the largest stake in GW Pharmaceuticals.
The British government’s party line on cannabis remains that it is “a dangerous street drug with no accepted medicinal value”, whilst they are licensing and supporting the monopolisation of cannabis cultivation by private multinational corporations to grow the crop in the UK and export it worldwide.
Whilst cannabis use is still stigmatised in the UK, big businesses with links to the Government are mass producing the drug with little or no competition possible, and are then able to take advantage of the countries and states across the world that have legalised cannabis, leading to an export bonanza for a tiny minority who have benefitted from convenient concessions and licenses. British Sugar’s operation, hidden out in the East Anglian countryside, produces the majority of these exports.