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UK cannabis groups push government to ease trade restrictions

British medical cannabis companies are lobbying the government to ease restrictions around importing and exporting the drug, warning that they hinder growth and will force them to shift investment outside the UK.

Marijuana was approved for medical use in the UK in 2018, following a public outcry in response to headlines that children suffering from epilepsy were having to travel abroad to access cannabis-derived treatments.

However, companies in the sector complain that speedy legalisation has been hampered by excessive red tape and argue that the UK risks falling behind in an industry that is rapidly expanding in Europe, buoyed by increasing interest from investors in Canada and the US.

Groups can currently only import cannabis to fulfil existing UK prescriptions, and the Home Office will not issue export permits for most cannabis-based medicines.

“We’re hoping to raise series C funding of up to £15m in the next months, and all of that will be spent in the UK if we can export, otherwise we will have to go to Denmark, Portugal, Holland or Germany,” said Ben Langley, chief executive of three-year-old start up Grow Biotech. The company, which makes and distributes cannabis medicines to patients with prescriptions, wants to expand its manufacturing capability. [Read more at Financial Times]

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