Will cannabis be legal in the UK in 2021?

The new year could see a multitude of changes in laws surrounding cannabis. The question on everyone’s lips is, “Will cannabis be finally made legal in the UK?”  In December WHO, The World Health Organization moved to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, pushing the UN to force a vote on the subject, rejected but still progress. In November French high courts in a appeal brought by Kanavape, ruled on hemp including CBD Flower that  they are outside the UN single convention on narcotics, an Italian court followed suit the week after. Where will the UK decision fall on CBD and cannabis is the question for 2021!

This is a valid question. Over the past few years, cannabis-related legislation has undergone a multitude of changes. In fact, at this year’s GCI Virtual Summit, we learned that perspectives surrounding CBD are changing.

But what will happen in 2021? Will the British government finally bite the bullet and legalise cannabis in the UK?

At the Extract, we’ve done our research. This is what we think will happen in 2021.

A history of cannabis in the UK

Before we talk about whether or not cannabis will be made legal in the UK next year, we should break down the history of cannabis legislation.

Since we’ve discussed this before, we have also talked about how CBD can help people like those who suffer from panic attacks, how CBD when accompanied with exercise has been shown to help people with Sciatica we’ll summarise what we know here before delving into the meat of our article. Large brands like Nike have been endorsing hemp and its benefits on our carbon footprint per acre grown. UK based research has show the effects of CBD on blood flow in the brain.

Laws surrounding cannabis began popping up in 1929, in line with the Dangerous Drugs Act. In 1971, the growth of cannabis — across the board — was restricted in the UK. Hemp was used in shipping and many industries.

However, in 2001, legislation began to change for the better with the Misuse of Drugs Regulations. In fact, 2001 is when things began to change, regarding the legal status of cannabis in the UK.

People were allowed to grow cannabis, provided that they had a license from the Home Office. However, this cannabis could only be used for research purposes.

In 2015, cannabis was finally made legal in the UK — for medical purposes only. Thanks to the Misuse of Drugs (Designation), patients could now be granted cannabis prescriptions by the NHS.

The situation has remained the same since 2015. Thankfully, organisations like Grow Pharma are working to raise awareness surrounding cannabis in the UK.

As the British public become more and more aware of the benefits of cannabis, we believe that making cannabis legal in the UK can only change things for the better.

What does this mean for CBD?

Unlike cannabis, CBD is not a controlled substance. This means that it’s perfectly legal in the UK. However, CBD products must meet certain standards in order to be deemed legal.

For example, CBD products cannot contain more than 1mg of THC. While CBD is not a controlled substance, THC — the psychoactive compound in cannabis — is still very much illegal in the UK.

Therefore, manufacturers must stick to these stringent guidelines when manufacturing their CBD products. While this is not always the case, failure to do this could result in these manufacturers finding themselves in trouble with the Food Safety Association (FSA).

Will recreational cannabis be legal in the UK?

At The Extract, we might not be certain that cannabis will be legal in the UK by 2021. However, what we do know is that things look promising. We aren’t just saying that.

In 2008, Boris Johnson was one of the first Conservative MPs to call for the legalisation of medical cannabis. His reasoning behind this was that medical cannabis could be a game-changer for individuals who suffer from chronic pain.

However, with Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister, we believe that the UK now has the potential to legalise cannabis. According to BuzzFeed, Johnson hired Blair Gibbs as a special advisor.

Mr. Gibbs has called for the reform of cannabis laws for a long time. He held this position at 10 Downing Street for a little over a year. Despite his short stint as an advisor to Boris Johnson, we believe that his beliefs surrounding cannabis could have had a lasting effect. Legislation has opened access for special cases like Charlie Hughes a child patient approved for cannabis.

The impact of the cannabis situation abroad

In addition to this, the progress made throughout Europe, and the discussions in Scotland will no doubt have a bearing on Boris Johnson’s decision.

This is because countries like the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain have decriminalised cannabis.

Furthermore, Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic have completely legalised medical cannabis. In these countries, the number of medical cannabis patients is on the rise, proving that relaxed attitudes towards cannabis could be beneficial. Countries like France continue to pass laws on CBD and cannabis.

Closer to home, Scotland also seems to be making moves towards the legalisation of medical cannabis. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, has spoken up in favour of making medical cannabis legal.

Failure to jump on the pro-cannabis bandwagon could make the UK look outdated and archaic. As a nation that has consistently been on the cutting-edge of medical legislation and technology, this is clearly not an angle Boris Johnson wants to be stuck with.

Based on this, we can safely assume that the UK will make moves towards making cannabis legal. However, it might not happen in 2021, as it might take a little more time to get the go-ahead.

What should the UK take into consideration before making cannabis legal?

We believe that there are several factors that the UK should take into consideration, before attempting to legalise cannabis. These factors could potentially positively sway their decision.

Upon considering these factors, the British government could realise that a variety of individuals would benefit from having legal access to cannabis in the UK.

Health benefits

Adding cannabis to your wellness routine can have a host of benefits. Studies have shown that cannabis can provide relief from seizures. Many individuals who cannot take seizure medication have been able to control their seizures with cannabis. The fact that some suppliers even in the US like Diamond have been found to have the incorrect ingredients on there packaging

In addition to this, medical cannabis is a effective treatment for insomnia. A large number of the British population suffers from insomnia. Making cannabis legal in the UK could potentially improve their quality of life.

That’s not all; the anti-inflammatory properties in cannabis can help with arthritis. While reports are mostly anecdotal, the legalisation of cannabis could very well lead to more studies on the topic.


Accessing the supply of medical cannabis in the UK can be difficult. This can be discouraging for patients, who then try and access cannabis in other ways. By doing this, they could potentially end up with a high-THC, low-CBD strain of cannabis.

Making cannabis legal in the UK and regulating it would change things for the better. By doing this, the British government will be able to test and approve certain strains of cannabis.

As a result, British citizens will have access to tested, approved strains of cannabis.

Key takeaways

At The Extract, we believe that the British government has a lot to gain by legalising cannabis. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. Choosing to legalise cannabis in the UK could be a game-changer for British citizens across the board.

While we might not see this change in 2021, we believe that this could happen in the near future. After all, legalising and regulating cannabis is an extremely progressive position to take, and the UK does not want to be left behind.

Source: The Extract (Stephanie Fernandez)

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