Is the UK ready for the green rush of medicinal cannabis?

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Is the UK ready for the green rush of medicinal cannabis?

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In the US, medical cannabis is a multi-billion dollar industry. We go behind the scenes at one of Britain’s top-secret growing facilities and meet the experts who believe it’s high time the drug’s potential was harnessed in the UK, too

You might not quite have noticed, but Britain is in the midst of a cannabis revolution. This one plant, its proponents say, has the potential to reshape modern medicine. It’s happening, quickly and quietly; with scientists and doctors ushering in a new era of hi-tech flower power. As of today, over 60 countries have legalised some form of medicinal cannabis: since November 2018 that’s also been the case in Britain. Some 30,000 of us have already been prescribed cannabis for conditions ranging from arthritis to epilepsy, anxiety to multiple sclerosis. Experts predict the list will soon grow longer and specialist surgeries are springing up nationwide to cater for ever-growing demand.

At the Curaleaf Clinic on London’s Harley Street, I meet Chris Cowan, 47. He was 13 when he first smoked cannabis: one joint with friends, illicit and casual, in early 90s rural Warwickshire. It would be nine years before a doctor would diagnose him with clinical depression and many more until his PTSD would be identified. Medicinal cannabis was decades from legalisation and yet, as far back as then, he knew intuitively its effect on him was more than the hit of a recreational high. “While friends would be giggling or rolling around intoxicated,” he says, “I found a calm I’d never felt before – that’s the only way I can describe it. The older I got, the more I noticed. Cannabis was medicinal, alleviating the traumas in both my body and mind.” Only 30 years later would the British medical and legal system catch up.

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