Three months stand between the UK finally leaving the European Union, yet many Australian medical cannabis companies see the UK as the logical choice for their first overseas venture.

Companies such as Bod Australia and Emerald Clinics believe the UK’s size and regulatory similarities open a large, familiar market when global medical cannabis competition is rising.

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However Brexit, and surging Covid-19 infections, are pushing medical cannabis down the UK government’s list of priorities.

“Certainly before the last election the Johnson government was talking about a more expansive medicinal cannabis program. In true government fashion, it was a bit skinny on detail and heavy on motherhood statements,” Cann Group COO Shane Duncan told Cannabiz.

Cann Group COO Shane Duncan: not expecting big shifts in UK government policy in 2020.

“It would seem post the election it’s not really important to them anymore, probably because they’ve got much bigger fish to fry. We’re not anticipating massive shifts [in policy].”

The UK cannabis market is divided into two: medical products, delivered through the National Health Service (NHS) for three conditions and for a wider range of indications via private clinics; and cannabidiol-only (CBD) products which are classified as ‘novel foods’.

Keeping the cannabis trade open

Brexit, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, took place on January 31 this year and the transition period to thrash out a final exit agreement lasts until the end of 2020.

By mid-September, with talks deadlocked, the British government was threatening a “no deal” Brexit, where the UK leaves without an agreement on how to treat cross-border commerce and is immediately removed from all trade deals struck by the EU.