The UK CBD market was worth £690 million in the 12 months to the end of April 2021, up almost a third on the previous year, according to a research report by the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) and the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC).

The report claims regulatory changes by the Food Standards Agency and the Home Office mean “the UK now has the most evolved regulatory framework in the world for CBD”.

But it warns domestic restrictions on hemp cultivation and processing in the UK mean the bulk of the profits are going overseas because farmers must destroy the parts of the hemp crop from which CBD is extracted.

It calls on the UK government to adopt a “proactive strategy” towards the industry including: the creation of a dedicated agency to licence and oversee it; a new centre of excellence to fund, synthesise and promulgate the best new clinical evidence; and urgent reform of licensing policy to steer and harness the emerging scientific evidence.

Co-founder of the ACI and CMC Paul Birch said: “The size of this cannabinoid sector is now impossible to ignore. Almost without notice and certainly by accident rather than design, the UK has improbably become the world’s second-largest consumer cannabinoids market.”