The UK cannabis market would be worth more than £1 billion (A$1.8b) by 2026 – but only if recreational use was legalised this year, according to new analysis.

Market intelligence firm Prohibition Partners predicted the medical market could hit £453m in four years, representing almost a quarter of the total European market by that time.

Meanwhile, it estimated that recreational sales would be worth more than £627m by 2026 if it was legalised this year, taking the total market to £1.1b.

The figures were released as Prohibition Partners prepares to host Cannabis Europa in London.

It said such growth in the UK could see the cannabis industry play a significant role in boosting the economy, as well as supporting the Government’s agenda to ‘level up’ deprived areas.

But the research suggested a number of measures are needed to unlock the potential in the UK, including allowing cannabis medicines to be prescribed by NHS doctors and covered by public health insurance, and the reform of adult-use laws.

Meanwhile, Prohibition Partners predicted the European medical and adult-use market could be worth up to £3.2bn by 2026 if adult-use legalisation progresses in Germany.

Prohibition Partners chief executive and co-founder Stephen Murphy said: “The genie is out of the bottle with the cannabis industry – North America has embraced it, and Europe is starting to. The sector has shown it can deliver huge levels of investment, economic growth and jobs for economies that embrace it.

“The UK now has to ensure it isn’t left behind as investors turn toward Europe as the next frontier of the cannabis industry. At a time when the UK sorely needs similar economic boosts, going green and backing cannabis will deliver for the UK economy.”

More than 1,500 delegates are expected to attend Cannabis Europa from over 25 countries. The conference takes place on June 28 and 29.

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...