Britain is the largest exporter of legal cannabis in the world despite ban, a UN report has found.
Findings by the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) stated that the UK produced 95 tonnes of legal cannabis in 2016 – more than double the 2015 total of 42 tonnes.
The UK’s production now accounts for 44.9 per cent of the world total.
The report puts Canada in second place with 80.7 tonnes produced. Some 2.1 tonnes was exported from the UK, making it responsible for 67.7 per cent of the world total, followed by the Netherlands (16.4 per cent).
A significant part of the UK’s legal cannabis production goes towards a cannabis-based medicine called Sativex.
Produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, it is available on prescription, but only via the NHS in Wales.
However campaigners have criticised the UK government saying they “consistently refused to allow medical cannabis in the UK on the basis that it has ‘no therapeutic value'”.
Medical cannabis products licensed in other countries remain illegal in the UK, even when prescribed by a doctor who has determined they are needed by a UK patient.
Steve Rolles, Transform’s Senior Policy Analyst said: “It is scandalous and untenable for the UK government to maintain that cannabis has no medical uses, at the same time as licensing the world’s biggest government approved medical cannabis production and export market.
“It is profoundly unethical, and a violation of the fundamental right to health, to deny people access to medicines that are prescribed by their doctors.
The issue of medical cannabis was highlight recently by parents of six-year-old British boy Alfie Dingley. They say their son, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, can be treated with cannabis oil but it is banned in the UK.
Since 2000, more and more countries have started to use cannabis and cannabis extracts for medical purposes, as well as for scientific research. In 2000, total licit production was 1.4 tonnes; by 2016 it had increased to 211.3 tonnes.