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Cannabis Market Share Leaders UK

Analysing Cannabis Market Share Leaders: A Focus on the UK

The cannabis market in the UK is an intricate web of players, each vying for control over a growing and increasingly lucrative industry. Dominating Cannabis market share are the Lyphe Group, Curaleaf network, and IPS Pharma/Grow Pharma, creating a stronghold on nearly 60% of the market through their vast networks of clinics, doctors, pharmacies, importers, and distributors.

Despite being one of the world’s largest exporters of medicinal cannabis, the UK relies heavily on imports for domestic use, highlighting a stark disparity between the nation’s production capabilities and its actual market control.

Key Takeaways

  • The UK cannabis industry is primarily controlled by the Lyphe Group, Curaleaf network, and IPS Pharma/Grow Pharma, collectively accounting for around 60% of the market share.
  • The UK is a major global exporter of medicinal cannabis, yet it relies on imports for domestic consumption, showcasing a disconnect between its production abilities and market control.
  • Cannabis market analysis indicates a rapidly growing cannabis market size, with the potential for increased dominance in the coming years.
  • Despite being one of the world’s largest medicinal cannabis exporters, the UK faces numerous challenges in its domestic market growth and expansion.
  • Policy changes, private sector investment, and key stakeholders’ actions will play vital roles in shaping the cannabis market growth and its trajectory in the future.

Insight into the UK’s Cannabis Legalisation and Industry Emergence

The country’s conservative policy approach has shaped the history of cannabis legalisation within the United Kingdom. Although considered one of the world’s largest exporters of medicinal cannabis, it was not until 2018 that medicinal cannabis was legalised in the UK for patients with rare illnesses. However, the legal framework surrounding cannabis in the UK remains stringent, posing considerable challenges to the market’s growth and patient access to medicinal cannabis.

Legal Status and Cannabis Market Share
Cannabis Legal Status

The Historical Context of Cannabis Legislation in the UK

Cannabis first became illegal for recreational use under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1971. Since then, it has primarily remained a Class B drug despite periodic decriminalisation efforts. The medicinal cannabis legalisation in 2018 marked a pivotal moment in the UK’s cannabis legislation. However, only patients with specific conditions, such as rare forms of epilepsy or severe nausea induced by chemotherapy, may access prescribed cannabis. This exclusivity has greatly impacted the growth of the UK’s cannabis industry.

Legal Framework and Restrictions Impacting Market Growth

As a direct result of the UK’s stringent legal framework, growth within the cannabis market faces substantial restrictions, and medicinal cannabis products must be imported, leading to delays in procurement and high costs for patients. Moreover, guidelines set forth by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as well as the National Health Service (NHS) impose additional restrictions on the industry’s growth and patient access to prescribed cannabis.

The UK cannabis market’s growth is restricted by stringent legal frameworks, particularly regarding medicinal cannabis, prescribing only for limited conditions and requiring all medicinal cannabis products to be imported, resulting in delays and high costs.

Several government bodies, including the Home Office, directly impact the cannabis industry’s growth and patient access. The following table summarises these entities and their roles:

Government BodyRole in Cannabis Legalisation and Regulation
Home OfficeResponsible for overseeing the domestic licensing of medical cannabis and industrial hemp production.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)Offers guidance on the clinical use of medicinal cannabis and the conditions for which it can be prescribed.
National Health Service (NHS)Funds and offers patient access to medicinal cannabis products through GP referrals and specialist care.

Ultimately, the history of cannabis legislation in the UK and its current legal framework show a marked disconnect between domestic policy and international market positions. Consequently, the growth of the UK’s cannabis industry is hindered by many factors, ranging from legal restrictions to inadequate patient access.

The Economic Impact of Cannabis on the UK Market

According to recent cannabis market research, the UK medicinal cannabis market is experiencing rapid growth and is expected to be worth USD 1.2 billion by 2024. This progress is significant not only for its market value but also for the broader economic impact of cannabis on the UK, including job creation, potential tax revenue, and contributions to the agricultural and environmental sectors.

The emergence of this booming industry has already generated numerous job opportunities, spanning from cultivation and processing to distribution and retail. With further market expansion, the number of job vacancies will increase substantially in the coming years.

Moreover, legalising cannabis for recreational use has the potential to generate considerable tax revenues. A recent study estimated that legalisation could yield an annual tax revenue of £5.5 billion. This income could fund various public services, including healthcare, education, and infrastructure projects.

“Legalising cannabis for recreational use could generate an annual tax revenue of £5.5 billion in the UK.”

In addition to the financial benefits, the cannabis industry holds potential for positive environmental and agricultural impacts. For instance, hemp, a non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis plant, can be utilised for various purposes, including textiles, biofuel, and an eco-friendly alternative to plastics. This versatility contributes to environmental sustainability and could incentivise growth in UK agriculture.

$17.5 billion (2018)$1.6 billion (2018)£5.5 billion (Potential)

The UK market revenue for cannabis products is currently concentrated in the medicinal sector; however, the economic impact is substantial and multifaceted, extending far beyond the market value. As the UK market continues to expand and diversify, the broader economic advantages could significantly contribute to the country’s prosperity. Legalisation for recreational use, in particular, represents an untapped potential for increased tax revenue – a lucrative opportunity for both the government and the cannabis industry alike.

Trends in Medicinal Cannabis: Demand and Supply Dynamics

In recent years, the United Kingdom has experienced a significant shift in the demand for medicinal cannabis. The continuous medicinal cannabis market growth and the ever-changing cannabis market trends spur this transformation.

Analysing Medicinal Cannabis Market Growth in the UK

The demand for medicinal cannabis in the UK has grown steadily, with an impressive 425% growth in the private prescription of unlicensed medical products. This rapid increase has led to the expectation that the UK will become the second-largest market in Europe for medicinal cannabis.

“The 425% growth in private prescriptions of unlicensed medical products signifies the potential for exponential growth in the UK’s medicinal cannabis market.”

Challenges Facing Patients and Prescription Barriers

Despite this growth, patients continue to face significant prescription barriers. Only specialist doctors have the authorisation to prescribe medicinal cannabis, and NHS prescriptions for the medicine have severe limits. With an estimated 1.4 million patients seeking cannabis products through illicit markets due to legal restrictions, the need for change is more prominent than ever.

  1. Restrictions to prescriptions by specialist doctors only
  2. Scarcity of NHS prescriptions for medicinal cannabis
  3. 1.4 million patients seeking cannabis products through illicit markets

Import Reliance and its Consequences for the Domestic Market

Remarkably, the UK is one of the largest global exporters of cannabis. Yet, the domestic market still suffers from product shortages and high costs due to its heavy reliance on imported cannabis products. This discord between the country’s domestic policies and international market priorities has resulted in substantial consequences for the healthcare sector and the patients who require these medications.

Consequences for the Domestic MarketExplanation
Product ShortagesImporting medicinal cannabis can result in extra expenses, leading to inflated product prices.
High CostsDomestic market restrictions contrast with the UK’s position as a major global cannabis exporter.
Discord between PoliciesDomestic market restrictions contrast with the UK’s position as a major global cannabis exporter

In conclusion, careful observation of the medicinal cannabis market growth and cannabis market trends is critical for recognising both the opportunities and challenges facing the UK’s market. By addressing the current prescription barriers, expanding domestic production, and harmonising policies, the UK can establish itself as a leader in the international medicinal cannabis sector.

The Role of Private Clinics and Prescriptions in Market Expansion

Medical Cannabis Eligibility prescription UK
The Role of Private Clinics and Prescriptions in Cannabis Market

As the demand for medicinal cannabis increases, private cannabis clinics in the UK and online services play a significant role in expanding the market. Despite access to medicinal cannabis being legal, the strict eligibility criteria for National Health Service (NHS) prescriptions hinder its accessibility for numerous patients. Relying on prescription cannabis through private clinics has become a vital alternative for many.

The growing number of private cannabis clinics in the UK is bridging the gap between legislation and the needs of patients, allowing greater access to prescriptions and dispensing services.

Private clinics are rapidly emerging as essential healthcare providers for patients seeking medicinal cannabis. These establishments operate in conjunction with specialist doctors who have the authorisation to prescribe cannabis-based medical products. The recent growth of private cannabis clinics in the UK has been attributed to the limited availability of NHS prescriptions, high costs associated with imported products, and the increasing awareness among patients regarding medicinal cannabis as a treatment option.

  1. Expanding patient access to prescriptions
  2. Addressing the limitations of NHS prescriptions
  3. Providing various healthcare services and consultations
  4. Ensuring a patient-centric approach in the context of cannabis-based medicine

Some of the prominent private cannabis clinics in the UK include The Medical Cannabis Clinics, Sapphire Medical Clinics, and MyAccess Clinics, which cater to a wide range of medical conditions and advocate for the responsible use of cannabis-based medicine.

ClinicServices OfferedConditions Treated
Sapphire Medical ClinicsAssessments, Prescriptions, MonitoringPain Management, Neurological Disorders, Mental Health Conditions
ReleafAssessments, Prescriptions, MonitoringPain Management, Neurological Disorders, Sleep Disorders
MyAccess ClinicsConsultations, Prescriptions, Patient SupportPain Management, Sleep Disorders, Mental Health Conditions

Exploring the Hemp and CBD Market within the UK

The UK hemp and CBD market faces various regulatory challenges, shaping the industry landscape and influencing overall growth. In this section, we delve into the current regulatory landscape for CBD and hemp products and explore the potential future of the industry post-Novel Foods regulation.

Exploring the Hemp and CBD Market within the UK
Exploring the Hemp and CBD Market within the UK

The Regulatory Landscape for CBD and Hemp Products

While the CBD market has experienced exponential growth in the UK, it is important to consider the regulations and licensing that govern the production, sale, and use of these products. Currently, the Home Office oversees hemp licensing, with strict limitations imposed on THC levels and a focus on industrial applications rather than consumer goods.

Key regulatory challenges include the Novel Foods authorisation with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), mandatory for CBD products. With the proposal of hemp licensing moving from the Home Office to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), this change has the potential to stimulate industry growth and facilitate market expansion.

The Future of CBD Products Post-Novel Food Regulation

The future of CBD products in the UK is largely contingent on the outcome of the Novel Foods regulation process. As of March 2021, not all submitted products have advanced in the approval process, reflecting the strict barriers that companies face.

“The outcome of the Novel Foods regulation process will have a direct impact on product availability and market competition.”

The following table provides an overview of the challenges and potential outcomes post-Novel Food Regulation:

ChallengesPotential Outcomes
Strict approval processHigher quality products in the market
Limited product advancementReduced consumer choice
Regulatory compliance costsIncrease in product prices
Competition with non-approved productsStricter enforcement and market clean-up

In conclusion, the UK hemp and CBD market is critical, with the regulatory landscape and Novel Foods process shaping its future. By considering the potential outcomes and challenges, businesses can better prepare for the future and navigate the evolving cannabis industry.

Strategic Recommendations for the Future of the UK’s Cannabis Industry

To encourage the growth and development of the UK’s cannabis industry, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Cannabidiol has devised a series of strategic proposals. These recommendations aim to foster a competitive, sustainable, and beneficial industry for all stakeholders by analysing various factors influencing the market and addressing existing challenges.

Future Strategy for the UK's Cannabis Industry
Future Strategy for the UK’s Cannabis Industry

Key Proposals from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cannabidiol

The APPG Cannabidiol recommendations follow around the following key areas:

  1. Moving hemp licensing to DEFRA
  2. Streamlining Novel Food Regulations
  3. Setting viable THC limits
  4. Permitting GPs to prescribe cannabis
  5. Reforming pertinent legislation to drive investment and global market development

These reforms address significant hurdles faced by the UK cannabis industry, seeking to empower local production and distribution while maintaining robust regulatory standards.

By transferring hemp licensing to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the APPG Cannabidiol aims to streamline the process and facilitate domestic cultivation, reducing the industry’s reliance on imports.

Furthermore, streamlining Novel Food regulations for CBD products can provide a clearer, more efficient pathway for new products to enter the market. This simplification will enable entrepreneurs and businesses to innovate, adapt, and align with international trends, ensuring that the UK remains a frontrunner in the global cannabis industry.

Revisiting THC limits and reassessing their impact on the market is another critical aspect of the APPG Cannabidiol recommendations. By setting viable, evidence-based limits, the industry can balance performing optimally with ensuring consumer safety and product integrity.

The proposal to allow GPs to prescribe cannabis may also dramatically address issues regarding access to medicinal cannabis for patients. By expanding prescribing capabilities beyond specialist doctors, APPG Cannabidiol seeks to make the prescription process more accessible and efficient, significantly enhancing patient outcomes.

Reforming legislation to boost investment and global competitiveness is crucial for the UK’s cannabis industry. Encouraging innovation, backing partnerships, and nurturing new companies will strengthen its position and create a globally competitive market, addressing economic and patient needs.


The global cannabis market presents a fascinating opportunity for the UK to establish itself as both a major player in medicinal cannabis exports and a thriving domestic market. However, the current state of the market is a testament to the challenges faced regarding UK cannabis policy. This cannabis market report has demonstrated how the UK’s position in the global landscape continuously evolves despite ongoing obstacles that largely stem from stringent legal frameworks and restrictions.

Crucial to the future success of the cannabis industry in the UK is the strategic recommendations put forward by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cannabidiol, which offer a roadmap for fostering growth and addressing the numerous legislative, regulatory, and supply chain barriers facing the market. Key stakeholders, such as private clinics and government bodies, are pivotal in shaping the market’s trajectory, expansion, and control. By implementing these recommendations and embracing progressive policy changes, the UK can ensure it remains at the forefront of the global cannabis market.

In conclusion, the UK has the potential to become a major force in the cannabis industry and contribute significantly to the global cannabis market, but only if it is willing to address the domestic challenges and employ comprehensive policy reform. By doing so, the UK can improve patient access to much-needed medicinal cannabis while benefiting economically from the numerous opportunities presented by this dynamic market.


Who controls the cannabis market in the UK?

The UK’s cannabis market is largely controlled by Lyphe Group, Curaleaf network, and IPS Pharma/Grow Pharma, which together account for about 60% of market share through a combination of clinics, doctors, pharmacies, importers, and distributors.

What is the historical context of cannabis legislation in the UK?

Cannabis became illegal for recreational use under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1971 and has remained a Class B drug thereafter. Medicinal cannabis was legalised only in 2018 for patients with certain rare illnesses.

How does the legal framework impact market growth in the UK cannabis industry?

Strict legal frameworks surrounding medicinal cannabis prescriptions, required imports for all medicinal cannabis products, and regulatory barriers from organisations like the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the National Health Service (NHS) hinder market growth and patient access within the UK.

What is the economic impact of cannabis on the UK market?

The UK medicinal cannabis market is expected to be worth USD 1.2 billion by 2024, contributing to job creation and potential tax revenue of £5.5 billion annually. The industry also has environmental and agricultural benefits beyond market value.

How has the medicinal cannabis market in the UK grown in recent years?

There has been a significant annual increase in the medicinal cannabis sector, with a 425% growth in private prescriptions for unlicensed medical products. The UK is expected to become the second-largest market in Europe for medicinal cannabis.

What role do private clinics and prescriptions play in market expansion?

Private clinics, including online services, address the issue of limited NHS prescriptions by providing an alternative route for patients to access medicinal cannabis, although this is often more expensive.

How do regulations affect the hemp and CBD market within the UK?

The UK hemp and CBD market faces regulatory challenges like Novel Foods authorisation, which shape the landscape for the industry. Proposed changes include moving hemp licensing to DEFRA and revising THC limits to stimulate industry growth.

What strategic recommendations have been proposed for the future of the UK’s cannabis industry?

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Cannabidiol recommends moving hemp licensing to DEFRA, streamlining Novel Food regulations, setting viable THC limits, allowing GPs to prescribe cannabis, and reforming legislation to encourage investment and align with global market development.

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