Demand for CBD Soars in UK During COVID-19 as Country’s Market Now Estimated at £690 Million

The U.K.’s Association for the Cannabinoid Industry and Centre for Medicinal Cannabis included the estimate in a new report.

Press Release – May 6, 2021 – The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) and the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) today launch their report Green Shoots - Sowing The Seeds Of The New UK Cannabis Industry with a new assessment of the size of the U.K. consumer cannabidiol (CBD) market.

The sector is now estimated to generate £690 million in annual sales for 2021. This figure surpasses predictions made in the seminal market sizing study undertaken by the CMC in 2019, which estimated the market would be worth £526 million in 2021.

The report concludes that the U.K. now has the most evolved regulatory framework in the world for CBD, and other consumer cannabis extracts, citing recent interventions by the Foods Standards Agency—to regulate products as dietary supplements, and by the Home Office—to consider what are safe and tolerable levels of THC contained in products. However, the report calls for more government intervention and investment to ensure that the UK optimizes what it describes as “Britain’s quiet cannabis revolution.”

The report claims that, due to domestic restrictions on hemp cultivation and processing in the U.K., the bulk of the profits for this industry are going overseas. This is because U.K. farmers must destroy the parts of the hemp crop from which CBD is extracted.

The report argues that the market represents a key growth sector for the U.K. and it is time for the government to adopt a proactive strategy to seize opportunities in the cannabinoid sector.

The report makes 20 recommendations drawing on a submission recently made to a new governmental Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform, established by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in February, to stimulate post-COVID economic growth.

The report authors call for:

  • A dedicated agency to license and oversee the industry
  • A new center of excellence to fund, synthesize and promulgate the best new clinical evidence to boost the U.K.’s nascent medicinal cannabis market
  • Urgent reform of licensing policy to steer and harness the emerging scientific evidence across the whole spectrum: from agri-science and plant genetics to novel synthetics, new therapies and clinical trials.

“With new government support the accidental consumer cannabis revolution that has allowed CBD to become available on every high street in the U.K. could become permanent, nurturing hundreds of new businesses, thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in exports,” said Steve Moore, co-founder and strategic counsel to the CMC and ACI. “It’s hard to imagine there many more industries that could benefit almost immediately from the proposals set out in our report.”

“The size of this cannabinoid sector is now impossible to ignore,” said Paul Birch, co-founder of the CMC and ACI. “Today’s report reveals that sales of CBD products up to the year end of April 2021 are valued at £690m, almost a third higher than our last projection in 2019. Almost without notice and certainly by accident rather than design, the U.K. has improbably become the world’s second largest consumer cannabinoids market.”