By Marguerite Arnold
While it is a far cry from rolling back prohibition altogether, the legalization wave appears to be crashing upon the beaches of the British Isles this summer. As of July 31, 2015, the branded “Charlotte’s Web” CBD oil went on sale in England after it was legalized last month.
Nicholas Ellis, a member of CLEAR, a British cannabis law reform group and the owner of UK CBD, the company that is distributing the product across England, could not contain his excitement at the opening of the new market. “We are extremely proud to partner with CW Botanicals to legally add their exclusive Charlotte’s Web products to our already impressive range,” Ellis said. “We believe that introducing these products to the UK market will help many people suffering from ECS (endocannabinoid system) deficiencies. Hemp is rich in vitamins, minerals and omegas 3 & 6.”
Other American entrepreneurs were equally excited about the possibilities this change represents. As Michael Christopher, the founder of Loft Tea, which makes specialty and hemp-infused beverages said, “In the recent months, Loft Tea has received phone calls, inbound emails and social media conversations with consumers and patients from around the world who are seeking non-euphoric solutions to relieve the symptoms of insomnia, stress, PTSD, chronic pain. The exciting part is that the next 5 years of research and product innovation should provide even better access for those seeking full spectrum benefits of whole plant derived cannabis and hemp.”
The plant from which Charlotte’s Web oil is made is a low-THC, high-CBD strain of cannabis, and was named after Charlotte Figi—a then five-year-old child who experienced drastic reductions in her epileptic seizures as a result of being given doses by her desperate parents. The idea of giving medical cannabinoids to children went mainstream in the U.S. last year and was instrumental in moving the medical debate forward in important ways, especially in southern states.
The broader British legalization effort also seems to have been given added impetus in calling for change this summer. A recent petition calling for the legalization of cannabis in the UK was signed by more than 200,000 people in less than a week, according to the British press.
The issue however has continued to stall in national party debate on the national level even a year and a half after the start of the Colorado market. That said, there are ongoing medical trials across the country and the private pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals has developed a range of specialty cannabis drugs, including those made from high-THC plants. These are now in varying stages of trials held in both Europe and the U.S. and include perhaps the best known of the company’s products—a mouth spray called Sativex.
For the meantime, however, “legalization” in England looks very much like it will probably operate in a state like Georgia once the state allows such sales. And with no Georgian market, among others, hempreneurs in the U.S. may be looking to new market expansion further east.