LOCAL MP David Mundell has called for an easing of bureaucratic obstacles which are slowing the growth of the fledgling UK medicinal cannabis industry.
He was leading a House of Commons debate in which he highlighted the industry’s potential for helping more patients with a range of conditions whilst boosting rural economies and creating jobs.
The Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale representative described the development, over several years, of a state-of-the-art cannabis production facility in the Langholm area of his constituency.
Mr Mundell said: “I hope that the investment by Hilltop Leaf, using one of the largest greenhouses in the UK, will demonstrate that medical cannabis can have a transformational impact on local communities.
“It will bring a variety of good horticultural, administrative, managerial and logistical jobs that I hope will anchor young people, who often feel the gravitational pull of large cities for the want of opportunities.”
The Eskdale development, the result of £2m investment, has the potential to meet nearly 10 per cent of the UK’s medical needs, based on published demand statistics from three years ago.
Mr Mundell pointed out that with much of the UK’s medical and scientific requirements currently being met from overseas the opportunity for growth in the UK industry was clear to see.
He said: “For all the successes of the UK cannabis sector to date, it could be so much more.
“Bureaucratic, legal, administrative, regulatory, medical, licensing and planning issues all inhibit the industry’s potential and hinder vital investment in rural Britain.
“Indeed, the over-onerous process for being licensed in the first instance has given me cause to worry about the development in my constituency stalling. I am afraid the UK’s approach to the industry is incoherent and insufficiently consistent.
“Yes, medical cannabis can be prescribed, but only by specialists, and that is predominantly being done outside the NHS, particularly in Scotland.”
Mr Mundell put forward a suggestion that the UK Government appoint a senior official with a mandate to engage directly with the industry and progress towards an effective regulatory framework in line with that successfully operated elsewhere in the world.
Amongst those attending the debate in Westminster Hall on Thursday was Will Quince, MP, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care.