Next stop: legal cannabis on the high street

You might not realise it, but the ball has already started rolling towards full legalisation of cannabis in the UK.

You might not realise it, but the ball has already started rolling towards full legalisation of cannabis in the UK.

In fact, I reckon you’ll see cannabis sold on Oxford Street within five years.

It’s true that politicians aren’t paying much attention to it right now — they have enough on their plate. And you won’t read much about it in the media.

But my guess is that we’ll have legal medicinal cannabis here within the lifetime of the next government. After that, the next stop is full legalisation.

That may sound unbelievable, and you may wonder where I’m getting this? I see three reasons…

The first is public opinion. Year on year, attitudes to cannabis are getting more permissive. 47 per cent of people now back selling cannabis through licensed shops, while 39 per cent oppose it and 14 per cent are “don’t knows”, according to the survey by polling company ORB.

Public approval of cannabis is a necessary but not sufficient condition to change the law. Public opinion won’t change the law on its own. But if there’s talk of changing the law for other reasons, public support is vital for getting it through.

The second reason is that there’s a new lobby for cannabis legalisation in the UK.

In a democracy, a strong lobby is crucial. Lobbies are groups with a strong interest in a specific issue. They care enough about their issue to protest, hassle, and bribe the government.

Taxis are a good example. Tens of millions of customers use taxis every year. They all have an interest in making taxis as cheap as possible. But even though there are lots of them, taxi customers don’t care very much about cheap taxis. They don’t care enough to protest outside parliament, email their MP and donate money to a lobby.

There are 300k  taxi drivers in the UK. They have an interest in making taxi driving as lucrative as possible. There aren’t nearly as many drivers as customers, but drivers care a lot about taxi fares. They’re willing to protest and lobby to get what they want.

That’s why taxi fares are kept high in almost every city in the world. Because a small, but highly motivated lobby can pass rules that benefit them at the expense of everybody else.

The same thing applies to farm subsidies, occupational licences which make it hard to start a business, and the legal profession. A well-organised lobby goes a long way.

Who’s behind the cannabis lobby? Well, did you know that the UK is the world’s number largest producer of legal cannabis?

The UK also has a couple of world-class medicinal cannabis companies. These companies use chemicals in the cannabis plant to cure diseases like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. The legal cannabis farms grew up in part to supply these cannabis-pharma businesses.

It’s one thing that “Joe Public” now feels less hostile towards cannabis. But if we’re talking about changing laws, it’s much more important that there’s a new industry in the UK which could potentially make a lot of money if the laws were loosened up.

Those are the guys who’re going to have a word in the ear of their MP, maybe hire a PR person to put stories in the Guardian, and get this thing moving along.

The third reason I think full cannabis legalisation is coming, is that we’re seeing it happen all over the world in countries similar to the UK…

Canada is the furthest along the road. Canada legalised pot for medicinal purposes 15 years ago. That got the ball rolling. Next thing you had cannabis on sale on street corners, and legitimate companies growing the stuff.

After a while those companies listed on the stock market. The Canadian public noticed medicinal cannabis didn’t destroy society. And the Canadian cannabis industry got organised and started writing to their elected representatives.

Now we’re at the stage where the Canadian parliament is due to vote on full legalisation of cannabis for recreational use tomorrow, June 7th.

And Canada is not an outlier. Lots of US states have fully legalised it, and 38 have decriminalised it in some way. Australia wants to build the world’s biggest cannabis-export industry. Germany is licensing ten pot growers. Italy is handing the industry over to its military for some reason.

Israel, like Australia and Canada, wants to get its cannabis export business going. Holland is legalising the supply of a cannabis for the first time. Greece and Poland and the Czech Republic and Portugal have legalised it for medicinal use.

My point is that there’s a clear pathway…

In other countries the business starts small. It starts for medicinal purposes. Then the lobby gets to work. Full legalisation is only a matter of time after that.

Studying the Canadian and US business these days, it’s amazing how quickly cannabis has progressed.

Yesterday I saw a Canadian cannabis industry CEO explain why he bought a nationwide chain of off licences, so he could be assured his product would get the best shelf space.

The numbers indicate cannabis is roughly the size of the beer industry. And in a matter of weeks, in Canada, it’s going to be grown, transported, marketed and sold like any other product.

From where we’re sitting in the UK it hardly seems believable. But if I’m right, it’ll get here sooner than you expect.

I’ve been all over this story for a couple of years now. I’ve watched it develop.

And I’ve found three cannabis industry plays which I think are good to go. One is Canadian. One is British. One is American.

This time next week I’ll be in touch to show you my research, and how to buy into this mad story.

Make sure you watch out for it.

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