UK: Entrepreneur facing hurdles to set up cannabis business

All entrepreneurs face challenges when they set up a business, but Ben Langley had to convince the Government he wasn’t intent on becoming an international drugs baron. 

“We spent much of 2017 talking to the Home Office to make sure that the second we incorporated the company, we weren’t going to be arrested,” says Mr Langley, a former JP Morgan commodities trader who now runs medical cannabis start-up Grow. “We were thinking about research and development in Canada, where cannabis is legal, but we wanted to make sure that the Home Office wouldn’t come knocking at our door.”

Today the legislative framework in the UK is transformed following the recategorisation of cannabis exactly two years ago from a drug of “no medical value” to one that doctors could prescribe. The move followed a heart-rending campaign by Charlotte Caldwell, a mother from Castlederg, Northern Ireland, who was arrested at Heathrow Airport after bringing back cannabis oil for her severely epileptic son, Billy. 

The same legalisation story has been echoed in many states across North America and the EU, and today the world’s biggest players in the medical cannabis market, such as Canopy Growth and Parallel in the US, are worth hundreds of millions or billions of pounds.  


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