As countries around the world toy with the idea of relaxing drug laws, Canadian cannabis companies are pushing to establish a foothold in burgeoning foreign markets.
Federally licensed producer of cannabis Tilray Inc announced today it has successfully shipped the first bulk order of cannabis oil to the United Kingdom from its Nanaimo facility.
In a release this afternoon (June 25), the company says the shipment of “medical cannabis oral solutions”—a cannabidiol (CBD) forward cannabis oil—was supplied using a government “special access program”. The transaction follows the U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid's announcement declaring medicinal cannabis prescriptions legal for certain patients with a proven clinical need. He also launched a review further exploring the medical applications of the plant.
“This bulk import of Tilray medical cannabis oral solutions provides patients in need access to a sustained supply of GMP-certified, high quality medical cannabis,” said Catherine Jacobson, Tilray’s vice president of medical and regulatory affairs, in a release
“This is an important step in improving access in the U.K. Tilray will continue to advocate for reasonable patient access to medical cannabis in the U.K. and countries around the world.”
The U.K.’s recent political shifts, which demonstrate a nationwide softening of attitudes towards cannabis, came after news broke last year of a mother who had her epileptic son’s cannabis oils seized by border agents. While the oil was returned, it hasn’t stopped Charlotte Cadwell (the boy’s mother) from publicly lobbying for new laws. Today, a court in Belfast will consider whether the confiscation was fair, which is the first time the law on medicinal cannabis has been tested in a U.K. court.
Javid, however, has reiterated numerous times that any judicial review likely won’t lead to a countrywide legalization.
With the access program officially established, Tilray has six cannabis products approved for medical use in the U.K. and says it intends to continue developing pharmaceutical-grade products for future therapeutic application over the “coming months”. Tilray also supplies cannabis to markets in 11 other countries, including the recent launch of grow facility in Portugal. It was also the first Canadian cannabis company to launch its IPO in the United States.
“As demand ramps up in the U.K., Tilray is well positioned to be a leading supplier of medical cannabis products,” added Sascha Mielcarek, Tilray Europe’s managing director, in the release.
“Regulations are progressing as more and more countries across Europe are recognizing the benefits of medical cannabis and its potential to improve patients’ quality of life.”