The UK does not export the most cannabis products total in the world, but it does hold the designation of exporting the most legal medical cannabis globally. This does not involve illegal markets, recreational markets, or industrial hemp markets. In 2016, according to UN International Narcotic’s Control Board, the UK produced 95 tons of legal medical cannabis, which made up 44.9% of the global total for the year.

That year, the UK exported 2.1 tons, which accounted for 67.7% of global exported medical cannabis for the year. Just to put a little comparison in…remember when we were talking about Morocco? And how it exports approximately 36,000 tons of resin a year? Really shows the difference in size between a legal regulated medical market, and a black market.

All this makes it sound like the UK is some sort of legal-marijuana producing machine, but in reality, the numbers have a certain relevance. GW Pharmaceutics, a British-based pharmaceutical company, is responsible for much of these exports. GW Pharmaceutics is the company that came out with Epidiolex, a liquid CBD medication that was the underlying cause of the whole court case between France and the EU, when France literally went to court against the entire EU to maintain legal sales of Epidiolex, while illegalizing all natural versions of CBD. Luckily it lost. My personal guess is that GW Pharmaceuticals bankrolled that whole case, but this is just supposition. GW Pharmaceuticals is also responsible for Sativex.

Of course, GW Pharmaceuticals isn’t even that anymore. In early February 2021 it was reported that GW Pharmaceuticals was bought out by Ireland-based Jazz, a rival pharmaceutical company, for $7.2 billion. I suppose if Jazz wanted to move its main production center out of the UK, it could greatly reduce the UK’s medical cannabis outputs. Nothing has been said about doing this, however it does shed some light on why the UK is exporting the most medical cannabis.

Epidiolex, for its part, brought in approximately $132 million in sales in the last reported quarter. To give an idea of how much this can grow, GW’s entire revenue (not just for Epidiolex) for the first quarter of 2019, was $39.2 million. By the third quarter of 2020, that number reached $137.1 million. The first quarter of 2018 saw only $3 million in revenue. GW’s earnings have increased exponentially in just a few years.