The UK produced 95 tonnes of legal cannabis in 2016, more than double the total of the previous year, reveals the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board. This accounted for 44.9% of the world total.
The nearest competitor is Canada, with 80.7 tonnes.
Some 2.1 tonnes was exported from the UK, making it responsible for 67.7% of the world total, followed by the Netherlands (16.4%).
A drug policy reform lobby group has criticised the UK government, saying they have “consistently refused to allow medical cannabis in the UK on the basis that it has ‘no therapeutic value'”.
Steve Rolles, Transform’s senior policy analyst said: “It is scandalous and untenable for the UK government to maintain that cannabis has no medical uses, at the same time as licensing the world’s biggest government approved medical cannabis production and export market.
“UK patients are either denied access and suffering unnecessarily, or are forced to buy cannabis from the criminal market.
“Countries with proper access to medical cannabis do not have this problem, as standardised cannabis products are in the hands of doctors and pharmacists.”
A significant part of the UK’s legal cannabis production goes towards a cannabis-based medicine called Sativex, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals.
It is available on prescription for patients such as those suffering the effects of multiple sclerosis, but it is only on the NHS in Wales.
Alfie Dingley, aged six, is a British boy who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, something his parents say can be treated with cannabis oil.
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Alfie, from Kenilworth, returned from the Netherlands last month, where he had been receiving this treatment.
His parents want the Government to let him use the medication in the UK but it is banned.