The legal cannabis market has been estimated to be worth up to $124 billion by 2028. Accordingly, there is undeniable potential for Britain's medical cannabis businesses to cash in on this ‘green rush' and ready themselves for what appears to be a bright future. However, the industry is yet to capitalize on the huge opportunities presented to it. Despite striving for a shared goal - improving access to medical cannabis - the efforts of organisations and individuals within the industry have lacked coordination and collaboration. This fragmented approach has prevented the industry from being perceived as truly legitimate and subsequently, it is yet to receive the political endorsement it so desperately needs.

However, in May of this year, the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) was launched to set standards and drive meaningful change within the UK's medical cannabis and CBD sector. It marks the first time the growing sector has unified through a truly representative and homogenous cannabis industry body.

The Council's launch follows renewed calls for the government to reduce the red tape hampering the cannabis industry. According to a report launched by Maple Tree and Mackrell Solicitors last month, the medical cannabis market could be worth £2 billion, create almost 100,000 jobs and transform patient access if the government amended its outdated laws and regulations on the sector.

At present, the new organisation has over one hundred members, who have worked beyond their individual organisational aims and collaborated to define and maintain gold standard industry practice. With six sub-groups, Quality Standards, Parliamentary lobbying, Research, Environmental & Social Responsibility, Media and Hemp, the CIC is calling for patients - adults and children - to be better supported by the sector and for the government to reduce the red tape currently restricting the growth of the industry.

From clinics, patient access groups and doctors, to insurers, licensed producers and cannabis infrastructure bodies, the Council brings together disparate organisations, businesses and working groups. Membership invitation has been extended to representatives from the Home Office, The Department of Health and NHS England, in the hope of strengthening ties between the cannabis industry and the UK public sector. As a step towards achieving this ambition, one of the Council's first acts will be to organise a round table conversation. Leading public and private bodies across the UK will be invited to discuss how the UK can develop a robust cannabis industry, which drastically improves patient access and stimulates the economy post pandemic.

Initially, the CIC will be chaired by Professor Mike Barnes, with formal elections and organisational subgroup Chairs to be appointed. Commenting on the issues facing the industry, Professor Barnes said that "Despite having a reputation as a globally dominant medicinal cannabis producer, the UK is almost entirely unable to cater to the needs of domestic patients. As it stands, there are numerous restrictions on full medical access due to unclear governmental bureaucracy, a lack of medical education and restrictive guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and other regulatory bodies. With the participation of the government, NHS and Home Office, the Cannabis Industry Council hopes to set a gold standard practice on how the sector should operate.

He added: "Having signed up a large proportion of the industry, we hope to be taken incredibly seriously as a collective voice and trusted gateway for, and by, the sector."

Kate Thorpe, Coordinator of the Cannabis Industry Council, said: "Collaboration and harmony is a crucial component for the advancement of any sector, and this is nowhere truer than in the cannabis space. Only by harnessing the greatest breadth of expertise and by offering all organisations within the industry a voice, can we generate real change."

It must not be forgotten that at the industry's roots are very unwell adults and children who, even after being lucky enough to receive a medicinal cannabis prescription, face high costs and long waiting times. Sadly, their voices are often lost within other industry bodies, so the Council will give patients, businesses and public bodies an equal say.

By asserting pressure on government to act now and act fast, the Council's efforts may finally bring about lasting change in an industry which so many depend upon. For decades, patients have faced significant barriers to access and now, at last, they have reason to believe that their struggle is coming to an end. The CIC is spearheading the revolution in the UK medical cannabis industry and its members are committed to fulfilling its mission.