The United Kingdom, which legalized cannabis for medical use at the end of 2018, is still struggling to dispense it. Due to the lack of domestic production, patients are forced to import their medicines from abroad. Because of the high cost of such treatment with little or no coverage by health-care services, many patients continue to resort to the black market to obtain such treatment.
However, farmers in the south of Scotland are about to open the country’s first medical cannabis plantation. William and Neil Ewart have just received planning permission to open a greenhouse of just over 1 hectare in Langholm. The cultivated cannabis will be destined for the UK market and processed into oil.
In 2019, several cannabis production facilities will be opened in Great Britain, for example in a secret location in Wiltshire or Somerset. GW Pharmaceuticals has also been cultivating cannabis in Kent for several years to obtain cannabinoids for its Sativex and Epidiolex products.
However, this first step for the Ewarts is part of a long and complicated process. “It’s an excellent step in the right direction but there are so many more steps to take,” Ewart said. The farm must now apply to the UK Home Office for a license to produce medical cannabis.
To receive that license, the company must “demonstrate that Langholm is an appropriate place to do this kind of thing,” Ewart explained. “I don’t want to sound too optimistic and make too much fuss because things can go wrong, but this is a very exciting project for Langholm.
The new structure hopes to recruit at least 50 employees, including scientists, computer scientists, horticulturists, and security guards. Farm plans include a commercial greenhouse, water storage tanks, and an on-site generator that will recover heat from the growing rooms to generate electricity. Once fully operational, the farm hopes to produce 200 liters of cannabis oil per year.