Is recreational cannabis legal in Scotland? What about medicinal marijuana, or CBD? Find out more in this article.
Every year, the conversation surrounding drug legalization grows louder, as an increasing number of people become cannabis converts. Whether it be through seeing the medicinal benefits of medicinal marijuana or CBD or perhaps seeing the economic benefits from legalizing cannabis such as the millions that Illinois made on its first day of legalization, it's indisputable that the evidence is piling up in favor of cannabis legalization.
Furthermore, this increased dialogue and focus on cannabis has led to a snowball effect of legislative action by political leaders, with virtually every candidate for the 2020 U.S. presidential election coming out in support of cannabis, and a growing number of countries across the globe who are easing their stance on the plant.
Though as the cannabis landscape changes with increasing speed, it can be difficult to keep track of where the plant is legal, and where it isn't. And if you've got an overseas trip booked soon, you'll want to read up on the laws of the land so you don't get yourself arrested. This is why we're exploring cannabis' legality across different regions and countries, as we have recently with the U.S., Mexico, Italy, England, and Ireland.
This time, we're going to be taking a look at the cannabis laws of Scotland.
Is Weed Legal in Scotland?
For better or for worse, Scotland's weed laws are dictated by the drug laws across the entire UK, which also includes Northern Ireland, Wales, and England – and unfortunately, cannabis is illegal in every one of these countries.
Across the UK, there are three classes of illicit substances – A, B or C. Class A drugs are considered to be the most damaging illicit substances, with Class B and Class C becoming increasingly safer for consumption. This means that if a drug is a class A in England, it's also a class A in Scotland. Cannabis sits in the Class B category in Scotland, alongside other substances such as speed, ketamine, and some versions of codeine which all also sit in the Class B category.
As is the case with the rest of the UK (and frankly, most of the world), cannabis is Scotland's most widely used illicit drug. Furthermore, a survey by the Times found that 47% of people living in Scotland supported cannabis legalization, 37% were against legalization and the remaining 17% percent were uncertain. These figures stack up pretty evenly to the United Kingdom as a whole, with polls of the United Kingdom showing that 48% of adults supported legalizing cannabis, a number which has been steadily rising in recent years.
And this support for cannabis legalization isn't just held by the public, but also by those within the police force. According to The Times, roughly 500 people are found to be in possession of cannabis by the police of Scotland every month and are subsequently let off with just a warning rather than facing any legal/judicial action.
The police's more relaxed approach to cannabis in Scotland is again shared by police throughout the UK, suggesting that the eased response is a reflection of a broader social shift and that police aren't really concerned with the consumption of the plant. This is likely a result of increasing cannabis legalization and acceptance globally, which is removing a great deal of the stigma that surrounded the plant.
Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Scotland?
While recreational cannabis isn't yet legal in Scotland, medicinal marijuana was made legal in November 2018.
The legalization occurred in November 2018, following several high profile cases of children suffering from epilepsy, namely the stories of Alfie Dingley and 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, who both used cannabis oil to treat their epilepsy.
Both families were procuring their cannabis oils abroad, which was costing them enormous sums of money, but it wasn't until Billy Caldwell's cannabis oil was confiscated upon returning to Heathrow Airport that their case received international attention. Due to the highly-publicized cases of these young children needlessly suffering from an otherwise incurable form of epilepsy, U.K. governments were forced to reconsider their stance on cannabis, and almost immediately announced that the plant would be legal for medicinal purposes on November 1st, 2018.
Though it's certainly early days in Scotland with regards to the medicinal cannabis industry, as very few prescriptions have been made – largely due to a lack of awareness surrounding medicinal marijuana – and of those prescriptions that have been made, patients end up forking out tens of thousands of dollars for their highly expensive cannabis products.
There is still a long way to go with Scotland's medicinal cannabis industry, though as we're now seeing with Australia's skyrocketing prescription count for cannabis products, it may only be a matter of time before Scotland's in the green.
Is CBD Legal in Scotland?
CBD (Cannabidiol) is, in fact, legal in Scotland "provided it has been derived from an industrial hemp strain that is EU-approved."
CBD is a compound found within the hemp plant that contains only trace amounts of THC, meaning it won't get you high. What CBD will do, however, is give you many of the health benefits with cannabis in a legal and relatively safe manner. CBD has taken over numerous industries including nutraceuticals, pet products, athletic supplements, beverages and more. Throughout the United Kingdom, research predicts the CBD industry will reach £1B per annum by 2025.
If you're in Scotland, you can buy CBD products at major outlets like Holland and Barretts, or alternatively you can buy them online – as long as the THC levels are under 0.2% – which is even lower than U.S regulations on hemp-derived CBD.
Similarly to the case of Billy Caldwell, CBD was put on the map in the U.S. due to a girl named Charlotte Fiji.
Charlotte was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome—a rare form of early-onset epilepsy—which would cause her to have up to 350 seizures a week by the time she was five. Despite being on an array of pharmaceutical drugs, Charlotte was unfortunately in the one-third of people diagnosed with epilepsy who don't respond to available medication.
After five years of endless doctor visits and different medications with no real sign of improvement, the Figi's decided to try something radical, in the hopes that their daughter could finally live a happy life. They decided to give their daughter cannabis.
The parents acquired their cannabis from the Stanley Brothers, a group of siblings who had begun growing and supplying cannabis to people with cancer in Colorado. To Matt and Paige's shock, after giving Charlotte the cannabis medicine, her seizures stopped. A week went by, and still no seizures. Suddenly, Charlotte went from up to 350 grand mal seizures a week, to about four seizures a month.
Charlotte's story was covered by CNN, and even served as the foundations for Charlotte's Web, the name of the Stanley Brothers' CBD brand.
So there you have it, the legal status of recreational and medicinal marijuana in Scotland, as well as the status of CBD.
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