3 Tips for Starting a Medical Cannabis Business in the UK’s New Marketplace

For investors who have already cashed in on the U.S. “Big Marijuana” fundraising trend, the growing acceptance of cannabis among Britain’s political and business establishments is very promising. There’s also more than enough space in the market for new entrants to make an impact. Female CEOs and C-suite executives, in particular, are rising to the top of the industry because they understand the growing female consumer and their needs best.

For those looking to get into the industry, there are three main considerations you should be aware of: 

Adapt your skills to the market

The first stage is to find what you do best and how you can apply this. Luckily, as medical cannabis is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, with estimates of Europe’s medical cannabis market hovering around £100 billion by 2028, there is going to be an increasing number of business opportunities in the next decade. Whether you’re a graphic designer or a scientist, there will be a role for you.

Any business owner entering the market must, however, be prepared to overcome the stigma associated with medical cannabis and the challenges they may face as a result of this. Starting or growing a business always requires a leap of faith, but the task can be more daunting when the market you’re entering is under as much scrutiny as this one. Understandably, governments are cautious, so there’s a lot of red tape to confront. The country you reside in will have an effect here.

The industry in Canada, for instance, is tightly regulated in a restricted industry. In parts of the U.S., the industry has been opened more broadly. In the UK, the industry is only just beginning.

All these policies pose benefits and challenges for business owners. Either way, it’s important to get your head around these restrictions.

Understand the amount of capital you’ll need

The financial implications of setting up a medical cannabis business from scratch also cannot be underestimated. Female entrepreneurs notoriously struggle to find capital investors in a male-dominated industry, so this is something they should be aware of. If you are starting a cannabis farm, there are also associated costs to be considered, on top of the initial costings.

The strict quality control measures are both time-consuming and expensive, but they are paramount to meet the regulatory standards needed to enable a medical cannabis business to trade. Security systems are important here. You must be able to show clear protection around the entire perimeter of your land and be able to detect any intrusions in order to guarantee the integrity of your product. There are also strict inventory management guidelines so every gram of product, including water, must be weighed and documented. If anything is to be disposed of, it must be recorded and witnessed by two people. These laborious processes should be factored in advance into any business production model.

Realize the sector’s regulatory, technological and sustainability developments

Before you have even started your medical cannabis business you will also be looking toward the future. With regulations around the world constantly changing, a business needs to stay ahead to keep on top of developments. Technology will continue to play a big role as new and innovative ways are discovered to make the production process easier. Even today, some greenhouses choose to handpick the plants, whereas others are moving toward robotics that reduce costs by eliminating the need for humans in the production process. This is particularly beneficial given the need to eliminate the popularity of the cheaper illicit market where products are not regulated and are of a lower quality.

The is also a growing societal shift in the UK toward living sustainably, so medical cannabis businesses should look to become as environmentally friendly as possible. In turn, this will not only make production cheaper, but it will also please consumers. As licenses are rolled out, in some cases enabling cannabis to be grown outside, this will assist the trend towards an eco-friendlier medical cannabis business model.

Ultimately, starting a business is never simple, but with the right knowledge and backing, the medical cannabis industry is one to be investing in now to prepare for the future.

Jeannette is CEO of 48North. Previously, she co-founded The Green Organic Dutchman.She will be speaking at the inaugural ‘Women, CBD and Medical Cannabis Conference’ May 18 in London. 

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