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As the cannabis industry is growing across much of Western Europe and North America, businesses would be wise to familiarise themselves with the UAE framework to avoid any unintended consequences as seen in the recent case of Billy Hood (see here). The UAE maintains a strict zero tolerance policy on the use of cannabis as further explained below. UAE Framework: Federal Decree-Law No. 30/2021 On Combating Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (the “Law”). The Law prohibits the procurement, import, export, manufacture, extraction, separation, production, possession, acquisition and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Cannabis is specifically mentioned and its definition includes cannabis-derived products (including but not limited to hemp, hemp seeds, and THC and CBD-related products). Medical Use: The Law does allow for the use of cannabis for medical purposes strictly and as long as it is prescribed by a licensed physician in the UAE. Clinical trials can also be conducted, however only controlled medical applications of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances may be administered…

There have been multiple headlines concerning the recent imprisonment of a British football coach (Billy Hood) in the UAE who was found to be in possession of CBD vape oil that contained elements of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Whilst legal in the UK and other western countries it is strictly prohibited in the UAE. In connection with this case, the General Directorate for Drug Control (”GDDC”) stated that Mr. Hood was found to have ”quantities of cannabis oil intended for trafficking in return for financial gain.” The GDDC report that Mr. Hood was found to have various storage bottles, cannabis oil, 570 cartridges for vaping and a large amount of cash when he was arrested (see here). The offence of trafficking carries severe penalties under the UAE law and has resulted in a 25 year imprisonment for Mr. Hood. According to news reports the vape oil that was found in Mr. Hood’s car contained MDMB-4en-PINACA. The UN for…

We are extremely pleased to announce the launch of our Global Medical Cannabis Dashboard, a new interactive tool covering cannabis regulatory regimes in 112 countries (and counting) across the world. We reached out to our global network of healthcare regulatory specialist lawyers across 39 Baker McKenzie offices and 70+ of our correspondent firms and asked them to share their knowledge on this subject. Our resulting dashboard is unique in its scope and stretch and we invite you to explore it yourself. Our dashboard covers the overall feasibility of marketing medical cannabis, permissibility of medical cannabis in its raw form and in pharmaceuticals, clinical trials, export/import, recreational use, hemp definitions, and private sector involvement for each jurisdiction. This tool enables users to see overviews of cannabis regulations globally in the form of interactive heat and geographical maps, with the option to select specific regions, countries, or specific responses, to quickly and easily spot local and global trends. For the purposes of our…

The prospective relaxation of cannabis regulations in jurisdictions around the world offers opportunities for investment for UK businesses. However, investors should be wary of potential exposure under UK anti-money laundering (“AML”) legislation and consider taking appropriate safeguarding actions prior to any transaction. Pot luck: cannabis law in different jurisdictions In the UK, it is a criminal offence to produce or supply cannabis under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, punishable by up to 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. There is a limited exception relating to supply for certain medicinal purposes which may be supplied under licence. However, there is an emerging global trend towards looser cannabis regulations. In 2018, Canada legalised the production and supply of cannabis for recreational purposes under the Canadian Cannabis Act (production and supply for medicinal purposes has been legal in Canada since 2001). Other developed jurisdictions are expected to follow suit in the coming years. Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 A discrepancy between…

Less than one year since medical cannabis was legalised in the UK and just two months since the first medical cannabis clinic opened in London (as reported in our last blog post), a cannabis-based drug has been approved for use in the UK. Its approval may herald the acceptance of cannabis-based drugs into mainstream medicine across the country. What is Epidyolex? Epidyolex is a cannabis-based medicine for children suffering from Epilepsy. Cannabis-based drugs contain cannabidiol (CBD) which is one of the components of marijuana. According to the World Health Organization, “there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD”.   According to publicly available information, Epidyolex contains none of the psycho-active component of cannabis, a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Edpidyolexfor use in the US in June 2018. Who is it aimed at? Epidyolex may help individuals suffering from seizures resulting from…

Welcome to the Global Cannabis Compliance Podcast Series. Because we have received so many requests from readers for more information about the topics we have been covering, we have decided to start a podcast series featuring in-depth discussions with experts. Like the blog, the podcast series will cover all aspects of cannabis compliance including existing laws and proposed legislation in various countries and U.S. states, significant court cases and judicial decisions, enforcement trends, and best practices in compliance. If you have any suggestions for podcast topics, please let us know. Episode 1 – On the Cannabis Industry in Africa Countries throughout the world are de-criminalizing the medical and recreational use of cannabis. Africa is no exception. Governments across the African continent are hoping that cannabis will help them diversify their economies and generate transactions in hard currency. In this initial podcast, Darryl Bernstein, a partner in Baker’s Johannesburg office, talks about the cannabis industry in Africa – where it is, where…

Many countries across the globe are in the process of decriminalising the medical and recreational use of Cannabis, and Africa is no exception to this growing trend. Governments across the continent are hoping that the decriminalisation of the plant will aid them in their quest to diversify their economies and generate transactions in hard currency. The Cannabis industry is one with a multi-billion-dollar footprint, and businesses are already benefiting from growing, distributing and exporting medicinal Cannabis. According to The Consumer Staples Report by Barclays, the global Cannabis market could be worth up to USD 272 billion in the coming years.  Africa is reported as being the world’s largest producer and consumer of Cannabis, albeit that the laws on medicinal use of the plant are still in their infancy. The African Cannabis Report, released by Prohibition Partners, noted that South Africa was capable of becoming one of Africa’s largest medicinal Cannabis markets, with an estimated potential industry value of over USD 1.7…

The Netherlands’ “coffee” shops are retail stores where the Dutch government tolerates cannabis sales for personal consumption. In our prior post, we explained the basic legal framework around cannabis in the Netherlands. Here, we will discuss how the country has implemented its coffee shop system. Through the Tolerance Policy we previously described, the government allows coffee shops to sell cannabis under strict conditions and will not prosecute them if those conditions are met. In order to open a coffee shop in the Netherlands, the owner needs both an operating licence and a Declaration of Tolerance (and a license to deviate from zoning regulations to the extent applicable). The operating licence, if mandated by the locality where the coffee shop will be located, is governed by local General Bye-Laws. Because coffee shops will sell cannabis, a prohibited List II soft drug pursuant to the Opium Act, they also must obtain a “Declaration of Tolerance,” which indicates that the municipal government and…

The Netherlands is famous throughout the world for its trailblazing attitude toward cannabis consumption. However, despite its reputation in popular culture as an open cannabis haven, the Netherlands still criminalizes aspects of the cannabis trade and has a strict regulatory structure for its famous “coffee” shops. As other countries, states, and municipalities legalize aspects of cannabis sale and consumption, they may look to the Dutch experience for an example of an existing system that tries to balance some of the many completing legal, regulatory, political and cultural interests. In this post, we will describe the legal framework that underpins the Dutch cannabis market. In a follow-up post, we will review the regulations that govern the coffee shop system the Dutch have created to handle cannabis sales and consumption. At a high level, the Dutch Opium Act (the “Opium Act”) criminalizes the sale and possession of certain drugs. The Opium Act distinguishes between drugs with an unacceptable risk to public health (hard…

A draft law recently adopted by the Russian State Duma (lower house of the parliament), though not yet approved by the Federation Council (upper house of the parliament) or signed by the President would amend existing law to allow the cultivation of certain plants that contain narcotic and psychedelic substances. Significantly, the bill would not decriminalize recreational use, nor would it permit the development of private dispensaries. It also contains certain restrictions and limitations: First, cultivation would be permitted only for certain specified purposes: medical and veterinary use and /or industrial needs not related to the production of narcotic and psychedelic substances, such as, according to an explanatory note submitted to the Duma, production of various oils for the edibles industry. Second, cultivation for medical use will be permitted only for licensed state-owned enterprises. Cultivation of opium for industrial needs not related to the production of narcotic and psychedelic substances will also only be permitted for licensed state enterprises. Cultivation of…