Cannabis tycoons are working to make the drug legal in UK in the next five years.
Investors are setting their sights on the UK as a potential new market with the hope it will follow in the footsteps of Canada, Australia and some US states in relaxing regulations.
They are hoping to make the drug fully legal by September this year and leading tycoons have already held a conference in Mayfair to discuss the likelihood of their plan.
Max Zavet, founder of Canadian cannabis company Emblem, told Metro: “We are very, very eager to get into the UK market.”
He believes the drug will be legalized medically at first, adding: “Once that starts happening, people aren’t as afraid about pot anymore and the stigma reduces.
“You may see a recreational regime here in the next five years as well.”
But the Home Office insists it has no plans to change the law in the UK – describing cannabis as a “harmful drug”.
A spokesman said: “Cannabis is a controlled Class B drug, as there is clear scientific and medical evidence that it is a harmful drug, which can damage people’s mental and physical health, as well as harming individuals and communities.”
Currently, cannabis can’t be supplied to the public but Britain is one of the largest exporters and producers of legal cannabis to other countries.
It comes after medical leaders called for heroin, cocaine and cannabis to be legalized – claiming the threat of jail is stopping addicts from seeking help.
The Royal College of Physicians, which represents 26,000 medics in the UK, says the criminal justice system fails to serve junkies’ best interests.
It believes users should not be punished but given “timely” care and support instead.
Around 14,053 people in England were admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of drug poisoning in 2016/17 – up 40 per cent in a decade.
And there was a record 2,593 deaths from drugs misuse in England and Wales in 2016.
The RCP says responsibility for drug policy should be moved from the Home Office to the Department of Health.
They gave their backing to a controversial Royal Society of Public Health report published in 2016, which claimed the “war on drugs” is failing.
Drug use and possession would be legalized under the proposals but dealing would remain a crime.
One in 12 adults – about 2.8million people – admitted to taking illegal drugs in 2015/16, risking a maximum seven years in jail and unlimited fine.