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What is the Green Rush?

You’ve heard of gold rushes – where a hoard of the precious metal is discovered and miners rush to seek their fortune before the riches run out. Unsurprisingly then, the so-called ‘Green Rush’ is riffing on this concept, as the phrase was coined to describe the recent and huge expansion of the cannabis and CBD industries, particularly in the US and Canada, with companies and dispensaries rushing to cash in on the boom in sales as consumer demand rose sharply.

Why did the ‘green rush’ start?

This boom was largely facilitated by the legalisation of medical and recreational cannabis and medical cannabis programmes being implemented across the globe. When the green rush started is up for debate, as the term ‘green rush’ is highly subjective, but many see Canada’s 2018 legalisation of recreational cannabis use as the major catalyst that sparked the rush.

This is because the cannabis act created a legal framework in which the cultivation, possession and consumption of cannabis was made possible, encouraging many Canadian companies to lead the charge in capitalising upon this with American firms following suit. These companies then quickly sought to put down roots in Europe as the tide continued to turn increasingly towards full legalisation there too.

Challenging stigma

We should also think about the other ways in which this rush could be observed aside from in a purely financial sense. For instance, many may see the rush as involving a change in awareness around cannabis too, with stigma towards cannabis and its use gradually changing across the globe as high profile cases were brought increasingly into the spotlight in this period.

Cases such as Alfie Dingley’s in the UK highlighted to the general public how beneficial medical cannabis could be for people dealing with a range of debilitating conditions. This increased awareness and change in public perception of the drug then created a domino effect of sorts as doctors and prospective patients alike began to see cannabis as a viable and effective treatment option rather than simply as a recreational drug.

This change occurred politically too, with governments around the globe increasingly recognising the efficacy of the drug, implementing medical cannabis programmes and putting in place new laws around cultivation too.

However, there’s still a long way to go before cannabis becomes fully accepted and its full medical usefulness is reflected in the prescribing policy in many European countries including the UK, where disheartening NICE recommendations have hampered the progress that was previously occurring.

Is the ‘Green Rush’ over then?

In 2019, we saw signs indicating the end of the green rush as a huge number of cannabis companies reported very large losses. As reported by Brian Mitchell in the Cannabis Industry Journal, in the second quarter of last year the ‘10 top cannabis stocks with a combined value of $55 billion los[t] an estimated $21 billion in collective value’.

Additionally, a number of big players in the industry faced a lot of pressure at the close of last year to reduce their costs to truly demonstrate their potential for profitability. Perhaps this pressure therefore indicates that investors are starting to see past the sky-high valuations that characterised the initial rush.

On the other hand though, many argue that the ‘green rush’ continues to this day, with the cannabis industry looking set to continue growing in years to come. Indeed, Stephen Murphy of Prohibition Partners estimates that by 2028, the cannabis industry will be worth £49 billion.

What are your thoughts on the ‘green rush’? Do you it’s something that’s already happened or something we’re still experiencing to this day? Let us know in a comment below.

For more in depth information on medical cannabis, UK policy and the conditions medical cannabis can treat, we recommend accessing our in depth modules available on our website. Here, you can find up to date information on cannabis based medicinal products and how best to prescribe them. You can also explore our news section and evidence base for the latest information on this ever-changing area of research.

We urge anyone considering the use of medical cannabis products to consult with a trained medical professional prior to beginning use.

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