Why the finance industry wants cannabis legalised in the UK

Why the finance industry wants cannabis legalised in the UK

A worker trims medical cannabis in Israel

Monday, April 30, 2018

The pressure on the UK government to legalise cannabis may be set to rise as investors begin to take interest in ‘corporate cannabis’.

In the US, some companies have been branching out into offering cannabis-based products alongside their usual offerings, like pharmaceuticals company AbbVie and plant and garden feed manufacturer Scotts Miracle-Gro.

Scotts also sell pesticides and treatments specifically for cannabis plants – and saw their stock market value rise sharply in January, when California legalised recreational marijuana (it’s since fallen again).

Canada is set to fully legalise cannabis later this year, and if investors get their way, the UK could follow suit.

At the weekend, the Cannabis Invest conference was held in Mayfair – not the traditional location of weed enthusiasts – and financiers gathered to hear about investment opportunities in the international cannabis market.

George McBride, a partner at London’s global cannabis consultancy Hanway Associates, told Jamie East that cannabis is a “huge market that’s grown out of nowhere to become the fastest-growing industry on that continent [North America].”

“The biggest opportunity is in cultivation and wholesale supply,” he explains.

“It’s a complex area where you need all the services other businesses need, like accounting firms and law firms.

It’s a big opportunity for people in finance – companies are financing cannabis operations and making quite a lot of money.”

In the UK, only one company is currently licensed to make cannabis-based medicinal products – GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes a multiple sclerosis drug.

Lobby groups and investors want to see cannabis legalised in the UK for medical use as soon as September, but the Home Office says their stance hasn’t changed.

“Cannabis is a controlled Class B drug,” said a spokesperson.

“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."