Last Week in Weed Issue 10

In this issue of Last Week in Weed, r/WallStreetBets lighting up cannabis stocks, MGC Pharma float on LSE, and Little Collins CBD dispensary raided in Ireland

Last Week in Weed (Issue 10)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this weeks issue of Last Week in Weed, we look at what turned out to be a crazy week for cannabis stocks, ‘Medical cannabis’ companies on the London Stock Exchange, and finally Guardi raid on a CBD shop sparks outrage and calls for clarification on CBD and cannabis laws in Ireland.

Reddit traders smoke up cannabis stocks gains

A few weeks ago a subreddit group called r/WallStreetBets began a coordinated assault on the traditional investment model of Wall Street. A large group of amateur traders discovered that several major hedge-funds had taken a ‘short position’ on GameStop, a US bricks and mortar games retailer that has been in decline for a few years.

Buying up GameStop stock at a phenomenal rate these novice traders forced the hedge-funds into a ‘short squeeze’ forcing them to buy the stock that they bet would decrease to lessen their differential loss. This in turn caused the share value to increase and more amateur traders to buy more stock further worsening their position and increasing the value of the stock.

This caused the value of GameStop to rise to a dizzying value of $347.51 a share at its peak on January 27th before plummeting down to $52 (as of the writing of this blog) Still more than twice the value it was trading before the explosion of interest from independent retail investors.

As we mentioned in Last Week in Weed issue 9, the sale of GW Pharma to Jazz Pharma caused GW stock to skyrocket to over $200 a share. This meteoric rise caught the attention of the Wallstreetbets crowd – who began posting about their intentions to make “weed the new GameStop

They sought to capitalise, not only on the GW/Jazz deal but also on the growing speculation that the new Biden administration intends to announce plans to federally legalise cannabis in the US. Most stocks have seen a steady increase in value since the winner of the presidential election was confirmed to be democratic.

What really set things off was Tilray announcing that it has secured a deal with Grow Pharma to import ‘medical cannabis’ into the UK – with importations expected as early as March. This saw an exodus from GameStop and AMC as Reddit traders made their way over to cannabis stocks.

This saw Tilray’s stock value start the week trading at $25 a share before rising to a midweek high of $67 before eventually crashing back to $29 a share by end of trading Friday. Many other cannabis stocks got caught up in this hype and were taken for a ride including Aurora, Canopy Growth, Aphria, and Sundial Growers. Sundial began the week trading at around $1 a share before rising to within touching distance of $4 before closing the week at just under $2.

This isn’t the first time Tilray has experienced this kind of extreme price rise. Back in 2018, the start of Canadian legalisation triggered a ‘short squeeze’ that saw their value briefly touching $300 a share before plummeting again.

Tilray will announce their latest full fiscal year and fourth-quarter financial results on the 17th February after trading – which will likely trigger another round of volatile after-hours trading from the new retail traders and the WallstreetBets community – if the numbers are good.

Since the start of 2020, the number of ‘retail investors’ has doubled. Apps like RobinHood and Etrade allow anyone to invest in the stock market and this trend looks set to continue. Well, until we hear the results of the impending US Congressional hearing due to take place next week. The chief executives of Reddit, Robinhood, and two major hedge fund managers are to be questioned about the ‘chaos’ in the markets surrounding trading in GameStop.

Stimulus checks will soon be on their way to millions of American’s that are now using social media, financial forums, and retail trading apps to empower them to take on the monolith of traditional investment. Will the stock market ever be the same again?

‘Medical Cannabis’ companies begin to populate the LSE.

London Stock Exchange welcomes first ‘medical cannabis’ company

As US and Canadian cannabis stocks became the latest battleground in the war between r/WallStreetBets and traditional investors. The London Stock Exchange quietly saw the first ‘medical cannabis’ company offer its first initial float on the exchange.

Israeli pharmaceutical company MGC Pharma beat out several close contenders to become the first such company to list on the LSE. The company is dual-listed on both the LSE and ASX (Australian Securities Exchange) but will keep its primary listing on the ASX.

The company was able to secure the right to trade on the LSE after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) changed the rules to allow ‘medical cannabis’ companies to trade on the LSE back in September 2020. So-called ‘recreational’ cannabis companies remain prohibited due to the Proceeds of Crime Act.

MGC Pharma’s legal partner Memery Crystal was instrumental in lobbying the FCA to change the rules to allow ‘medical cannabis’ companies to trade on the exchange. After launching its IPO MGC Pharma tripled its initial float on the London Stock Exchange.

There are currently several other companies including Kanabo (which we discussed in Last Week in Weed issue 8) and Cellular Goods, the David Beckham backed biosynthetic CBD wellness brand are looking to soon join MGC in trading on the LSE.

There is enormous potential for growth in this sector as we see the public embracing the importance of wellness and self-care, and every day more scientific studies are published validating the potential of cannabinoids. ‘The planned listing will provide us with the capital and credibility to serve a market where there is a clear unmet need for a go-to brand.” – Alexis Abraham Cellular Goods

Cellular goods have this morning started offering investors their IPO on LSE. They expect the market value to be around £20 million, however, given how well MGC Pharma’s initial float performed and the brand name-ability of David Beckham, it wouldn’t be a stretch to predict that it will be valued at a much higher price after closing.

The London Stock Exchange has great potential to become a global hub for the ‘medical cannabis’ industry. A great deal of the companies set to float has directly benefited from the rampant cronyism, corruption, and criminality that make up the highest echelons of the UK cannabis industry, policy reform groups, and our government.

Image: Little Collins CBD Dispensary Facebook page

Guardi raid on CBD shop sparks outrage in Ireland

The final story that we’ll cover this week comes from Ireland. Guardi (Irish police) have recently targeted the ‘Little Collins’ CBD shops. The business ran by husband and wife team James (JP) O’Brien and Ide Clancy have two shops in Galway and Kilkenny.

When Mr. O’Brien first opened his business, he wrote to the Superintendent in Galway city about his intentions to sell CBD. A Gardai Sergeant later visited the premises where Mr. O’Brien claims that he didn’t express any concerns about his products. Stating that the Sargent specifically told him that as long as the THC content was below 0.2% “all would be fine.”

The trouble started back in early 2019 when two members of the drug squad took samples away to be tested. A few months later in May 2019 one of the shops and the owner’s home was searched by Guardi, where they seized two litres of full-spectrum CBD oil and 10kg of CBD-rich cannabis flowers.

In August 2020, Mr. O’Brien was contacted by the guardi and told that they have been instructed to charge him with four offences under the Irish Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. The charges are for possession of “hemp trim” and products containing Cannabidiol (CBD)

Under current EU regulations, Cannabis Sativa L plants containing CBD and CBG may be grown as long as their THC content is less than 0.2 percent. Little Collins CBD dispensary has stated in an interview with local media that “We guarantee you it’s all perfectly safe and legal.” So why are they being disproportionately targeted? Well, it could have something to do with what happened next.

In December 2020, Mr. O’Brien filed a case in Ireland’s high court against the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Minister for Health, and the government. In the case, Mr. O’Brien claims that he has not contravened the 1977 Act and argues that the DPP’s decision to prosecute him over ‘legal’ CBD and hemp-cannabis products is invalid under Irish Constitutional and EU law.

Mr. O’Brien claims that “the farming or production and by logical extension, the possession of hemp {cannabis} with a THC content of less than 0.2 percent is not illegal or impermissible under EU law and that Irish law is incompatible and contrary to the relevant regulations”

He also goes on to state that the regulations are unconstitutional as they fail to respect his rights to liberty, property, privacy, good name, and to earn a livelihood. On the 4th of February, the Kilkenny shop was raided again by Guardi.

This has now left the couple at breaking point. Mr. O’Brien announced on social media recently that the stress of this situation has tragically claimed a life. Posting that his wife Ide Clancy had suffered a miscarriage “My wife was healthy and happily 12-weeks pregnant before they raided us” Mr. O’Brien wrote online.

The shop owners have now asked the public for help and support in their case and to demand the Minister of Justice address this issue immediately. After receiving further threats from Guardi Mr. O’Brien has said that “I closed the store yesterday and today, at least. I’m obviously not putting my staff in front of this any longer” and “As soon as Ide is well enough, I’ll be going down to reopen myself.”

The regulations in Ireland are highly contradictory and confusing to say it mildly. Currently, the country’s Revenue Commissioners and the Food Safety Authority have issued regulations incompatible with one and other and EU law. Ultimately, this case is another tragic reminder of why the ubiquitous relegalising of every part of the wondrous plant Cannabis Sativa L cannot come fast enough!

You can sign a petition supporting the Little Collins CBD Dispensary,  here.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

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