Last Week in Weed
In issue 11 of Last Week in Weed, we look at cannabis IPO’s lighting up the LSE, Maltese Prime Minister announces his intentions to ‘regulate responsible cannabis use”, and finally former NBA All-Star Chris Webber launches private equity program to help reduce racial disparities within the US cannabis industry.
Cannabis IPO’s light up the London Stock Exchange
This week saw the float of MGC Pharmaceuticals and Kanabo on the London Stock Exchange. After last week’s pump and dump’ of cannabis stocks in Canada by Reddit and retail traders has left a bitter taste in the mouth of traditional investors. They are now looking to the emerging UK ‘medical cannabis’ industry as a safer bet to secure their fiscal returns.
The floodgates opened on February 9th with Australian ‘biopharma’ company MGC Pharma making its LSE debut. Its shares started trading at 02.83p – rising to a high of 07.43p – before ending its first week at 05.94p. No doubt making a lot of savvy investors and insiders a healthy return in the process. MGC will also retain its primary index on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). A move we are seeing more of these companies make as they hedge their bets on which market will be the most profitable for them in the long run.
Then it was Kanabo’s turn, the Israeli-based ‘medical cannabis’ company that was recently taken over by Spinnaker saw its share price skyrocket upon launch. The shares started trading on February 16th at 18.50p, jumping to a high of 47.80p before ending its first-week trading at 33.00p a share.
Next up will be the David Beckham-backed venture Cellular Goods – a biosynthetic cannabinoid company that will produce fitness products from lab-engineered cannabinoids. They’re expecting to float in early March according to their investor information pack.
We are also expecting several more companies to announce their intention to float on the LSE in the coming weeks. It is expected that Jersey-based ‘medical cannabis’ company Northern Leaf will be one of them. The newly formed channel island company made headlines recently when it announced that it was the first company in two decades to secure a cultivation license from the UK Home Office.
As we discussed in issue 8 of Last Week in Weed, It was a decision made by The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) back in September 2020 that now allows “medical cannabis” companies to trade on the London stock exchange. However, so-called “recreational cannabis” companies remain banned from trading due to the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act.
“It follows the FCA’s decision last year to allow medical marijuana companies to list in the U.K., which could create a major European trading hub for cannabis companies which is currently dominated by Toronto and New York” – Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com
It looks like the analysts might be right, London could become a major hub for the ‘medical cannabis industrial complex’ to launder its ill-gotten gains as the ‘legal’ ‘medical cannabis’ global market is expected to reach £50 billion in the next five years. All while the rest of us remain criminalised and persecuted for our personal cultivation and consumption of ‘non-medical cannabis’.
Malta announces it is to regulate ‘responsible’ adult cannabis consumption
The Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela announced this week that the country is to regulate responsible adult consumption of cannabis. Although, what that actually means is anyone’s guess at this point.
Mr. Albela’s government is hashing out the finer points of a white paper that would end the criminalisation of cannabis, possession, and cultivation in Malta. When complete it will face public scrutiny before later being voted on by the countries Parliament.
The Prime Ministers announcement followed a public and political outcry last weekend after the arrest of a couple who were caught smoking a joint in a hotel room on Valentine’s day and other consumers being arrested.
“It cannot be acceptable that a teenager who is caught with a joint is arrested, interrogated, and has to appear in court or before the drug tribunal… We need to be responsible too as I don’t believe in extremes” – Prime Minister Robert Albela
Similar comments were posted to Facebook by the countries Labour leader Daniel Micallef. The Maltese Labour party has previously pledged that they would seek to legalise cannabis in Malta, but a solid plan has yet to materialise.
“I never smoked a joint – and even if I did, I will not bother saying so, but I know that in reality, if all regular cannabis users were to congregate, the Floriana granaries will not be enough to hold them – I am speaking on their behalf because I know these people are not criminal, and I believe they should have a right to make their choices in a safe and legal way” – Labour leader Daniel Micallef
Cannabis isn’t that popular in Malta compared to other neighbouring nations. With just 1 in 5 supporting legalisation in 2019. That being said, they did change the law back in April 2015 when the Maltese government rolled out The Drug Dependence (Treatment Not Imprisonment) Act.
This was an attempt to advance Malta’s cannabis policy to be more progressive – as many US states and other countries were looking to ‘legalise’ cannabis. The legislation decriminalised possession of up to an 8th (3.5 grams) of cannabis, however, there were many caveats empowering authorities to still find ways to criminalise personal consumers.
“By pushing up the limits of possession to reasonable levels, users will avoid police interrogation and legal proceedings. Government is also considering allowing the cultivation of a small number of plants strictly for personal use” – Prime Minister Robert Abela
It is interesting to watch the country debate between allowing a domestic marketplace ran by consumers through decriminalisation vs a corporate ‘legalisation’ model where international conglomerates are given free rein to monopolise and dominate the potential market.
We will see with the publication of the countries cannabis white paper how progressive the Maltese government is prepared to be when it comes to ending the countries prohibition of cannabis.
NBA All-star to launch $100 million equity fund
Our final story this week is the 5 times NBA all-star Chris Webber is partnering with JW asset management to launch a $100m private equity fund. The fund will invest in companies led by entrepreneurs of colour working in the US cannabis industry.
Currently, in the US 80% of cannabis businesses are owned by white individuals, while less than 10% are owned by Black and Hispanic individuals – according to a report from Marijuana Business Daily. This partnership seeks to provide financing and resources to help address the extreme racial disparities that have followed on from the racist origins of the war on drugs.
“It’s crucial that we diversify leadership within the cannabis industry and level the playing field for people from our communities,” said Webber – Chris Webber
The Webber/JW partnership aims to provide entrepreneurs of colour access to the US cannabis industry – which is expected to be worth a whopping $130bn by 2024. It is set to grow immensely faster still if the new Biden administration keeps its pledge to end federal cannabis prohibition.
“For far too long, minorities have been excessively punished and incarcerated for cannabis while others profited. Working with JW, we will equip under-represented entrepreneurs with the financial resources and industry knowledge to build businesses and thrive.” – Chris Webber
Since the first US states began to allow ‘recreational’ cannabis to proliferate we have since an increasing gentrifying and whitewashing of the cannabis industry, community, and culture. The boardrooms of the biggest cannabis companies are now packed with non-consumers and individuals that if it was still illegal would have nothing to do with cannabis.
“The legal cannabis industry can only grow to its full potential when all stakeholders have a seat at the table, and I feel that it is my responsibility to play an active role in eliminating barriers to entry for individuals that have been disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs.” – JW Asset Management founder Jason Wild
Attempts like this to level the playing field and give all stakeholders a voice are vital to the development of an equitable and robust global cannabis industry. One that first and foremost benefits the people and communities that were so harmed by its criminalisation, not just one that makes investors richer and consuming communities and cultures poorer.
Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com