If you happen to be watching the stock market you may have noticed that cannabis producers and sellers are becoming rising stars on indexes in North America. Companies such as Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC), Cronos Group Inc. (CRON), and Tilray Inc. (TLRY) are flourishing even under extreme economic uncertainty brought on by 2020’s global pandemic.
The reason is simple, cannabis legalisation has hit a tipping point and both Canada and the United States (albeit on a state by state basis) have legalised cannabis use with Mexico on course to become only the third country in the world to do so.
Things are slightly different in Europe, with legalisation still years away and a complicated picture of partial legalisation (Netherlands) , decriminalisation (Portugal) and outright banning across EU Member States.
However, there is one area that holds potential for would be investors and that is medical use.
It has long been argued (and more recently proven) that the cannabis plant holds some truly remarkable medical properties. It’s criminalisation and ensuing global war on drugs has for many decades severely limited the scope for research into its medical applications.
However, with laxing regulations in the United States and a change in perception across many parts of the world, labs and institutes are publishing more papers and peer reviewed research into possible uses.
The U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to reclassify cannabis Wednesday (2nd December 2020), taking it off the strict Schedule IV list that includes dangerous and highly addictive drugs such as heroin. The U.N. still deems cannabis a controlled substance but the move, which the U.S. supported, could ease restrictions on research into marijuana’s therapeutic use.
Today, in Europe, there are 22 countries which have legalised medical use, including the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and Portugal.
While the adoption and overall progressive approach by european countries is going in a positive direction, problems still remain, chief among them is a supply shortage with health services unable to secure legally grown, fully certified crops to meet demand.
Maximillian White thinks now is the time to jump into medical cannabis
Serial entrepreneur, Maximillian White thinks his new venture stands to be at the forefront of the medical cannabis revolution in Europe and a potential global leader.
The 37-year-old is no stranger to the world of business, his business career started when he became the UK’s youngest pub licensee at 17. Since, he grew his holdings exponentially into hospitality, media and property. He owns several clubs in Portugal’s Algarve, owns shares in online music store Beatport and made a killing in property in Europe.
Medical Cannabis seems like a departure but Max believes strong business acumen and the right connection are key to any venture’s success. We sat down to find out more about why he’s hedging his bets on medical cannabis.
Max, you are well known for your successful hospitality and real estate businesses. Your new venture is quite a departure from that. Why cannabis and why now?
I’ve always been very good at networking… I’ve always got time to sit down and have conversations with lots of people and see what they’re proposing. I put down a lot of my success to my ability to put the right people together.
After a conversation with another entrepreneur who said that he’d be able to get some permits, I did my homework, I started to ask the right questions, from the right people and realised this is a solid venture I can bring my skills and knowledge into.
Cannabis is still quite restricted in Europe, especially here in the UK. Why do you think now is an opportune time to jump in?
A lot of people wrongly think of cannabis as a recreational drug, that’s not what interests us. We are far more interested in the medical benefits it can provide.
Back in the 1920s, most medicines were herbal remedies, but they were replaced with petrochemical pharmaceuticals, which are highly addictive, harmful and nowhere near as effective as natural remedies such as cannabis.
More people are turning to CBD products, and you can regularly see these advertised in health stores and websites now. This is just the tip of the iceberg, new research is constantly coming out showing the benefits Cannabis can have for some truly debilitating conditions, restoring people’s quality of life with minimal to no side effects.
I think we all remember the news story about Billy Caldwell, the young boy who suffered from uncontrollable seizures. His mother fought tooth and nail to change the law here in the UK and it’s thanks to her efforts that Medical Cannabis is now legal. She just wanted a better quality of life for her son and cannabis was the only answer where traditional pharmaceuticals not only failed but actually made his life worse.
It’s stories like these that really open your eyes to the transformative effect this industry can really have on people’s lives. This is why I want to be part of it.
Will you produce just CBD products or will you also look at THC variants?
We will produce a variation of stains for different medical purposes. In fact we are spending a lot of R&D on developing our own strains, this is so we can carefully control the final product for specific conditions.
Obviously THC is highly controlled and is not something you can just pick up in the shop, that’s why we already obtained permits to grow and distribute these through official channels and health services as the adoption of Medical Cannabis grows.
About that, will you be looking to work with health services such as the NHS here in the UK as a regulated supplier?
Short answer is yes, and now don’t quote me on this but I think we will see an increase in availability for medical cannabis in the UK. While it’s use has been legal for over 2 years now, its adoption (i.e actual prescriptions being given out) has been very slow. Partly because traditional pharma has been pushing to block this and partly because there is a supply shortage for high quality, fully licensed crops.
Our farms are based in Europe so we are fully licensed and work to the most rigorous regulations to ensure quality, safety and complete traceability. This is the exact kind of product and assurances which health services need if they are to expand the supply chain.
The cannabis industry has exploded in both the USA and Canada, do you see a time on the horizon when Europe and the UK will follow suit?
With all business, there is a peak time, and right now, if you look at the stock market in 2020, Cannabis producers are some of the highest performing across the board.
Cannabis is like the gold rush in America. Back in the day, you had to dig the soil to find the gold, now you have to grow it.
It’s inevitable that Europe, UK and the rest of the world will follow suit. America is still a world leader and what happens there tends to happen everywhere else sooner or later.
While other players will come in once recreational use is opened up, we are laser focused on the medical side and our company will be at the forefront of that revolution.
Is the cannabis revolution going to arrive in Europe? Will we follow America and Canada’s lead? Or do you think we’re still decades way away from seeing the industry take off? Let us know in the comments…