London Stock Exchange Gives Green Light for Medical Cannabis Company Listing

This is the first time a medical cannabis company has been allowed to be listed on the UK stock market.

Avihu Tamir presenting Kanabo

Summary:

  • Kanabo Group, a British-owned Israeli-founded medical cannabis company will become the first of its kind to be listed on the London stock exchange.
  • It will allow investors to buy shares in the company and make money directly from the sales of medical cannabis.
  • The company makes vaporizers that deliver cannabis to patients in controlled doses.
  • Listings of non UK-based medical cannabis companies could follow, but tough restrictions exist.
  • It is hoped that this will contribute to the change in the frequency in which medical cannabis is prescribed in the UK.
  • Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018, but many patients have reported difficulty in obtaining a prescription from their doctor and private treatment remains expensive.  
  • Recreational cannabis remains illegal in the UK and users risk arrest for obtaining it on the black market, even for medicinal use.

A medical cannabis company will for the first time be listed on the London stock exchange, it was announced late last week.

Kanabo, an Israeli-founded company which was bought by British shell company, Spinnaker in 2019, has been given the go-ahead to appear on the London stock exchange in just over two weeks’ time. It will be the first ever organization listed in the UK that will allow investors to buy shares and make money directly from medical cannabis sales.

This landmark move could open the door for more non UK-based medical cannabis companies to follow suit, but heavy restrictions are in place. Organizations that sell recreational cannabis will be barred from listing, even if they are established in countries where cannabis is fully legalized.

Why the medical cannabis industry matters

A robust cannabis industry with companies listed on the stock market is a recipe for positive change and development. 

UK investors are keen to place their cards on the table and put their trust in the ever-growing cannabis market. The more money rolling in, the more likely it is we’ll see advancements in innovation and research and development, as well as wider distribution to those who really need it. 

We’ve already seen it in Canada. Canopy Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: CGC), formerly known as Tweed Ltd., was listed on Toronto’s TSX Venture Exchange in mid-2014. Shares were priced at US $2.59 on the first day. The price jumped to roughly $60 by 2019, an increase of over 2000%.  

Established in 2016 as Kanabo Research Ltd by CEO Avihu Tamir, the company has already secured £6 million ($8.1 million) in UK-based investments and is valued at around £23.3 million ($31 million).  

Kanabo produces vaporizers that deliver medical-grade cannabis to the user in controlled 1mg doses in each inhalation. According to Tamir, who spoke to the Guardian last week, users generally prefer this method as it replicates the action of smoking, calling it an “upgrade” from the current delivery, which is in pill form.

Kanabo vape pod
CEO Avihu Tamir holding a Kanabo medical cannabis vape pod.

A UK medical cannabis industry rejuvenation? 

Even though the UK medical cannabis industry is seeing some growth, there’s still a lot that needs to be done before it’s anywhere near the level of Canada (legalization would certainly help). 

Tamir hopes with this step, along with the establishment of specialist cannabis treatment clinics in Britain, the company will be able to focus on the cannabis market in the UK and its troubled history with medical prescriptions, despite legalization in 2018.

“The distributors that have the clinics know how to collect together a sufficient amount of prescription for three to six months ahead,” he explains, referring to the issue of UK medical cannabis organizations themselves requiring a license before they are permitted to import, which has contributed to delays and low rates of prescriptions made to British patients. “They [the companies] can import in bulk and dispense from there.” 

Why legalized UK medical marijuana is still facing roadblocks (even when it shouldn’t)

Similar to the FDA’s ruling over CBD and cannabis in the United States, UK government affiliated advisory bodies are reluctant to give both hemp-derived CBD and cannabis the go ahead. 

In 2019, a report was issued by the National Institution of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), a public body that produces health guidance on behalf of the British government. It found a lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of cannabis and CBD products for conditions such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, citing a need for further research into its medicinal effects

This, honestly, isn’t true. Cannabis and CBD are well-documented as effective for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, which is why Epidiolex and Sativex were approved for use in the UK. 

Clinical research into both was broad, meticulous, and very convincing. Epidiolex, primarily used to treat rare forms of child epilepsy, reduces seizure frequency quite significantly. Sativex, which is used for symptoms of multiple sclerosis, reduced the severity of neuropathic pain and muscular spasticity. 

British patients have widely reported difficulties in obtaining a prescription from their doctors as a result. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK currently disallows regular GPs from prescribing medical cannabis. This has forced people to turn either to the black market or expensive services offered by private, specialized doctors.  

Legal prescriptions, which have been reported to cost between £600 and £700 ($824 – $961) each month, on top of £200 ($275) appointments, are unlikely to be covered by any private health insurance policies. However, they remain the only option for patients wanting to avoid the black market and the associated risk of prosecution.