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The Cannabis Conversation, a European perspective on the emerging legal cannabis industry.
Welcome back to the Cannabis Conversation. Thanks to those of you who tuned in last week, and for those of you who are new to the show, welcome. I just would like to do a couple of quick thank yous to people that have helped me get the show off the ground. I'd like to thank the lovely Victoria Burne who did the voiceover on the theme music, I'd like to thank Luke Hill who composed the '60s sinister spy music that I'm using as the theme, and I'd also like to thank [inaudible 00:00:51] who designed the logo. Got a great episode today about Cannabis and the law, so let's crack on.
Today I have Nick Davis from Memery Crystal on the show. Nick is CEO of Memery Crystal, which is a specialist international law firm based in London. Memery Crystal are taking quite an active role in the nascent cannabis industry, so it's great to have Nick on to help us understand the legal and regulatory backdrop. Nick, welcome.
Good morning. How are you?
Very good, thanks. Thanks for coming on.
There's obviously a lot to talk about today, but cannabis has been in the news a lot over the last year probably, and maybe a bit longer. What's actually happening in terms of the legal status in the UK?
The market's in its very early stages, and actually the law has moved super quickly in the last 12 months. If you cast your mind back 12 months, which in cannabis years is a very, very long time, medical cannabis wasn't legal. That happened, as you know, we'll come onto that. Sitting here this time last year we were trying to list an investment company, we needed to get comfortable on what they could and what they couldn't do. We found a barrister that we worked very closely with and we very quickly got to the point where we were comfortable that CBD, which is ... CBD is extracted predominantly from hemp, cannabis is two different plants, hemp and cannabis. Hemp is used to produce non-psychoactive CBD, doesn't have any of the THC in it which is the psychoactive part which was banned by the Psychoactive Substances Act.
CBD, low hanging fruit as far as UK law was concerned because a very clear path, that it was being marketed as a health supplement, and a complex area which we'll come back to. We went, we got comfortable that as long as what the company were doing and investing in was legal in the UK it was legal, subsequently the law has been clarified around medical cannabis. We see cannabis in four distinct areas from a legal point of view. Starting at the pharma end of the spectrum, you've got GW Pharma producing pharmaceuticals where the API, the active pharmaceutical ingredient, is a cannabinoid. That is Sativex, that is the other licensed products, that is covered in the same way as any other medical product.
These are pharmaceutical grade products that have gone through all of the trials necessary to get rubber stamped in that way?
That's correct. Big news earlier in the year, the FDA in the States approved Sativex for GW, who used to be listed here in London [inaudible 00:03:34], and moved to the New York stock exchange, and have had the most amazing ride. They're not currently the only company in the world with an FDA approved drug. So that's the pharma end of the spectrum. But the other end of the spectrum, you've got recreational, [inaudible 00:03:50], adult market, completely legal in Canada, legal in a number of states in the US, federally illegal, illegal across most of Europe, and in particular the UK.
So that's very clear. So the non intoxicating CBD, and we're working with a number of CBD companies, and we'll come back to that. CBD, pretty clear, although there is some legal issues around novel foods, European standards, not yet very clear. There has been two mainstream stories in the press. One is about an investment company listed on NEX, called Sativa Investments, who seem to have got planning permission and a license for a very large medical cannabis facility-
Based in the UK?
Based in the UK, in Wiltshire. What most people don't know that'll be listening to the podcast is the UK is the biggest producer of medical cannabis in the world. [inaudible 00:04:52], pharma, [inaudible 00:04:53], and nobody knows about it. So that was interesting. But at the other end, the Daily Mail, who I have to say have undoubtedly a political agenda about this, published this story saying all CBD products were going to be removed from the shelves in the net 18 months, because of this new novel foods directive. I can't see any legal footing around that. But it's moving all the time.
So you can see this is a dynamic area. But as far as I'm concerned, CBD, legal, you can buy at the beach, you can buy it in a hole in the barrel, you can buy it all over the place. Then you've got this fourth area called medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is not pharmaceutical grade Sativex, it is formulations or flour which is used by doctors to treat medical conditions. So as we all know, or those of you who [inaudible 00:05:46], that was a medical cannabis prescription. That's either in the form of [inaudible 00:05:56] or flour, that's basked or put into tea. Medical cannabis, November the 1st, clarified in the UK as legal, however the rollout has been a disaster.
Is that effectively because not enough people can get it prescribed?
Because the rules-
Because the rules are not clear. It's really interesting. I speak to a number of doctors, and we're quite involved on the lobbying side here, and we're certainly involved with trying to help the MHRA get to ... That's a medical health regulatory authority. Get to the right landing of what medical cannabis needs to look like in the UK. The guidance that's currently there is it has to be prescribed by a specialist, and lots of the specialists, governing bullies, have basically said there is no proof that this works, and therefore, we don't think you should do it.
Notwithstanding the body of evidence that is out there, it's not clinical level in the same way, you have phase one, phase two, phase three trial of a new drug. So actually, since medical cannabis is legalized 1st of November, there is essentially less patients able to get prescriptions. You can see why protocols like this are really important, but fundamentally why did we as a law firm get involved in this? We got involved in it because I, 100%, believe in the ability for medical cannabis to change people's lives.
Look, it's business. We're a law firm. What do we want to do? We might help companies raise money, grow lists on stock exchange, get bought, get sold. But I think most of the people you meet in the industry, all have come to it for personal reasons. It's really fascinating. So there is lots of like minded people, and you could be in this space right now and just say, "We're here because we want to make money." That will come, undoubtedly, because of what's happening in North America. But I think there is a pretty small community in the UK at the moment. We're all pushing in the same direction.
So several very interesting things that you raised in that summary, thank you for that. I guess the first one, which is probably going to be a bit of a surprise to some listeners, is that the UK produces the most medical cannabis in the world, by a company called GW Pharma. How does that exactly work? Are they ...
So in order to grow cannabis in the UK, you have to get a license from the home office. Anyone can apply for one, it's a 5,000 pound license fee. It's a hugely complicated process, we're doing it for two clients at the moment, just at the beginning of our learning curve. But as a clear set of guidelines, you need to have a farm, there is approved seeds that you can use to grow cannabis, and you can apply for either a hemp license, and we'll come back to this strange legal position around hemp in the process of your hemp flower in a minute, or you can apply for a full narcotics license, restricted license. GW have a number of licenses, they've had them for many years. They grow medical cannabis in vast quantities.
However, primarily for the US market, or only for the US market?
Well, the drug has been approved now in the US and in the UK. Very few prescriptions written in either market. So Canada, the US, the UK, the whole of Europe, products are available. They're very expensive, and there is this interesting interplay between medical cannabis that we talked about, and their pharmaceutical product. Because actually, you can replicate their pharmaceutical products using CBD and THC at a fraction of the cost of the pharma drug. However, doctors are going to be much more comfortable prescribing the pharmaceutical, I think, in the short term, than they would medical cannabis.
Yes, thank you. One of the, I guess, springs from that question is around this area of medical cannabis, which you told us about is one of the four buckets that kind of exist. Are there any other analogies or analogous medicines that are not pharmaceutical grade, but would sit in a similar sort of level to medical cannabis?
It's a unique situation, yeah. Human beings have been using cannabis as a medicine since the beginning of time. If you look back to ancient civilizations, you can see drawings, you can see writings, you can find all sorts of evidence. About 1930s, suddenly, cannabis posts the end of prohibition. The Americans decided cannabis was this evil plant that needed to be banned across the world, and it was. Yet, you can see bottles of medicine from the 1920s in America, where the active ingredient was cannabis. So it is a pretty unique situation.
Canada is the wrong model for the rest of the world, if you believe in recreational right through to medical cannabis. I'm certainly not, and we as a firm, and I think most of the people involved in the industry, are not lobbying for recreational cannabis at this stage. But we are undoubtedly pro medical cannabis. Now the doctors have got to catch up. I spoke to, as I said, one of the doctors I know quite well, he's a surgeon. He's spent eight years qualifying as a doctor, and then 1,200 hours a week, or whatever they work as a GE doctor, and they were never taught about cannabis.
They were never taught about the endocannabinoid system that sits within the body [inaudible 00:11:13] in one of your future podcasts. But you say to them, "Charlie, what's your views on medical cannabis?" He says, "I don't have one, because I don't know anything about it." So there is a huge education that needs to be done to the medical practice. One of the groups we worked very closely with, ECH-
They're working with Mike Barns, who is the doctor that prescribed medical cannabis for Alfred Deanwall to train doctors. So that's a really positive step, and education is key around this whole industry. The more doctors ... Funnily enough, I got an email this morning from a GP in London who has just emailed me and said, "I know you're active in the medical cannabis, can we speak? I want to know more."
It's interesting that that email has come to a law firm this morning, as opposed to going to the MHRA or the BMA, or whoever it may be. So it's the beginning. We're working with groups out of Canada, we're working with groups out of the US, we're working with groups out of Australia. What the Australian legalized medical cannabis society had is kind of the same. What they're saying is the teething problems that we're having in the UK, legally, and practically, are exactly the same as they had, and that it'll all sort itself out over time.
Yeah. So certainly, just because the law changes, doesn't mean everyone is ready to go on day one. One of the things that I've learned over getting involved in this space is education, as you say. So great, the law has changed. But if doctors don't know what to do and how to prescribe, then there is that barrier to overcome. So that will take time. But it's good that the ball is rolling.
Look, you're going to have interested parties, do big pharmaceutical companies want people who've been spending billions of dollars on Prozac and all the other antidepressants suddenly being treated with, well, here is a dose of medical cannabis? There is all sorts of conspiracy theories. But actually, you can see that the interplay is going to be really interesting, because big pharma is hugely powerful. What we've already seen is tobacco companies buying into large cannabis companies, and drinks companies, alcohol companies. So this will evolve. I'm sure the pharmaceutical industry will embrace, ultimately, what's going on. Doctors will get better training, and I hope we'll be doing this again in a couple of years, and the environment will look like this.
Absolutely. So I think we touched on a couple of things, it would just be good to highlight it to everyone, hemp and CBD and what their legal status is, because hemp, you hear about it, it's a wonder material, but no one is quite sure what it is, or a lot of people aren't. Then CBD, even more so, I think, is being marketed as a cure all for every single ailment you can imagine. You're not in the medical background, but it would be good to understand the legal status in relation to both of those.
So hemp is a plant that's been grown in the UK since ... There is all sorts of evidence of hemp clothing, and hemp ropes, and hemp everything, from the 800, the 900, right the way through until it went out of fashion. So hemp is, as we said, cannabis. It's a strain of cannabis that is produced using seeds that have a very low THC level. Legally, the seeds have to be less than .2% THC, and there is an approved list of seeds. So you can grow hemp in the UK. There is this strange anomaly in the law at the moment where you can grow hemp, you can process hemp seeds, you can process hemp, the fibrous material, but you can't process the flowers without a narcotics license.
Despite them not having any intoxicating, or supposedly-
Supposedly not. So it doesn't make sense to me. It's one of a number of things in the law that doesn't make sense at the moment. So what you're finding is that the CBD that's being sold in the UK, whether it be CBD oil, or drinks, whatever it may be, is getting imported. So it's either coming from Switzerland or it's coming from the US. So that doesn't really make sense to me. So you get a hemp license, costs you 500 quid to make the application, you get your form, you get your security, and [inaudible 00:15:21], but you can't process the flower without the next degree of license, which is a [inaudible 00:15:30] consultant's license. That's something which there is quite a campaign around because hemp is good for the environment, it's an amazing, versatile plant, does great things. We're working with a guy at the moment who has just built an entire farmhouse from hemp.
Yeah, really cool. He decided he wants to do something good for the environment, and has managed to make working with Tandridge University hemp, corrugated hemp walls, hemp bricks, hemp crete, and they built a whole house from hemp. So hemp is being used. But, from a CBD oil point of view, now let's move onto CBD, the wonder drug that everybody says cures everything, but nobody can make any medical claims about. So most of CBD being sold in the UK at the moment is being sold as a health supplement. You go into [inaudible 00:16:21], you pick up a bottle, it doesn't say anything other than this is CBD, put three drops under your tongue before you go to bed. It doesn't make nay of the health claims, it doesn't make any of the stuff that everybody else is talking about.
So it's an interesting situation. You could go and get it licensed, if you wanted to go and prove that CBD helps you sleep well, and CBD helps with joint pains, and CBD helps with recovery from sport, and all the other areas which I know through anecdotal evidence it works. But you can't say that. So you walk into [inaudible 00:16:55], and you pick up a bottle of their CBD oil, and it just says CBD oil. You've got all these influencers on Instagram, and Facebook, extolling its virtues.
We're working with a group in Camden who produce a really high quality CBD oil They're very active in the MMA space, and the mixed martial arts governing body have said CBD is fine, a lot of the athletes are using it for recovery. We're working with another group, I was out with them last night, and they are Canadians. They're ice hockey players, and using it for recovery. I take it every night before I go to bed, I sleep better. I do, maybe it's a placebo, maybe it's not. But I can tell you since I started taking it, I sleep better. So you've got this area, and then you've got this novel foods issue, which is just coming up in Europe, and we'll see where that goes.
Could you elaborate a bit on that? For the high level, I understand it's not entirely clear.
Novel foods are foods or things that are used in food that haven't been around for very long, haven't been tested. Theoretically, they need to go through the same testing as olive oil went through when it was first certified fit for humans. There is an argument that cannabis has been around for a very long time, so it's not a novel food. The European Union, they're having a look at it. We may or may not decide what sort of Brexit we're going to have, or we may still be in the European Union when we do this again in a couple of years. That's a European directive, and we'll have to just watch this space as to where that goes.
Okay. So if it gets deemed novel food, then-
Then you could see it coming off the shelves to go off and be tested. Then you could see it coming back with people actually making claims of what it does. Or, people just continue doing what they're doing at the moment, which is saying it's a health supplement, and you take it in the same way nobody says what vitamin B does for you, or C.
I guess for the problem or issue that arises out of that gray area, health supplement, is whilst there is a genuine products in the market, there is also plenty of [inaudible 00:18:57] and snake oil merchants to thrive, and quality assurance is probably something that all consumers want in the long run, I think.
Yes. I hope that some of it gets legislated in due course. But again, I'm not a doctor, I've just spent a bit of time around the space. If you're going to buy medical cannabis, you're buying medical cannabis. If you're buying CBD, you don't really know what you're getting, even if you look on the bottles, most of it is pretty unclear. So what you're looking for is a certified GMP product, which is good manufacturing process. You're also looking ideally for something that's organic. In a way, you're also looking for something, I think, that is sensibly priced. If you're buying a bottle of CBD oil for a fiver, when people are selling it for 50 pounds, you've got to kind of work out that's most likely not going to be what you want.
But there is now mass market CBD, [inaudible 00:19:47], I think it's nine pounds a bottle, [inaudible 00:19:49], similarly. So do your research. But it is a minefield. I think there is about 300, somebody said to me, different manufacturing companies selling CBD. You can't buy it at Amazon at the moment, you can't buy it on Facebook. That's going to change, I think, in due course. So again, looking at the crazy laws around the world. So in the US, until the end of last year, CBD that we would have been talking about was not legal. You were allowed to call it activated hemp, but the whole CBD industry was illegal. Yet, you could go and buy 20% super skunk at your local dispensary and fly around the roof for eight hours. But [inaudible 00:20:30] was passed in the US just before Christmas. Again, I'm not a US lawyer, it's early days. But that is going to significantly open up CBD into the US.
That's primarily to help hemp-
So that's a good segue, actually, into just give us a brief high level of what's going on in North America, because huge numbers are coming out of Toronto, and various things going on in various US states. But if you could just highlight, I guess, a bit about what's going on there, that would be really good.
So let's take the easy one first, Canada. Mid October Canada went recreational legal, I was there the day it happened, on business. That was an interesting 24 hours. There were these massive cannabis parties at midnight. In fact, everyone ran out of cannabis. So completely legal. You can buy it either online through the ... Most of it is state run at the moment, or providentially run. Again, they've gone backwards to go forwards. So a lot of the dispensaries that were there, because it was decriminalized many years go. A lot of dispensaries that were there got closed down because it's been under the control of the licensing boards. So recreational is legal, CBD is legal. Interestingly, edibles and drinks are not yet legal. They took another year on that, because they were concerned about children.
Just for everyone's benefit, edibles are what they say they are. So any kind of foodstuff with cannabis in it.
Yeah. So there is obviously greater risk that children are exposed.
Correct. So that is currently, I think, due to happen in the years time. So fully legal, medical, all four buckets that we talked about. The US has, as you probably know, two levels of the board. You have federal and you have state, big government, the federal government, cannabis is illegal. At state level, they've all gone off and made their own rules, starting in California and Colorado. Spreading like wildfire, I don't know what the current number is. It's somewhere around 20, 21 states.
I think it might be as far as 30, actually.
There you go. I know there were, at the last elections in November, a lot of states had it on the election bill. So strange, really strange situation. So let's take somebody who owns a dispensary, which is just a posh name for a shop selling cannabis, and some of the shops are stuck. You walk in and you're in a whole store. So you can sell cannabis, you can't take the credit card, because credit cards cross the country. So everything is cash. You can't put the money in the bank, because all of the banks tend to be across the country. You can't take the money across state lines, because that's illegal.
So what you had and have currently is these huge vaults where companies are putting the money they're making in cash. Credit unions, which tend to be state by state, are starting to take cash. I understand that that issue is starting to be less of an issue. So medical cannabis, again, state by state at the moment. We just talked about CBD having been illegal and now becoming legal. So the US is a real [inaudible 00:23:46] it's a real hodgepodge of regulation. I was talking to an American client of ours last week, and their view is as long as you've got a Republic government, you're unlikely to see cannabis legalized at the legal level. But if you get a Democratic government, it's highly likely, given the flow that you'll see the federal barriers come down.
It's good to highlight that divergence between federal and state law. As I understand it, because of the federal prohibition, a lot of the companies, as you say, that operate at a federal level can't get involved. So the huge US companies are almost sitting on the sidelines, although some of the drink companies and tobacco companies have made modest investments.
Not so modest. I mean, it's all relative. But a four billion pound investment from one of the drinks companies is a pretty big investment.
Yeah, that's modest to me.
No, you're right. That's a big investment. But where I like to view it is because the big guys are not going for it, it's a good area for entrepreneurship, because the little guys have a bit of a chance to get things going before the big guys come and squash them.
You've got this interesting thing where you can't list an American cannabis company on the New York stock exchange. You can list [inaudible 00:25:12]. So all of the successful, large Canadian companies now listing on the New York stock exchange. Probably because it's federally illegal, you can't list an American producer.
So it's just this really weird [crosstalk 00:25:25] between the continents.
That's cool. Thank you. So again, another big topic, without going into huge detail, and probably the best way to ask this question is around about what's happening in Europe. Who are the more progressive states in Europe, and who are possibly the more conservative, less progressive states?
Again, every country has a different regulatory environment. We've just sponsored the Prohibition Partners Producer, a European Cannabis Report, free to download. Anybody that wants to understand a bit more about the European legal framework, and that's an amazing publication where they look at each and every jurisdiction from a legal point of view. Each of the buckets, what's going on, and a publication we're really proud to have been associated with. Actually, it was launched at [inaudible 00:26:13] last week. Who would have thought you'd have a cannabis [inaudible 00:26:16] while the world is talking about Brexit, and Trump, and yeah, trade sanctions.
I think the cannabis [inaudible 00:26:23] was pretty well attended. Germany is at the forefront of medical cannabis. Very much the center, currently, of medical cannabis. Holland, everyone thinks of Amsterdam, and where do we go when we're 18 and we want to indulge, you jump on a plane and you went to Amsterdam because you can't do it in England. Strange enough, not the whole of Holland is legal. The largest producer of cannabis in Europe is a Dutch company [inaudible 00:26:49] cannabis being grown for the medical market across Holland. Spain is looking at decriminalizing cannabis. If we stuck a sign on the room that we're in now and said, "This is a cannabis club," and we invited all of our friends to come and bring their own cannabis, and have an evening, drinking wine and smoking cannabis, in Spain, that's legal.
As long as it's cannabis club. You walk down the street, it's illegal. They are granting licenses to grow, Portugal is granting licenses for growing, and looking at their whole decriminalization. Greece has just issued the first two growing licenses. In fact, we're working with one of the two groups looking to list [inaudible 00:27:32]. We're working with groups that have got licenses issued in Portugal, in Spain, Greece, working with a number of groups have got their medical licenses in Macedonia. [inaudible 00:27:44] is trying to position itself, as well, in the European Union as a place to grow cannabis. Guess which is the only country in Europe that has legalized recreational cannabis?
Correct. Bizarre. Yeah, this little country, in the middle of those huge countries we just talked about, decided out of the blue almost, to legalize cannabis. So Luxembourg, the only place in Europe. Italy is moving very fast towards decriminalization, they're calling it legalization light at the moment. So what they're doing is they're increasing the levels of THC that you can have in whatever you choose to smoke.
So the notable exception there is France, I guess. Are they the cannabis Luddites of Europe?
They are. Interesting, Cannabis Europa, which is a big education conference that we're involved in, they're doing on in Paris and on in London, we're sponsoring the London conference. The Paris conference, they probably picked Paris for that very reason. France is definitely behind, but again, looking, are making noise about looking. Then whether you consider Israel as Europe or the Middle East, they play in the euros, so for me, that's ... They're allowed to [inaudible 00:28:57].
But everyone is allowed in that.
Exactly. Australia is in Europe for that. Right at the epicenter, particularly on the technology side. But a landmark decision on Sunday in the parliament to allow the export of medical cannabis. So Israel, very much at the center of ...
Yeah, definitely there is lots of interesting things in Israel. As I think I read a report where the usage of cannabis in Israel is the highest in the world by some distance, actually. That's a really good roundup of what's going on in Europe. So I guess a bit about what you guys as a law firm are doing in this space. One of the interesting angles, which applies to individuals, but it certainly would apply to you as a firm, is did you view any kind of risk in getting into this area? Either reputationally or otherwise?
Yep. I'm sure there is a number of my partners that wonder what I'm doing all day, meeting wonderfully interesting people. There is a line that we've been very careful to stay, as I've said, we never and have no interest in campaigning for legalization of recreational cannabis. I believe passionately, and you'd be amazed how many of my colleagues in the building have friends with autoimmune diseases, or with epilepsy, or with unfortunately cancer, and who have all got an interest in the medical side of cannabis.
So as I said, we came into this via [inaudible 00:30:27], and Melissa [inaudible 00:30:29], CEO that is a very longstanding partner of mine. So we got very, very comfortable legally right at the beginning. What we've seen since then is I think we've got 16 active cannabis instructions at the moment. As I said I, by trade, am a corporate finance lawyer, which means we help companies raise money. The one thing you need if you're going to be in the cannabis space is money, because it's expensive to grow, and it's expensive to process, and it's expensive to produce.
What do we do? We're working with a group who applied for some licenses in Columbia. They've also got a lighting business, specialist lighting. We're working with a group with licenses in Greece, looking to come to the stock exchange. We're working with another group who have got licenses across most of the European countries we talked about, looking to go to the main market. We're working with a couple of pharmaceutical companies, cannabis pharmaceutical companies listed in Australia, looking at secondary listings in the UK for their products. As I said, Australia is ahead of us, and we've naturally [inaudible 00:31:28] Australian resources companies, so it's the same path. What's been really interesting for us, and something we probably didn't expect when we started this is we're heavily involved in applying for licenses.
I was going to say. So you predominately would have gone into it on a corporate level, but you're having to get involved at the regulatory licensing-
Yeah. It's really fascinating. As I said, there was an article this morning that a medical cannabis license has been issued, which is great news, because there was this smoke and mirrors, will another licensed ever be issued? Or does GW have them all? Yeah, if you meet the criteria, you'll get a license. So we're doing some of that. With that comes planning. Our real estate guys are involved. So it's just really interesting. We've got consultants helping us on the pharmaceutical side. Again, did we think we'd be helping clients apply for pharmaceutical license? No. So it's just going off in all areas. As I said, we're working with an amazing entrepreneur who has built a house out of hemp. Probably someone you should interview on your podcast.
So it's really eclectic. I'm probably having three or four meetings a day.
What was yesterday? Yesterday we were helping a member of the land of gentry, an Earl who has a large farm in the north of [inaudible 00:32:49], looking to find a North American partner to come help him grow cannabis. He'd been approached last year by an American group who found him, he's got lots of greenhouses. We got approached yesterday by a very well known property developer who has teamed up with a Canadian, and they've been working with a lettuce farmer who wants to apply for a cannabis license. So that's been quite an unexpected area. I'm still not convinced I understand why people want to grow cannabis in the UK.
Then at the other end of the spectrum, I've always had an African practice. We've done a lot of work in emerging markets. I've got one longstanding client now, who has got licenses in Lesotho. For those of you who don't know where Lesotho is, which will be most of you, because why would you? Unless you're in the mining industry, that is a mountain in the middle of South Africa that is a self governed kingdom. The first place in Africa that legalized cannabis. There has been quite a number of Canadian investments into it. So I've got clients that have got licenses in Lesotho, Zambia, one of my clients yesterday sent me a license in French. I can't quite look at what it's for, but it said cannabis. I'm guessing he's picked up a cannabis license in French, West Africa.
Well this is the thing, and as is Columbia, which is a lot of the Canadian companies have spent a lot of money in Columbia. What's interesting is we have ... You talked about reputational. We're working with a group in Columbia and a group in Jamaica. You think back to when we were all told that cannabis is bad, and we've all watched Narcos, it's quite interesting doing legal cannabis in Columbia, and the client said to me, "Can you find us a lawyer?" So you type in cannabis lawyer, Columbia into Google, and you get all these stories of Narcos being strung out of jail for their ... But actually, I managed to find, because it is legal and they're doing a licensing round, a very eminent lawyer who specializes in that. So it's just fascinating.
Yeah, yeah, I can imagine. It's really good that you guys are open to taking those risks and getting involved in all kinds of stuff.
Yeah. As I said to you, if somebody walked in today, and we've had a number of times, can we act on the recreational side? We've got to get comfortable. Actually, what's interesting is from a legal point of view, the biggest impediment for acting for Canadian companies that have produced in both recreational and medical wanting to come into the UK is the proceeds [inaudible 00:35:19]. It's called Poker. The perceived wisdom, certainly on the deals that we've been involved with in the early days was that it had to be legal in the UK and legal in the country it's being done. So if you have money from a Canadian company that would come from their recreation business, you can't then invest that into a UK business.
However, we're hoping that we found, or we have found, and eminent QC who has a different view on Poker, that basically says as long as it's legal in the country it's being done, then the fact that it's not legal in the UK means that because it was not a crime where the proceeds were generated, you can bring that money into the UK. We're working with one very large listed Canadian group who are going to be doing just that. You're starting to see Canopy and Aurora talking at all the conferences in the UK-
So just for everyone's benefit, Canopy and Aurora are the two biggest cannabis companies listed in Toronto, and both are worth upwards of 10 billions each?
Yeah, some major players.
One [inaudible 00:36:22] we did yesterday to fund the research in the UK. One of the areas we're really hoping to do more in, and this will happen over time, is through the clients we're working with who are getting licenses, they're all going to be doing medical research and actually, we're working with an Israeli group who are just about to launch a pharmaceutical and improved API for Chrome's disease, which is one of those autoimmune diseases that a number of my colleagues have got in the building. So it's real. People whose parents, family, friends are going through chemotherapy. The positive effect of medical cannabis oil to counteract the side effects of chemo is just stuff we want to be involved in, stuff we want to be associated with. So I absolutely get the point on a risk profile. But we see it as a huge positive.
That's great. That's really great. Kind of getting towards the end now, but what ...
I could talk about this for days.
So could I. One thing, and part of this podcast that I'm really interested in, is around career and industry change. [inaudible 00:37:22] looking at this new area myself, and hence set up this podcast, what advice would you give anyone that's looking to start a business or move into this new, exciting industry?
Jump in with both feet. Make it so exciting. We, as a firm, have always acted for entrepreneurs. That's the basis of Memery Crystal. Behind most of our large, public company clients, there is an individual. Because of the risk profile that we've talked about, most of the Canadian multi billion dollar companies have an entrepreneur that sits behind as the individual. There is just such an opportunity. I met four guys in their early 20s last week who have got an online CBD business, they're turning over 50,000 pounds a month. It's not to be sniffed at. They're just beginning.
Educate yourself, go spend some time in Canada, if you're able to, read. Once you get into this industry, you become a little bit obsessive. Everyone I speak to, you've got the bug, I've got the bug, amazing stuff online. You hear lots of TED talks, lots of YouTube, lots of advice, some crazy dude trying to go to the source of the original mother plant in the Congo, and ends up dying of Malaria in [inaudible 00:38:36]. Books. But you know what there wasn't, and it's why we're so keen to be involved this morning with that you're doing? Is there was not a basic cannabis podcast in the UK. In Canada, you've got Cannabis Radio, you've got these guys going off to ... "Today we're in this 20,000 acre facility growing ..." But there is nothing UK centric. That's why I think what you're doing is just another really important part of the industry. I commend you for it, because I know-
Thank you very much.
You have a day job. So if I was looking to get into this, I'd jump in with both feet, yeah. I think this is the end of prohibition. Whichever way you look at it, whether you look at it from a medical point of view, from a CBD point of view, from the pharmaceutical point of view, and if you're in North America, from a recreational point of view, this is a drug that we were all taught in school was really bad for you, and it made you psychotic, and the reality is nobody has ever overdosed on cannabis. You might eat too much pizza and sleep for a couple of days. So there is just a complete reeducation going on. So find the truth.
I think the key takeaway from that is listen to this podcast.
And subscribe. Press the subscribe button.
Yes, press the subscribe button. My last question, and I've been asking my other guests this, is what did your family say when you said, "I'm working in cannabis?" Or, "I'm working with cannabis companies."
They weren't surprised, because as I said to you, I've got a personal interest in cannabis. So we've been having the conversation a long time before it hit my professional life, through Olivia's Vision, through the charity that we run. We fund all sorts of clinical trials, and we knew what was going on. So from that point of view, this wasn't a big jump for me. My 15 and 18 year old, who are normal 15 and 18 year olds, and doing what normal 15 and 18 year olds do, they're being educated. I think hopefully, they think it's kind of cool.
Cool. That's good. I hope so too. Thank you, Nick. It's been really good chatting to you. It's great to touch on lots of different topics. Hopefully everyone found that very useful.
My absolute pleasure.
Okay, so that's episode two done. Thanks again for listening, hope you enjoyed it. If you did like it, please share and like, and all of those sort of things. If you do get a spare moment, it would be great if you could rate and review the podcast, as this really helps to spread the word. So I'll leave you now, and we've got a great episode coming up next about cannabis and how it affects the body.
On our second episode I speak to Nick Davis, CEO of Memery Crystal - an international law firm taking a very active approach in the cannabis space. We discuss the legal status of the different types of cannabis, both in the UK and the rest of the world, and get Nick's insights on how the industry is developing.