World’s largest pharmaceutical cannabis producer moving to UK in 2019

  • Pharmaceutical company Canopy Growth is world’s largest producer of medical cannabis products
  • Canopy is hoping to conduct its first clinical trial in Britain mid-2019
  • Alcohol manufactures have invested heavily in Canopy

Canopy Growth, the world’s largest cannabis company is investing heavily in the emerging British medical cannabis market.

The move to Britain comes after the Conservative-led government changed laws partially legalising medical cannabis.

The Canadian grower of cannabis managed to generate sales of £47m last year alone. Canopy has spent years researching cannabinoid profiles of cannabis, cultivating specific strains, with a variety of different strengths and terpene profiles.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mark Ware, Canopy’s chief medical officer, explained that a new UK subsidiary, Spectrum Biomedical, would begin importing and distributing cannabis to pharmacies at the request of physicians in the first half of 2019.

Discussing the expansion, Ware said:

“We take cannabis very seriously indeed as a medicine.

“We have as close to a pharmaceutical-grade product as we can without the approval.”

Cannabis’ strength can be controlled by altering the ratios of THC, CBD and the 100s of other cannabinoids present in cannabis.

Canopy Growth processes cannabis plants into pharmaceutical oils, gel capsules and even dried raw flowers.

To help British doctors who are unfamiliar with the Endocannabinoid System and cannabinoids as a medication, Spectrum will offer doctors a colour-coded chart to help allocate the “right” products for their patients, with each shade representing a different ratio of THC to CBD.

Mr Ware explained that charts like this help doctors who are new to medical cannabis traverse navigate the complex structure of the herbal plant:

“Cannabis is very complex, it is used for a huge range of different conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety, sleeplessness and nausea.

“The colour-coding is a way to simplify the complexity of the plant for patients.”

“The UK’s change in the law around medicinal cannabis use is an opportunity to build research programmes here and support patient access.”
– Cosmo Feilding, managing director of  Beckley Canopy Therapeutics and Spectrum Biomedical

Canopy is also hoping to begin its first clinical trial in the UK in the second quarter of 2019.

The trial will investigate how effective cannabis is as a form of pain relief for cancer patients.

The study is being carried out in partnership with the Beckley Foundation, which supports research into banned substances, under a joint venture called Beckley Canopy Therapeutics.

Private investors donated £7.4m to Beckley Canopy Therapeutics earlier this year, including Richard Reed, the founder of Innocent smoothies, and British billionaire Jim Mellon.

Cosmo Feilding, managing director of both Beckley Canopy Therapeutics and Spectrum Biomedical, hopes to raise a further £7m to £15m next year:

“The big cannabis-producing companies recognise the need to provide more clinical evidence as they move towards being more pharma-focused and we will see this ramp-up, with more clinical trials over the next few years.

“I think the global medicinal cannabis market will prove much bigger than the recreational use market.”

He added that he has ambitions to run further clinical trials in Britain:

“The UK’s change in the law around medicinal cannabis use is an opportunity to build research programmes here and support patient access.

“The Canadian experience teaches us it’s a slow process. This is a drug that has a lot of stigma and is misunderstood, so there is anxiety among doctors, regulators, patients and policy makers.

“But in the end, it’s a family of compounds that have tremendous therapeutic potential.”

Corona brewer, Constellation, invested £ in Canopy Growth earlier this year, taking its stake to 38%.

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