The medical cannabis industry has been given the blessing of the Church of England.
The investment arm of the CofE will relax a self-imposed ban and consider investment into medical cannabis, reports U.K newspaper the Financial Times (FT).The Church Commissioners for England, which oversees the church’s £12.6 billion investment portfolios, has previously had an investment exclusion on cannabis.
But, Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at the Church Commissioners told the FT: “We make a distinction between recreational cannabis and medicinal cannabis. “We are content with it being used for proper medicinal purposes.”
A Milestone For Cannabis
He went on to say that the Church of England will hold medicinal cannabis to the same standards it holds other pharmaceutical companies, and invest only ‘if it is properly licensed and regulated for medicinal use’.
Hari Guliani of Grow Biotech, a medical cannabis research and advocacy firm in the UK, told the FT that only a year ago the idea of medical cannabis research raising money from an institutional investor felt far-fetched.
He called the church’s decision a “positive milestone” for the sector. “It shows a huge shift in understanding and perspective on what medical cannabis really is, and its different applications.”
The Times newspaper, which followed up on the FT story, says the CoE’s ethical investment policy bans investment in companies that make more than 10 per cent of their revenue from tobacco, conventional weaponry, gambling, high interest rate lending, human embryonic cloning, the extraction of coal for electricity generation and the production of oil from oil sands.
It bans investment in companies that make revenue from ‘indiscriminate’ weaponry, that make more than 3 percent of revenue from pornography and that make more than 25 percent from alcohol if they fail to meet certain standards.
But Not Recreational Cannabis
Medical cannabis is available in over 50 countries in the world. However the CoE will shun investment in recreational cannabis which is legal in Uruguay, Canada and multiple U.S. states.
Mr Mason told The Times: “As with all ethical issues, we look at all aspects, including reductions of crime associated with legalisation. But on balance, we came down as an exclusion.”
The Church Commissioners pledge to invest in a way that is consistent with Christian values. They have been praised for using their clout to hold energy companies to account over climate change.
They led a shareholder rebellion against earlier this year and called for “intensive, meaningful engagement on climate strategy”, says The Times.
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