US-focused SOL Global Investments will acquire a 25 percent stake in Dublin-based medical cannabis company GreenLight Pharmaceuticals for €1.8 million, with a possibility to raise its stake to 51 percent.
They will partner with the clinical research team at GreenLight to develop research and development programs across Europe.
SOL Global also has the option to acquire a 75 percent stake in a future GreenLight subsidiary that obtains a cannabis cultivation license in Ireland or Northern Ireland for an aggregate exercise price of around €1 million.
“This latest partnership provides us with the funding to take GreenLight to a wider international audience. In 2019, we expect to see the rollout of full medicinal cannabis markets in Ireland and the UK,” GreenLight chief executive James Lidden said.
“The expansion of our food supplements range, and the research and development of our pharmaceutical products, will enable GreenLight to have a greater profile on the international scene as a major player in medical cannabis,” he added.
Brady Cobb, SOL Global chief executive, stressed that GreenLight’s plans will be instrumental in forming industry-leading solutions and therapies, “as society continues to delve into the future of using cannabis medicinally.” Adding: “We look forward to working together to further develop and enhance GreenLight’s leadership position in Europe’s nascent medical cannabis industry.”
Talking exclusively to Agri Investor, he went on to explain: “With 30 US states using it for medical purposes and 13 for recreational use, we are very excited about developments on the American market for 2019. The EU also has the potential to be as big as the US. It’s a massive market place and it’s an exciting time when a major country like the UK legalizes cannabis for medical use.”
Although only 11 to 12 patients have been treated with medical cannabis in Ireland after it was legalized for medical purposes in 2014, Cobb expects the market to move faster after successful campaigns by eight-year-old Ava Barry from Cork, being treated with it for a severe form of epilepsy. Government is also moving to ensure there is a consistent and cost-effective supply of good quality products.
“There is 80 percent of public support in Ireland for it and 65 percent in the US. We know it’s the start of the journey in England, but when people see the positive impact on health, things should start to move,” Cobb added.
This was supported by Le Roy Dowey, director of corporate development at GreenLight, who cited the campaign by Billy Caldwell from Northern Ireland – suffering from autism and severe epilepsy and Sophia Gibson, with Dravet’s Syndrome – which contributed to the UK legalizing cannabis for medical purposes. “We expect the UK to move quickly because of these cases,” he said.
GreenLight is a vertically integrated medical cannabis company that provides supplements in Ireland and the UK, holding distribution agreements with 1,000 pharmacies there. It is also developing its business in Spain, France, Russia, Poland and the US. While SOL is an international cannabis company with a focus on legal US states.
Increasing investment in cannabis is being seen globally, with UK doctors allowed to prescribe cannabis products since November. It has also swept across the Americas, with Canada legalizing the sale, possession and recreational use of cannabis in October. Both Mexico and Luxembourg are also planning to legalize recreational cannabis use. In Europe, it is legal to use cannabis in private in Spain and it is sold in designated establishments in the Netherlands.