Medical cannabis is now legal in the U.K. under certain conditions. However, the great surprise came last week from the Church of England making alteration of its investment fund’s rules. The alteration allows it to now invest in medical cannabis. The fund, the Church Commissioners for England fund, manages assets worth £8.3 billion (approximately $10.5 billion). According to the Church of England’s commissioners, they would be equating cannabis to other pharmaceuticals rather than discriminating against it.
The fund is closed and no longer accepts new contributions. Profits from the fund’s investments is used to pay the bishops, offset ministry costs, pay clergy pensions as well as support local dioceses. Speaking to ABC News, a spokesperson for the Church Commissioners said, “There has been no change to our overall position on medicines. We will hold medicinal cannabis to the same standards as we hold other pharmaceuticals, and invest only if properly licensed and regulated for medicinal use.”
Unlike other investors, the Church of England takes its ‘Ethical Investment Policy’ seriously. The policy provides the guidelines on how the church invests in companies to generate profits.
Information on the Church of England’s website explaining its ethical standards read, “We are committed to responsible investing. We think that taking account of environmental, social and governance issues in our investment decisions is an intrinsic part of being a good long-term investor.”
Further elaborating on ethical and responsible investment, the Secretary to the Church Commissioners, Andrew Brown said, “Our approach involves ethical exclusions; incorporation of environmental, social and governance issues; action on climate change risks and opportunities; engagement and voting; and impact monitoring and impact investment.”
What specific cannabis companies will the church invest? Some think that GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers of Epidiolex, is at the top of the list. Following the announcement, the Cambridge-based company’s stock went up by 5%.
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