Highlights from the Cannabis & Psychedelics Investment Summit in London Sep 20, 2022
Sep 26, 2022
Niamh Sayers, conference attendee
An experienced crowd of industry experts, entrepreneurs and investors gathered on 20th September, 2022 in the beautiful surroundings of BMA house, Tavistock Square London, for the first Cannabis and Psychedelic Investment Summit (CPIS) to be held in London, UK.
Noa Kahner, CEO of Kahner Global and organizer of the CPIS, kicked off our day with an introductory speech.
Following Noa’s introduction, was the first panel entitled ‘A Legal Overview: The Future of Cannabis Policy’, hosted by Anuj Desai of The Cannabis Conversation. This panel gave a comprehensive overview of the current blockades to federal legislation for the legislation of cannabis in the US, with many parallels highlighted in the UK regulatory climate, and in Europe.
Saphira Galoob, the Executive Director of the National Cannabis Roundtable and lobbyist for the US Federal Congress insightfully noted “it’s not a moment, it’s a process”, when it comes to cannabis legislation, after she remarked on the dichotomy of federal vs state law in the US. Incremental changes in the law, she noted, were more likely to prove successful than comprehensive, sweeping reform. Although when the Democratic party were recently elected in both Houses, the markets went wild for cannabis and ancillary companies, unfortunately since this, there has not been much movement in the legislature despite Democratic control of both Houses. One highlight has been the SAFE Banking Act of 2021.
Jonathan Havens, of Soul Ewing Arnstein and Lehr, spoke of the overwhelming public support for decriminalization and even legislation of cannabis, yet highlighted politicians do not want to be associated with cannabis due to the decades worth of stigma surrounding it.
Further adding to that, Damien Egan, the Mayor of the London borough of Lewisham, spoke of the timidity of politicians in the UK to include cannabis-related policies in their manifestos. Damien is said to be the first to include cannabis policy in his manifesto to run for public office, during his successful run for council in 2018. Although some progressive policies have been included in White Papers currently making their way through the legislative process in the UK, the rhetoric surrounding drug policy has remained close to the infamous ‘War on Drugs’/tough on drugs stance, due to the same stigma associated with cannabis in the US and Europe, holding back truly progressive policies.
The second panel of the day was ‘Germany and North America: Opportunities in the Rec Space’. This panel was hosted by Bijan Christoph Hezarkhani, a cannabis consultant. This panel discussed all things operations, sales and the recreational market for Cannabis in Germany and North America, and the implications and potential ripple effects of these major markets for the whole of Europe.
Julia Germaine, Operating Partner at KindRun noted that with great competition in the market, companies that focus on operations – providing access to product that fits into customer lifestyles, suiting the needs of the customer – will come out on top. Julia also highlighted the potential for opportunity in sales growth, as 30% of sales are being captured in the US, while 70% remain through illicit sales; so there are more sales to capture. Competing with illicit sales, companies will be focusing on product purity and price. ‘Consumer preferences are driving purchasing avenues’ in this space, Julia stated. Delivery options for legal cannabis sales can outcompete illicit sales as they provide a more reliable service.
Philip Schetter, Managing Director of Cantourage remarked, ‘it’s not if, but when and how’, when talking about recreational cannabis legislation in Germany. Philip believes the existing medical system in Germany will be leveraged for the recreational cannabis market, stating that pharmacies will be the main point of sales, not designated dispensaries such as those that have popped up in North America.
The summit then turned to discussions on the medicinal side of cannabis use with the third panel ‘Medicinal Cannabis and CBD’, moderated by Tom Grebstein, CEO of Ola Verde.
Dr Mikael H. Sodergren, Maraging Director and Academic Lead of Sapphire Clinics highlighted most, if not all, doctors in the UK do not recognize the medicinal properties of the active compounds in cannabis. Dr Sodergren highlighted the need for greater general public awareness of the medical uses of cannabis to help de-stigmatize its use; stating a survey where just 50% knew medicinal cannabis was legal in the UK. It was also noted that more clinical and pre-clinical trials were needed in this space, meaning a requirement for much greater investment. A special consideration regarding medicinal use of cannabis in the UK and Europe was the integral need for evidence that proves cost effectiveness, in addition to safety and efficacy. The discussion then turned to cannabis isolates vs full-spectrum, and the need to untangle which active compound is responsible for what effect, with Dr Sodergren remarking that it is in the long-term interests of humanity to research the pharmacophore(s) in this plant, although it might take 50+ years and there is a current lack of funding and incentives for such research.
Roby Zomer, Co-Founder, Managing Director & CEO of MGC Pharmaceuticals suggested greater differentiation between recreational and medicinal cannabis was needed and this clarity will aid public opinion. Roby also remarked that synthetic CBDs will provide a more affordable and cost-effective drug for patients.
Next up was the investor pitch where representatives from three companies pitched to our esteemed judges, Stanton McLean of Artemis Growth Partners, Adhum Carter Wolde-lule CEO of Canna Capital PLC, and Oliver Lamb, investment manager at Oskare Capital. Elad Barak of DJOT brought a practical example of DJOT’s product to supplement beverages with cannabis.
A tasty networking lunch was followed by the ‘M&A Capital Markets’ session where Ed McDermott of EMMAC and Seed Innovations, Nick Davis of Memory Crystal, and Roby Zomer of MGC Pharmaceuticals, moderated by Tristan Gervais of Crystal Capital Partners, had an interesting discussion about the current M&A and capital markets environment for psychedelics and cannabis. They all agreed that due to the slight saturation of cannabis firms in the market, M&A will be important for progress in the field.
This was followed by a fireside chat with Rob Sechrist of Pelorus Equity Group, who gave us an informative rundown of the investments his firm are focusing on in this space.
The following session was entitled ‘Investing in Psychedelic Medicine’. The panelists agreed that psychedelic investing is in its infancy but there are exciting prospects ahead considering the disruptive nature of psychedelic medicines, and taking into account striking results from preliminary research studies.
Dr Ben Sessa, the Chief Medical Officer of AWAKN Life Sciences, highlighted the exciting prospects of psychedelic medicines for mental health conditions and acknowledge the disruptive nature of the mechanisms of action of psychedelic drugs to treat these hard-to-treat conditions.
The final session of the day was entitled ‘Investment 101 for Family Offices’. Kingsley Wilson of Crystal Capital partners highlighted how Family Offices are usually at the cutting edge of new growth sectors. Anthony Legge of MBU Capital suggested the need to analyse companies at a micro-level more intensely rather than focusing on the markets which are highly messy at present. All panelists agreed that a long term outlook in the current economic climate was necessary and that there are no quick money solutions - investors should now be willing to support a company through multiple rounds of funding. The panelist’s acknowledged this sector is in the early stages of the growth phase – large blue-chip companies are now looking into cannabis and suggesting institutional capital will come. With this sector being fast-growing but fragmented, there is plenty of opportunity for M&A activity; indeed each week there is more and more M&A activity in this sector, stated Kingsley.
The day closed with a networking drinks session.
The Cannabis & Psychedelics Investment Summit showcases the best and brightest cannabis entrepreneurs and is the premiere summit for institutional investors, family offices, and ultra high net worth investors. For additional information on any presenting companies, please email us at email@example.com.