This U.K. Cannabis Fund is Ready to Go, Even If the Brits Aren’t

(Bloomberg) -- A London-based firm is offering investors a slice of the cannabis market -- but interested locals may have to wait.

JPD Capital this week launched a fund that backs offshore growers of medicinal cannabis, targeting assets of 100 million pounds ($131 million) by the end of the year. It’s so far raised about 35 million pounds from mainly overseas investors, because a catch-all piece of U.K. legislation means any British participants could be breaching the law.

“We haven’t got time to wait for the licensing process to come into the U.K.,” JPD founder and Chief Executive Officer Jon-Paul Doran said in an interview in London. “For now, I believe it’s a closed market.”

JPD hopes to draw global investors who’d rather back private firms instead of the likes of U.S. and Canadian cannabis stocks that underperformed last year. Cannabis-related listings in the U.K. have been rare, and small in size, meaning banks don’t stand a lot to gain by taking on the risk. Startups in the sector are raising money privately instead.

“There is a lot of volatility, a lot of companies highly inflated,” said Doran. We want to “start to generate revenue and then look at a stock market listing.”

JPD owns a company in Zimbabwe -- where Doran was born -- that has acquired one of five licenses in the country to cultivate and export cannabis globally, according to its website.

While recreational use of cannabis remains unlawful in the U.K., the drug was legalized for medical prescription in 2018. Commenting at the fund’s launch in London on Wednesday, Conservative Member of Parliament Crispin Blunt said he believed the U.K. government was open to an evidence-based change in cannabis legalization.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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