Sativa Investments PLC (NEX:SATI) Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Thomas caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss Sativa’s progress, what the company has invested in so far, a change in focus and the current situation of medicinal cannabis in the UK.
Q1: You joined the market earlier this year but how is Sativa’s life as a listed company going?
A1: Well, today we’ve published our interims which cover the period for our first 6 months, we listed in March and a lot has happened since that day.
When we brought the company to the market, we were very much looking forward to developing our portfolio around investments in the Canadian marketplace believing that the prospects for the UK were distant. Since that time, we’ve had changes brought about a big shift in public opinion and our politicians reacting to that change so far as bringing forward the reality of medicinal cannabis being available to patients here in the UK.
So, yes, we’ve seen some big changes.
Q2: What has the company invested in so far?
A2: We started by making two strategic investments in Canada, the first was Veritas Pharma which is a research business that has been looking into how different strains of plant produce different ratios of cannabinoids which are the components which are interest in.
We followed that by an investment in Rapid Dose Therapeutics which is a Toronto-based business that has perfected the ability to put medicinal cannabis on sublingual oral strips. So, instead of ingesting the oil as an additive to food product, this is a strip similar to the ones you see on the high street today for Listerine where you take the strip out of its pouch, you put it on your tongue and it dissolves immediately. That is a very interesting technology for our industry as it allows a very exact dose of medicinal cannabis to be delivered straight into the blood stream so it’s a faster and more effective delivery mechanism. We have made an investment in that business.
Coming nearer home, we believe that the testing of medicinal cannabis is going to be a big part of the industry here as it is in America, so we’ve invested in a laboratory business called PhytoVista Laboratories which has the capability of testing all forms of cannabis derived products. So, we’re what we’re interested in is the ratio of the different cannabinoids from the plants we have identified, or it has been identified, that there are over 100 different cannabinoids. The 2 famous ones are THC, which is psychoactive agents that makes one high and then there’s CBD but there are many many others. So, this laboratory we can identify the content of any medicinal cannabis product, it can also look at whether there is heavy metals present, or toxins or indeed pesticides, all things that are very important o the supply chain in our industry.
So, following up from that, we have an investment in, or we’ve bought George Botanicals and they are a manufacturer, a wholesaler and a retailer of CBD products and have a strong brand in the current CBD market here in the UK.
Q3: As you pointed out earlier, Sativa Investments were focussed initially on Canadian investments, what’s changed since then?
A3: I thin it’s the change in the government regulation and the perceived statement from the Home Secretary that there would be new guidelines set out in this autumn and we are getting closer to be able to supply patients here in the UK and we’ve responded to that.
So, we now have a clear seed to consumer strategy and this was outlined in our prospectus when we came to market so we’re looking at everything from growing the plants to extracting the medicinal cannabis products that we’re interested in, testing them and then branding and selling them. Our strategy is all around there and that has been made possible to deliver on that strategy here in the UK as a result of these new regulation that we expect shortly.
Q4: What’s actually happening with regards to medicinal cannabis in the UK?
A4: We are the first medicinal cannabis company to come to market, there have been a few that have followed us, and I am expecting a number of the bigger players internationally to make their presence felt here.
I think if you look at the North America model where Canada led the way in 2001 and now there are 26 states in America that have medicinal cannabis available and the development of the businesses in the quoted environment around the industry, I think there are 34 cannabis companies on the Canadian stock exchange. Some of them have grown to be multi-billion-dollar companies and I think as the market here in the UK and Europe opens us, you’ll see a lot of businesses raising money here in London.