A British scientist dubbed ‘Dr Pot’ and his business partner were last night celebrating a £94million windfall after selling their cannabis firm for £5.3billion.
Dr Geoffrey Guy founded Cambridge-based GW Pharmaceuticals in 1998, but is selling the company to Irish rival Jazz Pharmaceuticals.
His holding will net him a payout of £65.9million, with the company’s long-serving chief executive Justin Gover expected to get £28.6million.
GW Pharmaceuticals secured a Home Office licence to grow cannabis in England and has pioneered marijuana treatments.
Its first drug, mouth spray Sativex, was the first cannabis-based medicine to be approved by any country when it secured backing in the UK for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers.
Dr Geoffrey Guy will take home £65.9million after selling his cannabis company, GW Pharmaceuticals, for £5.3billion to rivals in Ireland. The firm created Sativex mouth spray, the first cannabis-based medicine to be approved by any country
GW then received approval in the US for a second drug, called Epidyolex, which combats seizures suffered by people with epilepsy.
Approval in Europe followed in 2019, with both Sativex and Epidyolex becoming the first cannabis-based drugs to become available on the NHS.
Last year GW reported annual sales of £385million.
Other directors of the company include former Cabinet minister Lord Waldegrave, who served under Margaret Thatcher and John Major and is chairman of Coutts, the Queen’s bank.
Mr Gover said yesterday: ‘Over the last two decades, GW has built an unparalleled global leadership position in cannabinoid science.
‘We believe that Jazz is an ideal growth partner that is committed to supporting our commercial efforts, as well as ongoing clinical and research programs.
Together, we will have an opportunity to reach and impact more patients.’
Dr Guy, who serves as GW’s chairman, received a pay package worth £5.8million including shares in 2019.
He has used his cannabis-based fortune to amass a property portfolio, including Axnoller Farm, which has hosted celebrity weddings, and Chedington Court, a Jacobean-style grade II-listed house – both in Dorset.
GW Pharmaceuticals secured a Home Office licence to grow cannabis in England and has pioneered marijuana treatments. GW carries out research and development in Cambridge and its cannabis is refined in sites across the South
Cannabis-based medicines were legalised in 2018 by former home secretary Sajid Javid following a campaign by parents of children with severe epilepsies such as Dravet syndrome.
They argued that drugs such as Epidyolex could help reduce the occurrence of life-threatening seizures.
Epidyolex contains cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis plants also known as CBD. Sativex contains both CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical that gets users high.
GW carries out research and development in Cambridge and its cannabis is refined in sites across south England.
The company employs more than 1,000 people.
David Beckham invests in synthetic cannabis company that makes athletic recovery products
David Beckham is backing a company making synthetic cannabis to be used in skincare and athletic recovery products.
Cellular Goods, which the former England star has invested in through his business DB Ventures, will become the first company of its kind to float on the main London stock market.
Beckham has taken a minority stake and is understood to believe products containing cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive product of the plant cannabis, could become popular.
It will fit in with a growing investment portfolio which, along with brand and advertising deals, allowed the Beckhams to pay themselves £40,000 per day in 2019.
David Beckham has taken a minority stake in Cellular Goods, which produces synthetic cannabis to be used in skincare and athletic recovery products
Their net worth is said to be in excess of £300million, despite Victoria Beckham’s fashion brand making a loss for five consecutive years.
Cellular Goods, when it floats, is expected to be valued at around £20million.
Its CBD is made in labs rather than from cannabis plants, which the company says is more sustainable.
Synthetic CBD also avoids any concerns over THC, the substance found in cannabis responsible for its intoxicating effect.
There are thought to be more than 1.3million Britons using CBD products in a market that has grown exponentially.
CBD has also been touted as the next big thing in skincare with manufacturers claiming it has anti-ageing properties.
Some cannabis-based products are also available on prescription for severe epilepsy, nausea caused by chemotherapy and spasms caused by multiple sclerosis.
Others claim low doses can be used to treat stress or anxiety. It means that hemp and cannabis derivatives, once the preserve of hippies, can now be found in Boots or Holland & Barrett.
Valued at around £20million, Cellular Goods is set to become the first company of its kind to float on the main London stock market
Major investors have started to circle in the hope of getting behind a rapid growth area, boosted by the legalisation of cannabis in some US states.
Cellular’s boss Alexis Abraham told Sky News, who first reported the story: ‘We are poised to be the first pure-play cannabinoid company to list on the main market of the LSE.
‘There is enormous potential for growth in this sector as we see the public embracing the importance of wellness and self-care, and everyday more scientific studies are published validating the potential of cannabinoids.
‘The planned listing will provide us with the capital and credibility to serve a market where there is a clear unmet need for a go-to brand.’
DB Ventures was contacted for comment.