Federal legalization has given Canadian cannabis companies a leg up on the rest of the world and that dominance is spreading further into the United Kingdom. The Canadian cannabis company formerly known as Maricann (i.e. Wayland Group) has just made another European splash. European, technically, at least because the UK is still part of the European Union…for now.
As of November 26, Wayland announced its intention to purchase 51% of UK-based Theros Pharma, Ltd. Theros is an early stage company that has successfully imported cannabis to the UK with patient prescriptions to back up the order.
Why Is This Significant?
Wayland might not one of the higher flying cannabis stocks around, but their dogged ability to pierce markets with strategic plays is standing them in good stead. By entering the UK market now, Wayland sets itself up for more or less direct distribution to patients, albeit through a still long and drawn out, circuitous, paper-strewn process. There are no cultivation facilities in the UK except in Norfolk and that is contracted out to GW Pharmaceuticals. This connection means that Wayland will be directly in the line for patient prescriptions as they come in from doctors.
It does not also solve the problem of payment, however, particularly if the NHS lags on services rendered. The NHS itself right now is experiencing major problems and shortages of staff. Beyond the publically insured, there is also the matter of those who have private insurance. As in Germany, the NHS if not the British government beyond it, is not suddenly in the cannabis dispensation business. Furthermore, as in Germany, physicians will still be on the hook to try to explain why both Dronabinol and GW Pharmaceuticals’ medications do not work as well. And the cost issue looms large. As of late December, the NHS, in fact, made international news for substituting a cheaper, generic version of a widely used breast cancer drug, saving the institution hundreds of millions of pounds. Cannabis will not sidestep that discussion either.
Here is the interesting play, however. Wayland has also established itself on Malta this year, opening the way for strategic imports to patients in the UK not from Canada, but from this, another tiny EU member-state island. Further, as the company is also now gearing up to combine cannabis extracts with their newly acquired technology to increase cannabis absorption through the liver (as in edible consumption) this means that Malta, at least for the short term, could well become the export hub of not only medical cannabis bound for patients and NHS reimbursement, but also for the consumer CBD market now burgeoning in England.
Wayland will also be caught out if a negotiated Brexit fails and the country crashes out of the EU, which this strategy seems designed to bridge, no matter what. Medical access is a thorny issue. It is even thornier when combined with new and unfamiliar ex-im controls on a still-controversial product. In the middle of a national discussion, do not forget, about border controls and ex-im in general, that is still in limbo.
That said, for now, this is the only way that medical cannabis is getting into the UK. Earlier in the year, a British mom with an epileptic son successfully spearheaded cannabis by prescription in the UK. However, even she has to import from Canada. Tilray, followed by Namaste became the first two cannabis companies to so far to announce market entry. Wayland, in other words, continues to fly in good company.
Learn more about the cannabis industry and network with top investors and entrepreneurs from around the world at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, California, this February 7-8, 2019. Purchase early-bird tickets by January 18th to save. After San Francisco, the ICBC will be heading to Europe for a Barcelona event with Spannabis on March 14th and then returning to Berlin, Germany, for the third year on March 31st to April 2nd.