Rapper Snoop Dogg’s U.K. medical marijuana company, Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies Ltd. is going after Big Pharma in its latest fundraising round. There is a potential symbiotic relationship between upstart cannabis investors/researchers and established pharmaceutical companies. With Big Pharma involved, it could lend legitimacy to the cannabis industry as it emerges from illegality. The booming cannabis market could help Big Pharma connect with badly needed growth.
Oxford Cannabinoid Ltd.focus is on breaking cannabis extractions down to their constituent parts and then investigating potential uses in various fields including neurology, immunology, oncology, and pain relief. Oxford Cannabinoid was established to combine cannabinoid medicine with world-class scientific research and drug development. The downside of the opportunity is that molecular component medicine involves a very costly and difficult regulatory process; therefore, the need for pharma partners that not only have the deep pockets but deep expertise in the research and regulatory process.
When Oxford Cannabinoid raised money in 2018, the round included big names such as the venture arm of tobacco giant Imperial Brands Plc and Casa Verde Capital LLC, the West Hollywood based firm that counts Snoop Dogg as a partner.
Rapper and entrepreneur Snoop Dogg has long been a passionate enthusiast of cannabis. Now that the legal market for cannabis is set to boom, Snoop Dogg is an ideal partner both for his personal understanding of the space and his authentic street cred with consumers. In addition to co-founding Casa Verde Capital, Snoop Dogg also has also partnered with Canopy Growth to launch Leafs by Snoop.
As prohibitions against cannabis recede, the pharma industry has been cautious with small investments and licensing deals with GW Pharmaceuticals Plc, the U.K. company that makes cannabis-derived multiple sclerosis medicine Sativex and childhood epilepsy treatment Epidiolex. A unit of Switzerland’s Novartis AG also signed a partnership with Tilray Inc. last year, but pharma companies have yet to really dive into the market with substantial investments.
Small pharma and medicinal cannabis start-ups will need deep pocket partners with talented and experienced research teams because any foreseen medical use must go through the complex regulations and testing of the FDA and EMA (European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products).
Casa Verde has been one of the more active investors in the North American pot boom. It has invested in cannabis delivery start-up Dutchie Inc., weed tracking firm Metrc LLC and vape device maker Green Tank Technologies Corp. Managing Partner Karan Wadhera said his firm invested in OCT in part because of the management team but also because it too believes more clinical research is needed on the medical effects of cannabis.