SCIENCE and economics will win the day allowing cannabis to move from the illicit to legal-regulated markets across Europe, says the head of the world’s largest cannabis company.
Boris Jordan, Executive Chairman of US business Curaleaf was speaking on the final day of the Prohibition Partners Live virtual cannabis conference.
In an interview with Financial Times reporter Patricia Nilsson, Mr Jordan said its recent purchase of UK-firm EMMAC Life Sciences was driven by the necessity to secure an early foothold in Europe.
“Similar to the US market, where we were early arrivals – we started buying companies back in 2014 – you cannot build a national or global brand without the distribution and manufacturing capabilities.
Put Down Our European Flag
“Getting in early also gives you a head-start before for the development of the market and …before the prices go up.
“We got in early; we are very excited about that and we have put our flag into the European market and we are now learning that market.”
He went on to say that after years of prohibition it is becoming increasingly clear to governments and their peoples that cannabis is both safe, and medically beneficial.
He continued: “The science is on our side and I always believe that science will win. I’m absolutely sure we will be in all the European markets eventually, it just takes time – one has to be able to play the long game, and to have the capital structure to do that.”
He highlighted the size of the ‘prize’ with the US and European illicit markets worth a combined $200bn-plus.
“People are using cannabis and the smart strategy is to legalise it, tax it, and make it safe by regulating it rather than have people using illicit products. This is a trend that taking place across the world.
He highlighted how Switzerland and Holland were exploring adult-use programmes; how the UK medical programme is accelerating, how Spain is considering medical cannabis and the potential for German legalisation if the Greens triumph in the forthcoming elections.
He then elaborated on how the ending of alcohol prohibition in the United States was linked to the Great Depression and the need for Government tax revenues.
“We have this massive, illegal market all run by criminal organisations all over Europe because of this very stupid cannabis prohibition.
“Why not bring it out, regulate it and tax it. It creates a massive tax base for government and after the pandemic Governments are struggling.
“In the US it’s the number-one hirer of people; it’s the fastest growing industry. Curaleaf, in three years, has gone from 300 to 5,000 employees and most of them have been hired in the last 12 months.
“In Europe you can get rid of criminals, create jobs and deliver tax and economic benefits.”
The Three Cannabis Paths
He also highlighted the threat of cannabis to the alcohol industry with consumption falling in every state which permits recreational use
He went on to say that cannabis is one of the few issues which unites the US. “The same will happen in Europe,” he added.
And continued: “(Cannabis) is an incredibly healing plant. The genie’s out of the bottle, it cannot be turned back; it’s just a matter of getting over the stigma, and getting the politicians to stand up to big pharma and say ‘we are going to legalise this’.
He believes the European medical cannabis market will develop down a pharmaceutical pathway and identifies two further market segments namely; Nutraceutical and wellness, and THC adult-use.
It operates in the nutraceutical space through its Curaleaf brand, the THC space through Select and he said it is looking into possible acquisitions in the pharma space.
In the US today, medical cannabis programmes are on the books in 36 states, and 16 states allow some form of recreational use.
-Executive Chairman Boris Jordan, is a New York native who made his fortune in Moscow in the 1990s as the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union opened up in the period of perestroika and glasnost.
-Mr Jordan is said to worth $1.6bn and owns around 30% of Curaleaf.
-It is the largest cannabis company in America operating in 23 states with 101 dispensaries, 22 cultivation sites and 30 processing sites.
Curaleaf Holdings is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the symbol CURA and trades on the OTCQX market under the symbol CURLF.
Earlier this month Curaleaf reported March quarter revenues up 170% from last year to $260m.
It told investors that June quarter revenue could range between $305m and $315m.
For the 2021 year, the company thinks sales could reach $1.3bn, or more than double the 2020 level of $627m.
For the March quarter, the company had a net loss of $17m. Setting aside unusually high cannabis company taxes at 55%, interest, non-cash, and onetime charges, Curaleaf said that its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (Ebitda) were $62.6m.