By John Martin
The Church of England’s investment arm says it now invests in cannabis for medical use. Its policies prohibit investing in companies that profit from recreational drugs, but the UK government began allowing medical use of cannabis in November 2018.
A spokesman for Church Commissioners explained that it holds medical cannabis to the same standards as other pharmaceuticals, and permits investment only “if properly licensed and regulated for medical use.”
Recreational use of cannabis, or marijuana, remains illegal in the UK. Recently an international cricketer, Alex Hales, lost his place in the England World Cup squad after he admitted using it.
The Christian Medical Fellowship has for many years opposed giving a green light to general legalisation of cannabis, but it’s chief executive Dr. Mark Pickering has said the CofE’s change of stance was a “positive development overall.”
He agreed that Christians were rightly wary of cannabis but told Premier Christian Radio: “When used within an appropriate medical context, in certain prescribed conditions, they can be very useful and I think the purified medicinal cannabis should be seen in this light.” He has a background in prison medicine. Drug abuse is rife in UK prisons.
He explained, “Recreational cannabis is a mixture of probably over 100 different cannabinoid compounds – some of which are very harmful. There are lots of medications which if released to the general population for recreational use, could be incredibly harmful and potentially addictive.”
“But when they’re used within an appropriate medical context and certain prescribed conditions, they can be very useful. And I think the purified medicinal cannabis should be seen in this light.
Hari Guliani of the UK-based cannabis company Grow Biotech commented, “There is a lot of research being undertaken globally on medical cannabis that will help everyone’s understanding, but it does seem that the distinction between medical and recreational cannabis remains unclear for some people.”
The CofE operates a wide-ranging ethical investment policy which rules out products such as gambling, alcohol and tobacco. Its website says, “We are committed to responsible investment. We think that taking account of environmental, social and governance issues in our investment decisions is an intrinsic part of being a good long-term investor.”