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U.K. firm backed by Star Trek star and Snoop Dogg to raise $50 million

Written by Peter McCusker

The U.K. company backed by Snoop Dogg’s venture firm and Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart is looking to raise additional funds to develop new cannabis drugs.

Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies (OCT) is seeking close to $50 million to finance its work until around 2024, reports Canadian business website BNN Bloomberg. In 2018, OCT secured investments from the venture arm of tobacco giant Imperial Brands and $10m from Casa Verde Capital LLC, the Californian venture firm that counts rapper Snoop Dogg among its partners. It has also received backing from British actor Patrick Stewart, known for his role on Star Trek: The Next Generation and the X-Men movie franchise,

Reaching For the Stars

Stewart has long been an advocate of medical cannabis research in the U.K. and will serve as an OTC Patron. “I am proud to become a patron of OCT. It’s wonderful that OCT has got together the funding that means that Britain will lead the way in what is, in my view, one of the world’s most exciting fields of medical research. The possibilities seem to me to be virtually limitless,” he told the U.K. Metro news website.

Snoop Dogg’s venture firm, Casa Verde, recently invested in OTC

Oxford Chairman Neil Mahapatra told The Times newspaper earlier this year that it was set up to “unravel the secrets of a plant that has been stigmatized for decades”. They are currently exploring four main areas: can cannabis compounds be used to treat pain, inflammation, neurological disorders and cancer? 

“We do absolutely want to find out if there are combinations of cannabinoids that could cure cancer,” he told The Times. The firm is seeking about $50 million in its latest fund-raising round, and Mahapatra told BNN Bloomberg it is targeting Big Pharma, saying drugmakers getting involved in cannabis would help validate the burgeoning European industry.

Big Pharma Could Bring Added Financial Clout

Big Pharma bring deep pockets, understand the long-term grind of bringing medicines to market, and can help to legitimize the medical potential of cannabis, reports BNN Bloomberg. Casa Verde has been actively investing in the North American cannabis boom, with stakes 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 Oxford in part because of the management team but also because it too believes more clinical research is needed on the medical effects of cannabis.

“There is a wave of cannabis legalization sweeping the (European) continent,” Wadhera told BNN Bloomberg. “Also, the market’s similarities to the U.S. create excellent opportunities for companies and investors to gain a competitive advantage by employing lessons learned from the U.S. over the past few years.”

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About the author

Peter McCusker

Peter McCusker is an experienced news and business editor, who believes it’s time to fully embrace the multiple, proven, medical benefits of the cannabis plant.