The Church of England’s historic endowment fund, The Church Commissioners for England, announced on June 8 that it is opening the doors to investing in medical cannabis and views it the same as any other pharmaceutical industry. It’s a small snapshot of how major church organizations are evolving in the way they perceive cannabis.
A lot of money is on the line, considering that the church has assets worth £8.2 billion ($10.4 million). Those profits are typically used to pay for bishops, ministry costs, supporting local dioceses and clergy pensions.
Investments in the medicinal cannabis market must adhere to the Church of England’s strict Ethical Investment Policy, which limits how the Church can invest in companies that generate profits from unsavory industries including the gambling, alcohol and tobacco industries.
“There has been no change to our overall position on medicines,” a spokesperson for the Church Commissioners told ABC News. “We will hold medicinal cannabis to the same standards as we hold other pharmaceuticals, and invest only if properly licensed and regulated for medicinal use.”
England’s relationship with cannabis has been quickly evolving, not unlike changes that are being seen in Canada and many states in the United States. On Oct. 31, 2018, the U.K. government rescheduled medical cannabis, paving the way for prescriptions of the substance.
“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,” Grow Biotech CEO Hari Guliani said. “With groups like the Church of England considering investments in medical cannabis, we can expect perceptions to continue to change.”
Financial Times reports that church leaders will make the distinction between medical and recreational cannabis. While the plant’s medical applications will be recognized, there will not be any support for businesses that earn 10 percent or more from recreational cannabis revenue, according to Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at the Church Commissioners.