On 18 September 2020, the FCA issued a statement in response to queries from cannabis-related companies interested in listing in the UK. The FCA statement is pending a guidance consultation which will follow in due course.
Key points in the statement include:
- While medicinal cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018, investment in overseas-licensed medicinal cannabis businesses remains a legally complex area. The FCA considers that there remains a risk that the proceeds from overseas medicinal cannabis business may constitute ‘criminal property’ for the purpose of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (PoCA). This includes where the company possesses a licence issued by an overseas medicines or pharmaceuticals licensing authority.
- The proceeds from recreational cannabis companies, even when they are located in those jurisdictions that have legalised it, are proceeds of crime under PoCA. The FCA would therefore not admit the securities of such a company to the Official List.
- UK-based medicinal cannabis companies can be admitted to the Official List, if the company has the appropriate Home Office licences for their activities where they are required.
- Overseas-licensed medicinal cannabis companies and cannabis oil companies are in a different position. These companies may be admitted to the Official List, provided the FCA is satisfied PoCA does not apply and they otherwise satisfy the criteria for listing. Before they are admitted, the FCA will carry out a review of their case where they will need to satisfy it as to the PoCA risk.
- For medicinal cannabis and cannabis oil companies with overseas activities, the company will need to satisfy the FCA that their activities would be legal if carried out in the UK. The FCA will also need to understand the legal basis of the company’s overseas activities, for example the nature of the local licensing and the licences the company holds