“Happy Days On Cannabis Farm”. The Times 6th April 2012
Dope probably wasn’t at the forefront of George Osborne’s mind when he drew up the Budget but, nevertheless, he blew a big tax break towards Britain’s only legal cultivator of medicinal cannabis.
GW Pharmaceuticals is preparing to enlarge its clandestine marijuana plantation, which is in an undisclosed location somewhere in the South of England. It wants to ramp up production of Sativex, its recently licensed cannabis-based drug for multiple sclerosis.
GW is shaping up to be a stand-out beneficiary of the government’s “patent box”, which provides a rock bottom 10 per cent rate of corporation tax for profits on UK patented inventions. Unusually, GW Pharmaceuticals’ entire corporation fits inside the patent box because its technology platform, extracting chemicals from cannabis plants, qualifies as a UK invention.
GW wants to expand Sativex into treatment for cancer pain and it reckons scores of other molecules in cannabis plants could be turned into drugs. Analysts reckon sales might reach £9 million next year and could climb to the hundreds of millions.
The company yesterday shook up its board in preparation for growth, appointing a new finance director and beginning a search for a chief operating officer. But the taxman may ever only get a pittance.