Wayland Group (CSE: WAYL) is expanding into the UK after agreeing to a £27.8 million ($36.9 million) deal to buy 51% of British medicinal cannabis company Theros Pharma Ltd.
The Ontario-based firm has agreed to make an initial payment of £3.8 million and it will issue a second payment of £24 million following certain milestones. That includes Theros obtaining either a cannabis cultivation license or a license to import medical cannabis.
Professor Mike Barnes, a consultant neurologist and long-term cannabis advocate, is listed on Companies House as the sole director at Theros. Last month it changed its name from Professor Mike Barnes Ltd. to Theros Pharma Ltd. It last filed accounts for the year to April 2017, when it had total equity of £434,379.
Professor Barnes led the team that secured medicinal marijuana for high-profile epilepsy sufferer Alfie Dingley, a seven-year-old boy who made front-page news when he was denied the cannabis he needed to treat his condition. That case provoked an outcry among Brits and encouraged the Home Office to legalize cannabis for medicinal use earlier this year.
However, the situation is very delicate in the UK right now as the guidelines that doctors must follow before prescribing cannabis are so strict that very few patients have actually been able to access it. Barnes is among the leading lobbyists calling for medicinal cannabis prescription guidelines to be relaxed alongside campaign group End Our Pain.
He will now seek to gain a full license to import medicinal cannabis for distribution and another for cultivation. If successful, Wayland will release the remaining £24 million. Both payments will be met by issuing common shares in Wayland based on market prices, subject to a floor issue price of C$1.65 per share. The current price is C$1.42, up from $1.13 on Nov. 20.
Wayland has headquarters in Burlington, Ontario, and Munich, Germany, plus operations in Switzerland and Colombia. Chief executive Ben Ward said he was proud to team up with the British firm, adding: “Theros’ dedicated team of professionals and advocates, who were instrumental in achieving cannabis legalization in the UK, will work with Wayland to create access to cannabis for patients and further advocate for personalized medicine”.
Barnes said he was looking forward to the partnership, while Dingley’s mother, Hannah Deacon, who is campaigning for less strict guidelines in the UK, said she hopes the deal will benefit thousands of Brits that deserve a chance to gain access to medicinal marijuana to alleviate a number of disabling symptoms.