British pump MILLIONS into cannabis products branded Mr NiceDecember 16, 2018
British firm that gave £50,000 to emotive medical marijuana appeal pump MILLIONS into cannabis products branded Mr Nice
- Kingsley Capital Partners (KCP) donated to campaigners for medicinal cannabis
- Epilepsy sufferer Alfie Dingley case lead to law to allow drug prescribed legally
- KCP launched products based on reputation of drugs smuggler Howard Marks
- Critics said Mr Nice website were using the medical argument as a smokescreen
A company that bankrolled an emotive campaign to legalise cannabis for medical reasons is set to make millions selling a range of products branded with the name of the notorious drugs baron ‘Mr Nice’.
Private equity firm Kingsley Capital Partners (KCP) last year donated £50,000 to a group campaigning to enable epilepsy sufferer Alfie Dingley to be given cannabis to treat his condition.
The case prompted Ministers to change the law to allow the drug to be prescribed legally.
Now The Mail on Sunday can reveal that KCP is launching a range of slickly packaged products for both medical and recreational use, which trade on the reputation of infamous drugs smuggler Howard Marks.
Now The Mail on Sunday can reveal that KCP is launching a range of slickly packaged products for both medical and recreational use, which trade on the reputation of infamous drugs smuggler Howard Marks (pictured)
A Mr Nice website blurs the line between the categories, describing one of its recreational products as ‘medication’ and others as having medicinal properties.
Critics said the disclosures raised fresh fears that businesses and pro-cannabis lobbyists were using the medical argument as a smokescreen, to pave the way for the drug’s full legalisation in Britain.
Tory MP David Davies, vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cannabis: Harmful Effects On Developing Brains, said: ‘This company is using a campaign to enable access to cannabis for a seriously ill six-year-old boy as a means of opening up the market completely and to make big sums of money selling recreational marijuana.
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‘People should be aware that the company behind this emotive campaign is simply looking to legalise dangerous recreational marijuana and profit from selling it.’
Last night, KCP admitted that it ‘absolutely’ wanted to sell marijuana to recreational users if it is made legal here. Should that occur, firms like KCP stand to make huge amounts of money.
In North America, the legal cannabis market is worth almost £8 billion a year – a sum forecast to quadruple by 2022 thanks to increasingly soft cannabis laws.
Packaged in smart metallic tins, which could pass for pots of upmarket skin cream, they have psychedelic names such as Merlin Purple, Happy Monday and Johnnie Haze
KCP registered Mr Nice as a trademark earlier this year, buying the rights from Marks’s family. It did so through one of its companies, Equinox International Holdings.
‘Mr Nice’ is well known thanks to Marks’s 1996 autobiography of that name, which sold more than a million copies.
In it, the Oxford-educated Marks told how he built a cannabis empire smuggling the drug into the UK and US.
He started calling himself ‘Mr Nice’, one of 43 aliases, after buying a passport bearing that name from a convicted murderer.
In 2010, a film about his life starring Welsh actor Rhys Ifans was released, underlying the fame Marks had achieved.
He spent his final years campaigning for legalisation and died in 2016, aged 70. Using the same bold typeface used in Marks’s autobiography, Equinox has developed an extensive range of ‘Mr Nice’ marijuana for sale in the US for users to smoke.
Packaged in smart metallic tins, which could pass for pots of upmarket skin cream, they have psychedelic names such as Merlin Purple, Happy Monday and Johnnie Haze.
The cannabis contains up to 22 per cent THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, which is responsible for the ‘high’ experienced by users
The cannabis contains up to 22 per cent THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, which is responsible for the ‘high’ experienced by users.
THC can also trigger psychosis. Regular use of such strong cannabis can triple the risk of the mental problem, where sufferers regularly experience delusional thoughts, according to British studies.
But on the US Mr Nice website, the marijuana is given flowery descriptions of the sort commonly found on bottles of fine wine.
Happy Monday is said to induce ‘an invigorating mental buzz’, has ‘a tangy fruit flavour redolent of mango’ and ‘is the perfect daytime medication for patients treating fatigue, stress and depression’.
Johnnie Haze ‘packs powerful euphoric and energetic effects’, while Jane Bond stimulates ‘both conversation and creativity’.
All 20 are advertised with smiley-faced emojis denoting the supposed positive effects on the user, such as ‘euphoric’, ‘energetic’ and ‘social’.
Cannabis is most frequently smoked by users alone rather than as a social activity. Studies have found heavy users are more likely to be depressed than others, and that their depression tends to lift when they give it up.
Meanwhile, the European Mr Nice website is gearing up to sell consumable products containing the compound cannabidiol (CBD), such as CBD oil and ‘organic hemp tea’. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound and is the current focus of much medical research.
As these products contain less than 0.2 per cent THC, they are legal to possess and sell in the UK.
The site also advertises Mr Nice T-shirts, hoodies and beanie hats. None of the products are yet for sale, either in the US or Europe.
The European site also entices browsers to ‘shop now’ for what it calls ‘Nice cannabis’, suggesting Equinox is anticipating changes in the law. However, the web link is currently inactive.
Last night, KCP said that the question of legalisation for recreational use was ‘not a matter for KCP’.
A spokesman added: ‘However, were legislators in the UK to conclude that such a market development was desirable, then KCP would absolutely look to be active in it.’
He said KCP made the £50,000 donation to End Our Pain, the group that backed Alfie’s case, because the firm ‘believes passionately in the medical potential’ of cannabis.
He described Marks as ‘a pioneer for cannabis liberalisation’ and the firm was ‘very excited’ about the launch of the Mr Nice range, which ‘has the potential to become a truly global British brand’.
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