The Church of England is bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “high church” this week as they change regulations surrounding their investment funds, the Church Commissioners for England fund, allowing for the possibility of funds being invested in medicinal cannabis. Medicinal cannabis was legalized in the U.K. in November 2018.
The Church Commissioners for England Fund is worth an estimated £8.3 billion ($10.5 billion). According to the Church of England website,
“The Church Commissioners exist to support the work and mission of the Church of England today and for future generations, helping it to remain a Christian presence in every community.
We manage an £8.3bn investment fund in a responsible and ethical way, using the money we make from our investments to contribute towards the cost of mission projects, dioceses in low-income areas, bishops, cathedrals, and pensions.”
Contributions from the fund to the Church of England account for approximately 15% of the Church of England’s budget. In recent years, the Church Commissioners for England fund has seen strong growth; it was ranked among the world’s top-performing endowment funds after seeing 17.1% return on assets in 2016.
Marijuana jokes aside, though, the Church Commissioners recognize the difficult relationship between faith and finances and are committed to ethical practices in their dealings with cannabis companies. The Church Commissioners already have extensive policies on ethical investing, with subjects ranging from alcohol and firearms to payday lending and corporate taxes among the many topics.
In an interview with ABC News, a spokesperson for the Church Commissioners Fund stated,
“There has been no change to our overall position on medicines…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.”
Although the new policy focuses on medicinal cannabis, that doesn’t mean that companies with stakes in recreational cannabis will be automatically disqualified from consideration for investment. Cannabis companies with less than 10% revenue from recreational cannabis can still be considered for investment under this new policy. Similar policies exist for alcohol and tobacco. For those in the medicinal cannabis industry, the Church of England’s policy change is a welcome indication of changing perceptions of medicinal cannabis and will hopefully continue to give credence to a booming industry.