Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis, is currently a major eye catcher: scientists see it as a compound with immense therapeutic potential, consumers see it as a product that simply does them good, politicians see that its prohibition makes no sense, and investors feel that there is money to be made in this booming market. One such investor is former footballer David Beckham, who has just invested in a company of this sector. This investment is part of the change in image of the CBD, which is less and less seen as a product whose prohibition is legitimate.
David Beckham’s investments in CBD
The financial empire of David Beckham and his wife Victoria Beckham is immense and complex. Schematically, it is entirely managed by the Beckham Brand Holding. Until recently, the Beckham couple owned two-thirds of this holding company, the latter belonging to Simon Fuller, the partner of the former footballer and creator of the Spice Girls. In 2019, the Beckham couple spent some $50 million (36 million pounds) to become the sole owner of this company that manages the “Beckham” brand. One of the companies in the Beckham Brand Holding is DB Ventures, headquartered in London. The latter specializes in investments. And it is through it that David Beckham has just invested in cannabis, specifically in CBD.
In February 2021, DB Ventures acquired a minority interest in the British company Cellular Goods, as reported by Sky News. The company in which David Beckham has just invested is dedicated to CBD-enriched cosmetics and CBD products for athletes. In order to avoid any problems with current legislation, the company uses synthetic CBD rather than cannabidiol from the cannabis plant, thus avoiding the presence of even minute traces of THC.
DB Ventures’ investment in Cellular Goods was made possible by the company’s very recent IPO, with a capitalization of £22 million. On February 26, 2021, Cellular Goods became the first company in the cannabis sector to be listed on the London Stock Exchange, a development made possible by a decision of the UK financial authorities at the end of 2020 that allowed IPO of companies in the CBD sector, provided their products had therapeutic applications.
Implications of these investments for the cannabis sector
That an international star like David Beckham invests in CBD is not insignificant. This action is symptomatic of the change of image of the CBD. Indeed, cannabidiol was for a long time considered as a simple by-product of cannabis, which should therefore be prohibited in the same way as THC. However, for years now, scientific studies have been multiplying which demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of CBD and its absence of undesirable side effects.
This CBD normalisation movement is not limited to the United Kingdom. On the Continent too, the use of cannabidiol is becoming more and more frequent, causing tensions, particularly in France, as recently witnessed by the “Kanavape Case”. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), called to rule in this case, declared that, “according to the current state of scientific knowledge, which must be taken into account, unlike THC, another cannabinoid of hemp, CBD […] does not appear to have a psychotropic effect or a harmful effect on human health”. The CJEU thus forbids France to ban the marketing of CBD, hence the impressive multiplication of stores specializing in the sale of CBD-based products.
Anglo-Saxon countries generally view cannabis with less negative prejudices than the rest of the West, especially continental Europe. Indeed, while cannabis reform is making great strides in the United States, Europe is still lagging behind in this area. In the Anglo-Saxon world, stars from sports or other fields do not hesitate to associate their image with cannabis. In Europe, the only stars who do so are generally rappers with a dissident identity whose proximity to cannabis is more a question of representation and public image than of business. This is the case, for example, of Koba LaD who distributed CBD flowers to his fans in Paris to promote the release of his new album last October.
The case of David Beckham is, however, quite different. David Beckham is a huge international star who manages his image with the greatest care. The news of his investments in the CBD has been around the world, helping to normalise this milieu, even outside the Anglo-Saxon world. In doing so, David Beckham is helping to remove cannabis from its association with protest circles and turn it into a business like any other, which should not be treated any differently.