European Business Magazine caught up with Maximillian White, The British Billionaire Entrepreneur who has made his billions from the cannabis Industry. He is our front cover feature for this months Summer edition.
Medicinal cannabis is riding on a high. The medicinal cannabis industry has burst onto the scene in the past few years and has witnessed phenomenal growth, allowing investors and businesspeople alike to rack up significant wealth within the space. North America and Europe are home to some of the world’s most famous cannabis cultures, such as California and Amsterdam. Millions of Europeans use cannabis every year, and with little legality for recreational cannabis, this high demand is met by the illegal market.
As a result, yearly illicit cannabis market sales are estimated at over £9 billion, representing significant untapped potential and profit as laws and legislations shift towards a more regulated cannabis sector. The drug trade has always given rise to huge wealth, but now the legal industry is producing a new breed of corporate marijuana moguls. Step forward Maximillian White.
White sells medicinal marijuana to wholesalers across the world and is hoping to provide medical marijuana patients with the perfect product. Initially a technology investor, White founded a company dedicated to the manufacture, research, cultivation, processing, and distribution of the highest quality medical cannabis for the pharmaceutical industry.
Innovative White is Nottingham-born and was one of the first entrepreneurs to seize an opportunity, providing patients of psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and seizures with the product that relieves symptoms. Medicinal cannabis comes in a variety of forms including pills; liquid; oil; powder or dried leaves. At the forefront of the booming legal marijuana industry is Maximillian White , a British entrepreneur at the head of the game in this booming industry . For our lead front cover story – we caught up with the very innovative business man about the many challenges he has faced over his career , his current situation and his many exciting plans for the future.
Where did you first have the foresight of investing into the Cannabis Industry
I realised there was an opportunity as I saw the quality all over the world was so up and down and nobody specifically was really producing enough of it. It was really when I looked into that when I saw the demand was seven times higher than the availability that I should really look to be doing something on my own.So I started to look into doing my own stuff.Not sure I realised at the time how big it was going to get but I was certain from various experiences through my business career that there was an opportunity worth looking into.
From there I managed to put a fantastic team together of all the best people that I’ve met on my journey with whom I made a lot of money with. Then, what happened was , I got asked to speak in an UN webinar during COVID and it was to take medical marijuana off the dangerous drugs list onto what would be classed as an edible medical green tea like product or something seen as a herbal tea to which people could benefit from.
From there me and my team spoke about it and we told people about the fact that as a normal human, we’ve got cannabinoid receptors in our body, we’re producing THC and CBD anyway. One of the natural ways to take any form of medicine is with cannabis because of our cannabinoid receptors. The difference between pure cannabis and marijuana is the fact that cannabis is grown naturally, marijuana is grown in a way like you would ferment a grape to turn into wine. So we keep it as the purest version and essentially it becomes one of the most powerful drugs in the world.
So once the UN decided they were going to take it off the dangerous drugs list onto almost like an edible list, a food list, an agricultural list , they then said, ‘Look, this is okay but it’s still a drug and it still needs to be controlled, so how are we going to deal with this?’
So with 90% of the pharmaceutical companies that use my medical marijuana being in Europe, they insisted that they would legalise it in more or less all of the countries they could but it needed to be EU GMP quality, which means that it needed to be at some form of level of European spec and quality controlled. I knew that nobody was prepared for this because to have the ability of EU GMP, you’d have to build it from scratch. But at that time I was looking for my own stuff anyway, so it made sense to hold back a bit and we’d go for the GMP product.
From there I bought 35 hectares of land, now I’ve just bought another 100 hectares of land, I’ve bought two factories that are around 150,000 square metres between them and I’m just doing a deal now with 1,000 hectares as well, just to give you an idea of the sizeof where we’re going with this now.
That is a big increase. How will that affect business do you think?
A 1,000 hectares of licensed land, yeah. Now what I’ve done is, I’ve managed to put myself years and years ahead of everyone else. Why? Because of the quality, I’ve always had the capability of growing the best quality.
How did you manage to get to this stage do you think?
Because I’ve got patents on growing systems that are the best in the world. Used by the best in the world for the best. I’ve always had them anyway. That’s why I made my money in the earlier years.
Irrespective of what we’re doing now, what we’ve done is, we’ve got the best quality and we’ve got the capability of you being able to get everything from under one roof. So you don’t have to mess around and go round to 60, 70 different companies to try and fulfil a small order, you can get it from one stock. This is key as well as the fact that we’re based in Portugal, demographically it’s fantastic, as well as the fact we’re European, we’re very close to all different countries, especially the ones that use it. Additionally we have good trade agreements with Africa, amazing trade agreements with America and the places in all European countries being an European country ourselves and also, the only country that’s got an European trade agreement with Brazil. It’s demographically where we’re so advantageous and have huge advantages over our competitors..
Even before we started building our facility, when people knew who our team was, because my team was picked the best of the best, people that have grown the EU GMP. One of our master growers during COVID got 25 cannabis cuts out of 27. So we’ve put the best team together and working with some of the best people in the industry, we were getting the orders coming through before we’d even started our facility. The only problem when we started doing it, we realised the problem wasn’t what we were doing, it was not being large enough. So over these last two years, since we last spoke, we’ve scaled up amazingly well . In fact we have probably quadrupled in size and that is just a conservative estimate.
So from say two years ago, where were you at capacity wise compared with now?
Two years ago, It was roundabout 35 hectares, now we’re over 1,000 hectares with over 100,000 square metres of indoor space as well, which makes us the largest indoor facility in the world with cannabis. I’m also taking on new partners such as Nick Candy,another well known British entrepreneur.
Growth wise ,to give you an idea, maybe a couple of years ago, our possibility was growing around 600 million a year in cannabis, now we can grow anywhere up to 10 billion a year in cannabis. We are the only people in the market kitted out for the EU GMP drive that’s just about to come.
You’ve seen it in Germany, recreational marijuana’s now being legalised and in France and in Malta and these countries alike. They’re not going to accept any kind of marijuana that somebody’s grown in the garage, it’s going to have to be grown in some form of quality control as well. So I’m prepared for that as well. Which nobody else is because I had the insight to do that at an early stage and make sure I had all the licences. It also means that I can save a lot of the old manufacturers as well, because I’ve got a system where I can transform the quality of their marijuana to the highest quality through one of our transformation facilities. So we can also save a lot of time and wasted energy even for the old companies within the industry.
So you have essentially made your company into a ‘One Stop Shop’ and all sorts of companies within the industry can come to you ?
They can come to me, correct. As long as I can do the transformation for them, which is taking all the parabens and with that all of the humidity has to go too so we can have the formal state of dryness removed which is imperative for me to achieve the EU GMP spec. So, effectively, we can take a good quality and turn it into an impeccable quality. So that’s something we are building on hugely in the future. As you know, just recently, people like Pfizer, they’ve invested 7 billion just into research into medical marijuana. It’s a movement. Just to give you an idea, what do you think the yearly market is for medical marijuana?
I was under the impression it had risen to well over 100 billion a year ?
It’s now at 186 billion a year. A lot of the big companies, they’re not set up to produce that type of amount. They were set up to be an investor stock. Basically a stock. I don’t want to say too much on that because it may cause issues but essentially they’re not set up to produce,
Where are the major medical marijuana companies based Max?
90% of the pharmacies that use medical marijuana are European-based. 90% of the companies that want to buy Medical Marijuana are European based and the laws and conditions are Eu GMP. That’s why it makes me the biggest player in the game right now. Size-wise, we have the biggest interior. Size-wise, we’ve got the biggest exterior and we’re also going to have the quality of the EU GMP manufacturing.
What was the year you started looking into marijuana?
You had a bit of Cypriot financial crisis in 2012
Correct. With the Cyprus banks, I lost 90% of my wealth.
Did you ever receive any compensation or anything like that?
I received 100,000 Euros back from 30 million Euros .It was insured by the European Union, but they knew that
After that, you went into the property market.
Yeah, property market, I’ve always been in music as well, so don’t forget my music career. I’ve always been into music as well, which has kept me afloat. Then with property and music, it transitioned me into nightclubs, that kind of industry.
You made a fairly sizable investment into the online music industry , where you were allowed to download stuff. That initial investment, where does that take you to, say, five, six years later? Did that spring you onto serious cash reserves?
It made it possible for me to lose 50 million in the Cypriot banks.
Could you not turn around to anybody, a financial regulator for example?
This is what a lot of people don’t understand. When you go into a bank and you sign thousands of documents, one of them is saying if the bank goes down, you go down. It’s a non-spoken thing but a known entity. You learn the hard way. Bank of Cyprus had over 400 branches. They weren’t a small bank, they weren’t a post office, they weren’t a building society.
I know people who have lost money and they found it very tough to come back from losing 20 ,000 pounds. How did you manage to turn it around from losing that amount of money ?
Can I be honest with you? I realised that I enjoy making the money, rather than having the money. It gave me a new path and a new journey and I enjoyed it better the second time. I didn’t start from scratch, I started from experience.
What about your mind-set? It must have been a very dark and negative place?
Don’t get me wrong, my head was down for a while but I Know now it’s a mental block, it’s never a physical one. You can have what you want, you mentally block yourself. It’s a competition, you versus you.
What I’m trying to get at is more the mindset, did the loss make you work so hard that you go into the mindset that nothing was going to stop you in your way? Were you mega determined?
Like I said to you, you set your limits and you set your rules. The only thing to stop you from getting what you want is yourself. If you can lift the limitations and restrictions of what you think you can do and aim for Mars and be happy with the stars.
So I am assuming with this increase in business your wealth has changed significantly
Yes – I’ve got a few KYCs as well. I know people are a bit dubious about the actual wealth status of billionaires and if they are actually billionaires . The fact is I’m in the billionaires’ club, I’ve got KY documents that can show you that. I have to do that for a lot of the companies we work with and I think it puts me in the top 60 now in the UK.
You started off in 2015, was it your foresight or were you talking with people, did you have a team? How did it work?
Somebody said to me, ‘Have you ever thought about cannabis? I’ve got an opportunity for you. I think you should have a little look into it.’ I think they were trying to pump me for investment. I asked a few people and I did what I do. With information and business, you have to sift through the sand to find the gold, so I’ll always take things on board, I’ll do my homework and I’ll come back and I’ll make my decisions. When I did my due diligence it came back as ‘this is what you should be in.’ It makes sense, it’s got great ethics behind it, it’s something that can help the world as well. 65% of the population suffers from glaucoma. The only known treatment for glaucoma is medical marijuana. It is also great for the nervous system, in a world where we’re not looking after ourselves, medical marijuana rebalances you in the correct way. It puts you back in harmony with your nervous system, and that is medically factual.
Do you take it yourself?
I take it myself, I use CBD. The misconception about CBD is that if you take it, you’ll fall asleep. What happens is, if you go to bed at night and you’re ready for bed, you take some CBD drops, you can quite easily fall asleep because your nervous system is balanced from the CBD. If you wake up in the morning and you’ve got a little bit of brain cloud, you’re feeling a bit anxious or you can’t motivate yourself and you can be a bit lethargic mentally.
Well, when you take it, it rebalances your nervous system and it helps you motivate yourself without being drowsy or anything of the like.
It’s interesting you said that because as you said, there’s a lot of misconception and to be honest, I had it as well. What’s the active ingredient that is why people smoke spliff? THC?
People smoke recreational marijuana to feel a bit funny. Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC.
That’s not in the CBD at all?
No, very small doses of it. There’s 200 components to a marijuana plant. Especially with us, we’ve got good proper professional growers who are experts in their trade. We can DNA hack in and we can remove different ones and reinforce different strains
For example, I can create a CBD that’s completely THC-free. I’m also looking to target the Islamic market with that because having a THC-free CBD with the likes of maybe olive oil or coconut oil, in a chewing gum, and it’s completely THC free which is in line with Islamic law so it is something that could be introduced into Islamic countries, like the UAE, Saudi, etc.
So for the Islamic market , at the moment , medical marijuana is prohibited ?
They’re not because of THC. I have a patent which can isolate the THC from CBD, so there’s 0% THC in it, it isolates it completely. You’ll have more toxicity in a chewing gum than you would in a bottle of our CBD oil. And a high quality as well. Because a lot of the time, people are taking cosmetic CBD with a spectrum of maybe between 12% to 20% . I can create CBD up to 90%. If you’re getting some benefits from your cosmetic CBD,it would be a good idea to try mine and your life’s going to change.
On the medical benefits, where is it most penetrated? Medical uses, where are people using it most? From what I hear, it’s good for Parkinson’s type muscular dystrophy.
It’s good for the nervous system. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory. It’s very good for IBS. It balances your nervous system, so if you were to be doing, for example, chemotherapy, it would be almost mandatory that you take CBD with it. Because as long as your nervous system is balanced, it’s receptive to changes in your body and what you’re trying to do with the chemotherapy. When your body gets stressed, your nervous system is unbalanced, you produce cortisone, high acidity, which is almost like an acid in the body that you don’t need. So by rebalancing your nervous system with the CBD, it starts to run naturally again. A little bit like the ketones diet.
We discussed previously that you were looking at formulating strains based on DNA samples which are going to work for the super rich or the wealthy . How is this coming along?
The reason I’ve not pushed forward so much with that is that I want to create a method and some form of system where we can deal with everyone, where it can be tailor-made for their specific needs. The cost behind it is so costly to my company that we’d only be able to approach that market but with R&D and everything that we’re doing constantly in our labs as well – we’ve got two labs in one of the best scientific parks in Europe called Bio Park Facility – in our lab there, we’re constantly striving to find a better quality product and a cheaper, more affordable product all the time. It’s not so much about the profit, but about the gains and the accessibility to the general public, not just the exclusive millionaires and super rich.
With regard to company size, from 2015, how many people are working under your umbrella at the minute?
Obviously we’ve just gone through COVID, which was a bit of a funny time. By 2025, our staff will be just under 10,000.
How much of the medical marijuana market would you say you’ve got of it percentage wise?
Over the next two years, I’ll take a big chunk of the 186 billion a year market.
Over the next two years, the market will be at 186 billion. How big do you see that in five years?
It’s a growing market. The more people that open up the competition, the better for me. I don’t see competition as a threat. I see it as you’re in the right market. If it’s only you doing it, there’s something wrong with the market. It’s an evolving market, all I’m going to do is make sure that I’m ahead of the game technically and with the research we’re doing into it and making sure I’m more advanced than everyone else. I want to produce the beluga caviar of medical marijuana.
On a personal level, you’re one of the UK’s most successful businessmen entrepreneurs, what do you think has made that success within you? You’ve had a good childhood, then it got taken away, where do you think you’ve seen the success in you and why?
In life, if you’re happy where you’re at, then you can’t blame anything that happened because obviously that’s your sat navigation bringing you to your destination today. If you’re happy, then you have to also accept the journey. Seeing both sides, understanding both sides of having money, not having money, I understood where I wanted to be. I don’t think money buys happiness and I need to reiterate this because it doesn’t, it just gives you more freedom and the freedom to make better choices.
I’d agree 100% on that. Not that I’ve ever been in a position of having a lot of money. I was watching Tyson Fury, he essentially said that so there’s obviously a lot in it.
It gives you more options and the freedom to make better decisions and less poor decisions.
What about Max White in 3-5 years? Obviously, you’re going to stay within the cannabis industry, it’s treating you well.
There are so many variables to the business. The only thing with me is I was always speaking in the industries from the music industry to the property industry. I capped out. But with an industry that’s growing so fast and has so many variables, I’m sure I’ll be busy for the next ten years, no problem.
With regards to the market of pharma and the market of cannabis, the cannabis industry, even though it’s worth 186 billion, I still think it’s nearly in its infancy. I think there’s a long way to go.
The population of the world’s not getting smaller. Healthwise, we’re becoming more health conscious as humans and it’s something that can benefit you medically in over 2000 different ways and hundreds of different ailments. So it’s never going to be a shrinking industry. Like I said, it will be a growing industry with growing competition but competition is healthy.
With regard to CBD, do you think that’s going to become mainstream within hospitals? Even doctors handing it out? It’s interesting what you said about the cortisone and the nervous system.
100%. There’s so much money being put into it. Even the fact that Pfizer’s put 7 billion into research alone this year, that’s their investment this year into research. I can see it even going as far as medical marijuana being available on the NHS when they understand the benefits of taking it.
Is there some reason people aren’t using medical marijuana? Why isn’t it being used?
It’s been used for thousands of years but other things became more profitable. That’s the only thing I’m willing to say. Marijuana itself, hemp – hemp’s the most biodegradable plant on the planet because even down to the biomass can be fed to farm animals. There’s not one thing that’s wasted from the plant. You can make clothes from hemp, you can build buildings from hemp and obviously you can make numerous amounts of different medicines from hemp but it became non-profitable and now we’re bringing it back in.
They really did suppress the research back in the 70s on marijuana.
Yes they did but it’s like anything, once the evidence is there, there’s nothing stopping you.
How do you see yourself? Are you going to stay as a resident in Dubai?
Just for me, because obviously working all over the world now and having just made new contracts with Africa and Turkish governments to name just a few, demographically, it’s better for me to be here but I don’t mind moving. Eventually, I don’t want to just be in the cultivation of marijuana, I want to be helping countries start their own cultivation and the bottom line medicine for themselves and help educate themselves.
What is your travel frequency like? How often are you on a plane? Are you a real frequent flyer?
I’m on a plane more than I’m on my sofa.
As a lifestyle
I’ve been wealthy for the last twenty years. What is wealth? How do you measure wealth? My lifestyle, I’m too busy to even look at how much it’s made me so far.
My children. Possession. I don’t think your children are your possessions. My favourite possession was my first home which was a little semi-detached house I bought in Portugal almost 15 years ago. It’s the only thing I can’t part with.
I’m assuming you are a Nottingham Forest Fan?
I’m a Nottingham Forest, correct.
I’m sure you’re going to be buying them soon, Max.
It’s on my list. Very interesting times-I think they’ve won the last ten matches but Nottingham Forest was always a business. They grew some amazing players, they’ve got a great academy, but it was a business and they had to sell a lot of their players on. Now I think they’re looking into the future of the club and where the money’s at and they’re keeping the players and they’re nurturing them and they’ve got a great side at the minute. I could see them in the Premiership if not next year, the year after. If I get hold of them, they’ll be in the Premiership.
It’d be a good time to buy them now.
Yeah, 100%. If they stay where they are, you make good money and if they go up, you make a shitload of money.
Pleasure talking to you Max
And you Nick