Article by Joel Warner, Motherboard
Geoffrey Guy stood out when he began attending conferences of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, DC, in the mid to late 1990s. The stout British gentleman, dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit, was hard to miss among the other attendees dressed in tie-dye shirts and psychedelic parkas, recalled Allen St. Pierre, then NORML’s deputy national director.
But while he might not have fit in, Guy, a doctor in his early 40s who’d already made millions by founding a UK-based pharmaceutical company, was eager to learn all he could at the events about medical marijuana.
“He was like a dry sponge who desperately wanted to be thrown in a bucket of water,” said St. Pierre, who recently resigned from his 11-year stint as NORML’s executive director to pursue private-sector opportunities.
What Guy absorbed at those conferences and other fact-finding excursions became the basis for GW Pharmaceuticals, a UK drug company he founded with fellow doctor Brian Whittle in 1998 that has now become a major player in the legal marijuana industry by developing Sativex, a groundbreaking marijuana-derived drug sold in more than a dozen countries worldwide, and Epidiolex, a cannabis-based seizure medication that’s on a fast track to become the first cannabis-based drug approved in the United States.
While much has been written on GW’s groundbreaking origins, part of the story is missing, according to St. Pierre: The close ties the nascent drug company forged with some of the biggest and most colorful names in the US marijuana movement.