NZ Superfund excludes recreational cannabis companies

Companies involved in the recreational cannabis industry have been excluded from the $37 billion NZ Super Fund. The exclusion does not include companies involved with licensed and authorised medicinal cannabis.

The move follows a growing global trend to decriminalise and legalise the recreational use of cannabis, which has led to share market listings of companies involved in the industry overseas.

I’m curious about sovereign wealth funds- having worked in private equity in the Middle East for years- and how they decide what to invest in and what not to. It can’t be easy. I’m sure most sovereign wealth funds invest in anything, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). What they invest in is uncertain, especially given that many of the investment managers are ex-pats.

This report from the New Zealand Super Fund is informative in that it explains what the fund excludes and why it is leading the way.

Under the Guardians' Responsible Investment Framework, decisions about ethical exclusions take account of New Zealand law and international conventions to which New Zealand is a signatory. Recreational use of cannabis is currently illegal in New Zealand under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, and contrary to New Zealand's commitments to international drug conventions.*

Companies will therefore be excluded from the NZ Super Fund if they are involved in the manufacturing and cultivation of cannabis for recreational use. They will also be excluded if their main business is to supply recreational cannabis to the public or to other companies (e.g. wholesalers, retailers or dispensaries); or provide support services for the recreational use of cannabis.

The move is a precautionary one, as the NZ Super Fund does not currently hold any of the companies identified for exclusion. Currently, the majority of publicly listed companies involved in the recreational cannabis industry are small in size, but further growth and the inclusion of the companies in market indices is anticipated. We will continue to monitor the sector.

Exclusions are just one part of the Fund's responsible investment strategy, which focuses on the integration of environmental, social and governance risks into investment practices and the implementation of engagement and active ownership practices.

The NZ Super Fund, recently named one of the world's leading responsible investors by Bretton Woods II, received an A+ for responsible investment strategy and governance in a UNPRI benchmarking assessment earlier this year.


The NZ Super Fund also excludes companies involved in:
• the manufacture of cluster munitions
• the manufacture or testing of nuclear explosive devices (NEDs)
• the manufacture of anti-personnel mines
• the manufacture of tobacco
• the processing of whale meat.

The Fund also excludes a small number of individual companies for severe breaches of responsible investment standards, such as the UN Global Compact, where engagement is unlikely to be effective due to the context of the company's operations or to a lack of responsiveness from the company to the issue.


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Sunday, 25 September 2022