May 24, 2019 / 5:43 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Norway's sovereign fund will no longer own stakes in cannabis firms

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OSLO, May 24 (Reuters) - Norway's sovereign wealth fund will no longer own stakes in companies with direct exposure to the cannabis industry, a spokesman for the fund's manager, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), said on Friday.

He declined to comment on whether the fund's stakes in cannabis makers had already been sold.

The $1 trillion sovereign fund, the world's largest with holdings in more than 9,000 companies, is subject to a range of limitations set by parliament, including a ban on tobacco investments, but not on cannabis.

Still, NBIM has recently faced criticism from Norwegian police and some politicians for its investments in cannabis firms because the drug is illegal in Norway, but it declined to say when the decision to divest was made.

"It was made following a comprehensive assessment, but due to market sensitivity we will not give details," NBIM spokesman Thomas Sevang said.

According to Norwegian business daily Dagens Naeringsliv, which first reported the news, NBIM held stakes in at least five cannabis-related firms at the end of 2018, including Canopy Growth, Aphria, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Aurora Cannabis and INSYS Therapeutics. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Louise Heavens and Susan Fenton)

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