Medical cannabis fuels new sector

23 Oct, 2015 04:25 AM
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Photo: Max Mason-Hubers
Victoria is set to become the first state in Australia to legalise marijuana cultivation
Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

THERE'S a flurry of activity in the 'farm to pharma' sector.

A pot stock boom looks set to sweep the Australian sharemarket after plans to legalise medical cannabis, with a host of ASX-listed companies fast-tracking their moves to enter the market.

Australia's first listed medical marijuana company, MMJ PhytoTech, which merged with Canadian grower MMJ Bioscience in a $15.5 million deal in March, will announce on Friday that it has raised $2 million from a Spanish fund to launch its Australian operations, adding to its businesses in Europe, Canada and Israel.

And MGC Pharmaceuticals, which raised $2.7 million earlier this year, will also announce on Friday the appointment of renowned cardiologist and media commentator Dr Ross Walker as a director and appoint him to chair a strategic advisory board to evaluate the commercial opportunities of medical cannabis in Australia.

MGC Pharmaceuticals struck a reverse takeover deal with Erin Resources earlier this year in the hopes of transforming the languishing gold explorer into a cannabinoid resin producer for cosmetic products.

The flurry of activity follows a federal decision last week to lift a ban on growing cannabis for medical purposes which led to a spike in the price of ASX's pot stocks.

Though several states have invested in clinical trials, Victoria is set to become the first state in Australia to legalise marijuana cultivation to treat serious medical conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and chronic pain.

"We are talking about what I think is going to be one of the next big things in medicine...I would say that we are probably one to two years away from cannabidiol being mainstream for the sort of conditions I have suggested," Dr Walker said.

"For a lot of these conditions we are talking about people who are either in terminal pain or their life has been made a misery by chronic pain, so what is the problem?" he asked.

MGC Pharmaceuticals, which is run from Israel, grows and exports cannabis from Slovenia for use in products for the cosmetics industry but will investigate extending its operations into medical cannabis in Australia.

One cannabis producer, AusCann, gained permission in May to grow and export marijuana on Norfolk Island.

"MGC will, hopefully once it is made legal for Australia, cultivate it in Australia which has ideal growing conditions for crops and in the same way as Australia has wonderful wine growing regions, we will have the same thing for the appropriate cultivation of marijuana," Dr Walker said.

Australian spokesperson for PhytoTech, Gaelan Bloomfield, described the business as a "farm to pharma" medical cannabis company which grows the crops and delivers the product to market in forms that include capsules and vaporisers.

It is teaming up with law firm Piper Alderman to advise on the regulatory approvals and the licensing needed to quickly launch into the Australian market.

"The perception that you are going to go down to the pharmacy to get a bud of marijuana and smoke it, is the exact opposite of where the industry is headed," Mr Bloomfield said.

"This is proper pharmaceutical-grade products in capsules, in liquids, in sprays, that are administered in controlled doses and come from production in controlled pharmaceutical-grade environments."

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READER COMMENTS

Deregul8
23/10/2015 6:49:09 AM

This medicine can't be legalised quick enough. Visit Colorado and see how it can change rural economies for the insanely better, and change the lives of people with epilepsy, cancer, Crohns and most major neurologically related diseases like MS, Alzeihmers. The endocannabinoid system is a poorly understood one.
About Time
23/10/2015 8:33:05 AM

They have been dragging the hook on this for years, lets get going. What is the total phobia about this plant that obviously has huge potential for suffers of any number of ailments.
swinging voter
23/10/2015 8:52:42 AM

Come on Colin Barnett. Do we have to head east for clinical trials? Mark McGowan has committed to legalise if he is elected. Will be a vote changer for me if Barnett fails to act.
The Drover
23/10/2015 9:11:23 AM

Agree with Deregul8 (?!) and AT, hemp also appears to be making a comeback. Better medicinal THC driving a sector of rural Australia than the "speed farms" polluting parts of rural USA.
Mug
23/10/2015 5:26:51 PM

Those who do not know the history would do well to learn what Monsanto did to this industry just as WW2 was ending. It makes for interesting reading and certainly not to help farmers.
aussiebattler
23/10/2015 8:12:11 PM

The only reason cannabis hasn't been legalized is that big end business and governments can't agree on how to enforce cultivation practice to enable a tax regime to be implemented thus securing a massive revenue stream like alcohol and tobacco provides.

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I'm one of the people who want marijuana to be legalized, some city have been approved it but
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#blueysmegacarshowandcruise2019 10 years on Daniels Ute will be apart of another massive cause.
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Australia's live animal trade is nothing but a blood stained industry that suits those who