The Cannabis Index: A complete guide to cannabis stocks on the ASX
Written on the 8 February 2018 by Paris Faint
Over the past two years, medical cannabis has become an exciting institution on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).
Australian cannabis companies received the Federal Government's green light in early 2017 to start importing medicinal products and make patient-specific sales throughout the country.
In early 2018, cannabis stocks again soared when Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that companies could begin exporting products internationally.
Diversity has since blossomed in the industry, with specialty areas ranging from medicinal products and research-based businesses to animal therapeutics and consumables companies.
The Business News Australia Cannabis Index features all companies listed on the ASX, based at home and overseas, which have made their mark on Australia's medical cannabis industry.
Head office: Perth
As its name suggests, Algae.Tec is in the business of supplying sustainable and renewable algae products.
Generally its business is within the proteins and biofuel oils space, but the call to cannabis has been irresistible for the company which, at the start of 2018, launched a capital raising round to seek a $2.5 million boost.
Executive chairman and managing director Malcolm James expects the company will bolster Algae.Tec's work in nutraceuticals and medical cannabis, and will unlock new opportunities for the company.
"This funding gives AEB further financial flexibility to fast track the growth of our algae and other plant-based operations and investments, including those we have made in the medicinal cannabis sector," said Malcolm James.
Algae.Tec partnered with Queensland Bauxite's subsidiary Medical Cannabis Limited in late December to cultivate plants which will be used to develop medications for animals.
The arrangement between MCL and Algae.Tec seeks to combine resources, experience and technical knowledge to help fast track research in several fields of animal health care.
Read more from Algae.Tec
Head office: Perth
In 2013, Atlas Pearls bought 50 per cent of Essential Oils Tasmania (EOT) which has become a player in the cannabinoid-based natural medicine arena.
EOT made significant strides at the end of last year when it entered a joint venture with LeafCann Group to pursue a medical cannabis license in Tasmania.
The end goal is to seek a series of licenses which will support a full supply chain of medical cannabis solutions.
When the companies joined forces, Atlas managing director Pierre Fallourd said it married LeafCann's scientific "relevant expertise" with EOT's three decades worth of "farming capability".
"Together we represent an experienced, well credentialed team with the capability to produce a quality product."
Atlas said Tasmania was the natural choice for medical cannabis operations considering the state already has a significant poppy farming industry which provides restricted ingredients to the pharmaceutical sector.
Head office: Perth
Shares in AusCann Group first cracked the $1.00 mark when the Federal Government announced in January 2018 that it would allow Australian companies to begin exporting cannabis products.
The company went on to sign a wholesale deal with Australian Pharmaceuticals Industries (API) only a few weeks later, sending its stock even higher.
The deal opened up AusCann to API's nationwide network of Priceline Pharmacies and it also meant AusCann would be supported in establishing its own local supply of medications from Canadian partner Canopy Growth Corporation.
AusCann is largely focused on manufacturing and supplying quality medical cannabis products to be used in clinical research and it is a supplier to Zelda Therapeutics, another one of the Aussie companies to make this list.
AusCann has also partnered with Chilean company Fundacion Daya to grow and research new cannabis crops. It celebrated the planting of its second crop in Chile in December 2017.
Read more from AusCann Group:
Head office: Sydney
Bod Australia is another cannabis player on this list that couldn't resist dipping into the honeypot.
The cosmetics and natural medicines company partnered with New Zealand producer Manuka Pharma in January 2018 to develop and manufacture a new hemp honey brand, which it eventually plans to import into Australia.
According to Bod, New Zealand's biggest honey markets are Australia, the UK, China and Hong Kong with global import demand estimated to be around $2.6 billion.
Bod Australia was among the biggest beneficiaries when the Federal Government legalised medical cannabis exports at the start of this year.
During a single day of trade in early January Bod's stock price soared 39.5 per cent and has since continued to climb.
Outside of its honey operations, Bod recently signed a contract with pharmaceutical company iX Biopharma to develop a 'trial ready' wafer product.
The cannabis-imbued wafer, when placed under the tongue, dissolves within one minute to release compounds for rapid absorption and leaves no aftertaste.
Read more from Bod Australia:
Head office: Perth
Botanix Pharmaceuticals is all about the skin.
Its aim is to research and develop (R&D) new ways to combat serious diseases including acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis through cannabis-based products and so far, it's been kicking goals.
It recently completed one of its biggest trials to date, testing the effects of its BTX 1503 product on patients with moderate to severe acne.
Executive director Matt Callahan said the results showed BTX 1503 was "potentially a very safe and highly effective therapy" for acne sufferers.
On 16 January 2018, Botanix received a tax incentive R&D cash injection of $1.6 million which it used to boost BTX 1503's development.
BOT stock has more than doubled from $0.06 to $0.14 since the beginning of 2018 and the company is currently in a trading halt pending its next announcement expected on 5 February.
Read more from Botanix Pharmaceuticals
CannPal Animal Therapeutics
Head office: Sydney
Who says medical cannabis is just for humans?
CannPal is a pet pharmaceuticals company that is researching how cannabis can influence therapeutic functions in our furry friends, namely cats and dogs.
The company aims to treat common conditions in animals including arthritis, cancer and tumours, using medical cannabis-based solutions to alleviate symptoms including nausea, loss of appetite, depression and internal bleeding.
At the beginning of 2018, CannPal was among a handful of companies to receive a medical cannabis import license from the Office of Drug Control.
The license allows CannPal to continue research into its flagship drug candidate, CPAT-01, a pain medication alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
CannPal was also recently granted small-medium enterprise (SME) status by the European Medicines Agency which opens the company up to administrative and financial assistance for the development of its drugs in Europe.
The company was granted SME status in collaboration with its European research partner Klifovet AG.
Head office: Perth
While Creso Pharma's roots have always been in nutraceuticals, it hasn't stopped the company from branching out into other weird and wonderful areas of cannabis production.
Creso Pharma broke into the beer market in January 2018 when it partnered with LGC Capital and Baltic Beer Company to capitalise on the growing trend of cannabis-based drinks.
The created joint venture company, called CLV Frontier Brands, intends to develop and globally sell a portfolio of cannabis and hemp-derived drinks containing various ingredients, seeds, extracts and terpenes from the plants.
While the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variants will be designed to carry the flavour and aroma of cannabis, they won't contain any THC or CBD components.
At its core, Creso Pharma is focused on developing cannabis and hemp therapeutic products and treatments for humans and animals.
Its flagship CannaQIX product is a lozenge made with cannabidiol extracted from the plant which is designed to reduce stress and support mental and nervous functions.
CannaQIX recently hit the shelves of pharmacies and health food stores throughout the UK after Creso Pharma finalised its distribution deal with Precision Healthcare Limited.
Read more from Creso Pharma:
Head office: Colorado & Sydney
Australia's cannabis industry has gained momentum over the past year; enough to attract serious interest from established international players.
Enter Elixinol Global, one of the few companies on this list to be born from an overseas company.
Elixinol Global was formed in January 2018 when Colorado-based Elixinol LLC joined forces with Hemp Foods Australia to form a new worldwide brand and launch an IPO.
The company may be new to the ASX, but it is no stranger to big international business. Elixinol distributes its hemp-based CBD products to 27 different countries and has access to global markets in skin care, hemp foods and medical cannabis.
Under Elixinol Global's company structure, Hemp Foods Australia is the manufacturer and distributor of hemp food products and skin care, while Elixinol LLC is the bulk and retail provider of hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) dietary supplements and topical products.
Head office: Israel
As the only company on this list headquartered entirely overseas, the Israel-based eSense Lab is doing things a little differently to the other players.
Namely, it's not actually manufacturing cannabis. The company instead works to artificially recreate the chemical compounds that are synthesised naturally by cannabis plants, called 'terpenes'.
Terpenes are the organic compounds found in cannabis plants which are responsible for flavour and fragrance, along with many health and medical benefits.
Using these reconstructed terpenes, eSense uses the plant's chemical profile to create products including concentrated 'cannabis drops'.
The edibles manufacturer is also currently working on a new cannabis-infused beer product with Sydney-based Young Henry's Brewing Company.
Under its memorandum of understanding, eSesne and Young Henry's will develop a line of terpene-based beer with the intention to enter into a further definitive agreement on the product's completion.
To date eSense has profiled thousands of samples to develop 10 different terpene profiles. A further 20 strains of cannabis is currently in development.
Head office: Perth
Nothing has been sweeter than honey for technology investment company Eve Investments since it first acquired a 50 per cent stake in tea tree and honey farmer Jenbrook, based in northern New South Wales, in May last year.
After getting a taste for Jenbrook's product pipeline, which includes different types of melaleuca and medical cannabis-based honey, Eve went on to acquire 50 per cent of Meluka Health in late-2017.
Meluka is a health and wellness company that specialises in organic cannabis-based honey.
Recently Meluka made strides in the Chinese market by entering a joint agreement to develop a new honey water product alongside ASX-listed company Refresh Group (ASX: RGP).
Ben Rohr, director of Eve Investments, said working with Refresh Group to produce such a singular product would help establish the brand in China.
"This is a great first step for Meluka Health to enter into this burgeoning market," he said.
Read more from Eve Investments:
The Hydroponics Company
Head office: Sydney
Not only is the aptly named 'THC' in the business of developing medical cannabis, it also manufactures and distributes hydroponics equipment including associated materials and nutrients.
The company operates its growing facility out of Queensland and CEO David Radford said it plans to establish a series of "national access cannabis clinics" in the coming months.
THC is on track to import its first medicinal cannabis product range from Endoca, a CBD oil extract company founded by young Danish entrepreneur Henry Vincenty.
The company's share price first spiked in mid-November 2017 when it wrapped up an $8 million share placement, largely to support its operations in Canada.
On 24 January 2018, THC revealed its takeover bid for Canadian company Crystal Mountain-Dragon Vision (CMDV).
Once due diligence has been finalised, THC expects CMDV will rake in CD$20 million revenue per annum.
Head office: Fitzroy, Victoria
LifeSpot Health is primarily a tech company, developing smartphone-based applications for medical diagnosis and health monitoring.
LifeSpot's apps BodyTel and My-LifeSpot allow users to digitally diagnose certain conditions, including skin diseases, and manage key vital functions associated with chronic conditions like diabetes.
While it's not necessarily a cannabis company to the core, LifeSpot did form a memorandum of understanding last year with Seng Vital to create a 50/50 joint venture surrounding the German company's Cannamed vaporiser.
Under the joint venture, Seng Vital integrates its vaporiser into LifeSpot's BodyTel platform and the technology monitors the dosage and time spent consuming cannabis. It also provides additional clinical security via fingerprint scan.
LlifeSpot has intellectual property rights regarding its user compliance technology, including the fingerprint scanner, which it also applies globally to other products.
Head office: Sydney
Months of R&D into its flagship NanaBis product has recently paid off for Medlab Clinical, as it was recently granted licenses to sell and supply cannabis products throughout Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
NanaBis is a buccal spray product that forms Medlab's solution to intense pain suffered by cancer patients.
In late January NanaBis became the centrepiece of a $24 million oversubscribed share placement in the company.
At the time CEO Sean Hall said the support from investors would accelerate commercialisation of NanaBis and would put its production ahead of schedule by up to 18 months.
"The funds also help Medlab to accelerate its research and development programme of other areas in chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes and depression," he said.
Medlab now aims to build confidence within the medical fraternity and encouraging doctors to feel comfortable prescribing the NanaBis product to their patients.
Read more from Medlab Clinical:
Head offices: UK, Slovenia, Perth
As one of the few companies on this list to have its origins in resources and mining, MGC Global was born following a reverse takeover deal with former gold explorer Erin Resources.
In 2015, just a few months after the takeover, the company changed its name to MGC Pharmaceuticals and ventured into medicine, developing technology which could transport pharmaceuticals directly to the brain.
The MGC of today works with medical doctors across three basic tenets; dermatological, botanic and innovation. The company has since conducted research and partnered with doctors in several countries including Canada, Czech Republic, Israel and the UK.
Last year was a particularly important one for MGC when it came to research and business development.
The company kicked off 2017 with its 80 per cent acquisition of Czech medical cannabis company Panax Pharma and went on to secure it's a European Union medical cannabis license only a few months later.
More recently, MGC signed an agreement with global online cosmetics store Cult Beauty to sell 15 of its dermatological products through the platform.
MGC's products will hit Cult's e-shelves in February 2018.
Read more from MGC Pharmaceuticals:
Head offices: Western Australia, Vancouver
While MMJ Phytotech may be a home-grown venture, Canada is its main stomping ground.
The company aims to be one of the leading large-scale cannabis producers in the Canadian medical and recreational markets. As of August 2017, it holds one of only 52 licenses issued by Canada's government.
The past few weeks have been a tipping point for MMJ, after Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt gave the nod in early January for Aussie companies to begin exporting medical cannabis products.
MMJ's share price spiked on the Government's green light, and was also boosted by a the purchase of a $2 million stake in Toronto-based company Weed Me Inc.
Weed Me expects to secure its cultivation license within the next 120 days aims to tap into the estimated CD$8 billion medical and recreational market as a large-scale producer.
On 30 January 2018, MMJ invested CD$2.5 million to buy debenture unites in Canadian healthcare company Dosecann.
MMJ also currently holds the majority stake of Canada's Harvest One, a production company specialising in the health and medicine arena.
Head office: Sydney
When it comes to any mining company, it's generally safe to bet that a 114 per cent share price increase over a single week means the company has hit 'pay dirt'.
However, in Queensland Bauxite's case, its stock more than doubled during a week in March 2017 when it announced its first foray into medical cannabis.
Queensland Bauxite bought out the majority stake in Medical Cannabis Limited (MCL), and has since made a continuous string of announcements which have attracted investors to the stock.
MCL is unique in that it has its own cannabis seed bank and has licenses to grow low THC cannabis for edible and nutritional purposes.
Toward the end of last year, MCL launched its VitaHemp range which is a series of superfood products with full Australian status.
It also entered an agreement with Algae.Tec, another company on this list, to help develop cannabinoid-based medicine for animals.
While no IPO for MCL has yet been formally set, director Andrew Kavasilas (pictured right) has said a prospectus is in the works. Its long-term goal is to become the country's leader in hemp foods.
Read more from Queensland Bauxite:
Head office: Canada & Perth
RotoGro uses an automated hydroponic system which was first designed and manufactured in Canada in 2006 to grow cannabis plants.
The auspiciously named 'Model 420' machine can grow up to 420 plants and is entirely self-contained, using a fraction of the electricity that other hydroponics units consume.
RotoGro International debuted on the ASX in 2015 in order to acquire licences for the RotoGro system in Australia and to enter a share sale agreement to buy out 80 per cent of RotoGro World Wide based in Canada.
During the first half of 2017-18, RotoGro's Canadian division bought out a new manufacturing and showroom facility which includes grow rooms and a data centre.
It also launched its growing management services which have been patent protected in the United States under the rotational hydroponics umbrella until 2023.
The parent company responsible for international marijuana player Gro3, Amfil Technologies, last year purchased 100 RotoGro hydroponic units and is currently designing a new warehouse which is projected to house up to 216 units.
RotoGro's short term plan is to form strategic partnerships or acquire companies in the fertigation space, ones which provide stand-alone solutions to greenhouse and traditional 'flat deck' cultivators of cannabis, as opposed to hydroponics.
Head office: Perth
The story of Zelda Therapeutics began in California with cannabis company Aunt Zelda's and its founder, health sciences entrepreneur Dr Mara Gordon (pictured right).
Gordon co-founded Aunt Zelda's in 2011 and spent years generating high-quality human data and scientific processes, which were then imbued in Zelda Therapeutics' Australian IPO in 2016.
Since then, Zelda Therapeutics has walked the same scientific track; employing medical cannabis clinicians and researchers to tackle conditions including autism and eczema, as well as several types of cancer.
The company recently received the green light from the Human Research Ethics Committee and Therapeutic Goods Committee to investigate the effects of medicinal cannabis on chronic insomnia patients, reportedly an Australian first.
In December 2017, Zelda Therapeutics revealed its partnership with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to study the effects of medical cannabis treatment in paediatric autism.
Earlier this year the company also made another significant stride with its entry into the American OTCQB Venture Market under the ticker ZLDAF.
Zelda continues to be internationally focused, conducting operations in countries including the United States, Spain and Chile.
Read more from Zelda Therapeutics:
*All share prices taken at the time of writing, 11:00am AEST on Thursday February 8, 2018.
Business News Australia
Author: Paris Faint