A NICHE is budding on the ASX in the form of medical cannabis, an industry which has been on the country's radar over the past six months.
Recent legislative changes have allowed for importation of the drug and patient-specific sales, as government red tape and other legal barriers are being systematically lifted.
The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Bill passed through both houses of Parliament last year allows for production of processed non-herbal and non-smokeable medicinal grade products, to be used by eligible patients including severe epileptics and cancer sufferers.
Following this legislative change and others, there are now several publicly listed companies in Australia that are gaining grass-roots attention by capitalising on cannabis production, import and sale.
Business News Australia has compiled a list of stocks to watch, as analysts indicate the trend will amount to more than just pot-luck on the ASX.
ZELDA THERAPEUTICS (ASX: ZLD)
Officially listed in 2003 - Trading up 23.07 per cent today at $0.11
Primarily a research company, Zelda Therapeutics is focused on leading the way in medical cannabis studies to treat a variety of chronic disorders and illnesses.
Its research focus is on the use of medicinal cannabis to treat conditions including breast cancer, brain cancer and pancreatic cancer.
On another level, Zelda Therapeutics is already in clinical trials to gauge the effects of medical cannabis treatment on sleep disorders and dermatological conditions.
Its clinical trial program to target eczema and insomnia launched in Chile on 23 March 2017.
Off the back of recently completing a heavily oversubscribed share placement, Zelda Therapeutics successfully raised $6 million with strong support from institutional investors.
MGC PHARMACEUTICALS (ASX: MXC)
Officially listed in 2015 - Trading up 5.19 per cent today at $0.08
MGC Pharmaceuticals is quickly gaining the market edge when it comes to research on Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive chemical found in cannabis which is commonly used to treat severe epilepsy and inflammation.
Its staff have developed exclusive strains of high CBD genetics and have capitalised on years of experience in the medical cannabis arena in Israel.
The company is focused on developing a holistic supply chain from planting through to extraction.
The share market has responded well to MGC's announcement today that it has completed construction on its European CBD extraction facility, as its stock spiked almost 8 per cent.
MMJ PHYTOTECH (ASX: MMJ)
Officially listed in 2015 Trading down 1.4 per cent today at $0.69
This company planted the seed for large-scale cannabis production in 2015, and has since gone from strength to strength while riding the high of legal export in Canada.
By 2024, MMJ Phytotech expects the Canadian markets, both recreational and medical, will have a combined value of CD$8-9 billion.
Today the company celebrated its first harvest at the new Duncan facility, where its OG Kush strain was produced by wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary United Greeneries Holdings.
The crop yielded approximately 60kg of dried buds after passing strict quality control measures, which will be ready for shipment by the end of this month.
QUEENSLAND BAUXITE (ASX: QBL)
Officially listed in 2008 Trading evenly at $0.02
In a spike rarely seen, Queensland Bauxite shares skyrocketed 114 per cent last week to a high of 3c after the company announced that it had discovered a rare genetic cannabis 'triploid' compound during one of its active research programs.
The company, which is primarily a bauxite miner and exporter, acquired a 55 per cent stake in the unlisted public company Medical Cannabis Limited after its founder Andrew Kavasilas declared "the sky is the limit" when it comes to weed.
Medical Cannabis Limited entered into an arrangement with one of Australia's biggest hydroponic suppliers WHG.net, aligning with its goal to be one of the most progressive medical cannabis company in Australia.
BOTANIX PHARMACEUTICALS (ASX: BOT)
Officially listed in 1985 Trading down 5.89 per cent today at $0.064
The main calling card for Botanix Pharmaceuticals is its research into CBD-based treatment of skin conditions including acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.
Botanix uses a unique compound of synthetic CBD in its trademarked Permetrex gel which regulates skin function, growth and renewal.
The company recently confirmed through research that CBD plays a significant role in normalising unwanted skin growth, reducing oils produced, inflammation and infection.
Botanix today notified the ASX that it had received commitments for $7.4 million in an oversubscribed share placement, which the company will contribute to further product development and commercialisation.
MEDLAB CLINICAL LIMITED (ASX: MDC)
Officially listed in 2015 Trading up today at $0.87
Medlab Clinical is an Australian based medical life science company, with a certified biologics facility in Sydney and sales arms in Australia and California.
Medlab's research relates to five health areas - obesity, chronic kidney disease, depression, pain management, ageing and muscular skeletal health.
The company conducts a variety of clinical trials in areas such as oncology and mental health, and it is currently gearing up to start Australia's first clinical trial using cannabis for cancer patients suffering intractable pain.
In the lead-up to the trial, Medlab secured clearance from health departments to research a combination of in-house formulated cannabis ingredients.
It also established a manufacturing method to provide the template for other future projects which require cannabis production.
AUSCANN GROUP (ASX: AC8)
Officially listed in 1989 Trading down 7.55 per cent at $0.79
Auscann Group is primarily focused on the manufacture and supply of quality medicinal cannabis, both for use by patients and clinical research.
Following a successful IPO in 2016, Auscann celebrated the harvest of its first crop in Chile in February.
The harvest was the product of a joint venture with Chilean company Fundacion Daya, consisting of 400 plants across eight strains grown at a 30ha facility south of Santiago.
Auscann's goal for the project was to supply third parties for use in clinical trials, and pending results to register the product with the Chilean National Institute of Public Health.
CRESO PHARMA LIMITED (ASX: CPH)
Officially listed in 2016 Trading down 2.6 per cent today at $0.73
Not only is Creso Pharma working to develop cannabis-based treatments forhumans, the company is also focused on providing treatments for our furry friends.
Pets and owners alike can expect to benefit from the company's CBD-based products which aim to re-establish a healthy balance for the body and symptomatically relieve conditions including pain, anxiety metabolic disorders and inflammatory disorders.
Creso Pharma's products are non-psychoactive, which means they do not contain the traditional THC component found in cannabis.
Yesterday Creso Pharma appointed David Russell as its chief operating officer to help build the company's overall business and corporate strategy.
All share prices listed were at 4:05pm approx. AEST.
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