Canada’s got a nice marijuana buzz but US is the real prize for ASX pot stocks
Canada may have just turned recreational cannabis into one of the biggest growth markets on the planet, but for some Aussie companies the US is the place to be.
Medlab Clinical (ASX:MDC) and the ASX’s newest pot stock Rhinomed (ASX:RNO) are both looking first at the US to sell their marijuana services.
The only Aussie pot stock to have revenue-generating business in the US right now is Elixinol Global (ASX:EXL).
>> Scroll down for a list of ASX cannabis stocks
“The US will dwarf every other market in the world,” Rhinomed chief Michael Johnson told Stockhead.
“The US is one of the biggest medical device markets on the planet and it stands to reason the same thing will apply in medical cannabis as well.”
Americans are thought to be buying about $US50 billion ($68 billion) worth of legal marijuana a year — a number expected to grow to $US75 billion by 2030, says research firm Cowen & Co.
By comparison marijuana will be a $US6.5 billion industry by 2020 in Canada, according to Canada’s biggest bank CIBC.
Right now recreational marijuana is legal in eight US States while medical cannabis is allowed in another 22 States. That number could grow if President Trump ends a federal blanket ban on marijuana which currently conflicts with State laws.
Rhinomed — which sells a drug delivery device that troubled sleepers and snorers poke up their nose — told investors yesterday it would work with US cannabis company Columbia Care to adapt its device for cannabis drugs.
Chief Michael Johnson says they’re looking to sell the exclusive US licence for their nose plugs to Columbia, but are in the early stages of working out the final deal.
“We’re the platform technology company,” Mr Johnson says.
“We will be licensing our platform to be used in this particular field to Columbia so while there are regulatory challenges, especially for those who are cultivating it or refining [cannabis], that won’t affect us because all the development work associated with the drug will be run by Columbia.”
Meanwhile Medlab — which makes a cannabis mouth spray called NanaBis — is meeting with the powerful US drug regulator FDA in September in Baltimore.
Medlab chief Sean Hall will be taking with him Australian trial data and technical documentation about their drug.
There is a chance that “maybe” they’ll have a shot at getting Nanabis made available in the US next year.
The US has a process like the special access scheme in Australia, where people can apply for medication and be approved on a case by case basis.
Dr Hall is selling Nanabis, available in Australia under the special access scheme, as an alternative to opioids.
The US spends the most on pharmaceuticals of any country in the world — $466.6 billion in 2017 — and Dr Hall wants a piece of that.
He admits though that it will be a bureaucratic nightmare and a long process.
These are two reasons why most of Australia’s cannabis companies are focused on the Canadian opportunity.
The rise of recreational
Meanwhile most Aussie pot stocks have been impacted by Canada’s legalisation of recreational pot — which goes into effect on October 17.
Some have Canadian shareholders like Auscann (ASX:AC8) and Cann Group (ASX:CAN), Canadian investments like MMJ Phytotech (ASX:MMJ), or source their products there like Queensland Bauxite (ASX:QBL) with its Canntab pill.
News that Canada’s recreational cannabis legalisation is now to be law had little impact on local stocks.
In fact, against the heady heights of early 2018 when emotions were riding high, most pot stocks are down. Indeed, the Canadian news was so expected few saw a bump this week on the back of that news.
The North American Marijuana Index, which monitors both US and Canadian pot stocks, was up 6 per cent to 270.06 points on Thursday.