Medical cannabis export legislation has been passed, but with such little fanfare that many in the industry were unaware the deed had been done.

Further, companies are also allowed to export ‘genetic material’ — seeds.

In January the federal government said Australian cannabis companies would only be allowed to export value-added products that had been made here.

“The Turnbull Government will now permit the export of Australian manufactured medicinal cannabis products,” Minister for Health Greg Hunt said in January when the changes were unveiled.

“This decision will help both the domestic supply and Australian producers by strengthening the opportunities for domestic manufacturers.”

The Narcotic Drugs Amendment (Cannabis) Regulations 2018 was passed on February 8, allowing medical marijuana products manufactured in Australia to be exported to a licensed recipient in a country which has legalised the product.

All exports must go through the Office of Drug Control (ODC).

Raw material has since been added to the export schedule. The Ministry of Health and Mr Hunt’s office have been contacted for comment.

Not just manufactured products

The first cannabis goods heading overseas are not manufactured goods but seeds.

Medical Cannabis Ltd boss Andrew Kavasilas told Stockhead he will be exporting seeds to Canada as part of a partnership with CannTab, which is interested in some of the Australian genetic strains.

Cann Group also has permission to export raw material.

“As a holder of this licence, the company can apply for a permit to export raw cannabis material and cannabis oil for analytical testing,” Cann said in its half-year report in February.

“The company intends to utilise the analytical services of Anandia Laboratories in Canada to complement the capabilities available to the company in Australia (subject to the granting of an export permit and reciprocal Canadian import approvals).”

ASX Pot Stock prices over the past three months:

ASX Code Name 3-month price change (Jan-Mar) Price Mar 29, 2018 Price: Jan 2, 2018 Market Cap ($)
ZLD ZELDA 0.075 0.1075 0.1 79.31M
SCU STEMCELL UNITED -0.002849002849 0.035 0.0351 15.40M
RGI ROTO-GRO -0.0126582278481 0.39 0.395 32.68M
QBL QUEENSLAND BAUXITE -0.259259259259 0.04 0.054 63.75M
MMJ MMJ PHYTOTECH -0.197802197802 0.365 0.455 79.52M
MXC MGC PHARMA -0.0752688172043 0.086 0.093 95.03M
MDC MEDLAB CLINICAL -0.214285714286 0.605 0.77 131.05M
LSH LIFESPOT HEALTH 0.0384615384615 0.135 0.13 10.87M
THC HYDROPONICS -0.215827338129 0.545 0.695 68.64M
EVE EVE INVESTMENTS -0.333333333333 0.01 0.015 21.99M
ESE ESENSE-LAB -0.431034482759 0.165 0.29 13.31M
EXL ELIXINOL GLOBAL (*floated Jan 2018) 0.71 1.71 1 174.98M
CPH CRESO PHARMA -0.193548387097 0.75 0.93 83.22M
CHP CHAPMANS -0.166666666667 0.01 0.012 13.25M
CMY CAPITAL MINING 0 0.005 0.005 4.9M
CP1 CANNPAL ANIMAL 0.0975609756098 0.225 0.205 21.88M
CAN CANN GROUP 0.0454545454545 2.99 2.86 429.80M
BOT BOTANIX PHARMACE 0.617647058824 0.11 0.068 78.42M
BDA BOD AUSTRALIA -0.0128205128205 0.385 0.39 20.45M
AC8 AUSCANN GROUP 0.968944099379 1.585 0.805 437.96M
ATP ATLAS PEARLS -0.148148148148 0.023 0.027 10.27M
AEB ALGAE.TEC 0 0.026 0.026 19.87M
1PG 1-PAGE 0 0.165 0.165 25M

The ODC’s website has been updated to emphasis that the new regulations do not include the export of “unprocessed” raw cannabis.

“The policy to allow export has been specifically designed to focus on enabling export of medicinal cannabis that has been manufactured, or of raw cannabis that has been dose controlled and packaged,” the regulator said.

Amendments not publicised

The amendments don’t appear to have been publicised. In some cases industry players appear to be finding out about the change by chance.

LeafCann CEO Elizabetta Faenza said she found out in February only because they were visiting the Office of Drug Control and were told it had passed the week before.

Mr Kavasilas says they found out last week that the law had gone through, because the ODC sent them an export licence application form.

Stockhead spoke to several analysts and executives who were unaware the change had come through.

“It looks like the federal government has been a little sneaky and have already passed the legislation through, without too much publicity?” said Niv Dagan from Peak Asset Management.

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“Maybe Malcolm was too busy trying to fix the Australian cricket teams’s reputation, rather than making a formal press release on what could be one of the most lucrative export opportunities on a global basis?”

Originally exports of cannabis products and raw materials were banned in order to maintain supply for local use.

But with fewer than 400 patients able to access medical cannabis in January, almost two years after it was legalised, the government recognised that manufacturers and growers needed a larger market to sell to in order to sustainably grow.