The cannabis licences are strting to roll out. Today, it was Althea and Murray River Organics’ turn to get the coveted green tick, and both stocks enjoyed a quick +8% hit on releasing the news.

For Murray River Organics (ASX: MRG), the new direction – and we could also be talking about “up” here in 2019 – is another glimmer of hope for those shareholders who’ve hung in for the wild ride since it listed in late 2016.

It’s latest venture will now be “low-THC cannabis” having been granted authority to grow the crop for its “Project Magnum” development on some 2300 hectares of arable land at Nangiloc, 50km southeast of Mildura, Victoria.

“We are confident that growing organic hemp will contribute to the growth of the organic foods industry in Australia,” MRG chief executive Valentina Tripp said.

“Low-THC cannabis can be used in a variety of food products including snacks and beverages, as well as supplements, and the potential for the agricultural sector in Australia to embrace crops such as organic hemp is exciting.”

That all makes for a good couple of months for Murray River Organics. A turnaround plan which was initially opposed by MRG’s founders has begun to show positive signs, after losses plunged 79 per cent, from $22.2m to $4.6m in the six months to December.

Margins are beginning to improve, and a couple of new investors recently told Stockhead why they’d hopped on board (at “absolute bottom of the market”).

Over at medicinal cannabis company Althea (ASX:AGH), it will also use its hemp cultivation licence to grow low-THC for “commercial purposes relating to non-therapeutic use”.

Basically, it’s going to buddy up with tissue culture laboratory, Tissue Culture Australia, to find ways to grow bigger crops, faster.

“We envisage our own cultivation capabilities being up to 10% more productive utilizing tissue culture techniques, as it will allow us to remove the traditional mother stock and propagation areas from our forthcoming production facility which increases our flowering capacity,” Althea director of cultivation, Daniel Mansfield said.

CEO Joshua Fegan said there was “certainly a gap in the market for a supplier of high quality, pathogen free hemp plants derived from tissue culture”.