We’re only three weeks into 2019 and already cannabis deals are flying, although not in Australia.

There have been 19 M&A deals already, compared to nine in the same time last year, says Viridian Capital Advisors’ cannabis deal tracker.

One is an acquisition by Canada-listed Weekend Unlimited, which has the charming ticker ‘YOLO’ — ‘you only live once’.

In Australia Cronos and Emerald Clinics are looking to list, but we’re yet to hear of any M&A action in the still-very small industry.

READ: ASX cannabis stocks right now: here’s everything you need to know

New Zealand’s first licensed cannabis company, Hikurangi Cannabis, has been given permission to import and grow high potency THC plants.

Managing director Manu Caddie told Radio New Zealand that it was a matter of efficiency: if you can grow higher potency plants, you need fewer plants to make your products.

North America may be doing pretty well in the boss lady stakes, but in Australia the number of women cannabis CEOs and managing directors is pretty dire.

Creso (ASX:CPH) is led by Dr Miri Halperin Wernli, unlisted Little Green Pharma is led by Fleta Solomon and unlisted LeafCann is chiefed by Elisabetta Faenza. If we’ve missed any, please let us know.

Back overseas, Green Growth Brands has put a formal bid down for Aphria, valuing it at $C2.8 billion ($3bn). It comes two weeks after CEO Vic Neufeld quit and co-chairman and co-founder Cole Cacciavillani said he’d resign as an executive. Both will stay on the board.

The resignations come after two short-sellers last month accused Aphria of overpaying for properties in Latin America and the Caribbean to enrich insiders. Aphria called the claims false and defamatory, and is still preparing its “line-by-line” response.

While US companies are trying to engineer pot to give ‘designer highs’, GW Pharma lost a bid to patent the use of “one or more cannabinoids” to treat epilepsy.

Many people had been concerned that the application wording was too wide ranging and would allow the company to prevent others from doing any research into epilepsy.

KEEPING UP WITH THE COMPANIES

THC Global (ASX:THC) has brought in a new CFO to handle the books now they have the requisite licences in the bag and can start growing.

AusCann’s (ASX:AC8) Chilean joint venture is prepping to get its third crop in the ground for a separate joint venture client.

But the Aussie pot stock isn’t going to see a dime of the $1.67m that’ll pull in, as it’s all going back into Chile — the money and the cannabis.

Elixinol (ASX:EXL) is the third Australian cannabis stock to try its hand across the Tasman, and irks CEO Paul Benhaim he has to do this to sell pot.

“From a commercial perspective, New Zealand is far more attractive than Australia, in fact, nearly every country in the world is far more attractive,” he told Stockhead.

“We have heard plenty about making Australia a world leader in the field but very little has been done to change that situation and the country is far, far behind.

“At the moment an Australian patient needs to see their GP, who needs to see a specialist and also see an ethics committee so it makes it virtually unattainable, and so Australia now has one of the largest illegal cannabidiol markets.”

TickerNamePrice Jan 24 $2 weeks returnMarket cap
AEB AFFINITY ENERGY AND HEALTH L0.01-0.31 $9.7m
AGH ALTHEA GROUP HOLDINGS LTD0.275-0.08 $56.9m
AC8 AUSCANN GROUP HOLDINGS LTD0.625-0.11 $207.1m
BDA BOD AUSTRALIA LTD0.450.1 $32.6m
BOT BOTANIX PHARMACEUTICALS LTD0.0860.16 $58.3m
CAN CANN GROUP LTD2.340.15 $319.9m
CAE CANNINDAH RESOURCES LTD0.02-0.13 $3.4m
CP1 CANNPAL ANIMAL THERAPEUTICS0.1250.04 $13.0m
CHP CHAPMANS LTD0.005-0.17 $1.4m
CPH CRESO PHARMA LTD0.51-0.06 $67.1m
EXL ELIXINOL GLOBAL LTD3.1350.07 $343.7m
ESE ESENSE-LAB LTD-CDI0.0270.04 $4.9m
EVE EVE INVESTMENTS LTD0.006-0.14 $13.6m
IHL IMPRESSION HEALTHCARE LTD0.020.05 $9.8m
LSH LIFESPOT HEALTH LTD0.0720.52 $6.4m
MDC MEDLAB CLINICAL LTD0.4-0.08 $79.1m
MXC MGC PHARMACEUTICALS LTD0.041-0.09 $49.7m
MMJ MMJ GROUP HOLDINGS LTD0.2450.02 $59.8m
QBL QUEENSLAND BAUXITE LTD0.0370 $59.9m
RNO RHINOMED LTD0.20.05 $29.8m
ROO ROOTS SUSTAINABLE AGRICU-CDI0.10.1 $6.3m
RGI ROTO-GRO INTERNATIONAL LTD0.305-0.14 $34.6m
SCU STEMCELL UNITED LTD0.0220 $11.3m
SUD SUDA PHARMACEUTICALS LTD0.0055-0.23 $14.2m
THC THC GLOBAL GROUP LTD0.47-0.08 $60.4m
TPE TPI ENTERPRISES LTD1.1650.02 $100.1m
YPB YPB GROUP LTD0.0190 $15.2m
ZLD ZELDA THERAPEUTICS LTD0.056-0.1 $44.6m