Weed Week: Pot proves its worth in a pandemic as Aussie use rates climb
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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Recent data is indicative of some positive post-COVID trends in Australia’s medicinal cannabis sector.
Of course, with any sustained period of enforced confinement one can cue up jokes about potheads taking advantage of the situation to smoke record amounts of weed.
But real data provided this month by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) showed Australia’s regulator approved another 5,564 medicinal cannabis applications in July.
That’s up from 3,378 in April, and follows on from new monthly highs in the Australian market for May (4,133) and June (4,630).
Along with steady growth in the medicinal space, a study on COVID-19 drug use patterns (led by the University of NSW) showed that since restrictions were enforced in March, respondents named cannabis as their second most commonly used drug (behind alcohol).
And as a general drug of choice, 41 per cent named cannabis as their preferred option. That left it with a comfortable lead over the second most popular choice, MDMA, which picked up 13 per cent of the vote.
The survey was carried out among 702 eligible participants between April 29 and June 15 (those surveyed identified as people who took illicit drugs at least once a month).
Turning to the market, and the cohort of 34 cannabis (and cannabis adjacent) ASX small caps posted one of their best fortnights in recent memory over the last two weeks.
For the first time in a long time, the winners tipped the scales in their favour as 19 stocks traded in the green (so to speak), with just 12 in the red while three others traded flat.
Below is a summary of fortnightly and annual price performance for ASX-listed cannabis stocks:
Scroll or swipe to reveal table. Click headings to sort.
The strong price action for ASX cannabis stocks was further reflected by the fact 14 companies posted a two-week return of more than 10 per cent.
But those gains were comfortably outshone by WA farming company Wide Open Agriculture (ASX:WOA), which jumped by over 200 per cent and is now up more than 1,000 per cent since March.
The regenerative farming company is on our cannabis list because it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the WA government last year to conduct the state’s largest industrial hemp trial.
However, momentum in recent weeks has been driven by developments around a protein-extract project in conjunction with the CSIRO.
On August 10 the company announced it had secured 200kg of lupin (a type of legume), which will be shipped to the CSIRO in August. The CSIRO will then extract a “food-grade, commercial quantity of lupin protein” that will be used in testing for a range of plant-based food products.
The selection of lupin marks step one of a five-stage project laid about by Wide Open Agriculture on August 12, to create a scalable production solution for the plant-based food market.
Investors sent the stock more than 200 per cent higher over the last two weeks to $1.30 — up from 14c at the start of May.