A surprisingly small number of ASX-listed pot stocks hold Australian medical cannabis licences.

The federal government’s Office of Drug Control has issued 16 licences that allow companies to grow cannabis for commercial purposes, 10 licences that allow companies to grow cannabis for research, and nine manufacturing licences.

The government will not reveal which companies hold the one-year licences — or even which States they are based in.

We only know about listed licence holders because of ASX disclosure requirements.

We also know the number of companies actually growing cannabis locally is small.

That’s because federal (and State) licences are only the first step. Growers also need a permit which involves a facility inspection and specifies things like which strains a licence holder can grow and the number and weight of its plants.

Stockhead understands as few as two of these crucial cultivation permits have so far been issued. One is held by Australia’s most valuable pot stock, the $315 million Cann Group (ASX:CAN).

We combed through ASX announcements and contacted listed companies to find out who’s putting money into licences — or relying on third parties.

Here’s what we know so far: (Scroll and swipe to reveal full table).

TickerCompanyResearch licenceCultivation licenceCultivation permitManufacturing licenceState import licenceImport authorisation from the ODCImport authorisation from APVMAExport
AEBAFFINITY ENERGYApplied forApplied for
AGHALTHEA GROUPYesYesYesYes
BDABOD AUSTRALIANSWYesYes
CPHCRESO PHARMAVia Health House
THCTHC GLOBALYesYesYesApplied forNSWPCI PharmaYes
MDCMEDLAB CLINICALYesVia Pharmaceutical Packaging ProfessionalsVICYesYes
MXCMGC PHARMACEUTICALSApplied for alongside RMITApplied forVia HL Pharma
CGBCANN GLOBAL (FORMERLY QUEENSLAND BAUXITE)Via Burleigh Heads Cannabis
AC9AUSCANNYesYesYes
CANCANN GROUPYesYesYesVia IDT HealthVICYesYes
EXLELIXINOLApplied forApplied forApplied forApplied for
CP1CANNPALYesYesYes
TPETPI ENTERPRISESYesYesYes
IHLIMPRESSION HEALTHCAREApplied forApplied forApplied for

Gaining a growing Permit is time-consuming and expensive. Licence holders must have extremely secure growing facilities built and ready to go.

Cann Group raised $60 million in December to invest in facilities that will meet permit requirements.

Instead of going through the full process, a number of cannabis companies are relying on partners that hold licences and permits.

For example, Queensland Bauxite’s 55 per cent owned subsidiary Medical Cannabis Ltd recently said it won’t grow medical cannabis in Australia for now — but will rely on growing and research licences held by overseas partners.

It says this is a better use of its cash.

Piggybacking

Medical Cannabis Ltd imports via a partner with an import licence, as do several other listed companies.

There are nine authorised medical cannabis suppliers in Australia, of which Medlab (ASX:MDC) is the only listed one.

Medlab CEO Sean Hall told Stockhead they piggyback off a manufacturing licence held by a Victoria-based manufacturer Pharmaceutical Packaging Professionals.

Companies that have made products overseas or at home that aren’t on this list must use one of these businesses to supply their stock in Australia.

If they don’t have an import licence they also have to find another outfit with the right permissions to bring it in as well. That shaves crucial dollars off a market thought to consist of only about  5oo patients.

An Atlas Pearls (ASX:ATP) subsidiary was supposed to be applying for licences alongside unlisted LeafCann, but that appears to have fallen over. Atlas Pearls did not respond to inquiries before deadline.

Other listed cannabis plays such as eSense-Lab (ASX:ESE) and Stemcell United (ASX:SCU) either aren’t interested in the Australian market or aren’t making products that specifically require licences.