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Cannabis in the ACT: The Market a Year Post-Legalisation

A look at the first year of legal recreational cannabis in the Australian Capital Territory.

It’s been just over a year since recreational cannabis was legalised in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), home to the nation’s capital city of Canberra.

Announced on September 25, 2019, and brought into effect on January 31, 2020, the rules make it legal to possess and personally use small amounts of cannabis.

The territory was the first jurisdiction in Australia to put a policy like this in place, and it’s still the only part of the country where cannabis is recreationally legal. So what are the biggest takeaways investors should consider after this monumental change? Here’s a closer look at what happened.

Cannabis in the ACT: The territory’s path to legalisation

As mentioned, the changes in the ACT’s cannabis laws were first revealed on September 25, 2019, although they didn’t come into effect until January 31, 2020. Recreational legalisation ultimately pulled through, but it faced strong opposition from the federal government.

Attorney-General Christian Porter was particularly displeased. He was quoted by Reuters in October 2019 as calling the reforms “crazy” — he pointed out that the new rules go against Commonwealth law, rendering them essentially ineffective.

“The ACT laws removed the criminal component at a territory level but didn’t establish anything that is a positive right to possess, which means that there’s no defense to the Commonwealth law that criminalizes amounts under 50 grams,” Porter said.

“My advice and the advice that I’ve provided to the ACT attorney-general is that it is still against the law of the Commonwealth to possess cannabis in the ACT.”

Ultimately the ACT did do what it set out to do. The reforms came in large part thanks to Australian Labor Party backbencher Michael Pettersson, who introduced a private members bill in 2018 that he deemed “sensible” — after being redrafted, it was passed.

“This model is different to what most people think of cannabis legalisation,” he said. “This isn’t Colorado, this isn’t Canada. There are no dispensaries getting set up under the system. This (bill) simply means that individuals caught with small amounts … for personal use will not face criminal charge.”

Cannabis in the ACT: What are the rules?

Since January 31, 2020, adults in the ACT have been permitted to grow two cannabis plants (with a maximum of four per household). There are also specific rules about where and how plants can be propagated — they cannot be accessed by the public or grown using hydroponics or artificial light.

Adults can also possess up to 50 grams of dry cannabis per person, or 150 grams of wet cannabis, for use in their own home — this has been dubbed personal use.

But it is still an offence to smoke or use cannabis in a public setting, or to expose a child to cannabis. In fact, selling, gifting or giving weed or even cannabis seeds is still an offence. It’s also worth noting that — as Porter pointed out — the new ACT rules still carry a degree of risk as they directly conflict with Commonwealth law regarding cannabis.

“This does not entirely remove the risk of people being arrested under Commonwealth law, and we are being up front with the community about that,” ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said at the Legislative Assembly in September 2019.

“The ACT’s legislation attempts to provide a clear and specific legal defence to an adult who possesses small amounts of cannabis in the ACT, but is prosecuted under Commonwealth law.”

Cannabis in the ACT: Lessons from year one

In some ways it’s still too early to tell how successful the ACT’s new cannabis program may be. With limitations from Commonwealth law, the likelihood of a regulated commercial cannabis market in the ACT appears unlikely at this time.

That said, data from ACT police given to ABC shows no meaningful or dramatic increase in drug arrests or drug-driving charges since legalisation.

Aside from that, it’s possible that the ACT may make progress on decriminalising other substances. In 2021, the territory’s Legislative Assembly is set to introduce a new bill to make Canberra the first place in Australia to decriminalise illicit drugs, including MDMA, heroin and methamphetamines.

Savvy investors would be wise to closely monitor the ACT, although changes to Commonwealth law to legalise cannabis aren’t on the horizon quite yet.

Don’t forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Zelira Therapeutics Ltd a global leader in the research and development of clinically validated cannabinoid medicines, is pleased to announce the US launch of the Zelira Dermatology Business’ first product line, RAF FIVE ™ through its dermatology subsidiary Ilera Derm LLC . The five-product RAF FIVE ™ line consists of the Wash Away Gel Cleanser Acne Treatment, Spot On Acne Treatment, Kick Off Hydrating Lotion …

Zelira Therapeutics Ltd (ASX: ZLD) (OTCQB: ZLDAF), a global leader in the research and development of clinically validated cannabinoid medicines, is pleased to announce the US launch of the Zelira Dermatology Business’ first product line, RAF FIVE ™ through its dermatology subsidiary Ilera Derm LLC (“Zelira Dermatology”).

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Highlights: Peak Processing Solutions subsidiary of Althea Group Holdings has entered into agreements with BBCCC, Inc., The Boston Beer Company and WeedMD Rx Inc., a subsidiary of Entourage Health Corp. Under the product development agreement, Peak will provide research and development services including laboratory support and the testing of various product formulations and recipes, for the new line of BBC products …

Highlights:

  • Peak Processing Solutions (Peak), subsidiary of Althea Group Holdings (ASX: AGH) (Althea) has entered into agreements with BBCCC, Inc., The Boston Beer Company (NYSE: SAM) (‘BBC’), and WeedMD Rx Inc., a subsidiary of Entourage Health Corp. (‘Entourage’)
  • Under the product development agreement, Peak will provide research and development services including laboratory support and the testing of various product formulations and recipes, for the new line of BBC products
  • BBC will provide Peak with funding of up to USD$2m for capital improvements associated with the development project. In addition, Peak will receive a minimum of USD$285,000 for each year of the Term of the agreement (totalling USD$1.42m )
  • Under the 5 year supply and manufacturing agreement, Peak is the exclusive manufacturer of all cannabis beverages produced or sold in Canada under BBC branding, for the term of the agreement
  • Entourage will be responsible for distribution and sales of the cannabis-infused beverages in Canada

Peak Processing Solutions, a subsidiary of Althea Group Holdings Limited (ASX: AGH) (‘Peak’ or ‘the Company’) is a leading developer, manufacturer, and distributor of cannabis infused edible, topical, and concentrate products is pleased to announce that the Company has entered into agreements with WeedMD Rx Inc., a subsidiary of (TSXV: ENTG) (OTCQX: WDDMF) (‘Entourage’) and BBCCC, Inc., a subsidiary of the Boston Beer Company Inc. (NYSE: SAM) (‘BBC’).

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Sydney, Australia – Medlab Clinical Ltd an Australian biotech using delivery platforms to enhance medicines is pleased to announce the execution of a Master Services Agreement with WEP Clinical Ltd for the exclusive development and delivery of Named Patient Programmes relating to the unlicensed supply of its proprietary NanaBis and NanoCBD to patients in the UK and Europe. This Master Services Agreement is the first …

Sydney, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Medlab Clinical Ltd (ASX.MDC), an Australian biotech using delivery platforms to enhance medicines is pleased to announce the execution of a Master Services Agreement (MSA) with WEP Clinical Ltd (WEP) for the exclusive development and delivery of Named Patient Programmes relating to the unlicensed supply of its proprietary NanaBis(TM) and NanoCBD(TM) to patients in the UK and Europe.

This Master Services Agreement is the first partnership for Medlab to supply their cannabinoid medications outside of its current Australian Special Access Scheme.

Dr Sean Hall, CEO of Medlab stated, “This is a major milestone for Medlab to begin supplying NanaBis(TM) and NanoCBD(TM) on prescription for the first time to patients outside Australia.”

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Sydney Opera House at night

Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

The global robotics industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent through 2028 according to the Global Industrial Robotics Market Analysis 2020. Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

Broadly speaking, robotics is the design and construction of robots. This can include core automation and production, industrial software, robot technology and integration of robotics. From drones to self-driving cars to toys ― robotics is a growing industry that is beginning to permeate our daily lives.


The distinction between robotics and AI can be a little confusing, but essentially think of robotics like the body and AI like the brain. Both can exist separately, and they are powerful when combined. The goal of a robot is to complete a task faster and more efficiently than a human.

What does the market look like?

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen technology sectors such as robotics accelerate as businesses have faced global challenges. Robotics has been able to help keep spaces safer by replacing humans with robots on factory lines, in eCommerce warehouses or on healthcare frontlines taking temperatures or disinfecting spaces.

What is Australia doing to support the robotics sector?

In early 2020, the Robotics Australia Network was formed to accelerate growth of the domestic robotics industry. The network aims to strengthen global competitiveness and cement Australia as a global leader in robotics.

How does the Australian robotics sector stack up?

According to the International Federation of Robotics, in a ranking of the world's most automated countries it's not even in the top 10. Number one is Singapore, followed by South Korea then Japan.

The investment space for pure robotics companies is relatively small, with greater opportunities to invest in more broader technology, AI and automation stocks.

Who are the big players in robotics stocks?

Robotics stocks in Australia are companies with a strong crossover to other technology sectors like artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Vection Technologies (ASX:VR1)
Market Cap AU$77.56 million

Vection is a multinational software company with offices in Western Australia as well as Subiaco and Casalecchio di Reno in Italy. The company uses robotics technology as well as 3D, virtual reality, augmented reality, industrial IoT and CAD solutions. The business is split into two sections: IT development and outsourced services. The company also collaborates with Autodesk Technology Centers, the Microsoft Mixed Reality Team and Cisco Systems Italy.

Bill Identity (ASX:BID)

Market Cap AU$52.97 million

Previously known as BidEnergy, Bill Identity is a series of bill management solutions leveraged using robotic process automation, which helps clients increase efficiency. The company serves customers across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Europe. Bill Identity had a strong year, with total operating revenue growth of 55 percent year-on-year to US$14.6M in FY21.

What are the other ways to invest in robotics?

Another way to get into the robotics sector is investing in robotics exchange traded funds (ETFs), a popular choice that offers exposure to the industry of robotics and artificial intelligence rather than a single company. Two major ETFs in the robotics sector are:

  • BetaShares Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF (ASX:RBTZ)
  • The ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ARCA:ROBO)

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

carbon emissions

Following international pressure, the Australian government has promised to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

In a last-minute commitment after months of debate, the Australian government has promised to reach net zero emissions by 2050, expecting to meet the goal largely through technology development.

The move comes following international pressure as Australia had previously refused to join countries in pledging to meet the target ahead of the United Nations' COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

However, the plan unveiled on Tuesday (October 26), which includes a government investment of AU$20 billion, does not strengthen the target set for 2030, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying Australia is on track to beat its Paris Agreement goal, cutting emissions by 30 to 35 percent by that decade.


"We will do this the Australian way," Morrison said ahead of a press conference, announcing investments in new energy technologies like hydrogen and low-cost solar.

An Australian hydrogen industry could be worth more than AU$50 billion in 2050, according to the government. Meanwhile, expanding production and processing of metals like lithium, nickel, copper and uranium could together be worth around AU$85 billion in exports in 2050.

That said, Australia will continue to be heavily dependent on fossil fuels as the plan will not shut down coal or gas production. The country is a major coal player, with the third largest reserves in the world, but its reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world's largest carbon emitters per capita.

"We want our heavy industries, like mining, to stay open, remain competitive and adapt, so they remain viable for as long as global demand allows," Morrison said. "We will not support any mandate — domestic or international — to force closure of our resources or agricultural industries."

Australia's desire to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 is a step in the right direction, Prakash Sharma, Wood Mackenzie's Asia Pacific head of markets and transitions, said.

"Our analysis shows that Australia can reach net zero emissions by 2050," he said. The country's major trading partners — China, Japan and South Korea — are already in transition towards that goal.

According to Wood Mackenzie, nearly 83 percent of Australia's power generation will come from solar and wind by 2050, as compared to about 20 percent last year. Natural gas, bio energy, geothermal and small modular reactors will supply the remaining 17 percent in power output. Coal into power is expected to be phased out by 2035.

"Although the pathway requires complete transformation of its traditional energy and export sectors, there are significant opportunities to capitalise on and protect future revenues," Sharma said.

"This will require Australia to become a significant player in low-carbon hydrogen trade as well as being able to offer carbon storage and offset services."

Meanwhile, the Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the prime minister's commitment to reach net zero by 2050, but said the mid-century goal is only meaningful with deep cuts to climate pollution this decade.

"Unless the government sets the wheels in motion to cut our emissions in half by 2030, it is making climate change worse and turning its back on the opportunities," said Chief Executive Kelly O'Shanassy.

"Australia can become a global clean energy superpower in the next decade by replacing coal and gas with renewable energy," she added. "We have abundant clean energy, tools and talent, but we cannot delay any longer."

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.