Top News

Trends in Australian Cannabis to Watch

It’s early days, but trends in Australian cannabis like export and clinical research are starting to shape the industry. Read on to learn more.

With the cannabis sector developing across the world, trends such as cannabidiol (CBD)-infused beverages and cannabis products for pets have started to spring up.

It’s a different story in Australia, however. The country still has fairly strict laws that limit cannabis use to specific medical purposes.

But even though the Australian cannabis market is in its early stages, players in the space are gravitating towards a variety of trends that are shaping the country’s cannabis industry as a whole.

Here the Investing News Network looks at the biggest movements in the marijuana market down under.

Trends in Australian cannabis: CBD research

The growing popularity of CBD and its derivatives has been a success story in countries such as the US with its passing of the farm bill, which legalized hemp-derived CBD. Australian cannabis companies and researchers have taken notice.

There’s been hesitation in Australia around prescribing cannabis, though, due to a lack of information about the safety and efficacy of the drug. Save for one product, medical cannabis products aren’t registered medicines in the country. To access medical marijuana, patients must go through special pathways, which can be a lengthy process.

To attempt to get more information about the plant and about CBD, the Australian government established the Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical and Research Excellence (ACRE) in 2017. It was the first federally funded research centre for medical cannabinoids.

In an interview with Health Europa, ACRE Director Jennifer Martin spoke about the research centre’s goal of demystifying the use of the drug through basic and clinical research.

Martin explained that the “knowledge gap” surrounding the cannabis plant has been a driving motivator for the research centre to improve doctor and patient knowledge about the drug.

“We wanted to build good links with pharmacy and pharmacology groups, clinical networks and government, in order to be able to quickly translate the evidence we were gathering into policy and clinical practice,” said Martin.

Similarly, researchers at the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney are conducting clinical trials to look at the effect of cannabis on conditions like gastrointestinal disorders, cancer and insomnia.

Aside from medical research, the University of Technology Sydney partnered up with Australian cannabis company Bod Australia (ASX:BDA) and released research in August about the benefits of an anti-aging skin cream infused with CBD.

Trends in Australian cannabis: International export

Since legalizing the export of medical cannabis in 2018, the Australian government has expressed its desire to become a force within cannabis export space. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said the country wants to be the foremost supplier of cannabis globally.

Before export was legalized, Hunt said in a press release that the decision was meant to combat increasing competition from international imports to Australia’s domestic cannabis industry.

“By helping the domestic manufacturers to expand, this in turn helps to ensure an ongoing supply of medicinal cannabis products here in Australia,” Hunt added.

Most cannabis in Australia is imported, making it an expensive commodity. Improving the country’s ability to produce and ship the drug out of Australia could give the nation’s nascent cannabis market a boost, especially in a country with such a robust agriculture sector.

Since export was legalized, Australian marijuana companies have not hesitated to reach beyond the country’s borders to establish themselves overseas.

In July, Bod Australia signed an agreement with UK-based medicine manufacturer PCCA to import and distribute its medical cannabis across the UK and Ireland.

Another player in Australia’s cannabis space, Althea Group Holdings (ASX:AGH), announced in mid-2019 that it will be supplying medical cannabis to the UK’s first national pilot for the drug.

Since July, Althea’s subsidiary, Althea MMJ UK, has been working with an independent scientific committee to provide Althea products to patients with ailments like chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple sclerosis.

THC Global Group (ASX:THC) has also forged its way into the international cannabis space by aiming to address a global shortage of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis product after receiving licenses for cannabis export and manufacturing over the summer.

In an interview with Australia’s ABC News, THC Global CEO Ken Charteris said with the new licenses, the company is well positioned to export into a larger medical cannabis market.

“Right now there’s a shortage globally for pharmaceutical (good manufacturing practice) produced product,” said Charteris.

“We’re really at the forefront with the capacity growing plants here to meet the shortage and forecast shortage for the next several years of high-grade, good manufacturing practices,” he added.

Australia’s geographical proximity to Asia could also play a large part in the expansion of its exports. Asia’s medical marijuana market is expected to be worth over US$5.8 billion by 2024, according to a report from Prohibition Partners, making it an attractive arena for the Oceanic country.

Trends in Australian cannabis: Recreational use and international investment

Though only medical cannabis use is legal in the country, recreational use remains high. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the country.

A report from Prohibition Partners projects that the recreational market in the country could be worth over AU$8 billion by 2028, noting that there have been ongoing attempts at legalization.

Some international cannabis companies have taken note and have been positioning themselves within the country ahead of the possible legalization of recreational cannabis.

Last year, Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC,TSX:WEED) launched Spectrum Cannabis Australia in the state of Victoria to allow for domestic cannabis cultivation and production, as well as to serve as a hub for the surrounding geographic jurisdictions.

Canopy also took out patents in Australia for a variety of marijuana products via its Tweed brand of medical and recreational cannabis earlier in 2019, according to a Four Corners investigation.

In an interview with Australia’s ABC News, former Canopy Co-CEO Bruce Linton said recreational use will soon be a reality in Australia.

“Every country that’s federally legal, we think someday will start with medical,” said Linton. “We think it’s just a natural progression.”

In May, MediPharm Labs (TSX:LABS,OTCQX:MEDIF), an Ontario-based cannabis extraction company, was awarded a license to manufacture cannabis in Australia, helping it to get a foothold in the Asia-Pacific region. The company has since begun shipping medical cannabis concentrate into the country.

In July, MPX International (CSE:MPXI,OTC Pink:MPXOF) furthered its stake in Australia’s cannabis space by buying the remaining C$4 million worth of MPX Australia’s shares.

Trends in Australian cannabis: Investor takeaway

Australia’s current marijuana market is well positioned to become an attractive arena, quickly growing into a varied and lucrative space.

The country is set to benefit from international export as well as medical research. International interest is also going to help bolster the country’s global cannabis reputation.

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

Editorial Disclosure: MediPharm Labs is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

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

Featured

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”).

read more Show less

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’).

read more Show less

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.”

read more Show less
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.

kangaroos in front of the sunrise

Silver is on the rise in Australia, with new silver mines opening, production potential booming and the precious metal's valuation reaching new heights.

Analysts have been bullish on gold for the better part of the past decade, but now it's silver's time to shine. While the price of silver tends to rise and fall alongside that of gold, silver's valuation is generally more volatile — slower to move in either direction, but more prone to abrupt spikes and plunges.

Considering the market's longtime gold rush, silver is due for a major price hike. In 2020, silver hit a seven year high with 27 percent year-over-year growth, climbing faster than gold. Silver was on the rise again in February 2021, bolstered by WallStreetBets fervour. Though prices have stabilised since, they remain elevated compared to the past decade. Additionally, at only a fraction of gold's valuation, silver is a much more attainable buy.

Shrewd investors are looking to Australia for their silver picks. A country whose silver mines continued to flourish even when most of the world was in a precious metal slump, Australia has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic as a major player in the global silver market.


A look at Australia and silver mining

When you think of mining in Australia, you may not think of silver, especially since the country is a top global producer of several other metals, including gold and iron ore. Nevertheless, silver is on the rise in Australia, with new silver mines opening, production potential booming and the precious metal's valuation reaching new heights.

This may be surprising news, especially since 2020 was an erratic year for silver. Global silver-mining production plunged by 5.9 percent in 2020 — its biggest drop in over 10 years —⁠ following four years of steady decline.

Output from primary silver mines plummeted by 11.9 percent year-over-year, while silver by-product suffered a more modest drop, with production from gold and lead-⁠zinc mines falling by 5.7 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Note that silver is largely produced as a by-product of other metal-mining processes, with 72 percent of silver production taking place at non-silver mines.

This production downturn was the result of COVID-19 restrictions that forced mines to suspend operations temporarily. Silver mine closures hit certain places harder than others, with extended closures in top silver-producing countries such as Peru, Mexico, Argentina and Bolivia causing major production drops.

Australia, however, was an exception to this rule, with production increasing by 3 percent. The reason for Australia's success is that it remained relatively untouched by COVID-19 restrictions. While other countries were forced to shut down production facilities, Australia was able to avoid these closures, continuing — and even upgrading — regular operations.

Australia is now the fifth largest silver producer globally, with an annual output of 43.8 million ounces in 2020. While the output of silver-mining giants such as Mexico and Peru (178.1 million and 109.7 million ounces produced in 2020, respectively) continues to far exceed that of Australia, global demand for silver is on the rise, hitting 900 million ounces annually and making room for a new silver-mining powerhouse.

What should investors know about silver investing in Australia?

Silver remains a relatively untapped resource in Australia, which means that investors have plenty of major mining companies to choose from.

Australia's largest mine is the Cannington mine owned by South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF). It is ranked as the ninth largest silver-producing mine worldwide, with 11.6 million ounces produced in 2020.

The country's second biggest silver-producing mine is the Mount Isa zinc mine. It is owned by Mount Isa Mines, a subsidiary of Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF), and produced around 5.8 million ounces of silver in 2020. The Tritton copper mine, owned by Aeris Resources (ASX:AIS,OTC Pink:ARSRF), followed closely behind with nearly 4.5 million ounces produced in the same year.

Other notable Australian silver mines include the Golden Grove mine, which is owned by 29Metals (ASX:29M), and the Dugald River mine, which is owned by Metallic Minerals (ASX:MMG,TSXV:MMG,OTCQB:MMNGF). In 2020, these mines produced around 2.9 million and 2 million ounces of silver, respectively.

Australia's impressive silver-mining industry is well-positioned for further expansion, with Silver Mines (ASX:SVL,OTC Pink:SLVMF) planning to launch its Bowden silver project in 2023. This New South Wales-based silver mine is projected to produce around 6 million ounces of silver annually, which would make it the country's new second largest producer. The company hopes to capitalise on the promising solar panel market, which currently accounts for about 5.5 percent of all silver demand worldwide.

Moreover, Australian company Thomson Resources (ASX:TMZ,OTC Pink:TMZRF) bought the New South Wales-based Webb and Conrad silver projects from Silver Mines earlier this year in a transaction worth around US$8.6 million. The deal closed on March 31, and will enable Silver Mines to concentrate on its flagship Bowden project.

Investing in silver in Australia

There are many ways to invest in silver, including physical silver, stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, options and futures. Choosing which investment route to take is all about balancing risk and reward.

Investing in physical silver is the most straightforward option: you simply buy a tangible piece of the precious metal in the form of bullion, official coins or medallions. Bullion is a bar or 1 ounce coin of solid silver with at least 99.9 percent purity. Official silver coins are currency produced by a government mint, while silver medallions resemble coins, but lack monetary value, .

The price of physical silver rises and falls alongside the metal's market value. Physical silver is a relatively safe investment, since its value can't be affected by third-party interference or bad business practices (risks characteristic of mining stocks). However, if you plan to trade often, the added costs of buying, selling and storing physical silver may make the investment not worth your while.

Investments in physical silver rose by 8 percent last year, boosted by silver's status as a safe asset and market bullishness on gold. In Australia, coins and medals fabrication increased by 35 percent year-over-year, making physical silver a smart choice for any risk-averse investor.

Of course, low risk often means low reward. If you're looking for a bigger payday, consider investing in silver-mining stocks instead. After all, when silver's market price goes up, it is often the case that the value of a mining stock could spike far higher than that of the physical metal. The disadvantage is that mining stocks are always risky — even when the silver market is strong, a mining endeavour can fail to pan out.

ETFs offer investors the best of both worlds. ETFs are a basket of varied equities, including physical metals and shares in mining companies. Much like individual stocks, they are liable to rise or fall in price according to the market, though they tend to be less risky than stocks.

In 2020, ETF investments were at an all-time-high, though Australia only has one silver ETF that includes the physical precious metal. Stocks are a much more common means of investing in silver in Australia. The country boasts over a dozen silver-mining companies, including South32 and Silver Mines, as well as Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM,TSX:NCM,OTC Pink:NCMGF), Golden Deeps (ASX:GED) and Investigator Resources (ASX:IVR).

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

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