Aphria Inc, Canopy Growth Corp (WEED), Aurora Cannabis and CannTrust Holdings (TSE:TRST): The Fight for Global Domination will happen in Foreign Markets

Aphria Inc (TSE:APH) (OTCMKTS:APHQF) (FRA:10E), Canopy Growth Corp (TSE:WEED) (OTCMKTS:TWMJF) (FRA:11L1), Aurora Cannabis Inc (TSE:ACB) (OTCQB:ACBFF) (FRA:21P), and CannTrust Holdings Inc (TSE:TRST) (OTCMKTS: CNTTF) ( FRA:C9S) are locked in a power struggle for global domination of the world cannabis market. And it looks like that struggle will be won or lost on foreign shores.

Aphria, for its part, has been busily sweeping the globe for opportunities, trying to get a toehold in any way shape or form. The company held a meeting in Xanthi, Greece last month where Aphria analyst Stephen Murphy presented the case that Aphria was looking at Greece exclusively for production and export, according to a press release issued in Athens and translated.

Watch Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld discuss his company’s recent agreement with Shopper’s Drug Mart.

“In the presentation of the company, Stephen Murphy stressed that Aphria International is active in the US and Canada, plans to expand to Europe and intends to make Greece a strategic springboard for Europe’s market as a country of production and heavy investment. He noted that with other European countries there are discussions and contacts, but not for production. For production and export, the company chose Greece exclusively.”

Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld downplayed the significance  or Greece, however, saying “Greece is really a small small part of a much bigger international reach. Its exciting, but there’s so much more to it  than that.”

(Vic Neufeld will be live on Midas Letter’s YouTube Channel at 3 pm ET on Wednesday March 28, 2018 to discuss the company’s international strategy, and also his role as Chairman of Sythian Biosciences Corp

Aphria’s foray into Australia is already starting to bear fruit, having announced its 25% holding in Althea had been granted a license to grow cannabis for the country’s burgeoning medical market. So far there are only 14 licenses to grow cannabis throughout Australia, according to Josh Fegan, Managing Director of Althea. Australia has a population of 24 million people so compared to Canada with over 90 licenses, there’s probably a better value proposition at this point for LP’s in Australia.

And the chances that Australia ultimately becomes an exporter of cannabis remain abundant, if Health Minister Greg Hunt gets his way. “We would like to be, potentially, the world’s number one medicinal cannabis supplier,” he said in a statement. “By helping the domestic manufacturers to expand, this in turn helps to ensure an ongoing supply of cannabis products here in Australia.”

Canopy Growth’s international ambitions are certainly well documented at this point as well.

In January, Australian Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford announced a collaboration between Canopy and Agriculture Victoria for “cannabis genetics, strain development, cultivation, and processing,” according to the press release. Canopy is already the world’s largest producer of cannabis, with more than 69,000 patients in Canada alone. Canopy is a co-owner of AusCann Group Holdings based in Western Australian.

But besides Australia and Greece, Germany is one of the markets most prized by the relentless expansionist ambitions of Canada’s ACMPR cadre.

Canopy Growth was first into Germany with its all-stock acquisition of MedCann back in November 2016. More recently, the company shipped 1,500 clones to its partner Alcaliber S.A., which is one of the world’s largest producers of Morphine and Thebaine.

Watch Bruce Linton discussing Canopy Growth’s strategy for continued global growth and cannabis market domination.

“Our view of the European continent mirrors our Canadian expansion strategy,” said Bruce Linton, Chairman and CEO, Canopy Growth. “We’re diversifying our production capabilities on the continent in anticipation of rapid European market expansion. In addition to a large licensed production footprint in Odense, Denmark we are working closely with our partner Alcaliber to capture market share by scaling supply.”

In December, 207, Canopy announced that was planning to build a 430,000 square foot cannabis growing facility in Odense, Denmark. This was the first instance of a Canadian producer receiving a license in an EU country. Canopy plans to operate the facility in partnership with Danish Cannabis, one of Europe’s largest hemp producers. Only Denmark and the Netherlands currently allow legal cannabis production  under a federal regulatory framework.

And not to be left in the dust, Aurora Cannabis has also been establishing beachheads on distant shores to continuously “internationalize” its cannabis industry footprint. It started 2018 with an announcement to retrofit an existing 100,000 square foot greenhouse, also in Odense, Denmark, and an obvious move to to counter Canopy’s first mover status there.

In fact, argues Chief Corporate Officer Cam Battley in a telephone interview this week, “Aurora has been fully cognizant of the importance of European markets since the get-go, and so that’s why our facilities in Alberta have been built to European GMP standards. Since our deal with Pedanios we have become focused on making sure everything from our growing operations to our processing operations is compliant with European GMP standards cause that’s the only way you can ship to Europe.”

The German market continues to develop rapidly. During the period covering March 2017 to end of November 2017,approximately 13,000 people applied for reimbursement of their medical cannabis prescription, with a 65% approval  rate. Insurance company AOK Versicherung, which represents approximately 50% of all insured peopleinGermany, published that inDecember 2017 alone,approximately 7,500 people applied for reimbursement through that company, which implies a national figure of 15,000 for all of Germany, for that single month. To date, Pedanios remains the EU’s largest distributor of cannabis by volume of product sold, has completed deliveries to over 2,200 pharmacies, and continues to build market share rapidly. Pedanios remains the only distributor to offer cannabis flower sourced from both Canada and the Netherlands,and offers 11 ofthe 15 licensed varieties in Germany.

Aurora Cannabis Corp CEO Terry Booth discusses his international acquisition strategy with James West on the set of Midas Letter Live.

Some analysts say they expect the International Medical Cannabis market to be worth $180 billion a year in short order.

The company won one of the first ever tenders put forth by the Italian Ministry of Defense, who is the Italian administrator of Italy’s medical cannabis regime.

According to Neil Belot, Aurora’s Chief Global Business Development Officer,”Aurora will soon supply both Germany and Italy – two of the largest EU markets, with a total population exceeding 143 million. As the only company to have been successful in this tender, we have an incredible first mover advantage in this potentially tremendous growth market.”

Aurora has now established operations in Italy, Denmark, Germany and Australia.

One thing from all this international movement is clear: The largest cannabis producers in the world are actively competing for market share everywhere now.


James West

Editor and Publisher

James West founded Midas Letter in 2008 and has since been covering the best of Canadian and US small cap companies. He covers global economics, monetary policy, geopolitical evolution, political corruption, commodities, cannabis and cryptocurrencies. As an active market participant, James is not a journalist and is invariably discussing markets...
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