The Victoria-based firm raised AU$19.65 million ($14.25 million) through a “heavily oversubscribed” IPO after issuing 8.25 million new shares at 20 cents apiece. The share price has since shot up by more than 300% to reach $0.66 on September 25 after the firm timed the float perfectly. Cannabis stocks in Canada and the US are booming and Althea has ridden the crest of that wave in its first days as a listed company.
“Our aim is to educate and support patient access to medicinal cannabis in Australia,” said chief executive Joshua Fegan. A key pillar of his future growth strategy involves building a cannabis cultivation facility in Skye, Victoria, 30km south of Melbourne. He hopes to produce around 3,000 kilos per year, and it will be scalable to allow for increased production as demand grows. The 4,080m2 facility is subject to gaining planning permission from the local government.
Medical marijuana is legal in Australia, but it currently imports most of its cannabis from North America. Althea has an exclusive deal with Aphria to bring cannabis into Australia to supply to patients.
However, it’s difficult for patients to gain access to it, and many have to resort to illegal means to source marijuana. The market is very immature, but the tide is turning and Althea hopes to be at the forefront of a burgeoning industry.
Fegan declared that the medical community will eventually throw its full weight behind cannabis, and warned it is imperative that Australians benefit from domestic supply rather than being forced to pay more for imported marijuana.
He also plans to ramp up investment in Althea Concierge, a web-based platform and app that allows patients and healthcare professionals across Australia to source medicinal marijuana. Fegan hopes to make the pathway as simple as possible for those who need cannabis to treat a range of medical conditions. He called doctors the gatekeepers of the industry and said he would be channelling his efforts into boosting education around marijuana among the medical community.
There are now more than 20 Australian cannabis firms listed on the ASX as the industry continues to gather pace Down Under.