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Walmart Canada latest to explore possibility of cannabis-based products

RIDGECREST, UNITED STATES – APRIL 13, 2014: Walmart store in Ridgecrest, California. Walmart is a retail corporation with 8,970 locations and revenue of US$ 469 billion (FY 2013).

Walmart storeWalmart Canada has announced it is exploring the possibility of selling cannabis-based products, though no concrete plans have been made yet. The retail giant’s profit rose nearly 3 per cent to $US97.48 last Tuesday following the news.

“Walmart Canada has done some preliminary fact-finding on this issue, but we do not have plans to carry Cannabidiol (CBD) products at this time,” Walmart spokeswoman Diane Medeiros told Reuters.

CBD is the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana and does not have intoxicating effects. The country is set to become the first major economy to legalise recreational marijuana on October 17. The legal cannabis market in Canada drives about $C10.4 billion ($US11.3 billion) in retail market sales, Roth Capital Partners analyst Scott Fortune wrote in a client note, according to the newswire.

“An investment blueprint has been established in Canada that we believe will play out internationally very similarly,” Fortune said. Several US states including California, Nevada and Washington, DC, have also legalised use of recreational or medical marijuana, but it still remains illegal under the federal law. Australia has also been tinkering on the cannabis market with some businesses tying up with big Canadian cannabis companies.

Major FMCG giants have been exploring the possibility of cannabis-infused products in recent times with Coke keeping tabs on the marijuana-infused beverage market and Constellation Brands already investing over $US4 billion in Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth. PepsiCo has also been looking into the idea but its chief financial officer didn’t confirm plans to pursue anything at this point.

Australian company signs deal with major cannabis distributor

Australian cannabis company Althea Group Holdings Limited announced today that it has signed an agreement with medicinal cannabis wholesale and distribution business, Health House International in which it will purchase, warehouse and distribute five Althea products at their existing network of pharmacies. Health House International imported one of the first legal international medicinal cannabis shipments into Australia last year.

“Paul [Mayor] and his team at Health House International are pioneers of medicinal cannabis wholesaling in Australia. Apart from being one of the first importers of finished products, Paul is very passionate about medicinal cannabis and is a strong voice in supporting patient access,” Althea CEO Joshua Fegan said.

“We are really proud to be working with a quality company like Althea. They have world class pharmaceutical-grade medical products to add to our existing range. In addition to four Althea cannabis oils, we will now have access for the first time to a dried flower product which some patients prefer,” Health House International pharmacist, CEO and founder Paul Mavor said.

“Health House’s reputation within the medical community, particularly in Western Australia, was a big part of our decision to partner with them. WA to date has been an elusive market for us compared to the eastern seaboard, where our own distribution network continues to grow and flourish.”

Shares in Althea surged on its ASX debut last month, wherein the Aussie business raised A$19.65 million in an IPO. The capital raising was backed by one of the largest Canadian medicinal cannabis companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Aphria Inc. It has a 25 per cent holding in Althea. 

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