Aphria to develop weed patches; Aurora Cannabis comes to Portugal

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Canadian cannabis producer Aphria (APHA) on Tuesday announced a deal to produce and sell medical cannabis transdermal patches developed by scientists at MIT, while Aurora Cannabis (ACB) announced moves to expand into Portugal. Aphria stock, Aurora Cannabis stock and other marijuana stocks rallied.

The deals reflect efforts by Canada's marijuana industry to treat cannabis as a form of therapy. They also reflect ongoing efforts to expand in the global medical market. The global medical market, executives say, represents a huge sales opportunity.

Aphria said it has struck a licensing agreement with Manna Molecular Science to make and sell the patches. Under terms of the agreement, Manna will give Aphria "exclusive preferred vendor status" for five years. The deal also gives Aphria a license to make and market the patches.

"As we continue to expand its use from product to ingredient, we are excited to offer innovative new ways for consumers to interact with cannabis," Aphria President Jakob Ripshtein said in a news release.

Latex, Allergen-Free

Manna Molecular Science was founded in 2015. The company's transdermal patches contain cannabis oil. They are available in dispensaries in Nevada, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to Manna's website. The deal with Aphria, Manna said, gives it "the reach to distribute the Manna patch at a global level."

The patches are latex and allergen-free, Aphria said in the release. They deliver doses through the wearer's skin over 12 hours.

Elsewhere in Canada's marijuana industry, Tilray (TLRY), through a deal with a large retail company, could end up making CBD that would go into products like muscle wraps and foot balms that would be sold mainstream by U.S. retailers.

Green Growth Brands, a cannabis company in Ohio, has used its retail connections to work out an arrangement to put its own CBD products in properties run by Simon Property Group (SPG). Simon Property Group is the largest U.S. mall operator.

Aphria Stock, Aurora Cannabis Stock

Aphria stock jumped 6.5% in the stock market today. A short-seller attack in December sank Aphria stock but shares have since rebounded.

Aurora Cannabis stock rose 6.3%. Aurora is above its 50-day and 200-day lines. But the stock's Composite Rating has slipped to 76. Its Composite Rating had been in the 90s, making it the strongest of Canada's U.S.-listed marijuana stocks.

Aurora Cannabis' Portugal Deal

Meanwhile, Aurora Cannabis said it has "agreed to terms" to take a 51% stake in a company called Gaia Pharm Lda. Aurora described the company as a license applicant in Portugal. Gaia Pharm, Aurora said, wants to develop a facility that can make medical marijuana and other marijuana derivatives.

The deal, Aurora CEO Terry Booth said in a statement, puts Aurora, in one way or another, in 24 nations.

Measures enacted last month allow customers in Portugal with prescriptions to receive medical marijuana. The rules also allow the nation to send medical marijuana to other European Union nations where it is legal.

Gaia Pharm Lda will be renamed Aurora Portugal Lda under the deal. Gaia on Feb. 21 got the OK from a division of Portugal's health ministry to build a cultivation facility compliant with EU standards, Aurora said. 

The first installment of construction will likely conclude in the third quarter of next year, Aurora said. The company said that when the first phase of construction finishes, it expects the facility to have an annual production capacity of 2,000 kilograms of weed. That amount will double when the second phase wraps up.

Other Marijuana Stocks

Among other marijuana stocks, Cronos Group (CRON) rose 6.9%. Canopy Growth (CGC) picked up 5.5%.

CannTrust (CTST), which began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, rose 1.7%

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