Ananda Developments (NEX:ANA) sat at 0.4p on Monday after announcing the initial launch of a medicinal cannabis product in Italy.
Ananda holds a 15pc position in Liberty Herbal Technologies (LHT). LHT owns a technology called hapac used to inhale cannabis for medical and health purposes. Users put small, filter-paper sachets of ground medicinal marijuana flower into dry-herb vaporisers. These deliver a measured dose of cannabis without toxic solvents or synthetic additives.
The first hapac-making machine has now been installed by LHT’s Italian commercial partner, and sachets are in production. A limited roll-out of the product has already started in Milan, where Ananda claims customer feedback has been ‘very positive’. Broader distribution across Italy will begin later this month.
Ananda announced its investment into LHT last September two months after listing in London. Following the deal, its executive director Melissa Sturgess joined LHT’s board. Speaking to us at the time, head of IR Jeremy Sturgess-Smith called the deal a ‘potential company-maker’ for Ananda.
Melissa Sturgess added: ‘We are delighted to be supporting the LHT team in the launch and rollout of hapac. Not only is hapac a well-positioned product, it is being developed by a team which understands the dynamics, challenges and opportunities in the herbal vaping space. One of the most important facets of hapac is its ability to deliver a measured dose of medicinal cannabis, where precise dosing is important in medical treatment protocols. We look forward to working closely with the team on its Italian and subsequent further rollout.’
LHT was founded two years ago by ex-British American Tobacco employees. Before launching hapac in Italy, the firm completed a successful consumer trial in the US. It plans to enter the Canadian market in Q2 this year before expanding into other legal jurisdictions.
In today’s update, Ananda said the global medical cannabis market has expanded considerably since September. Notably, UK doctors were given the ability to prescribe medical cannabis last November. There have also been numerous investments in the sector by global tobacco and drinks companies.
LHT hopes to stand out in the growing sector by focusing on inhaled cannabis technology. A report by BDS Analytics found that 69pc of consumers in the US and Canada prefer inhaling cannabis over other consumption methods. Two-thirds of medical and health consumers are taking this approach for pain management.