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As health officials cite concerns with hygiene, patients left with no way to fill prescriptions fume at both ministry and Tikun Olam company over ‘broken system’

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Its been a busy few weeks in marijuana land.

Canada legalised recreational marijuana, a researcher torpedoed confidence calling the North American market “non-investment grade”, the UK did an about-face and one of the world’s biggest pot stocks joined the New York Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile in Australia the ASX cannabis sector is looking perky.

The spur seems to be the CannaTech conference that starts in Sydney on Sunday — where attendees get “bonus points for creative attire”.

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About seven people a day are being approved for medicinal cannabis as new research suggests the $18 million industry could be worth billions within a decade.

Access to the drug is still severely restricted two years after its medicinal use was legalised nationally but a new online application system has increased approvals in recent months.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration approved 469 applications for the drug under the Special Access Scheme between August and September.

That’s up from just 97 between January and February.

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Despite “strong” stigma locally, opportunities are aplenty for founders wanting to take advantage of the fast-growing cannabis market according to Australian entrepreneur and industry expert Saul Kaye.

But if startups want to see success, they’ll need to look beyond the “low-hanging fruit” and devise a way to best integrate their existing expertise into the market, rather than diving into something they have no experience in.

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Global cannabis firms have rolled into Hong Kong with their own investor forum and called on local authorities to legalise the medicinal use of the drug.

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Hong Kong is poised to become the marijuana investment capital of Asia, according to executives at the city’s first ever cannabis investor symposium on Thursday.

The CannaTech cannabis investor forum, held at the five-star W Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, aimed at showcasing global investment opportunities in markets where the substance is legal.

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The cannabis investor conference in Hong Kong this week started with some stern warnings against smoking pot in the city, which can land you in prison. Then folks got down to talking business.

The Hong Kong Cannabis Investor Symposium on Thursday drew executives from some of the world’s hottest cannabis firms together with more than 200 attendees to talk about the plant’s misconceptions and its investment opportunities. Pot stocks have returned 73 percent in the last 12 months, outpacing Bitcoin, gold and any major equity index. And, despite the prohibition in Hong Kong, many of the forum’s participants said they see attitudes in Asia changing.

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