A Canadian cannabis grower setting itself up to disrupt big pharma has released encouraging financial results, serving as a bellwether for the industry.

Canopy Growth Corporation more than doubled its revenue growth in the three months to 31st December compared with the same time last year (from CAD 9.75 to CAD 21.7m).

The brisk growth was driven by more than doubling patient numbers, as well as sales of oils, gel capsules and extracts. Revenue for the three months to December was also 24% higher than during the previous quarter.

The Toronto Stock Exchange-listed firm – trading symbol WEED – said it managed to increase average price its customers paid for a gram of cannabis, as well as bringing down its cost for producing a gram. It had 69,000 registered patients at the end of December 2017, more than double the 29,000 on its books the year before.

Canopy is one of a small but growing number of firms looking to go up against established drug companies in treating illnesses and diseases, from anxiety and insomnia to chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, childhood epilepsy.

Its research and development arm, Canopy Health Innovations, carries out research and early stage clinical testing into cannabis products with the aim of disrupting existing drugs. It is developing cannabis delivery methods including oils, gels, pills, inhalers, and creams.

Group chief executive Marc Wayne told Reuters: “There is a gold rush for cannabis intellectual property, and it’s accelerating.”

Canopy is also in a strategic partnership with Constellation Brands – distributor of Corona beers in the US – to develop cannabis-based drinks.

Due to favourable laws and policy, Canada is emerging as a global centre for research into cannabis-derived medical products.

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