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Sydney University is helping an ASX-listed company take a serious look at Australia's medical cannabis market

A cannabis greenhouse in Israel. Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.

The medical cannabis industry is getting down to business as the Australian government and numerous states back plans to let seriously ill patients use marijuana as a treatment.

On 17 October, the Turnbull government revealed plans to legalise growing cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes, while Victorian premier Daniel Andrewsalso announced last month that his state would legalise the drug for medical use in 2017, including children with severe epilepsy.

NSW premier Mike Baird is planning trials for next year, and a parliamentary committee is due to report shortly on how they will be conducted.

Meanwhile, European medical grade cannabis business MGC Pharmaceuticals, which listed on the ASX via a reverse takeover of Perth-based Erin Resources, has announced plans to collaborate with the University of Sydney’s business school on research and commercial opportunities for the drug.

The company is already working on cannabis-based cosmetics and is now positioning itself to be at the forefront of Australian medical marijuana.

The deal with Sydney University may also expand to other faculties and is expected to kick off in early 2016 and MGC hopes it will last several years.

The collaboration ranges from research into scientific aspects of cannabis-based products, to market demand surveys and regulatory environment analysis.

The school’s director of business education, associate professor Leanne Piggott, said the University of Sydney is leading the way in clinical trials and that the collaboration with MGC will be part of the school’s community placement program (CPP).

“The dual social and commercial aspects of the project sit perfectly with the ethos of CPP, which works with businesses to integrate positive social impacts with profitability,” she said.

“We’re looking forward to assisting MGC to define the market opportunity and best course of action for them to work alongside regulators and industry participants to become a domestic supplier of medical grade cannabis.”

Cardiologist Dr Ross Walker is joining the MGC Pharmaceuticals board.

The business, which has a manufacturing plant in Slovenia, recently added to its scientific credentials by announcing plans to appoint prominent Sydney cardiologist Dr Ross Walker to the board as a non executive director. He is tasked with leading MGC’s investigative study into medical cannabis research and commercial opportunities in Australia as part of a strategic advisory board.

MGC Pharmaceuticals co-founder and MD Nativ Segev, a pioneer of the Israeli medical cannabis industry, said the collaboration with the University of Sydney will “significantly enhance” the company’s push into the sector in Australia.

Erin Resources shareholders are meeting later this month to vote on the acquisition of MGC Pharmaceuticals and renaming as the new business.

After coming out of a two-day trading halt, Erin Resources shares are up 4.5% to 0.023 cents on the news.

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