A Canadian cannabis company will be the first to import legal weed to the US — and its stock is surging

  • Tilray received approval to import medical cannabis into the US for a study in California, the company announced Tuesday.
  • The stock surged 11% following the news, hitting a fresh high of $133 in early trading.
  • It's now up 682% since its July initial public offering.
  • Follow Tilray's stock price in real-time here. 

Tilray shares were up more than 11% in early trading Tuesday after the British Columbia-based cannabis producer received approval from US officials to import medical marijuana for a clinical trial at the University of California San Diego.

The drugs, imported in capsule form, are designed to treat essential tremor (ET), a neurological disorder that causes involuntary and uncontrollable shaking that can make it difficult for patients to perform every day tasks like eating, drinking, or writing. It’s expected to begin in early 2019.

"Tilray is proud to support this crucial research," Catherine Jacobson, Tilray’s director of clinical research, said in a press release.

"If this study can identify cannabinoids as a potential treatment for patients suffering from essential tremor, we can conduct further research and potentially provide alternative effective methods of relief for the high numbers of patients with ET."

Currently, ET is treated with drugs originally developed to treat high blood pressure, seizures, and even Botox. Tilray is also involved in four other trials to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a form of epilepsy, brain cancer, and side-effects of chemotherapy.

Tilray’s stock price has soared more than 680% — with Tuesday's gains — since its initial public offering in July. And while Wall Street analysts remain optimistic for the company’s outlook, the rally could be unsustainable. Analysts give the company an average price target of $49 — less than half of Monday’s $120 closing price.

RELATED: Take a look at the health benefits of marijuana: 

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Health benefits of marijuana

1. Parkinson's 

Cannabis has been found to help slow tremors and pain in Parkinson's patients. According to Medical News Today, the compounds in marijuana help to "reduce the effects of reduced dopamine in the brain". 

A study conducted by Israeli scientists found smoking marijuana helped reduce these tremors. "We not only saw improvement in tremor in these patients, but also in rigidity and in bradykinesia," said researcher Ruth Djaldetti.

Furthermore, marijuana has been found to slow the progression of Parkinson's because of its antioxidant qualities. 

2. Glaucoma 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes glaucoma as a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged over long periods of time. It can limit vision and sometimes lead to blindness. 

The link between glaucoma and marijuana has been studied since the 1970s, as smoking marijuana has been found to lower eye pressure. Doctors are working on ways to elongate the effects of marijuana. 

It has been speculated that smoking the drug can slow the progression of the disease. 

3. Chemo patients

There has been extensive research on the benefits of cannabis and chemotherapy patients. The "wonder drug", as it is hailed, does miracles for cancer patients. 

According to Dr. Donald Abrams, marijuana "is the only anti-nausea medicine that increases appetite.”

The American Cancer Society claims that the drug can also lower pain, reduce inflammation and calm anxieties of not just chemo patients, but patients suffering from a chronic illness or disease. 

Scientists have found that cannabinoids, one of the many chemical compounds found in the plant, can inhibit tumor growth. It was particularly effective in the inhibition of colon cancer. 

4. Alzheimer's

According to an article published by CNN Health, marijuana may be beneficial for Alzheimer's patients. It was found that THC, an ingredient in cannabis, blocks inflammation in the brain and "stimulates the removal of toxic plaque". 

Marijuana has also been used to help dementia patients. Author and doctor David Casarett told CNN, "I spoke to many family members of people with mild or moderate dementia who believed that THC or whole-plant marijuana was effective in alleviating the confusion and agitation that sometimes occurs."

5. Skin Diseases 

It is widely known that marijuana possesses antiinflammatory benefits, helpful to patients who suffer from arthritis and cancer, amongst many others.

A study published by the University of Colorado found that using the drug topically can alleviate pain and "may be effective against eczema, psoriasis, atopic and contact dermatitis. More and more dermatologists are encouraging the use of cannabinoid cream. 

6. Stroke victims 

Cannabis and stroke victims is an interesting topic of study for many researchers, some of whom contend the drug can "shrink" the damaged area of the brain. 

Doctors, who tested the drug on mice, rats and monkeys, believe the chemical "shows promise as a neuroprotective treatment for stroke”, according to the Huffington Post.

7. PTSD

Advocates have argued that marijuana can provide immense relief for patients, specifically veterans, who suffer from PTSD. In states like New Mexico, "medical marijuana is legally prescribed for PTSD". 

A study conducted by the University of Haifa fond that marijuana helped block the "development" and progression of PTSD in rats. But, researchers explain, that there is a critical window of what marijuana can do. 

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"Tilray has flowered into a global leader and GMP-certified cannabis researcher, cultivator, processor and distributor," Mike Grondahl, an analyst at NorthLand Securities in Minneapolis, said in a note to clients last month.

"We believe Tilray has positioned itself well to capture Canada’s upcoming adult-use market share by leveraging its high-grade, high-potency pharmaceutical reputation."

Other cannabis companies like Canopy Growth, Cronos Group, and Aurora Cannabis were up between 2% and 3% in pre-market trading. 

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