BIG BRANDS KEY CONTENDERS FOR THE BILLION-DOLLAR CBD BEAUTY OPPORTUNITY
Driven by cannabidiol’s (CBD) wellness and cosmetic benefits, the U.S. CBD Beauty market is expected to grow to $1 billion+ in annual sales by 2025. Overall CBD sales in the U.S. are expected to grow from $1.8 billion in 2018 to $20 billion+ by 2024, according to BDS Analytics. Within this market, the beauty and skincare segment – which is not subject to regulatory restrictions – is fast-emerging as a key category that investors should monitor. This is because U.S. sales of CBD beauty products are expected to grow from $710 million in 2018 to over $1 billion by 2025, and these products can cannibalize 10% of global skincare product sales ($180 billion+) over the long term, according to a report by Prohibition Partners and our analysis. The key driver of this growth is the claim that CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory which helps treat acne, sensitive skin, eczema, psoriasis, and rashes. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-pollution properties. As a result, it is gaining acceptance as a natural ingredient in cosmetic formulations with skincare being the largest category for CBD-based oils, creams, serums, and mists. Other categories that are expected to see an increase in adoption over the next five years are CBD-infused nourishing and hydrating makeup, haircare products, and bath/body products offering additional wellbeing benefits to calm, relax, and soothe muscles, and promote sleep.
Unlike other cannabis segments, traditional players – brands and retailers – have already entered the CBD Beauty segment. Tying in with the growing demand for holistic and health-aligned beauty products focused on repair, protection, and therapy, some of the biggest beauty brands have already launched their CBD products. Key among them is Estée Lauder (EL) which is present in this market through its Origins Hello Calm face mask containing cannabis sativa seed oil from hemp. L’Oreal (EPA:OR) entered the market through its Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate, which is formulated to reduce skin redness, calm the feeling of stressed skin, and help strengthen the skin’s barrier. It expanded its footprint in June 2019 with the launch of Bare With Me, its first hemp-based beauty line under the NYX brand. Consumer major Unilever (LON:ULVR) is also present in this market through its Murad’s Hemp Serum which is meant for the face and eyes and helps combat signs of stress-induced aging. While these products are not major revenue contributors for these brands yet, they signal the intent of beauty majors to capture a share of the CBD market as the regulatory environment becomes more certain. Currently, there are no industry standards for monitoring the quality and strength of CBD within cosmetics products. As a result, labeling and messaging is open to interpretation and is thus inviting scrutiny from regulators like the U.S. FDA. Traditional retailers have also entered this space, starting with the LMVH-owned Sephora which has a specially curated section entirely dedicated to CBD products in its stores. Ulta Beauty (ULTA) – another key beauty retailer – added Cannuka, its first-ever CBD skincare brand last year and product reviews on its e-portal suggest that consumers are happy with their purchases. Other key retailers selling CBD cosmetics in select U.S. states are CVS (CVS), Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom (JWN), Walgreens (WBA), and Walmart (WMT), showing the growing consumer appetite for CBD beauty products.
For investors seeking pureplay CBD exposure, Hora Skin Care and Milk Makeup are among the key brands to watch. Los Angeles-based Hora has succeeded in incorporating CBD into essential skincare products, most notably through its CBD-infused super-serum which uses eight super ingredients, including vitamins A and C, rosehip oil, argan oil, and CBD, to protect, hydrate, and regenerate all skin types, and is among the most popular CBD cosmetics brands. New York-based Milk Makeup – focused on cruelty-free, paraben-free, and 100% vegan products – owns Kush High Volume Mascara which uses cannabis oil, an alternative to beeswax, as a key ingredient. Another private brand to monitor is KHUS+KHUS whose Sen Face Serum includes endocannabinoid hemp extract with highly regarded Ayurvedic and Western botanicals and resins for optimal skin nutrition. Given the rapid growth in the market, we expect competition (public as well private players) to heat up in the next few years as brands that are able to create trust in the mind of consumers and regulators are likely to emerge as the long-term winners.
STATE AND REGULATORY NEWS
U.S. legal cannabis sales reach $13.6 billion in 2019. Overall sales in the legalized cannabis industry in the U.S. were expected to hit $13.6 billion in 2019, a 32% increase of the 2018 total of $10.3 billion, according to New Frontier Data. Total combined legal sales in the states allowing medical marijuana and adult-use marijuana are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 14%, reaching $30 billion by 2025. While total sales of illicit cannabis nationwide were worth an estimated $64.3 billion in 2018, projections call for the U.S. illicit market to decline by nearly $7 billion (11%) by 2025. Read More (Arkansas Business)
Illinois sells $1 million in legal cannabis—per day. Just two months into adult-use legalization and Illinois dispensaries are selling more than a million dollars of legal cannabis—per day. That number is based off revenue from steep taxes on legal sales. The state reported $10 million in cannabis tax revenue for the month of January, Gov. JB Pritzker’s office reported February 24. The report shows how legalization is off to a roaring start in the Land of Lincoln. Robust marijuana sales started January 1, 2020 to tens of thousands of state residents and tourists who braved freezing pre-dawn temperatures and hours-long lines to smoke a piece of state history. Long lines continued for days as flowers and vapes supplies quickly ran low. Some stores closed to recreational consumers, but kept serving medical patients. The result? Over $39 million in taxed, tested cannabis transactions; instead of street sales. Those sales generated $7.3 million in cannabis tax revenue, plus $3.1 million in retail sales tax revenue for the month of January. Read More (Leafly)
Maine: Adult-use cannabis sales are finally in sight. Three years, four months, and six days after Maine voters passed a ballot measure to legalize adult-use cannabis in November 2016, the state’s first batch of conditional licenses for cannabis businesses have finally been issued. State regulators expect retail sales to begin this summer. A total of thirty one conditional licenses will go to sixteen cannabis stores, ten cultivation facilities, four product-manufacturing facilities, and one nursery. But Mainers can’t just drive down the road to a local shop just yet—a retail launch date has not been set, and a series of steps that business owners must take before they open their doors to the public still remain.” Read More (Cannabis Wire)
California passes $1 billion in cannabis tax revenue two years after launching legal market. California has raised $1 billion in cannabis tax revenue since the industry kicked into gear in January 2018, according to figures recently released by the state. The bulk of that $1.03 billion in tax money, after covering regulatory costs, has been spent on programs such as child care for low income families, cannabis research, public safety grants and cleaning up public lands harmed by illegal marijuana grows. In 2016, when California voters approved the legalization of recreational cannabis, officials projected that once the industry was mature it would generate $1 billion a year in taxes. Though growth has been slower than expected, and legal operators continue to be hurt by the persistence of the illicit cannabis market, cannabis tax revenues have been rising, from $72.6 million in the first three months of legalized sales in 2018 to $172.7 million in the last three months of 2019. If that growth rate holds steady in this third year, the industry will hit $1 billion in annual tax revenue in 2020. Read More (The Orange County Register)
Cannabis sales and delivery boosted in L.A. to “ease minds” about coronavirus. As the coronavirus spreads in California, cannabis businesses including Lowell Farms, Caliva, Sweet Flower, and Sherbinskis say the demand is high: “People are stocking up”. A rep for Lowell Farms — the Miley Cyrus-loved label that’s behind L.A.’s Cannabis Cafe — tells The Hollywood Reporter pre-roll sales have seen “a slight uptick, potentially due to calming effect of cannabis and benefits of assisting anxiety”. The Sherbinskis dispensary on Fairfax, which has partnered with Post Malone in the past, is having its best week ever in sales and delivery is busier “than ever before,” the shop reports. As for Caliva (Jay-Z is its chief brand strategist), its delivery business is seeing double-digit growth in March so far. Read More (Hollywood Reporter)
Coronavirus spikes demand for cannabis delivery as people stockpile products. While the data for the month is still being collected, cannabis companies across the country have confirmed to Green Entrepreneur a rise in sales. Some theories as to why: Many consumers are stockpiling products perhaps because, much like toilet paper, cannabis goes pretty quickly. In addition, consumers are using cannabis to deal with the mounting anxiety and potentially trauma-triggering fears that a pandemic brings with it. “We’ve seen a slight increase in sales over the last two weeks as news of COVID-19’s impact on our community continues to spread,” says Amanda Denz, co-founder and CEO at Sava, a San Francisco-based delivery company that caters to the northern region of the state. “While our average order value usually holds pretty steady, we’ve seen an increase to that as well in March. Anecdotally, we’re noticing people buying multiples of the same item, but haven’t fully digested the data from March yet, as the month is still ongoing.” Read More (Green Entrepreneur)
Marijuana and liquor sales rise as Americans self-isolate from coronavirus. In the intersection of the COVID-19 outbreak and marijuana businesses across the U.S., two different stories have emerged. At the top of the pecking order, major cannabis players aren’t looking so swell. Entire growth strategies have been scrapped, thanks to disruptions in supply chains and dropping stock market valuation. Raising capital was already difficult for marijuana businesses as of late, and investors could wait to make moves until the market stabilizes. On the other hand, marijuana dispensaries and stores can’t complain. The Fresh Toast contacted several stores in Washington’s Puget Sound to better understand how the coronavirus had affected sales. A Snohomish County resident in Washington received the first positive test for the coronavirus in the U.S. and, by some accounts, the state is suffering among the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the country. None of that, however, has stopped residents from stocking up on marijuana. Read More (The Fresh Toast)
Wholesale cannabis flower prices in Massachusetts climb on mounting demand, sluggish supply. Prices for wholesale cannabis flower grown for Massachusetts’ recreational market are some of the highest in the nation, as the state’s producers slowly ramp up production to meet roaring demand. As regulators gradually add more marijuana retail stores, supply could become even further strained before production facilities are built out to full capacity and catch up to the appetite for adult-use products. That means prices likely haven’t hit an upper limit. Marijuana business owners in the state report pounds of wholesale cannabis flower are selling for: Premium-quality indoor-grown: $4,200 ($3,500 in 2019), Average-quality indoor-grown: $3,800 ($2,800 in 2019). Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
In wake of coronavirus, cannabis firms look for packaging outside of China. With factories in China shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, some marijuana companies have turned to manufacturers in the U.S., India and Mexico to source packaging for their products. For example, Cleveland-based Grove Bags has seen such a big spike in its business since the coronavirus outbreak that it’s had to turn business away. KushCo Holdings (KSHB), which provides ancillary products and services to the state-legal cannabis and CBD industry, is exploring packaging options in the U.S., Taiwan and India. KushCo had started looking beyond China for packaging when President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese goods, said Arun Kurichety, the executive vice president and general counsel of the Cypress, California-based company. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
January cannabis sales advance despite weakness in pre-rolls. During January, the fifth month after the onset of the vaping crisis, sales across the six markets totaled $612.2 million, up 0.8% from December. Overall sales growth from a year ago among the five Western markets ranged from 8% in California to as high as 40% in Arizona. Concentrates, which represented 24-34% of sales by market, have improved from recent months but remain below the 26-38% in August. The big story of the month was the decline in pre-rolls sequentially, with Arizona declining 10%, California falling 5%, Colorado dropping 7%, and Nevada and Oregon declining 1%. Pre-rolls had benefited from the decline in vape pens in late 2019. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)
Large cannabis operators positioned to dominate potential Arizona recreational cannabis market, shut out small businesses. Arizona’s fast-growing, roughly $750 million a year medical marijuana market was fortified by multistate operators (MSOs) that moved into the market and invigorated lackluster operations, cannabis experts say. But some experts worry that the industry-backed recreational cannabis ballot initiative – the Smart and Safe Arizona Act – favors existing MMJ license holders and would shut out small businesses, which would enable large MSOs to dominate. According to news releases and securities filings, at least seven MSOs have gained or expanded footholds in Arizona’s MMJ market since February 2019, including: Illinois-based Cresco Labs (CRLBF), Massachusetts-based Curaleaf (CURLF), Arizona-based 4Front Holdings, Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation (HRVSF), New York-based iAnthus Capital Holdings (ITHUF), California-based MedMen Enterprises (MMNFF), and Minneapolis-based Vireo Health (VREO-CA). Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
U.S. Cannabis Spot Index up 1.1% to $1,404 per pound, March forward unchanged at $1,435 per pound. The simple average (non-volume weighted) price increased $45 to $1,617 per pound, with 68% of transactions (one standard deviation) in the $866 to $2,369 per pound range. The average reported deal size increased to 2.1 pounds. In grams, the Spot price was $3.10 and the simple average price was $3.57. The average reported forward deal size was 38 pounds. The proportion of forward deals for outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor-grown flower was 48%, 36%, and 16% of forward arrangements, respectively. Read More (Cannabis Benchmarks)
Number of cannabis retail stores in Ontario grows to 40. According to Cannabis Benchmarks, there are 40 active stores in Canada’s most populous province. This is a 29% increase from last month, but still only accounts for 5% of the 807 stores open across Canada. Ontario has had the slowest roll out of stores among all provinces, especially considering the vast market it could be serving. All Canadian licensed producers (LPs) have blamed the sluggish roll out of retail stores in Ontario as the major reason for their lagging financial performance. With immense pressure from the public and the major LPs, the provincial government finally acted late last year by abandoning the lottery system for awarding new retail licenses. This was a positive move for the industry as Ontario’s slow roll out of retail shops had depressed legal cannabis sales and kept customers going back to illegal sources. Read More (Cannabis Benchmarks)
Harvest Health confirms $85.8 million Have A Heart marijuana deal. Harvest Health & Recreation (HRVSF), the Arizona-based multistate cannabis operator, confirmed its $85.8 million plans to acquire Interurban Capital Group, owners of the Seattle-based Have a Heart dispensary company. The company first announced its intention to acquire Have A Heart in January. That same month, Harvest said it was terminating its planned acquisition of Falcon International. Meanwhile, Harvest also announced the resignation of Jason Vedadi, its executive chairman. His departure is part of the company’s “ongoing efforts to create long-term shareholder value,” Harvest said in a news release. Vedadi will remain at Harvest as a strategic adviser, however. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Innovative Industrial Properties adds Parallel as new tenant with $35 million Florida cannabis cultivation facility acquisition. Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR) announced that it closed on the acquisition of a property in Wimauma, Florida, which comprises approximately 373,000 square feet of industrial and greenhouse space, from an affiliate of Parallel, a leading multi-state cannabis company with operations in Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada and Texas. Parallel is the corporate parent company to Surterra Wellness, a market leader and one of the original licensed vertical operators in Florida, with a rapidly growing footprint that includes 39 retail dispensaries across the state and multiple industrial-scale cultivation, production and research facilities. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)
Cannabis edibles maker Wana Brands expands into Canada. One of the largest U.S. edibles makers, Colorado-based Wana Brands, has expanded into the Canadian market through a license agreement with Indiva Limited (NDVAF). Under terms of the agreement, London, Ontario-based Indiva will have the exclusive rights to produce and distribute Wana products in Canada. The expansion into Canada – Wana’s first market outside the U.S. – paves the way for the company’s expansion into other international markets, Wana CEO Nancy Whiteman said in a news release. Whiteman said the company has been searching for the past two years for the “perfect Canadian partner.” Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Zenabis to sell cannabis facility, lays off one quarter of workforce. Zenabis Global (ZBISF) laid off almost a quarter of its workforce and plans to sell one of its cultivation and processing facilities in an effort to become cash flow positive this year, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company said. Zenabis cut its head office personnel by 33% and its overall workforce by 22%. It also announced plans to sell its 25,000-square-foot facility in Delta, British Columbia. The building is federally licensed for cultivation, processing and sales. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
What cannabis companies can learn from Canopy’s capacity cuts. Canopy Growth’s (CGC) announced production cuts could help ease the Canada’s oversupply issues as well as offer lessons for other operators on how to compete in a newer market. By shifting focus to outdoor growing, Canopy still dominates Canadian supply (it holds 27% of the licensed outdoor grow space) while reducing overall costs. Decreasing the cannabis glut in the overall market should also help to boost prices, though the announced production cuts won’t be enough to fully offset Canada’s oversupply issue. Other key takeaway for cannabis businesses: Always try to reduce cost per gram in production, regardless of how or what you grow. This will position your company to be more competitive for the long term. If you can generate your own cash from existing operations, you don’t need to worry about raising money from investors. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Charlotte’s Web expands R&D with launch of CW Labs sciences division. Charlotte’s Web Holdings (CWBHF) announced the establishment of Charlotte’s Web Labs (CW Labs), an internal division for research & development, substantially expanding on the company’s efforts around the science of hemp derived phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoid compounds. The company is placing its existing R&D team under the leadership of recently hired senior vice president of innovation, Tim Orr, who will lead CW Labs’ expanded team of a dozen external and internal research specialists based in Buffalo, New York and Boulder, Colorado. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)
Glass House Farms expands into new 355,000 square foot greenhouse space. Glass House Farms has completed its 355,000 square foot greenhouse expansion in the Carpinteria Valley, northwest of Los Angeles, bringing the company’s total greenhouse space to 505,000 square feet. The new facility marks a 34-month process, from buying the property to completing the first harvest, Glass House Group President Graham Farrar tells Cannabis Business Times. “You have this vision in your head of how things are going to work, and you build it all, invest tens of millions of dollars and three years of time, and you hope you’re right. So far, knocking on wood, six harvests in now and it looks absolutely beautiful,” he says. Read More (Cannabis Business Times)
TGOD books loss of CAD $145 million, has seven weeks of funds left. Mississauga, Ontario-based marijuana company Green Organic Dutchman’s (TGODF) net loss ballooned to CAD $145 million ($105 million) for the final three months of 2019 on impairment charges of CAD $127.7 million. That is up substantially from the previous quarter’s CAD $20 million loss. Green Organic Dutchman reported sales in Canada of only CAD $690,000 in the quarter ending December 31, 2019, while hemp-derived sales in Europe reached CAD $2.56 million. The cannabis producer’s coffers are dwindling. TGODF’s “available funds are expected to fund operations until the end of April 2020, at which time the company will require additional capital,” it said in a regulatory filing previous week. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily) and More (the deep dive)
Columbia Care reports fourth quarter and full year 2019 financial results. Columbia Care (COLXF) reported financial and operating results for its fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2019. Stand-alone fourth quarter 2019 operating highlights: 1) Adjusted revenue of $24.5 million, an increase of 123% from the prior year period; 2) Revenue of $23.2 million, an increase of 111% from the prior year period; 3) $47.5 million cash on hand as of December 31, 2019, and no debt; and 4) Received approval to commence selling flower in its Florida dispensaries. Stand-alone full year 2019 financial highlights: 1) Adjusted revenue of $78.8 million, an increase of 100% from the prior year; 2) Revenue of $77.5 million, an increase of 97% from the prior year; and 3) Adjusted EBITDA of ($46.9) million compared to ($11.1) million for the prior year. Read More (Columbia Care)
KushCo Holdings cuts $25 million revenue projection on hemp-trading platform. California-based KushCo Holdings (KSHB) is ratcheting back its hemp revenue predictions. The company told investors that it’s retracting its 2020 hemp revenue guidance of $25 million. The announcement came as the firm announced it will miss this quarter’s revenue estimates. The company cited a “slower-than-anticipated rollout of its hemp trading business” as one of several reasons for the miss this quarter. KushCo had been projecting $25 million in revenue from the hemp trading platform, called KushCommodities. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
For cannabis companies, coronavirus threatens to smoke cash flows. In a world suddenly disrupted by coronavirus (COVID-19) and its fallout — anxiety, the market free fall, increasing instances of self-quarantine and a consumer stampede every time hand sanitizer reappears on store shelves — the cannabis startup universe is no exception. “We’re in the middle of this capital crunch – this Darwin phase, we like to call it,” Morgan Paxhia, managing director of Poseidon Asset Management, told MJBiz Daily. Paxhia said that the already-tight outlook for capital in the cannabis industry is being exacerbated by the virus and could result in some companies in the category failing altogether. Read More (Forbes)
Coronavirus adds financial pressures to cannabis industry, openings for investors. As the coronavirus rattles broader stock markets around the world, it is also making it even harder for cannabis companies to raise money from investors in an already-tight funding environment. But some marijuana financial experts see a possible silver lining for investors: an opportunity to buy, or at least get a chunk of, some companies on the cheap – for those willing to open their checkbooks. At the moment, however, the cannabis investment climate is anything but favorable for companies in search of funding. Morgan Paxhia, managing director of San Francisco-based Poseidon Asset Management, said the virus – combined with the existing tight capital climate in the marijuana industry – could potentially result in some cannabis businesses going under. Read More (Green Entrepreneur)
Deals scarce in bruised cannabis sector as risk-off sentiment prevails. The pace of dealmaking in the already embattled cannabis sector is expected to slow even further, industry watchers say, as companies and investors retreat from risk amid recent turmoil in the equity markets. “Obviously when you have this level of macro pullback, it always affects risky industries like cannabis the most,” said Aaron Salz, a principal at the boutique investment firm Stoic Advisory. “I’m seeing it in real time for sure. Groups that were prepared to jump in on deals have walked away for the time being. It’s risk-off right now.” The chill comes as pot stocks, which were on a mini bull run at the beginning of the year, have since plunged in value, driven down both by coronavirus-based market fears and ongoing sector-wide challenges. Read More (Financial Post)
Tilray plans $90 million capital raise amid market turmoil. Tilray (TLRY) on March 12 announced a share offering to raise $90.4 million, which the Nanaimo, British Columbia company says will be used for general corporate purposes. Tilray priced 7.25 million class 2 common shares – and 11.75 million prefunded warrants to purchase common shares – at $4.76 per share. That is a 20% discount to the March 12 closing price of $5.95. The offering comes with additional warrants, exercisable six months after issuance at $5.95 per share, with a term of five years. The offering is expected to close March 17. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
TerrAscend Canada announces CAD $80.5 million financing arrangement with Canopy Growth Corporation. TerrAscend (TRSSF) has entered into a loan financing arrangement with Canopy Growth (CGC) in the amount of CAD $80.5 million pursuant to a secured debenture. In connection with the funding of the loan, TerrAscend has issued 17,808,975 common share purchase warrants to Canopy Growth. The net proceeds are expected to be used by TerrAscend Canada for general corporate purposes and the funding of its Canadian operations, its Arise Bioscience U.S. hemp division, international expansion and the repayment of indebtedness. Read More (Yahoo! Finance)
Vireo Health raises CAD $10.5 million. Bruce Linton, the high-profile executive chairman of multi-state cannabis operator Vireo Health (VREO-CA), invested $1 million in the Minneapolis-based company through a private placement stock offering that he organized. Linton, who was named executive chairman of Vireo last November, acquired 1.74 million of the 13.65 million units issued in the private placement. The units consist of one share and one warrant to buy a share at CAD $0.96. All told, the company raised about $7.7 million (CAD $10.5 million) through the offering. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
High Times announces trading symbol ahead of planned listing. Hightimes Holding, the owner of High Times, has announced that it has been approved for trading and has received its ticker symbol from FINRA. Upon completion of certain regulatory formalities, Hightimes will trade under the symbol “HTHC.” The company, which is presently conducting a Reg A+ IPO, has garnered over $20,000,000 in investments from more than 25,000 shareholders. The High Times organization believes the ticker HTHC, an acronym for Hightimes Holding, best identifies the company’s next chapter. The company polled its investors to decide the company’s ticker, receiving over 82% in support of the HTHC symbol. Read More (Marijuana Retail Report)
Supreme Cannabis sees valuation slip below value of outstanding debentures. It’s no secret that 2019, or even 2020 for that matter, hasn’t been very kind to that of investors within the cannabis sector. Many are currently facing losses on their positions as enthusiasm for the sector continues to wane. Investors of The Supreme Cannabis Company (SPRWF) are no exception to this rule, with their equity of choice being particularly challenged in terms of share price. Of particular note, is Supreme Cannabis has spent its time trading under a $100 million market capitalization. This is significant, given the debt that the company has amassed to get to this point. In October 2018, the company took on $100.0 million in unsecured convertible debentures, none of which has since converted. With a conversion price at $2.45 per share, debt holders need to see a 920% increase based on the current trading price of the company to even begin considering conversion. Read More (the deep dive)
U.S. House panel approves medical marijuana bills to help veterans. A key U.S. House committee on March 12 advanced a bill that would increase access to state-legal medical cannabis for military veterans, which could increase medical marijuana sales. The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved the bill, the Veterans Equal Access Act, by a 15-11 vote. The bill specifically would allow VA doctors to provide medical marijuana recommendations and opinions to veterans. Committee members also approved by a voice vote a bill called the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act that would expand MMJ research of conditions diagnosed in veterans including: Chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and opioid addiction. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
A snapshot of America’s medical marijuana market: New Hampshire. In 2019, the New Hampshire medical market generated $20 million in sales, figures that are expected to climb to $55 million in 2024, according to data from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. The state has three license holders, with each operating as vertically integrated entities per state regulations. In May 2019, state lawmakers approved HB 364, which allows qualified license holders to grow three mature plants and three immature seedlings. On February 20, the state House passed a legalization measure, 236-112. The bill now moves to the Senate. If approved, the law would not allow for the production or sales of the plant. Instead, it would permit limited home growing while also permitting the gifting of up to 3/4 of an ounce. Read More (Benzinga)
Alabama Senate passes medical cannabis bill. The Alabama Senate on March 12 passed a medical marijuana bill that would license 34 dispensaries across the state. The bill also would permit people with a doctor’s recommendation to use MMJ for 15 conditions. In addition, the measure allows medical cannabis in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products. The legislation now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives, where its fate is uncertain. The Senate approval was a moment of optimism for medical marijuana advocates who for years made little headway in the conservative-leaning state. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Work continues on Canopy Growth’s New York hemp plant despite recent closures, job cuts. Canadian-based Canopy Growth (CGC) closed two production facilities in British Columbia and laid off 500 employees there. But construction work continues on an industrial hemp processing facility Kirkwood, New York, where workers are renovating the former vacuum-cleaner production plant, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reported. Canopy Growth CEO David Klein said that closing the closing the two British Columbia facilities “is a necessary step to ensure that we maintain our leadership position for the long term.” Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
USDA approves Montana hemp plan, but state will keep pilot rules for now. Montana agriculture officials have pushed through with getting federal approval on the state’s hemp production plan. But they will still operate the 2020 production season under the existing pilot rules, which expire October 31. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Montana’s plan on March 6. The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) submitted it on January 9. But soon after applying for federal approval, Montana officials said they planned to keep operating for another year under the rules of the 2014 Farm Bill and opened applications. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
South Dakota lawmakers scrambling to settle hemp compromise. After a year-long dispute over legalizing industrial hemp in South Dakota, state lawmakers are jostling to finish work on a hemp bill that won’t provoke another veto from Gov. Kristi Noem. The latest move came when the state Senate passed a “placeholder” hemp bill on a 25-9 vote without debate, according to the Argus Leader. The bill would allow hemp production but leaves the details to be worked out later. South Dakota has just a few days left in the lawmaking term to try to overcome last year’s failed attempt to legalize hemp agriculture. Noem vetoed that measure, calling it a strategy to “make legalized marijuana inevitable.” This year, Noem says she’ll approve hemp but that lawmakers need to allocate $3.5 million for a hemp program. Noem says the money is needed because a hemp program would change the way the state enforces marijuana laws and require testing equipment, drug storage and beefed-up law enforcement. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
Bill to legalize hemp production in Idaho defeated. Idaho lawmakers defeated a measure that would have legalized hemp, leaving the state as one of three in the country that don’t allow the crop. The measure was voted down in a House committee on March 11, The Lewiston Tribune reported. Some opponents said the change could lead to marijuana legalization, while others argued that Idaho should not participate in hemp production because federal law requires states to seek approval to regulate the crop. “Hemp is a great product, but this is a bad bill,” Republican Hari Heath said. Mississippi and South Dakota, which has pending legislation, are the only two other states that haven’t authorized hemp production. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
California hemp, CBD impasse continues as manufacturers await clarity. California hemp and CBD producers were hoping for speedy action this year on a long-debated proposal to clear a path for hemp extracts in foods and drinks. But old disagreements between hemp and marijuana interests in the Golden State haven’t gone away, and a revived measure to overturn a 2018 policy to ban CBD in foods and drinks has yet to be heard by state lawmakers. The dispute is a simple one: Should hemp-derived CBD be treated like a food ingredient, or like the cannabinoids coming from higher-THC cannabis? Industry operators in California have strong opinions. Marijuana producers generally want hemp extracts like CBD to undergo the kind of purity testing used on THC-infused products. But some hemp producers fear the testing procedures laid out in the bill amount to expensive red tape. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
Another Kentucky hemp company files for bankruptcy. Another Kentucky hemp producer is seeking bankruptcy protection. Atalo Holdings cited “confounding guidance” from regulators and “unforeseen market forces” in announcing the Chapter 7 filing late March 13. Atalo chairman Andrew Graves said in a statement that the company hopes to continue operating while bankruptcy proceeds. Graves called his company “an attractive opportunity for a timely new investor seeking revenue-producing assets.” Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Three exciting trends transforming the hemp business. Here are some transformative things happening in hemp right now: 1) Regenerative agriculture – It’s a system of farming principles and practices that increase biodiversity, enrich soils, improve watersheds, and enhance ecosystem services. While these practices have been around for centuries, many of these approaches have been replaced by those that favor commercial farms with large yields. 2) Refocused farmers – For well over a year, worries about a farm crisis have rippled across rural America, touching every industry. Amid this farming crisis, many in the industry are turning to hemp in an effort to save their farms, their families, and themselves. 3) New finance opportunities – Because banks are skeptical and conservative by nature, they have guarded optimism about the hemp industry. To change this perception and make hemp mainstream, many things need to be accomplished—especially in regard to insurance products. Read More (Green Entrepreneur)
Alberta raises excise tax on cannabis vape products to nearly 45%. Alberta has announced that it will increase its excise tax on cannabis vape products to 44.3% this spring in a move that Alberta Cannabis Council Executive Director John Carle said will likely drive consumers back to an already thriving illicit market. The Alberta Cannabis Council is speaking out against the new tax, which is an additional 20% tax on all vaping products in addition to the 24.3% excise tax that Alberta has already levied on adult-use cannabis sales. Most provinces have established a 7.5% excise tax on cannabis products, Carle said, but Alberta chose to impose a 24.3% excise tax. This is in addition to the federal government’s 2.5% tax. With the additional 20% tax on vape products, Alberta is effectively imposing a 46.8% tax on those items. Read More (Cannabis Business Times) and More (Cannabis Retailer)
Ideal potency of edible products 5 mgs of THC or less, Organigram consumer research survey concludes. Organigram Holdings (OGI) has released summary findings gathered in a research project designed to learn more about Canadians’ perceptions and attitudes around cannabis edible products. The survey, conducted through the fall of 2019, queried Canadians in every province on their anticipated consumption habits following the release of ‘Cannabis 2.0’ products, and their primary wants and needs in edible products. Results revealed that Canadians’ ideal dosage for edible products is 5 mg of THC or less per serving. Other insights from the survey include: 1) About half of current non-consumers of cannabis would feel confident to purchase and try edible products, if provided information around ingredients, potency and effect; and 2) Most types of edibles are expected to be consumed in private settings, either at home or private parties. Read More (Organigram)
Tweed’s first THC-infused ready-to-drink cannabis beverage ships to Quebec. Since Cannabis Legalization 2.0 on October 17, 2019, Canopy Growth (CGC) has been preparing for the release of cannabis infused beverages to the Canadian recreational market. Now they have announced that their first SKU, Tweed Houndstooth & Soda, began shipping to Quebec on March 12, 2020. Product shipments began leaving Canopy Growth’s Regional Distribution Centre on March 12, 2020. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)
Vape sales in Ontario exceed $3.7 million. Sales of cannabis edibles and vape products in January indicated a strong demand from consumers. In particular, demand for edibles has exceeded current supply levels from licensed producers to date. Sales for edibles hit $569,000 in January. Many licensed producers are still awaiting approval of their license for edibles, so hopefully Health Canada will speed up their approvals, so more products can be sold through legal channels. “Every new product we introduce, every price drop we make, and every authorized retail store that opens strengthens the legal marketplace,” says Cheri Mara, chief commercial officer at the OCS. Read More (Cannabis Retailer)
CONSUMER AND SOCIAL TRENDS
The highest-paying jobs in the cannabis industry. To help sort out what talent is in most demand now, and pay ranges for those jobs, Denver-based cannabis recruiting firm Vangst published a salary guide that includes state-by-state job hunting tips. According to Vangst, specialized, hands-on roles (often referred to as “plant-facing” or “plant-touching” jobs) fall into four main categories: cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, and retail. As in any industry, salaries vary by geographic location, experience, and other factors. Here’s a sampling of current titles and pay ranges. Cultivation – Director of cultivation: $59,800 to $118,600; Extraction – Director of extraction: $75,000 to $119,500; Manufacturing – V.P. of manufacturing: $107,000 to $167,000; Retail – V.P. of retail: $80,000 to $152,000. Read More (Fortune)
420 Vancouver 2020 officially canceled. In a statement released March 12, it was confirmed that the 2020 edition of 420 Vancouver would officially be canceled due to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. This followed on the heels of an announcement earlier in the afternoon by provincial health officials, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and the Minister of Health Adrian Dix, that banned all gatherings and events of 250 people or more, as part of a new aggressive strategy aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus in the province. “It is with great sadness that we must announce the cancellation of 420 Vancouver 2020, due to health concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus,” confirmed the statement. Read More (Cannabis Life Network)
Cannabis cafes in Edmonton? Fire & Flower’s (FFLWF) vice president of government and stakeholder relations Nathan Mison, and Lisa Campbell, co-chair of the Cannabis Beverage Producers Alliance, talked to Edmonton city council’s community and public services committee on February 26 about creating a bylaw to allow cannabis lounges and cafes. Mison suggested that Edmonton could be a leader in the up-and-coming industry by re-skinning existing liquor consumption bylaws for cannabis. According to Campbell, it could open up opportunities for bars, restaurants, or spa services. Read More (Cannabis Retailer)
Pot shops turn to highway sponsor signs amid strict ad rules. Cannabis companies are using a loophole in Colorado’s strict limits on marijuana advertising by sponsoring state highways and putting their names on roadside signs. Currently, 51 cannabis dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers and edible producers sponsor roadways throughout the state, according to the Adopt a Highway Maintenance Corporation. Although they represent less than half of all organizations that participate in the Clean Colorado program, their reach spans about 198 miles (318 kilometers), or 66%, of the roads actively sponsored, The Denver Post reported. Read More (AP News)
Coronavirus outbreak prompts uptick in cannabis sales, including emergent delivery services. Kyle Kazan, CEO of Glass House Group in California, says that his background as a first responder is informing how he and his company are planning for uncertain times and an emergent public health crisis. Kazan says he’s watching what’s happening in the broader retail segment of commercial industries in Italy, for example, where the COVID-19 crisis is far more developed and horrific than where the U.S. stands—as of now. “Even if [businesses don’t close en masse], which I think they will, our plan is always for the extreme,” Kazan says. “If that happens, or if it doesn’t happen, then people are going to come in in a lot less numbers, but they’re still going to want to use cannabis. So, we’re moving very, very quickly to ramp up our delivery.” Read More (Cannabis Business Times)
Major German drugstore stocks CBD supplements and topicals in 2,200 stores. A German CBD oil manufacturer has launched three products at one of Germany’s main drugstore chains. CannaCare Health GmbH said its CANOBO products hit the shelves at 2,200 branches of ROSSMANN drugstore across Germany in February 2020. The products include two full-spectrum CBD nutritional supplements at concentrations of 2.75% and 5% and a topical sport recovery gel. Frank Otto, CannaCare Health’s majority shareholder, credited the company’s extensive testing and certification process with the ROSSMANN deal. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
Germany launches application process for distribution of domestically produced cannabis flower. Germany is looking for a distributor to service the government’s cannabis agency. The winning company will be responsible for shipping all domestically produced medical cannabis flower to pharmacies. The requirements and awarding criteria for the post indicate that companies with experience distributing narcotic drugs – and those able to offer a low price for their services – will have the highest chances of winning. No cannabis-specific experience is required. The deadline to submit the applications, which must be filed electronically, is April 28. The winner will provide the services from September 2020 until the end of 2025, at the latest. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Australia to increase scrutiny of imported medical cannabis. The regulatory body for therapeutic goods in Australia plans to expand the number of quality inspections involving imported medical cannabis in the coming months. Over 90% of prescriptions and approvals are being supplied by imported products, industry group Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA) previously told Marijuana Business Daily. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) says applications for medical cannabis authorizations have risen to some 3,000 per month. The TGA is vowing to test a larger number of products for compliance with the Therapeutic Goods Order No. 93 (Standard for Medicinal Cannabis, TGO 93), it said in a notice last week. he audits will include laboratory testing to verify that cannabinoid content is consistent with product declarations. The TGA says importers and suppliers of medical cannabis products are legally responsible for declaring and ensuring conformity with TGO 93. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Investment in European CBD and cannabis. Unlike in Canada’s nationwide cannabis program or the patchwork of legalized states in the U.S., in Europe no consistent cannabis market exists. In reality, the market is regionally fragmented, both by country and by products themselves. In navigating that, one can discern three distinct markets taking shape in Europe: CBD/Wellness – In a space targeting consumers seeking ways to feel better (with balms, skin creams, etc.), there is no recognizable market leader or strong brands known across the continent, though there are a few candidates vying for attention. Medical Cannabis – much like in North America, the segment covers a wide range of various conditions, and several non-European companies are well positioned to take advantage of the growing patient market. Pharmaceutical cannabis – the coming sector remains a few years off, but will end up being supported and dominated by Big Pharma players. Read More (New Frontier Data)
Less than a third of U.K. consumers are confident in CBD labelling, poll finds. Few people in the U.K. appear to have confidence in the regulation of CBD products, a new survey has found. Less than a third of respondents (29 percent) said they were confident that CBD products are labelled with the correct information and properly tested by a regulatory authority. Until recently, the U.K.’s booming CBD market had largely outpaced official regulation. But in February, the country’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) stepped in and announced that CBD products will be “taken off the shelves” by March 2021 if they haven’t gained regulatory approval. Read More (Analytical Cannabis)
Lebanon set to legalize medical, industrial cannabis cultivation. Lebanon’s parliament is set to vote on a law that would legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medical and industrial use in an effort to boost its crippled economy and curb illicit production of the psychoactive plant. The draft law, which has been endorsed by parliamentary committees and is now headed for a final vote, would only affect cannabis that contains less than one percent of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabidinol, or THC. Lebanon has cultivated the plant for at least 100 years and produces large amounts of hashish, a sticky, sweet-smelling derivative of the cannabis plant that looks like chocolate. Though illegal to produce, sell or use, it is widely available locally and is also illegally exported. Read More (Al Jazeera)
Coming cannabis bill is good signal for South African hemp. While South African officials have said hemp may be approved as an agricultural crop as soon as May this year, some stakeholders remain skeptical of the government’s plans, questioning proposed allowable THC levels and a strategy to rely on imported seeds critics say are ill-suited to the South African environment. Nomakhosazana Meth, a member of the Executive Council of the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, said recently that a cannabis bill would be brought to parliament as soon as April this year, with hemp to be classified as an agricultural crop the following month. She noted that the gap between the cannabis industry and the government is “finally closing.” Read More (Hemp Today)
CBD versus viruses: What do we really know? Amid the swirl of information or misinformation being aired and shared regarding the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been discussion about whether cannabinoids — mostly CBD — has the capacity to kill the virus or stop its contagion. Is there any truth to such claims? First things first: Cannabinoids have been found to be potent antimicrobials, meaning they work well against many types of bacteria and fungus, with the main “killer app” (pun intended) being the demonstration that cannabinoids can fight superbugs like MRSA and many common fungal infections including Candida. Second, cannabinoids do help certain types of viral infections. Part of the problem is that in some cases specific cannabinoids can in fact help against certain types of viruses, at least in vitro. Some studies have forwarded claims of efficacy in mice or monkeys. Unfortunately, no such studies have been allowed on humans, and the number of viruses studied were small and very specific to types of viruses that are not the novel coronavirus now causing casualties and concern. Read More (New Frontier Data)
Will new biosynthetic technology advance or doom the cannabis industry? In the not-too-distant future, the CBD or THC you consume when you swallow an infused edible or tincture may not be derived from cannabis at all. Your daily dose of cannabinoids might be grown in a laboratory instead of a greenhouse. Kevin Chen, CEO and co-founder of Hyasynth Bio, describes the Montreal-based start-up as “focused on engineering strains of yeast to produce the active compounds of cannabis without having to grow plants.” “We’re still in the research and development stage, but we hope to sell to companies bringing CBD to market,” Chen says. “We expect to see food and beverage companies get into this. There are several advantages to industrial fermentation, including efficiency gain, especially with larger scale production. It’s a lot faster and easier for a higher yield.” He notes that lactic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and many antibiotics are already produced by this method. Read More (Project CBD)
Willow Biosciences announces cannabinoid scale-up and expedited path to commercialization. Willow Biosciences (CANSF) announced that it has achieved its first major commercial milestone by delivering a proprietary cannabinoid-producing yeast strain to its scale-up development partner, Albany Molecular Research (AMRI) to begin the process of scaling up production to commercial volumes. Willow’s successful yeast-strain engineering efforts have created multiple cannabinoid strains with promising properties that the company will use as a basis for commercialization. The company’s skilled science team were able to reach this critical step ahead of its initial expectations and combined with its partnership with AMRI, the company expects to reach its commercialization phase in the first half of 2021, six months sooner than originally expected. Read More (Newswire)
Coronavirus spread prompts cannabis research event cancellations, widening a gap in the industry. The 2020 North Central Extension & Research Activity-101 (NCERA-101) Annual Meeting, which was scheduled for March 15-18, has been postponed because of the coronavirus. The event is a gathering of minds in controlled environment agriculture (CEA). NCERA-101 was scheduled to be held at the Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel in Tucson, Ariz., and will still take place there on a new date. It will likely be sometime in September, said Carole Saravitz, who is a research associate professor and the director of North Carolina State University’s Phytotron plant research facility, as well as a member of NCERA-101. Read More (Cannabis Business Times)
What are full-spectrum cannabis extracts and how are they made? Full-spectrum extracts, often called whole plant extracts, maintain the full profile of the cannabis plant. They contain a variety of cannabinoids, including THC, THCa, CBD, CBDa, CBG, and CBN, as well as terpenes and other compounds such as flavonoids, proteins, phenols, sterols, and esters. These extracts are desirable for several reasons. From an experiential standpoint, they replicate the flavor and aroma profile of the plant. From a therapeutic or medicinal standpoint, you get the full benefits of the entourage effect. Full-spectrum extracts are notoriously difficult to produce. While you need to keep as many of the desirable compounds as possible, you also want to rid the extract of unnecessary components. Some extraction methods filter the latter out using a variety of refinement techniques. Read More (Leafly)
Lift and Grow system is lifting profits for cannabis companies. Lift and Grow of suburban Minneapolis designs and manufactures industrial-scale, mobile lighting and storage systems that can be raised or lowered as needed. Their adjustable lighting systems are perfect for indoor and greenhouse cannabis growers, who require regular and precise relocation of lights to ensure plants are receiving optimal levels of illumination at all times. Cannabis truly is a natural fit for Lift and Grow technology. Precise control of illumination and artificial lighting is an absolute requirement in indoor marijuana growing, and also in greenhouses where natural light is not available on a 24-hour basis. Read More (Cannabis Tech)
LEGAL & IP
Harvest Health settles Ohio medical marijuana dispute for $500,000. Multistate marijuana operator Harvest Health & Recreation (HRVSF) must pay a $500,000 to settle a social equity misrepresentation charge from Ohio regulators before it can open three medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. The penalty, one of the largest ever assessed to a marijuana operation in Ohio, settles the allegation that Arizona-based Harvest misrepresented the minority ownership of a medical cannabis operation in the state, The (Cincinnati) Enquirer reported. Harvest officials said last July they were working with Ohio regulators to resolve the allegations. Harvest of Ohio put on its dispensary application that Ariane Kirkpatrick, a locally based African-American businesswoman, controlled and owned 51% of the company. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Cannabis product liability: How to protect your business from catastrophe. Product liability claims are burdensome, but fortunately cannabis businesses now have the ability to protect against the catastrophic losses associated with these lawsuits. It is important to note, however, that not all standard product liability insurance policies provide this coverage. Business owners need to understand that in regards to products sold, the legal theory of “strict liability” may apply—meaning that everyone in the chain of distribution is considered liable, and thus if named in a suit, all parties have to lawyer up and show up in court. The first step in managing this exposure is to obtain a solid policy providing the carrier’s Duty to Defend. Such a policy must also be free from exclusions that would strip out this very necessary coverage. Read More (Cannabis Business Times)
Advice on 280E for marijuana executives: Settle in lieu of fighting with the IRS. As a former federal commissioned officer of the Internal Revenue Service, here is William Fowler’s advice for cannabis companies grappling with section 280E of the U.S. tax code: Settle with the IRS rather than going to battle in U.S. Tax Court. Here’s why: Recently, several cannabis companies have faced huge fines for issues related to 280E, which bars standard business tax deductions for any company dealing with a controlled substance. Unfortunately, each cannabis case that goes forward typically ends up losing in some way. The result is a further tightening of 280E, new precedents in case law and higher legal hurdles to overcome – not to mention the huge legal fees paid in pursuit of overcoming IRS decisions. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Washington state to allow social equity applicants exclusive access to revoked cannabis licenses. Social equity applicants for marijuana businesses in Washington state will be able to apply exclusively for a number of revoked cannabis retail licenses after legislators passed a law March 10 aimed at boosting the participation of minorities in the industry. Gov. Jay Inslee is now due to sign the bill into law. The current state legislative session ends March 12. According to the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board, a total of 34 such licenses will become available to members of the community disproportionately impacted by – as the bill states – “the enforcement of cannabis-related laws” during state prohibition. The licenses, which will cost $1,480 with an application fee of $250, will be available from December 1, 2020 until July 1, 2028. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
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