SAFE BANKING ACT: ONE STEP CLOSER TO REALITY

The passage of the SAFE Banking Act by the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill suggests that cannabis legalization is moving from being a socio-political issue to an economic one. On Friday May 14, the U.S. House of Representatives passed – by a 208-199 margin – the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act aimed at alleviating the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. economy. Included in the HEROES Act is the SAFE Banking Act that, if passed by the Senate, will allow U.S. banks to serve state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of punishment arising from the illegal status of marijuana at the federal level. A closer look at the HEROES Act shows that the word “cannabis” is mentioned 68 times in the bill – more than the 52 mentions of the word “jobs” and 4x the word “hire” (17 mentions). We believe this reflects the growing economic importance of cannabis as federal and state governments facing mounting fiscal deficits are likely to adopt a more accommodative stance toward the marijuana industry that can actually bring in tax dollars in the current economic climate versus others that are in dire need of fiscal stimulus and will likely drain state coffers in the near-to-medium term. We highlighted in our April 15 Stash report that federal legalization of cannabis can bring in a much-needed ~$175 billion in tax revenue through 2025 and will act as the biggest incentive to legalize marijuana. The passage of the SAFE Banking Act by the House last week only underscores that economic reality in our view.

This move is in line with the designation of cannabis as an essential industry and aims to bridge the state-federal gap on legalization that currently acts as a limiting factor for the growth of the U.S. cannabis industry. Even though many state governments have declared cannabis as an essential product during the current pandemic, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug at the federal level and banks that service cannabis businesses can be prosecuted. This forces U.S. cannabis operators, especially small ones, to operate their business only on cash which exposes them to security and theft risks. Cash-only operations not only involve more human contact (a key source of risk during COVID-19) but also act as a playground for tax evasion, thus reducing the competitiveness of legal businesses that pay full taxes. The existing restrictions also mean that U.S. operators have to raise capital from foreign jurisdictions like Canada and pay higher interest rates on debt, which cuts into their profitability. The SAFE Banking Act aims to change all this by allowing cannabis businesses to open federally insured bank accounts from which they could manage deposits, and process paychecks, payments, and credit cards. Increased access to capital under the SAFE Banking act would mean reduced dependence of cannabis businesses on foreign capital and will help accelerate the $50 billion illicit-to-legal transition of the U.S. cannabis industry.

Notwithstanding the challenges that it will face in the Senate, we believe the SAFE Banking Act could become a reality as early as 2021. The Republican-dominated Senate has already indicated that it is unlikely to pass the HEROES Act and thus the SAFE Banking Act as it stands, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling it a “totally unserious effort” and criticizing the cannabis banking provision. This is in line with our expectations that the Act is unlikely to pass in the Senate this year. However, the need to provide banking services to the cannabis industry is gathering more bipartisan support with each passing day. As of now, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, 20 state governors, 38 attorneys general, the National Association of State Treasurers, 25 state banking regulators, and bank trade associations from all 50 states are among those who have voiced support for the Act. The bipartisan support was also evident in the 321-103 vote to pass the Act in the House in September 2019. Such support, coupled with the country’s current economic needs, means that the SAFE Banking Act is likely to see the light of day in some form over the next 12-to-18 months, in what will be a watershed moment and a key inflection point for the cannabis industry and its investors.

Chart 1: Cannabis Finds More Mentions In the $3 Trillion HEROES Act Than the Words “Jobs” and “Hire”  Source: Intro-Blue

Chart 1: Cannabis Finds More Mentions In the $3 Trillion HEROES Act Than the Words “Jobs” and “Hire”
Source: Intro-Blue

CANNA NEWS

COVID-19

Pot industry has best April yet, but COVID-19 hampers growth. As the smoke clears from April and we start to see a phased reopening of America state by state, it looks like last month will be the most complete set of data to see how the cannabis industry was impacted by the prolonged lockdown. April did not have as strong a growth rate as seen in recent years; Headset said in April that California’s adult-use marketplace saw $300 million in sales. That was up over $90 million from 2019, and three times what the industry did in 2018. LeafLink, a business-to-business e-commerce wholesale marketplace that connects retailers and brands, said that while overall sales on their site grew by 10.63 percent month-over-month during April 2019, sales decreased by 4.02 percent month-over-month during April 2020. Read More (L.A. Weekly)

COVID-19 is not hurting the cannabis industry. Canaccord Genuity held its fourth annual cannabis conference last week and also released a report on May 13 recapping the top themes and highlighting several companies. Canaccord highlighted some of the key themes that were discussed at the conference. Luckily, COVID-19 has not been as bad for cannabis as it has been for other industries. Supply chains appear to be uninterrupted due to cannabis being named an essential service. Social distancing measure and stay-at-home directives did cause many operators to experience a spike in demand in March as consumers stocked up. Many companies actually found a silver lining in the virus cloud as many were forced to focus on various parts of their operations in order to identify areas that could be improved for efficiency. Read More (Real Money)

Industry executives share insights on sales trends as states reopen. Many states are lifting coronavirus restrictions, signaling new opportunities and challenges for the industry, if not a complete return to “normal.” In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that salons, barbershops and spas could reopen on Friday, April 24, the same day he permitted elective surgeries to resume. As Oklahoma’s economy opens back up, dispensary Likewise cannabis has seen more patients coming inside its stores instead of utilizing curbside pickup and drive-thru services, said Corbin Wyatt, CEO. This follows the governor’s announcement of a “safer-at-home order” for “vulnerable populations” on March 24. Read More (Cannabis Dispensary Mag)

Cannabis employees are in high demand during economic crash. Coronavirus hasn’t kept some cannabis companies down: They’re staffing up even as unemployment in many other sectors soars. Weed businesses around the country that were in strong financial shape heading into the pandemic are hiring additional workers in response to robust demand for marijuana products. Almost all states have allowed pot shops to remain open, even though vast swaths of the retail economy have been shuttered for weeks. Read More (Politico)

Congress could save 10,000+ cannabis jobs with access to stimulus funds. A new national survey conducted by Leafly and the National Cannabis Roundtable has found that tens of thousands of jobs could be saved if Congress were to allow federal COVID-19 stimulus funds to flow through to state-legal companies. The survey of 484 cannabis retailers, growers, processors, and hardware and service providers was conducted across all legal states between April 20 and May 5, 2020. Of those companies, 85% said they would be able to save jobs with access to stimulus money, and 30% said they will go out of business without access. Read More (Leafly)

Chart 2: COVID Relief for Cannabis Would Save Thousands of American Jobs  Source: Intro-Blue, Leafly, National Cannabis Roundtable

Chart 2: COVID Relief for Cannabis Would Save Thousands of American Jobs
Source: Intro-Blue, Leafly, National Cannabis Roundtable

Marijuana firms aim to leverage ‘essential business’ status amid COVID-19 economic slide. Cannabis businesses declared essential during the coronavirus outbreak are hoping to leverage newly allowed flexibility such as curbside pickup and home delivery into permanent ways of doing business. They also believe this is an ideal opportunity to seek additional regulatory relief and other reforms to help fend off challenges related to the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19. The emboldened marijuana industry also hopes to accelerate legalization efforts, especially given that states are becoming financially strapped amid economic shutdowns related to coronavirus. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

California governor delays proposed cannabis regulatory changes. The coronavirus has further derailed systemic reforms to the California regulatory agencies that oversee the state’s marijuana industry under a revised state budget plan. In the budget proposal released May 14, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that his previously announced goals – merging the state’s three regulatory agencies and streamlining marijuana tax collections – would have to be put off until next year because of complications stemming from the coronavirus. During his January announcement, the governor did not release specific details of his proposals except to unveil the name of a proposed combined regulatory agency – the Department of Cannabis Control. And, the newly revised budget summary made clear the governor’s plans won’t happen until 2021 at the earliest. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

COVID-19 delays mandatory pesticide testing for Washington state recreational cannabis. The coronavirus pandemic has scuttled government efforts in Washington state to require pesticide testing for recreational marijuana, dealing a setback to an idea that has been kicked around for several years by local industry officials and regulators. The pandemic has made it impossible for state lawmakers to conduct public hearings, so the issue has again been tabled until further notice. Some cannabis companies have taken matters into their own hands, however, and are testing their products – a development that is rare elsewhere in the marijuana industry. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

‘It’s been one fight after another’: Some cannabis companies must close while liquor stores are allowed to open. Things have never been easy for Massachusetts cannabis businesses, says Ellen Rosenfeld. “I’ve been in this over five years; it’s been one fight after another,” says Rosenfeld, president of CommCan, which is licensed by the Massachusetts government to grow and sell both recreational and medical cannabis. “Nothing’s been easy, nothing.” Less than six months after the company’s first adult-use dispensary opened its doors in Millis, Mass., it was forced to close as part of the state’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. While every other state that has legalized recreational marijuana sales has allowed retailers to continue operating in some fashion, Massachusetts is only allowing dispensaries that exclusively sell to people with medical marijuana cards to stay open. Read More (Market Watch)

Work briefly halted at Tilray’s Ontario cannabis greenhouse over COVID-19 infection. Work was temporarily suspended at a cannabis greenhouse in Ontario owned by one of Tilray’s (TLRY) subsidiaries earlier last week after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. The individual, employed through a third-party agency, had been working in a cultivation facility in Leamington run by High Park Gardens, which was acquired by Tilray last year. The agency is now caring directly for the employee, a spokeswoman for High Park told Marijuana Business Daily. “Work was temporarily suspended the evening of May 11 while we conducted thorough contact tracing, sanitation and cleaning protocols,” the spokeswoman said. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Talent database launched after Canada’s cannabis sector sheds 30% of workforce. A cannabis staffing agency in Toronto has launched a public database to connect displaced marijuana professionals with prospective employers. The initiative comes as struggling marijuana firms eliminated an estimated 2,700 positions in Canada over the past nine months – including 910 after the COVID-19 pandemic started – according to the Cannabis At Work employment agency. That’s about 30% of the industry’s workforce. Cannabis At Work launched the open source database, Cannabis Talent Help List, to help connect growing businesses with cannabis professionals looking to secure new employment. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Furloughs, layoffs, and losses: COVID-19 takes a hit on cannabis. The COVID-19 outbreak and associated quarantine have caused problems for every industry, and cannabis is no exception. After a quiet first few weeks, the initial round of layoffs, furloughs, and scaling back in planning has begun. There will almost certainly be more to come, and the long-term job prospects for those who’ve been sent home so far remain unknown. Read More (Cannabis Tech)

STATE AND REGULATORY NEWS

COVID-19 is changing the route of illicit drug flows, says UNODC report. Measures implemented by governments to curb the COVID-19 pandemic have led to drug trafficking routes by air being disrupted, along with drastic reduction or increased interdiction in trafficking routes over land. Some drug supply chains have been interrupted and traffickers are looking for alternative routes, including maritime routes, depending on the types of drugs smuggled. These are some of the findings from a report on drug market trends during COVID-19, launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Trafficking in cannabis, however, may not be affected in the same way as that of heroin or cocaine, given that its production often takes place near consumer markets and traffickers are thus less reliant on long, transregional shipments of large quantities of the drug. Read More (UNODC)

Most members of new Biden-Sanders criminal justice task force back marijuana legalization. Former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced the names of members of several new task forces they formed to explore policies in six major areas, including a criminal justice reform panel that is stacked with cannabis legalization supporters. Drug policy reform advocates have been particularly interested to learn who would comprise the criminal justice group since it was first announced last month, with some holding out hope that members will push Biden—the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee—to support marijuana legalization. Read More (Marijuana Moment)

Recreational cannabis sales smoking hot in Michigan; sales near $8 million for the week of May 4. According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, reported sales at licensed cannabis retailers totaled $7,913,312 for the May 4-10 week, the highest to-date since legal adult-use marijuana sales began last December 12. During that first week, reported retail sales kicked off at $1,629,007. Reported sales of recreational marijuana trended upward in the first couple months. But in the week prior to the March 24 start of the COVID-19 “lockdown’” — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order restricting travel, gatherings and “non-essential” businesses and workforce — they jumped nearly 23 percent from the week prior, from $4,705,378 to $5,777,599. Read More (Daily Tribune)

Colorado expects falling tourism, wages to hurt weed sales. Marijuana sales hit another record in March, according to Colorado Department of Revenue data released on May 11, with dispensaries selling more weed that month than in any previous March. But that success will be short-lived, according to a budget forecast released one day later, taking COVID-19’s economic impact into account. The May 12 report from the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting predicts that declines in tourism and worker wages across Colorado are likely to lead to a 2.7 percent dip in marijuana sales tax revenue across the state during the 2020-’21 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. Read More (Westword)

California cannabis regulators defer business license renewal fees. California’s three licensing authorities will all begin immediately deferring business license renewal fees for marijuana companies as part of the state’s coronavirus response, the agencies said in a joint news release. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control and the departments of Food and Agriculture and Public Health said licensed marijuana businesses whose permits expire between May 14 and June 30 can request that their license fees be deferred for up to 60 days. License fees already paid this year for renewals will not be refunded however, according to the release. The California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) applauded the move, calling it a “step in the right direction.” Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Maine drops adult-use marijuana residency requirement after legal challenge. Maine regulators said they will stop enforcing recreational marijuana residency requirements, a move that came after counsel determined the state is unlikely to win a legal challenge over the matter. The Wellness Connection, the largest medical marijuana company in Maine, had sued the state in March, arguing that the residency requirement violated the U.S. Constitution by favoring residents over nonresidents. Maine’s Attorney General’s Office agreed in a court stipulation filed that the regulation would no longer be enforced, according to a news release issued by the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP). “Regardless of today’s announcement, OMP will continue to work diligently to fulfill its obligations to the industry and public,” the agency’s director, Erik Gundersen, said in a statement. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Florida cannabis legalization campaign could face new legislative hurdles to secure spot on 2022 ballot. Make It Legal Florida gathered enough signatures last year to trigger a judicial review of its ballot initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state, but new laws recently enacted by Gov. Ron DeSantis could present new legislative hurdles for the campaign as it continues its efforts to secure a spot on the 2022 ballot. Make It Legal Florida, which is backed by cannabis industry stakeholders such as MedMen (MMNFF) and Parallel (formerly known as Surterra Wellness), launched efforts last fall to qualify an initiative for the 2020 ballot that would allow adults 21 and older to purchase cannabis at the state’s existing medical cannabis dispensaries (called medical marijuana treatment centers or MMTCs in Florida). Read More (Cannabis Business Times)

Top Vermont lawmaker says legal marijuana sales bill will be taken up after coronavirus response. A top lawmaker in Vermont says the legislature will reconsider a bill to legalize marijuana sales later this year, though she feels lawmakers and the administration are appropriately focused on responding to the coronavirus pandemic for now. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) was pressed on about why leaders aren’t giving more attention to the pending tax-and-regulate legislation given the revenue the state could derive and the jobs that could be created from legal cannabis sales. Read More (Marijuana Moment)

Montana’s cannabis legalization campaign launches signature drive despite COVID-19 setbacks. Several states looked poised to vote on cannabis legalization this year, and while some secured initiatives on their ballots before the coronavirus hit the U.S., a campaign in Montana was the latest to falter in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. New Approach Montana is making a comeback, however, after officially launching its statewide signature drive May 9, as Montana loosened some of its restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. “As our state reopens for business, we must also reopen for democracy,” Pepper Petersen, New Approach Montana’s political director, said in a public statement. “Our signature drive will allow Montana voters to exercise their constitutional right to a ballot initiative in a safe and responsible way.” Read More (Cannabis Dispensary Mag)

Utah marijuana dispensaries prep for drive-thrus, delivery after state signoff. The coronavirus – combined with an increase in new patient demand – has convinced Utah regulators to allow the state’s medical marijuana pharmacies to offer drive-thru windows and home delivery for customers. So far, at least two of the state’s three operational dispensaries are prepping drive-thru windows, according to Salt Lake TV station KUTV. Drive-thru service has become a growing trend in many U.S. marijuana markets during the coronavirus pandemic, as retailers have looked for ways to maintain physical distancing while serving customers. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

U.S. cannabis spot index down 1.4% to $1,323 per pound, June forward unchanged at $1,425 per pound. The simple average (non-volume weighted) price decreased $42 to $1,525 per pound, with 68% of transactions (one standard deviation) in the $783 to $2,267 per pound range. The average reported deal size decreased to 2.3 pounds. In grams, the Spot price was $2.92 and the simple average price was $3.36. The average reported forward deal size was 36 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)

Chart 3: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Spot Index  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Chart 3: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Spot Index
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

 

Chart 4: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Implied Forward Curve  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Chart 4: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Implied Forward Curve
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

 

Chart 5: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Spot Price by Medical or Recreational  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Chart 5: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Spot Price by Medical or Recreational
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Ontario Cannabis Store adding seeds to catalog to ‘breathe life into category.’ The Ontario Cannabis Store is aiming to create a “robust” regulated marketplace of seed varieties in an attempt to wrest market share from entrenched illicit sellers. The provincial wholesaler is currently onboarding seeds from two companies and is in talks with several others to bring their offerings to Canada’s largest adult-use marijuana market, OCS Senior Category Manager Peter Shearer told Marijuana Business Daily. The addition of the new seed selections – from ANC Cannabis, a micro-class license holder in Alberta, as well as British Columbia-based ProgenyBio Agricultural Services – will increase selection for consumers who currently have only one legal choice – Bakerstreet from Tweed. That product is currently out of stock. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Statistics Canada estimates 5.12 million, or 17.1%, of citizens over the age of 15 used cannabis in Q4 2019. While overall Canadian cannabis use is trending upward, consumption did not expand at a uniform rate during the survey period, but has varied from quarter-to-quarter, as the chart below illustrates. The growth can be attributed to increased accessibility and the growing normalization of cannabis as a recreational drug. Based on the current survey, Statistics Canada estimates 5.12 million, or 17.1%, of citizens over the age of 15 use cannabis. The survey shows that 490,000 more people reported using cannabis in Q4 2019 than in Q4 2018, when legal recreational cannabis sales commenced. The data also shows growth in almost every age bracket, with drops only in the youngest age group and in the 55 to 64 age group. The growth in all other age groups is further confirmation that the industry’s consumer base should expand substantially in 2020. Read More (Cannabis Benchmarks)

Chart 6: Number of Cannabis Users by Province – Canada  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Chart 6: Number of Cannabis Users by Province – Canada
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

 

Chart 7: Number of Cannabis Users by Age Group – Canada  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Chart 7: Number of Cannabis Users by Age Group – Canada
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

COMPANY NEWS

‘Turning this ship around’: Interim Aurora CEO keeps focus on 2020 profitability amid choppy waters. It is still early days, but Aurora Cannabis (ACB) appears to be steering itself toward calmer waters. Only three months since announcing a major corporate restructuring that led to the retirement of its founder and chief executive officer Terry Booth and a massive $1-billion write-down, the Canadian pot giant is showing signs of a turnaround. If it succeeds, it could place the company on track to finally achieve its long-stated goal of attaining profitability by the end of the year. “We’re turning this ship around, and it’s a big ship,” Michael Singer, Aurora’s chairman and interim CEO, said in a phone interview with BNN Bloomberg. Read More (BNN Bloomberg)

Aurora Cannabis selling massive Ontario greenhouse for half of asking price. Aurora Cannabis (ACB), deep in the red, accepted an offer for its large greenhouse in Exeter, Ontario for what appears to be approximately half of its CAD $17 million ($12.1 million) listing price, and one-third of the original purchase price. The deal comes amid a broad retreat from some unlicensed and fully licensed cannabis greenhouses in recent months by the largest Canadian producers, who overspent on cultivation space in 2017 and 2018. The Exeter sale signals that those producers may have a hard time recouping costs on the greenhouses – which can cost upwards of CAD $200 million to build – especially as cultivators turn to outdoor production to cut costs. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Canopy Growth parts ways with two senior executives. Two of Canopy Growth’s (CGC) top executives have departed the company. Dave Bigioni, chief commercial officer of recreational cannabis, left the Canadian cannabis producer, along with chief operating officer Andre Fernandez. “Both decisions were made mutually,” Jordan Sinclair, vice president of communications, confirmed in an email to Marijuana Business Daily. “Canopy has engaged an executive search firm to fill the roles of COO and CCO to lead the business forward.” Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Marijuana REIT invests $17.5 million in sale-leaseback deal. Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR), a real estate investment trust based in San Diego that specializes in sale-leaseback deals in the marijuana industry, spent $17.5 million to do such a transaction near its Southern California headquarters. IIPR bought a 70,000-square-foot facility and quickly signed a long-term lease with Kings Garden, a cannabis company based in the Coachella Valley, about 150 miles from San Diego. Kings Garden plans to use the facility to house a cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and distribution operation, according to a news release. This is the fifth leasing arrangement between IIPR and Kings Garden, the release noted. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Trulieve launches new product Blue River Rosin Cart. Trulieve Cannabis (TCNNF) announced the launch of a new product, Blue River Rosin Cart, through the successful partnership with Blue River. Blue River Rosin Cart, available in Trulieve’s 46 Florida stores via online ordering for delivery or pick up in-store or curbside, offers one of the most flavorful, terpene-rich experiences available in a cartridge similar to the experience of smoking whole-flower cannabis, resulting in a rich, flavorful experience. Read More (Extraction Magazine)

Sundial enters into agreement to sell Bridge Farm Group. Sundial Growers (SNDL) announced it has reached an agreement to sell its U.K. asset, Bridge Farm Group to a consortium of private investors that includes former management of Bridge Farm for a total consideration of approximately $90 million. As consideration for the Bridge Farm disposition, the purchaser will (i) assume $45 million of debt under Sundial’s existing $115 million term debt facility, (ii) assume the contingent consideration liabilities related to the remaining earn-out and additional share obligations under the original Bridge Farm acquisition agreement, and (iii) cancel approximately 2.7 million of Sundial common shares currently held by certain members of the purchaser. Read More (Newswire)

MediPharm Labs provides Q1 update. MediPharm Labs (MEDIF) announced that it will file its first quarter 2020 financial statements and management’s discussion and analysis for the three-month period ended March 31, 2020 on or before June 29, 2020. MediPharm Labs chief executive officer, Pat McCutcheon commented: “While the impact the global pandemic is having on the cannabis industry is disappointing, as domestic and international market conditions continue to evolve, MediPharm Labs has positioned itself well with GMP certification, advanced capabilities for new and innovative products formats and formulations, and a global supply chain to accelerate new business opportunities to drive future growth.” Read More (GlobeNewswire)

Is cannabis multistate operator Harvest Health in hot water – or just busy cutting deals? Harvest Health (HRVSF), a multistate operator with a footprint in eight states, has become one of the more high-profile marijuana companies in recent months in part because of a string of industry headlines. The business has negotiated several acquisition victories over the past year. But it’s also attracted attention for licensing challenges, scuttled deals and legal disputes that some industry experts believe could make the firm’s investors nervous. Most recently, the company was hit with two lawsuits from former employees who alleged they were forced to resign. Harvest disputes the claims. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

AgraFlora achieves pivotal licensing milestone. AgraFlora Organics International (PUFXF), which has a JV partnership with the Houweling Nurseries, received its cultivation license from Health Canada. AgraFlora has finished retrofitting phase 1 of the Houweling greenhouse, aiming to make the facility fully operational by 2021 at the latest. Bringing the total 2.2 million square feet online. The first phase will include an estimated 300,000 square feet of growing space and 100,000 square feet of post-production. Read More (the deep dive)

Ascend Wellness projects $400 million in revenue as adult-use cannabis operations scale. With $30 million in sales and $4 to $5 million in EBITDA for the first quarter, Ascend Wellness has had a strong start to the year. By the middle of next year, it is expected to have 20-plus stores, four large and cultivation sites open, which will mean a run rate of over $400 million in sales and more than $150 million in EBITDA, according to the company CEO Abner Kurtin. Turning on assets is the company’s primary goal and one of the most important metrics for investors to track, according to Kurtin. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)

EARNINGS

GTI becomes the first American cannabis operator to exceed $100 million quarterly revenue. Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF) reported its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2020. Total revenue for the first quarter 2020 increased 267.6% year-over-year and 35.4% quarter-over-quarter to $102.6 million. Quarterly revenue was driven by organic growth across the company’s consumer packaged goods and retail businesses. Net loss attributable to the company for the first quarter 2020 was $4.2 million or ($0.02) per basic and diluted share, as compared to a net loss of $14.1 million or ($0.07) per basic and diluted share for the fourth quarter 2019. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)

GrowGeneration reports $33 million revenue in Q1 and boosts outlook. GrowGeneration (GRWG) reported record revenue of $33.0 million for the Q1 2020 and record adjusted EBITDA of $2.7 million. Q1 2020 was the company’s 10th consecutive quarter of record revenue. Same store sales contributed revenue of $15.2 million for the quarter, compared to revenues of $9.6 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2019, a 58% increase. The company has raised its 2020 revenue guidance to $135-$140 million, adjusted EBITDA guidance to $12.0 Million-$14.0 Million, and GAAP pre-tax net income guidance is set at $5.5-$7.5 Million. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)

Curaleaf Generates $96.5 million revenue in Q1. Curaleaf (CURLF) reported record pro forma revenue of $147.4 million and managed revenue of $105.0 Million in 1Q20. It generated $20.0 million of record adjusted EBITDA as operations across 17 states continue to scale. The company completed acquisitions of Select and Arrow in Connecticut, securing vertical integration, and also completed negotiations to finalize the closing of the Grassroots acquisition which is expected to close in 2Q20. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)

Aurora Cannabis trims loss to CAD $137 million, says CEO search on track. Aurora Cannabis (ACB) improved its net loss to CAD $137 million ($97 million) in its third quarter, a significant improvement over the company’s CAD $1.3 billion net loss in the previous three-month period. The Alberta cannabis producer said it made $75.5 million in revenue in the three-month period ending March 31, up 35 percent from the prior quarter, while its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came to a $50.9 million loss. The company maintains it is on track to be profitable later this year, even though it declined to provide guidance on revenue. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Sundial’s revenue improves 7% to $23 million in Q1 2020. Sundial Growers (SNDL) reported its financial and operational results for first quarter 2020 ended March 31, 2020. The company’s net revenue of $23 million, an increase of 7% over the prior quarter, while its net cannabis revenue stood at $16.5 million, excluding provisions of $2.5 million, an 18% increase over the prior quarter. Branded net cannabis sales increased to 54% of total net cannabis sales in the first quarter of 2020 vs. 33% in the fourth quarter of 2019. Since January 2020, the company has reduced its workforce by 51% to optimize its cost structure to align with market conditions. Read More (Newswire)

Supreme Cannabis’ gross sales reached $11 million in Q3 2020. Supreme Cannabis (SPRWF) announced its financial and operating results for the three and nine months ended March 31, 2020. Gross revenue increased year-over-year from $10.3 million in Q3 2019 to $11.0 million in Q3 2020 and increased quarter-over-quarter from $10.3 million in Q2 2020. In Q3 2020, recreational net revenue reached $5.7 million, remaining flat quarter-over-quarter. Quarter-over-quarter, a 26% increase in recreational sales volumes was offset by a 20% decrease to the recreational average selling price from $5.39 per gram in Q2 2020 to $4.32 per gram in Q3 2020. In Q3 2020, wholesale net revenue reached $4.0 million and accounted for 41% of net revenue. Read More (Newswire)

Village Farms International’s net income falls 35% Y/Y in Q1 2020. Village Farms International (VFFIF) announced its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2020.  On March 31, 2020, Village Farms had a majority (non-controlling) interest of 57.4% of Pure Sunfarms, which increased to 58.7% on April 2, 2020. The company reported net income of $4.2 million, a 35% decline year-to-year (Y/Y) in Q1 2020, and includes the net income contribution from Pure Sunfarms of $3.5 million and $2.6 million (Village Farms’ proportionate share) for the three-month periods ended March 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. Read More (Newswire)

Delta 9 reports $12 million in operating revenues for Q1 2020. Delta 9 (VRNDF) posted operating revenues of $11.75 million for the three-month period ending March 31, 2020, up 109% from $5.63 million for the same quarter last year and gross profit of $4.90 million for the three-month period ending March 31, 2020, up 170% from $1.82 million for the same quarter last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $1.65 million for the three-month period ending March 31, 2020 versus an adjusted EBITDA loss of $(1.98 million) for the three-month period ending March 31, 2019. Read More (GlobeNewswire)

Charlotte’s Web cites falling revenues, higher expenses as it turns in loss for Q1. Prominent CBD maker Charlotte’s Web Holdings (CWBHF) is pointing to market saturation, legal uncertainty and rising expenses as it reported a loss of $11.5 million last quarter. A year ago, the Boulder, Colorado, company reported a profit of $2.5 million. Charlotte’s Web reported revenue last quarter of $21.5 million, down about 1% from the same period last year, when revenue was $21.7 million. The slight downtick came despite adding more than 1,000 brick-and-mortar stores carrying the brand, now in more than 11,000 retail locations. The company reported that sales through retailers dropped 32% from the first quarter of 2019. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

Aleafia Health announces $6.4 million positive adjusted EBITDA, $14.6 million net revenue in Q1 2020. Aleafia Health (ALEAF) reported net revenue of $14.6 million in 1Q20, an increase of 143% over the previous quarter. The increase was primarily derived from a $8.9 million increase in cannabis net revenue. Compared to the three months ended March 31, 2019, net revenue increased by 859%. Net loss was $6.2 million, compared to a loss of $9.8 million in the previous quarter. The net loss was primarily due to non-cash items including: i) changes in fair value of inventory sold, expense of $6.2 million, ii) amortization and depreciation expense of $2.0 million, and iii) deferred income tax expense of $1.7 million. Read More (GlobeNewswire)

Columbia Care Q1 revenue doubles to $26 million. Columbia Care (COLXF) reported financial and operating results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2020. The company’s first quarter combined revenue is up 125% year-on-year (YoY) to $28.9 million with a sequential increase of 18% and sequential gross margin improvement of 7%. At the same time, its revenue increased 105% YoY to $26.3 million. The company implemented operating cost reductions over the last several months, including suspension of operations in Puerto Rico in Q2 2020 due to regional instability, regulatory ambiguity and a limited view on near-term profitability. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)

Zenabis reports first quarter 2020 revenues of $19.9 million, net loss of $1.5 million. Zenabis Global (ZBISF) filed their first quarter 2020 financial results, reporting net revenues of $19.9 million for the period ended March 31, 2020, compared to $17.9 million for the previous quarter. Net loss for the period came in at $1.5 million, largely thanks to a large biological adjustment made by the firm. Zenabis reported gross revenues of $22.4 million for the period before excise taxes, which netted revenues down to $19.9 million. Total cannabis revenues amounted to $12.6 million, a marked improvement from the previous quarters $10.6 million in cannabis revenues. Production costs associated with these sales amounted to $10.9 million, leaving $9.0 million in gross margin before biological adjustments. Read More (the deep dive)

Spiritleaf posts $10 million loss in 2019. Inner Spirit Holdings (INSHF), which runs 48 Spiritleaf retail cannabis stores, reported a total net loss of $10,849,162 for 2019 on total revenue of $8,114,268. This includes retail revenue of $3,170,775 and royalty revenue of $1,328,301 (statistics are from continuing operations and don’t include Watch It! which has been discontinued). Revenue increased 305% from 2018, and 4th quarter revenue increased 1,598% over the previous year, when the retail stores were still in the process of opening. Spiritleaf has 36 franchise locations, 10 corporate-owned stores, and one retail partner. It plans to open its 48th store in Kelowna this weekend. Their stores are located in Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Read More (Cannabis Retailer)

CAPITAL MARKETS

Swiss central bank stocks up on pot stocks with bets on Aurora, Aphria. Switzerland’s central bank is still a fan of the cannabis sector. The Swiss National Bank increased its investments in Aurora Cannabis (ACB), Aphria (APHA) and Canopy Growth (CGC) in the first quarter of the year, according to filings listed by the SEC. The SNB upped its investment in Aurora to 4.2 million shares from 2.5 million in the fourth quarter of last year, while making marginal advances on its Aphria and Canopy Growth investments. The SNB also has positions on Hexo Corp. (HEXO), Organigram (OGI), Cronos Group (CRON) and Tilray (TLRY). Many institutional investors have shied away from the cannabis industry as the sector has yet to demonstrate sustained profitability. Read More (SEC)

Tilray says its operations are a ‘going concern’ in latest security filing. Tilray (TLRY) issued a “going concern” warning in its latest quarterly security filing related to its capacity to raise capital to meet future cash needs. The cannabis producer said in its 10-Q filing that its “ability to continue as a going concern is dependent upon obtaining additional financing to meet anticipated cash needs for working capital and capital expenditures through the next twelve months.” The “going concern” phrase is an accounting term that signals to investors a possible red flag on a company’s viability. Tilray noted in its filing that “it is probable it can implement plans” to help mitigate any of the issues related to its ability to continue as a “going concern” over the next year. Read More (Tilray’s SEC Filing)

Expect at least a dozen pot companies to go bankrupt in 2020: Tilray CEO. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to force at least a dozen cannabis companies to file for bankruptcy as available liquidity dries up, according to Tilray’s (TLRY) chief executive officer. “I’ve actually been surprised by the dozen bankruptcies that have already happened,” said Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy in a phone interview with BNN Bloomberg.  “Based on the calls that I’m getting, I’m expecting another dozen more as funding has dried out,” he added. “If companies haven’t already strengthened their balance sheet, they’ve got a hard road ahead.” Read More (BNN Bloomberg)

Hexo received NYSE warning in early April over low stock price. Hexo Corp. (HEXO) is the latest Canadian cannabis producer to run afoul of the New York Stock Exchange’s continued listing standards because of a low stock price. The Ontario-based company was warned by the NYSE last month that its shares, which have fallen below $1, do not meet the exchange’s listing standards. Hexo said it receiving the notification April 7 before notifying shareholders via a news release May 13. Effective April 21, the NYSE is providing an extension for companies in breach of the Price Listing Standard. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Canadian cannabis producer Muskoka Grown files for creditor protection. Cannabis producer Muskoka Grown asked for temporary relief from creditors earlier this month so it can continue to conduct business and develop a plan to restructure its affairs. The Bracebridge, Ontario, company, down to CAD $1,200 ($850) of cash on hand, cited the COVID-19 pandemic, a substandard first crop of cannabis and a lack of brick-and-mortar stores in Ontario for its liquidity issues. The cannabis producer filed a notice of intention to make a proposal under Section 50.4 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act on May 5, according to documents posted by A. Farber & Partners, the company’s trustee. That move gives Muskoka Grown extra time to develop a proposal to present to creditors. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Private cannabis software company GrowFlow raises $8.4 million. GrowFlow, the Los Angeles-based SaaS company providing software to businesses in the cannabis and hemp industry, has announced the closing of $8.4 million in growth financing led by software-focused growth equity fund TVC Capital. Bull & Bear Fund and two individual angel investors also joined this round. This round of funding will be used to fuel the company’s continued sales and marketing efforts, to accelerate product development, and to create the company’s new content production arm. Jeb Spencer, TVC’s co-founder and managing partner, as well as TVC vice president Ryan McMorrow, will join the company’s board of directors. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)

MEDICAL CANNABIS

Lack of federal regulation of medical cannabis raises risks. Medical cannabis differs from the street product in that the plant must be reliably grown and handled according to good manufacturing practices. This allows growers to assay and establish the products’ contents with the intent to pass along that information to dispensaries and patients. However, lack of federal regulation has led to significant differences among state programs, yielding a wide variety of cannabis formulations, products, and strain names, and lack of consistency in state labeling requirements has given rise to practices that risk patient safety. Thus, it is difficult for dispensaries to provide patients with clearly labeled products, a critical component for reproducible and safe effects. Read More (Pharmacy Times)

Medical marijuana sales, patient counts hold steady in Maryland. Maryland’s medical cannabis market remains one of the strongest in the U.S., with the robust sales and patient increases of 2019 persisting into a tumultuous 2020. Sales in Maryland hit $252 million in 2019, up from $109 million in 2018. Through March 2020, medical marijuana sales in the state eclipsed $91 million, an increase of 86% from the first three months of 2019. While information for April 2020 is not yet available, March data indicates that sales have shown no signs of slowing even amid the coronavirus pandemic. Average per-patient sales in March 2020 was just shy of $350, the highest figure in the program’s history. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Chart 8: Maryland Medical Marijuana Program Overview  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily, Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission

Chart 8: Maryland Medical Marijuana Program Overview
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily, Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission

Arizona medical marijuana sales up 15% in March. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) recently released its monthly report on the state’s medical cannabis program for March 2020. As of March, Arizona’s medical cannabis program counted 230,317 patients on its rolls. That figure is up by 1.6% from the 226,677 patients registered in the program at the end of February. The number of registered patients in Arizona in March 2020 is also up by 18.9% year-over-year, from 193,672 in March 2019. According to ADHS numbers, 15,408 pounds of cannabis flower were sold through the state’s dispensaries in March, a figure that is up by 15.1% compared to the 13,385 pounds retailed to registered patients in February. March 2020’s flower sales volume represents a new record high for Arizona’s market, after this metric had seen consistent declines since peaking previously in November 2019. March 2020’s flower sales volume is up by 32% from 11,674 pounds in the same month the year prior. Read More (Cannabis Benchmarks)

Oklahoma issues first medical cannabis product recall. Oklahoma health authorities issued the first medical marijuana product recall in the program’s short history. A spokesperson for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) told the Tulsa World that the product batch in question failed to meet state standards, having tested positive for myclobutanil. That pesticide can create toxic gases when heated. The batch being recalled, a mixture of infused mints and vape cartridges, was produced by Moon Mix, an MMJ processor based in Oklahoma County. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Probe into roll out of Missouri’s medical marijuana program expands. A legislative probe into the roll out of Missouri’s medical marijuana program has expanded into Gov. Mike Parson’s office. A House panel is seeking records involving the Republican governor’s deputy chief of staff, chief operating officer and a longtime adviser to the governor who has been under FBI scrutiny, The Kansas City Star reported. The Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight sent a letter to the Department of Health and Senior Services demanding records of interactions with industry insiders and details on how key decisions were made. The governor’s office and DHSS did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Read More (Marijuana Retail Report)

Totality of evidence suggests prenatal cannabis exposure does not lead to cognitive impairments: A systematic and critical review. Despite limited data demonstrating pronounced negative effects of prenatal cannabis exposure, popular opinion and public policies still reflect the belief that cannabis is fetotoxic. An examination of the total number of statistical comparisons (n = 1,001) between groups of participants that were exposed to cannabis prenatally and non-exposed controls revealed that those exposed performed differently on a minority of cognitive outcomes (worse on <3.5 percent and better in <1 percent). The clinical significance of these findings appears to be limited because cognitive performance scores of cannabis-exposed groups overwhelmingly fell within the normal range when compared against normative data adjusted for age and education. Read More (Frontiers)

Pediatricians seeing a growing demand for medical cannabis for kids. Most Canadian pediatricians are shying away from medical cannabis for patients, knowing that it can hurt the developing brain and that there isn’t much research to guide them. But physicians say they are getting increasing requests for cannabis from parents, for a growing list of conditions. Dr. Adam Rapoport, medical director of the pediatric palliative care team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, says, “This is mostly driven by parents, and doctors have fallen behind.” Lauren Kelly agrees. “It’s happening and we’re playing catch-up.” Read More (The Conversation)

Marijuana may not lower your IQ. A key report on marijuana appeared in 2012 which was issued by a research group that had tracked the development of 1,000 New Zealanders born in the city of Dunedin in the early 1970s. Having assessed measures of cognition and IQ starting at age three, the researchers recorded participants’ use of the drug from their early teen years through their 30s. While those who never used marijuana showed slight IQ increases over time, users experienced steady IQ declines proportional to how long they had smoked and how much. So you might think, “Case closed. Smoking dope makes you dopey.” But not so fast. With epidemiological twin studies, a researcher is able to look across an entire sample and summarize all the relevant effects. The researchers measured the twins’ intelligence between nine and 12 years of age, before any drug use, and did so again between ages 17 and 20. Exactly as in the Dunedin study, marijuana users had lower test scores and showed notable reductions in IQ over time. But in Jackson and Iacono’s analysis, marijuana use and IQ were completely uncorrelated, and IQ measures fell equally in both the users and abstainers. Read More (Scientific American)

THCv and diabetes: Is there a link? Tetrahydrocannabivarin, abbreviated THCv, is one of the numerous cannabinoids found in cannabis. THCv is a homologue of the cannabinoid that causes intoxicating effects—delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Recently, attention has been drawn towards THCv’s potential in managing type 2 diabetes. A (mouse model) study published in 2013 showed that THCv increased insulin sensitivity and improved glucose tolerance without altering plasma lipids. In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin. Therefore, one treatment approach would be to increase the sensitivity of the body to insulin. The researchers concluded that “THCv is a new potential treatment against obesity-associated glucose intolerance with pharmacology different from that of CB1 inverse agonists/antagonists.” Read More (Extraction Magazine)

CBD/HEMP

China agrees to buy U.S. hemp fiber; can anyone supply it? While China has agreed to purchase an unspecified amount of hemp fiber from the U.S. in a recently signed agriculture trade deal, it seems unlikely that U.S. producers are prepared to take advantage of that opportunity. Hemp is mentioned specifically in the trade agreement, in which the Chinese government agreed to spend at least $12.5 billion more on total U.S. agricultural commodity imports than it did in 2017. While getting hemp written into the trade deal is progress, there’s little fiber production to speak of in the U.S. Read More (Hemp Today)

Arkansas hemp industry growing despite 94% of farmers losing money in 2019. Agriculture officials in Arkansas are saying most of the state’s hemp farmers lost money last year, but the agriculture department is still seeing increased interest from new farmers and processors for 2020. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has issued licenses to 152 growers and 39 processors for the 2020 season, up from 125 growers and 33 processors in 2019. According to a survey of hemp growers by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, 94% of hemp growers lost money last year. Farmers planted 1,819 acres of hemp in 2019 but harvested 883 acres, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

The Native American hemp sector is growing, reaching out for partnerships. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) website, more than 20 Native American tribes have had their hemp production plans approved by the federal government. Hemp plans from an additional 11 tribes are under review by the agency. In early May, the USDA announced it had accepted hemp plans from five more tribes: the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and the Pala Band of Mission Indians. Read More (Hemp Benchmarks)

California bill to regulate hemp extracts in food is delayed. A proposal to legalize hemp-derived extracts in food and beverages in California is on hold as lawmakers focus on coronavirus-related legislation to help the economy, but the bill’s sponsor says she’s bringing it back in August. Supporters of the legislation plan to argue in the forthcoming debate that regulating consumable hemp products is “an economic driver” and that it will protect consumers, said Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, a Democrat carrying the proposal. It would set testing requirements for safety and to ensure products don’t exceed 0.3% THC levels. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

Hemp plant breeding company, laboratory partner to offer farmers discounted crop testing. The Hemp Mine is partnering with Allentown, Pennsylvania-based PHR Labs, LLC, an ISO-accredited laboratory that offers analytical testing and research and development services to hemp companies. PHR Labs will provide discounted testing services and guidance for The Hemp Mine’s grower customers to reduce their risk of non-compliance with federal THC limits, while supporting the breeding company’s research and breeding efforts through research field trials and participation in university trials. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

Hemp-based wood startup gaining market traction despite tariff, pandemic obstacles. It’s no easy time to start a business, and a Kentucky startup looking to turn hemp fibers into wood has had it worse than many. Which makes it odd that company founder Gregory Wilson is all smiles talking about prospects for his company, called Fibonacci. First the company had to spend more than a year fighting tariffs on some Chinese-made equipment needed to press the fibrous planks. Once that was settled, the company bought booths at trade shows in both the hemp and flooring industries to start taking orders. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

Massachusetts state hemp production plan earns USDA approval. As planting season approaches, Massachusetts’ proposed state hemp regulations have received federal approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The state enacted laws governing marijuana and hemp production in 2017, allowing hemp to be grown legally under the 2014 pilot program with oversight by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. In its new plan, the state acknowledged there were changes that needed to be made to bring its program into compliance with the USDA’s interim final rules. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

Hemp supply chain awaits cash infusion as Collective Growth makes plans to deploy capital. What’s it like launching a company during a pandemic? The new blank-check company Collective Growth had two things working against it when it was slated to launch an initial public offering (IPO) on March 17 – a global pandemic and the end of an 11-year bull market, said Bruce Linton, CEO and chairman. “So why not begin marketing to raise $150 million? Because probably no one else was dumb enough to be out there that day, so you should actually have quite a bit of focus,” Linton told Hemp Industry Daily. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

Updated rules in Iceland put industrial hemp under drug authority. Iceland’s Ministry of Health announced changes in the country’s narcotics laws that gives the government’s Icelandic Medicines Agency (IMA) rights to import industrial hemp seeds for farming. Under the rules recently announced by Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir, imported seeds may not produce hemp plants with more than 0.2% THC. Svavarsdóttir said the amendment to the regulations is a temporary measure as permanent rules are being worked out in response to growing interest in cultivating industrial hemp in Iceland. Read More (Hemp Today)

Four ways CBD brands can market responsibly right now. Here are a few valuable tips for responsible marketing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 1) The pandemic has emphasized the value of medical cannabis to Americans, and leaders are beginning to realize that it is indeed a valuable health resource that tens of thousands of Americans depend on. 2) CBD stores and dispensaries are often caught marketing the medicinal abilities of CBD, but the reason why governments are now approving CBD products as essential goes beyond that. 3) The need to benefit from this present boom, while also paying careful attention to the sensibilities of our clients and giving them particular attention has become key. App technology is one of the easiest ways to meet both needs at once. 4) CBD brands cannot be seen as only willing to benefit from the boom without giving back. Read More (Green Entrepreneur)

RETAIL

Hobo hits record-breaking sales opening day. The very first cannabis store in Timmins opened on May 8 to customers virtually lining up at the door. According to Jex Woods, Operations Director East for Hobo, the store had 15 to 20 online orders before they even opened up at 9 am, and the orders didn’t stop all day. By closing time, they had done around 170 deliveries and racked up just shy of $46,000 in sales. To put that in perspective, when stores opened in Ontario for the first time in April of last year, all ten stores combined made nearly $51,000. Read More (Cannabis Retailer)

PRODUCTS

Missouri bans medical marijuana gummies, certain edibles shapes. Missouri lawmakers passed a bill that forbids the sale of medical cannabis edibles that could attract children and also tightens criminal background checks for those who work in the state’s MMJ industry. It’s unclear how much of an impact the measure will have. Missouri’s medical marijuana sales were expected to start in the spring, but the coronavirus has delayed the launch. Sales now are expected to start around late summer. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

SOCIAL

Optimal minimum legal age for recreational cannabis is 19, study says. With legal recreational cannabis use spreading across North America there is a constant debate over what the minimum age for consumption should be. A new study from a team of Canadian researchers is suggesting 19 is the optimal age to set for recreational use of the drug. Hai Nguyen, from Memorial University of Newfoundland and lead author of the new study, suggests before Canada legalized recreational cannabis use, there were strong calls from scientists and doctors to set the minimum age between 21 and 25. Read More (New Atlas)

Most people in recreational marijuana states believe legalization is a success, poll finds. People who live in states that have legalized marijuana for adult use broadly feel that the policy has been a success, according to a new poll. YouGov asked more than 32,000 people the following question: “In the states that have decided to allow recreational marijuana use, do you think the legislation has been a success or a failure?” They were given five options: “Success only, more of a success than a failure, more of a failure than a success, failure only or don’t know.” A majority of people from eight states that were surveyed said the programs are working well. And in Maine, which legalized cannabis in 2016 but still doesn’t have any adult-use retail shops open, people still said the law is more of a success than a failure by a greater than two-to-one plurality. Read More (Marijuana Moment)

Chart 9: In States That Have Decided to Allow Recreational Marijuana, Do You Think Legislation Has Been a Success or a Failure?  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Moment, YouGov

Chart 9: In States That Have Decided to Allow Recreational Marijuana, Do You Think Legislation Has Been a Success or a Failure?
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Moment, YouGov

INTERNATIONAL

France’s blanket ban on CBD should go, EU court adviser says. France’s blanket ban on the marketing of all hemp-derived CBD products contradicts EU law on the free movement of goods, an adviser to the Court of Justice of the European Union said in a legal opinion. The advocate general’s opinion, if followed by the top EU court, would set a binding precedent and have a significant impact on the CBD industry in Europe, paving the way for similar provisions in other EU member states to be challenged before national courts. The Court of Justice ruling on the case is expected this fall. In the vast majority of cases, the court follows the opinion of the advocate general. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

The ACI sets its first standards for CBD testing in the UK. CBD is more popular than ever in the UK. According to recent market research, more than 8 million Brits are now buying the calming cannabis compound, spending more than £150 million on the products in the first four months of 2020 alone. But all these CBD balms, vapes and oils weren’t tested to the same standards. And that’s something the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), which represents several of the largest CBD companies operating in the UK, wants to change. The ACI announced that, in partnership with the lab company Eurofins and the Laboratory of Government Chemists (LGC), a testing company and U.K. government advisor, it has set the first lab standards for detecting cannabinoids in CBD products sold in the UK. Read More (Analytical Cannabis)

Israeli government signs order permitting medical cannabis exports. A free export order for medical cannabis products was signed by outgoing Economy Minister Eli Cohen, approximately 16 months after the government approved exports of locally grown medical cannabis for the first time. Exporters interested in selling permitted cannabis goods abroad will be required to receive a license from the Health Ministry once the free export order enters into force in another 30 days. “This is a significant step for exporters and Israeli industry, which will enable both the expansion of export opportunities for the sector and increase employment of new workers, especially in light of the great worldwide demand for Israeli medical cannabis products,” said Cohen. Read More (The Jerusalem Post)

England’s medical cannabis market shows little growth as of early 2020. England’s medical cannabis market has barely gotten off the ground since launching about 19 months ago, with a two-tier system in which few patients access products through legal channels while most resort to illicit suppliers. Looking ahead, however, some industry insiders are hopeful that recently implemented import rules could boost the number of legal medical cannabis prescriptions from the currently low levels. The number of “unlicensed” medical cannabis prescriptions issued in England continued to be negligible as of February 2020, Marijuana Business Daily has learned. Such products did not go through successful clinical trials to be granted a license to be marketed, but they can still be prescribed. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Chart 10: Prescriptions for Unlicensed Cannabis-Based Medicines in England  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily, NHS Business Services Authority

Chart 10: Prescriptions for Unlicensed Cannabis-Based Medicines in England
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily, NHS Business Services Authority

European cannabis consumers embrace edibles/topicals. Infused products include multiple forms, generally falling into either edible (i.e., solid or liquid) forms or topical forms designed to be absorbed through the skin. Challenges in quality stem in part from the cannabinoids themselves. Contemporary manufacturing methods now allow for desired cannabinoids to be extracted and infused into a variety of products. Such techniques allow for greater consistency in dosage and effect, which rank among top priorities for consumers. About three-quarters of European CBD consumers cite quality as a concern in choosing their products, and an important factor when considering where to purchase them. In ranking order, they reportedly prioritize doses per serving (79%) and per product (77%) along with non-cannabis ingredients (73%) as purchasing influencers. Read More (New Frontier Data)

Chart 11: Some Factors That Influence European Consumers’ Purchase of Infused Products  Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

Chart 11: Some Factors That Influence European Consumers’ Purchase of Infused Products
Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

Albania, once haven of illicit cannabis, set to legalize crop for medical use. Albania plans to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes, six years after beginning a crackdown on an illegal trade that turned it, by some accounts, into Europe’s largest outdoor grower of cannabis. Prime Minister Edi Rama said the time was ripe for one of Europe’s poorest countries to enter the lucrative market, emulating its neighbors North Macedonia, Greece and Italy – the latter a destination of tons of cannabis from Albania in 2015 and 2016. “Illegal cultivation is completely under control,” Rama told reporters in an online news conference. “This is the third or fourth year of consolidation. We plan to pass the bill in this session of parliament.” Read More (Yahoo!)

Terrace Global announces agreement with the Flowr Corporation to jointly develop outdoor medical cannabis project in Portugal. Terrace Global has announced it has entered into an equity line and profit-sharing agreement with The Flowr Corp. (FLWPF) for the purpose of jointly developing an outdoor medical cannabis project in Portugal. Under the terms of the agreement, Terrace Global will fund certain operations and certain capital expenditures relating to the project in exchange for the issuance of: (1) common shares of Flowr at the volume weighted average trading price of the shares on the day prior to such subscription less the maximum applicable discount available under the TSX Venture Exchange subject to a minimum price of $0.52 per share; and (2) warrants at an exercise price equal to the greater of $0.76 and the minimum exercise price permitted under the TSXV rules. Read More (Cannabis Business Times)

CANNA SCIENCE

“Inherent conflict of interest:” Cannabiz slams DEA MED proposal. Two influential cannabis advocacy groups say the federal government’s proposed rules to accelerate MED research would give too much control to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The National Cannabis Industry Association opposed the entire rulemaking, warning on May 11 that it would “radically overhaul how medical cannabis can be researched.” The DEA published the proposed rules— called “Controls to Enhance the Cultivation of Marihuana for Research in the U.S.”— in the Federal Register in March. It presents them as a way to expand the number of registered growers, produce more diverse plant specimens and advance research. A DEA press release at the time emphasized the federal government’s support for scientific and medical marijuana research. Read More (WeedWeek)

Research in U.S. will look at single vs. whole-plant extracts. Leading researchers in the U.S. will check the effectiveness of whole-plant versus single-extract CBD under a $9 million project aimed at enlightening consumers and doctors. Harvard Medical School, which will lead the research project, and Massachusetts Institute of Techology (MIT), received $4.5 million each to support the series of studies. The studies will explore the effects of purified CBD against those of full-spectrum extract that contains CBD and other cannabinoids and compounds, according to Staci Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, where she directs the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program. Read More (Hemp Today)

Cannabaceae: Mapping the cannabis family tree. Cannabis belongs to the family Cannabaceae, which evolved either alongside or from the family Urticaceae around 34 million years ago. The Cannabaceae family is found throughout most of the world, with the highest abundance throughout temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Cannabaceae includes roughly 170 species from 10 genera: Cannabis (hemp and marijuana), Humulus (hops), and eight genera that were formerly in the Celtidaceae (or hackberry) family. Botanical taxonomists have not come to a consensus on the taxonomic classification of cannabis. What makes this matter tricky is this: to differentiate between species, it’s necessary to understand the evolutionary history of a plant. When it comes to the use of cannabis medicinally and recreationally, it’s most useful to classify cannabis by its chemical makeup, also referred to as its chemotype. The variation and concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes within tell us far more than any umbrella term like “indica” or “sativa.” Read More (Analytical Cannabis)

TECHNOLOGY

Cannabis industry: A growth sector for security professionals. The explosive growth of the cannabis industry comes with a wide range of security protocols and regulations. The global legal cannabis market is projected to reach $66.3 billion by the end of 2025, according to a 2019 Grand View Research report. The soaring legalization of medical, and recreational cannabis is propelling that growth surge. Although the cannabis market is unchartered territory for many security professionals, this sector screams of opportunities for those willing to grab hold of them. It’s critically important to choose a partner and security solution that keeps compliance top of mind and stays in step with the ever evolving and expanding cannabis market and not let the opportunities that abound go up in smoke. Read More (Security Magazine)

Grow room monitors for precision data. Grow room monitoring systems are par for the course with commercial cannabis producers, large and small. With the price per pound a fraction of what it once was and the competition heating up at the global level, growers must pay attention to the details to get ahead. Data points on environmental parameters matter more than they ever have, which means leaning into room technologies like advanced grow room monitoring systems. Read More (Cannabis Tech)

LEGAL & IP

COMERG announces new cultivar specific terpene rich product lines. COMERG who owns the worldwide IP and know-how of the R134a extraction technology announced the new cultivar specific terpene rich product lines delivered by utilizing the PURE5 equipment extracting high quality flowers. PURE5 Extraction is introducing a line of Pure Botanical Extracts (PBXTM) Full Spectrum Hemp Terpenes delivered from fresh flowers preserving the natural terpenes from the original hemp cultivar. “Our Hemp Terpenes are produced using a non-destructive, pure botanical extraction process that concentrates all the terpenes in an unaltered profile suspended in natural oils from the plants.”, said the CEO of COMERG Dr. George Stantchev. Read More (Extraction Magazine)

CANNA FACTS

Chart 12: Six Years of Adult-Use Cannabis in Colorado Market by the Numbers  Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

Chart 12: Six Years of Adult-Use Cannabis in Colorado Market by the Numbers
Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

CANNA CAPITAL MARKET TRENDS

Chart 13: Weekly Summary (May 4 – May 8, 2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors Chart 13: Weekly Summary (May 4 – May 8, 2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 13: Weekly Summary (May 4 – May 8, 2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 13: Weekly Summary (May 4 – May 8, 2020)
Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

 

Chart 14: Cannabis Capital Raises by Week (2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 14: Cannabis Capital Raises by Week (2020)
Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

 

Chart 15: Cannabis M&A Activity by Week (2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 15: Cannabis M&A Activity by Week (2020)
Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

CANNA PRICES – WEEKLY TREND

Chart 16: U.S. Cannabis Market Prices  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

Chart 16: U.S. Cannabis Market Prices  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

Chart 16: U.S. Cannabis Market Prices
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

 

Chart 17: U.S. Implied Forward Prices (Week Ending May 15, 2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

Chart 17: U.S. Implied Forward Prices (Week Ending May 15, 2020)
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

 

Chart 18: Canada Cannabis Spot Index  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

Chart 18: Canada Cannabis Spot Index
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

CANNA BRANDS AND PRODUCTS RANKING – STATE IN FOCUS: WASHINGTON

Chart 19: Best-Selling Flower Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 19: Best-Selling Flower Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 20: Best-Selling Edibles Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 20: Best-Selling Edibles Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 21: Best-Selling Vapor Pen Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 21: Best-Selling Vapor Pen Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 22: Best-Selling Beverage Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 22: Best-Selling Beverage Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 23: Best-Selling Capsule Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 23: Best-Selling Capsule Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 24: Best-Selling Topical Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 24: Best-Selling Topical Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

CANNA INDEX

Chart 29: U.S Cannabis Index  Source: Intro-Blue, The Marijuana Index

Chart 29: U.S Cannabis Index
Source: Intro-Blue, The Marijuana Index

 

Chart 30: Canada Cannabis Index  Source: Intro-Blue, The Marijuana Index

Chart 30: Canada Cannabis Index
Source: Intro-Blue, The Marijuana Index

 

Important Disclosures

Analyst Certification

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