THE CANNABIS TECH SPACE IS HEATING UP; AND THE CONTENDERS ARE …
The pandemic has resulted in heightened use of technology and e-commerce solutions across industries, and cannabis is no exception. With in-store cannabis sales taking a backseat due to lockdowns and social distancing measures, cannabis consumers have taken to online ordering of marijuana for home delivery or curbside pick-up. Apart from MSOs/SSOs that are experiencing a surge in their sales, technology companies focused on offering e-commerce and related solutions to the cannabis industry are emerging as the biggest beneficiaries of this trend. These companies are typically preferred by PE/VC investors looking for disruptive non-plant-touching ancillary plays. The growing investor interest in this segment is reflected in the $55mn+ in equity financing and $250mn in credit financing deals closed by cannabis tech companies in last month. We discuss the key names below.
Leading the pack is B2C cannabis e-commerce player Dutchie which processes 33% of all online cannabis purchases in North America and closed a $35 million Series B funding round last week. Oregon-based Dutchie is one of the cannabis industry’s leading and fastest-growing e-commerce providers, allowing consumers to order cannabis from local dispensaries from the comfort of their home. With a dispensary network totaling 1,300 outlets (25% of North America total), Dutchie processes 75,000 orders a day with $2.3 billion in annualized gross merchandise value (GMV). Sales through the Dutchie platform account for one-third of all online cannabis purchases in North America and 10% of the global total. Cannabis users require a certain level of information – product category, THC levels, photos, product description and comparison, etc. – to make informed buying decisions and Dutchie fills this information gap by integrating its platform with dispensaries’ point-of-sale systems to provide up-to-date inputs on cannabis merchandise that is compliant with local regulations. The company’s co-founder Ross Lipson has experience running B2C e-commerce businesses as he launched and sold food order company GrubCanada.com to Just-Eat Canada in 2012. Dutchie raised $35 million in a Series B round (total $53 million so far) last week from existing and new investors including Howard Schultz, Casa Verde Capital, Thirty Five Ventures, and Gron Ventures. The company aims to use the proceeds to expand its dispensary footprint and double its headcount to 200+ with a special focus on scaling and strengthening the engineering team and people in client-facing roles. With traditional e-commerce players like Amazon.com (AMZN) staying out of the cannabis market due to the federal illegality of marijuana, Dutchie has the opportunity to establish itself as the dominant B2C cannabis e-commerce player.
LeafLink stands out among cannabis wholesale marketplace providers. LeafLink’s B2B marketplace allows brands, distributors, and retailers to streamline the ordering process and spend less time on administrative work. The company operates in 26 territories across North America, allowing 5,000+ retailers to order wholesale cannabis products directly from 1,500+ brands, and processes $2.8 billion+ in annual orders. LeafLink Financial (the company’s supply chain financing arm) closed a $250 million senior secured credit facility with a private commercial lender last month and intends to use the proceeds to solve the capital crunch in the industry value chain by eliminating costs and optimizing flow of cash between retailers, brands, and distributors. LeafLink is backed by Thrive Capital, Nosara Capital, and Lerer Hippeau, and has raised more than $51 million in venture funding to date, putting it in a strong position to compete against peers like Cannabase and Kush.com.
springbig and Fyllo are the other cannabis tech names for investors to track. springbig offers customer-loyalty and communications solutions for dispensaries and cannabis retailers. Its CRM programs capture key customer data and integrate with existing dispensary POS systems. It also develops custom cannabis loyalty software to help retain customers and sends targeted and personalized SMS campaigns based on customer interest with a 99% open rate. springbig’s userbase has grown more than 10x to 21 million in last 18 months. It is currently used by 1,400+ retailers in the U.S. and Canada and counts the majority of U.S. MSOs as its clients. The company raised $11.5 million in a Series B round earlier this month, led by TVC Capital, with participation from KEY Investment Partners, Argonautic Ventures, HALLEY Venture Partners, and Salex Capital. Fyllo, on the other hand, offers data, media, and compliance solutions for highly regulated industries like cannabis. Its flagship offering is the Fyllo Compliance Cloud, which includes 1) a regulatory database to unify and streamline regulatory research, 2) a compliance automation solution, and 3) a media activation solution that helps in planning, executing, and analyzing media campaigns. The company recently launched Fyllo Data Marketplace which aggregates data cultivated from cannabis companies including delivery services, loyalty programs, e-commerce platforms, and POS and CRM platforms. Data from this marketplace gives marketers access to millions of unmodeled consumer profiles across hundreds of categories that can be leveraged for ad targeting, optimization, and custom segmentation. The company closed a $10 million Series A2 round on August 12 (total $26 million so far), led by existing investors JW Asset Management and K2 & Associates, with participation from Arcadian, Salveo Capital, and Phyto Partners.
Adult-use cannabis sales remain steady even as unemployment bonus ends. Though the U.S. government’s temporary lifeline to tens of millions of unemployed workers expired, sales of recreational marijuana products have proved resilient. The $600-a-week unemployment benefit ended July 31, and Congress failed to pass an extension before leaving for its August vacation. The weekly boost brought the disposable income of many recipients to near “normal” – in pre-pandemic terms. But in the two weeks since the benefits ended, sales of recreational marijuana in key markets remained stable, even posting a visible increase during the first week, according to data provided by Headset. It’s difficult to assess why that would happen, according to Liz Connors, director of analytics for Headset, but “it is still very early after the expiration.” Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
State treasurers group lobbies for marijuana banking in coronavirus bill. A coalition of state treasurers across the country are urging Congress to include cannabis banking reform in the next coronavirus relief stimulus package to give the economy a needed infusion of capital while protecting marijuana workers who currently handle mostly cash transactions. The U.S. House did include the SAFE Banking Act, which would enable financial institutions to serve cannabis-related businesses without fear of federal reprisal, in the relief bill that passed in May. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who has long held anti-marijuana views, sharply criticized House Democrats for including cannabis in the bill. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Cannabis and COVID: Changes, advances, and opportunities. From a purely business and regulatory standpoint, the pandemic has provided some in the cannabis industry with quantum leaps forward in operations and service, and many of them may likely become the new norm. Momentum and shift in consumer behavior, need and the shifting perspective of healthcare providers is affecting more state regulators. They’ve worked with the cannabis industry to modify and adjust operational rules as needed to ensure medicinal access during the ever-changing COVID climate. One of the biggest operational changes has been an increase in the facilitation of online ordering and curbside pickup to help keep patients safe. Read More (Cannabis Industry Journal)
The cannabis industry’s ‘essential’ upside from COVID-19. The designation of the cannabis business as essential caught some states and some state officials off guard. Being declared essential was the proverbial feather in the hat of the industry, and a strong vote by the federal government that cannabis businesses were crucial to the survival of not only the economy but the people and patients who depended on it. Except there was, and is, still a problem. That essential business designation ran into federal roadblocks that no other essential business had to deal with, when cannabis businesses were denied financial assistance in the form of small business disaster loans of up to $2 million. In any case, it’s clear that, overall, COVID has provided a sort of boon to the cannabis business as consumers stocked up early and often. In Colorado in late March, for example, flower sales were up over 80 percent compared to an average Monday, according to cannabis data company Headset. Read More (The Fresh Toast)
The cannabis recession test. In an economy that’s been on the downturn since mid-March, not many Sacramento businesses can report a spring of sunny sales numbers. Two cannabis companies that Jeffrey Dillon co-owns — Stillworx Cannabis Refinery and Condorz, a distributor — are among the few. The COVID-19 pandemic brought more clients to Condorz, which Dillon says he and his business partner started in November 2018 under another name. He’s not alone among local cannabis businesses, which are reporting revenue that held steady amid the biggest economic slide since 1929. Opinions in the industry vary on whether that will continue as the jobs blowout erodes consumer spending even more. But even if the pessimists are right, Sacramento’s marijuana companies may be better positioned to hold steady through this crisis than others around the state and country. Read More (Comstock’s Magazine)
STATE AND REGULATORY NEWS
60% of Republicans support Kamala Harris’ proposal to legalize marijuana nationwide: Poll. A majority of Republicans support Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris’ proposal to legalize marijuana nationwide, according to a new poll. The poll, which was conducted by Data for Progress, found that 60 percent of Republicans say they support the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or MORE Act, which was introduced by Harris in the Senate, where it is awaiting action. According to the poll, among all likely voters, the MORE Act received 62 percent of support. The poll surveyed 1,235 likely voters from May 8 to 9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent. Read More (L.A.Cannabis News)
Court refuses to reject suit challenging marijuana’s listing as Schedule 1 drug. A lawsuit challenging marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act remains alive after a federal appeals court denied the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s request to dismiss the suit. The lawsuit, filed in May by a group of scientists and veterans, is part of an effort to claim that such a designation is unconstitutional based on marijuana’s possible medical use. Plaintiffs in a separate suit recently filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue. The cases, if plaintiffs prevail, could have enormous implications on the legalization of marijuana federally, perhaps compelling the DEA to reschedule the plant. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Top state cops tell congress to legalize marijuana as new poll shows strong voter support. Four state attorneys general and about 50 other current and former law enforcement officials sent a letter to congressional leadership endorsing a federal marijuana legalization bill and urging that a vote on the legislation be held on the House floor next month. The push comes as a new poll shows that 62 percent of likely voters, including 60 percent of Republicans, support the bill and its provisions. Part of the solution, they said, would be passing the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. Read More (Marijuana Moment)
Arizona adult-use marijuana initiative clears final legal hurdle. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a voter initiative that would legalize a commercial recreational marijuana program in the state will appear on the November ballot, removing the final legal challenge. In a last-ditch effort to keep the issue off the ballot, opponents had argued that the initiative summary had failed to outline a host of changes that would be made to state law, including that a proposed 16% excise tax on marijuana sales could not be raised. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Vermont legislature revisits bill to legalize cannabis sales. Earlier this year, the Vermont House and Senate approved separate versions of S.54, legislation that would establish a taxed-and-regulated system for legal cannabis sales, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic kept lawmakers from working out the differences in their proposals before sending a final bill to Gov. Phil Scott. Now, the bill is again moving forward in the legislature, Burlington Free Press reported, as the House and Senate started a meeting in a Committee of Conference August 19 to reconcile the differences in their versions of the bill. Once completed, the bill will be sent to the House and Senate for majority vote, and if approved, it would then be sent to Scott to be signed into law or vetoed. Read More (Cannabis Business Times)
Demand for product in the Michigan marijuana market continues to exceed supply. The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) recently issued its Monthly Report for June 2020, providing sales, licensing, and production data for the state’s medical and adult-use cannabis markets. After sales boomed in May in both the adult-use and medical sectors of the market, growth was observed to slow in June. On the adult-use side it remained robust, however, while retail revenues largely plateaued in the medical market. Overall, total adult-use and medical cannabis sales in Michigan in June amounted to over $90.3 million, up by 7% compared to over $84.4 million in combined revenues in May. Monthly medical cannabis sales continued to outpace those in the adult-use sector, but only slightly, with medical cannabis sales accounting for 50.5% of the total in June. Read More (Cannabis Benchmarks)
Local marijuana bans in California keep illicit market alive and block revenue, study shows. Local bans on marijuana businesses in California are helping the illicit market to thrive and are depriving the state and municipalities of tax revenue that could help offset economic losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study. The report analyzes the financial impact from the 75 percent of cities and counties that have implemented cannabis market bans despite the 2016 statewide vote to legalize the plant for adult use. “In benchmarking California’s legal cannabis sales performance against other states that have legalized recreational cannabis sales, the state generally does not fare well,” it says. Read More (Marijuana Moment)
California cannabis tax revenues soar as industry gets going, but black market still dominates. California cannabis tax revenues in the second quarter soared 32.6% from a year ago, to another record of $208.4 million (not including revenues collected by cities and counties). Over the first two quarters combined, cannabis tax revenues, at $414 million, were up by 44% from the same period in 2019 and by 150% from the same period in 2018. This activity – not weed per se, which has always been a big popular business in the state, but the switch from black-market weed to regulated and taxed weed – has had a growth rate like hardly any other in the state at the moment. Read More (Wolf Street)
California wildfires claim several marijuana farms, threatening growers with financial losses. The series of wildfires ravaging Northern California have inflicted major damage on several marijuana farms, with possibly more outdoor grow operations threatened in the region. “There are a ton of farms that are located in the fire’s path. No one’s out of the woods yet. This is just starting,” said Keala Peterson, whose small, family-run cannabis operation, Sweet Creek Farms in Sonoma County, was damaged by the fires. Peterson said her cannabis crop isn’t insured, and she estimated her family will likely absorb about $150,000 in losses, perhaps more, if they aren’t able to salvage the unburned marijuana that has yet to fully flower. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Bigger is not always better for cannabis companies trying to survive pandemic. Cannabis companies are learning that to survive the pandemic, bigger is not necessarily better. Specialized operations and a narrow geographic footprint are buoying marijuana providers such as Trulieve Cannabis (TCNNF) at a time when the broader industry is struggling with falling demand and capital constraints. That’s a shift from a few years ago, when exuberance in the market pushed cannabis companies to expand their reach across the nation in a hasty land grab, which has left many onetime heavyweights overextended. Companies with a broader reach got “punished” last quarter, said Joe Caltabiano, a cannabis entrepreneur who recently left the company he co-founded, Cresco Labs (CRLBF). With the industry shift, “you’re starting to see a separation of winners and losers.” Read More (BNN Bloomberg)
U.S. cannabis spot index up 0.7% to $1,527 per pound, September forward up $50 to $1,450 per pound. The simple average (non-volume weighted) price increased $8 to $1,776 per pound, with 68% of transactions (one standard deviation) in the $963 to $2,589 per pound range. The average reported deal size decreased to 2.1 pounds. In grams, the spot price was $3.37 and the simple average price was $3.92. The average reported forward deal size was 29 pounds. The proportions of forward deals for outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor-grown flower were 41%, 33%, and 27% of forward arrangements, respectively. Read More (Cannabis Benchmarks)
Legal pot has never been cheaper: StatsCan. Canadian legal cannabis prices fell to their lowest level since the drug was first legalized in the country, according to Statistics Canada for the month of July. The consumer price index for recreational cannabis fell to 89.2 in July, the lowest level since StatsCan began tracking legal pot prices. Prices have declined by 10.8 percent since January 2019, when the national data agency first started to track inflation data for cannabis. Read More (Statistics Canada)
Canadian recreational marijuana sales reach record CAD $201 million in June. Canadian retail sales of adult-use cannabis crested yet again in June, increasing 7.9% over the record set in May. Monthly retail sales grew in every Canadian province, reaching nearly CAD $201.1 million ($152.1 million), new figures from Statistics Canada show. The national monthly increase reflects natural market growth and improved capture of consumers away from the black market, said Theo Zunich, president and CEO of YSS Corp., which operates 16 licensed retailers in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan. “I think if you look at stats over the last year or so, they show that the more retail outlets you have, the better adoption of the legal market you’re seeing by the population,” Zunich said. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Canada accused of cannabis ‘protectionism’ by blocking imports – even as exports soar. The Canadian government is being accused of insulating domestic cannabis producers against foreign competition by not allowing imports of medical marijuana. And at least one foreign government plans to make a formal appeal to federal officials in Ottawa, Marijuana Business Daily has learned. Industry sources say Health Canada, the government body tasked with regulating imports and exports of cannabis, has not allowed commercial medical cannabis into the country, often with little or no explanation. That has set the stage for unfair competition, some executives and government sources say, while at the same time depriving Canadian patients of lower-cost medical cannabis alternatives. Exports from Canada of cannabis for medical and scientific use have soared in recent years, but the country evidently does not allow the importation of commercial volumes. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Canadian medical cannabis showing signs of contraction. Despite remaining a focus for many licensed producers, trends in the Canadian medical cannabis sector show it contracting for the most part, with no bottom reached just yet. The number of medical clients increased during the first year of legalization, but starting in September 2019 we have seen huge declines in registered patients, led by increase in recreational retail outlets, increased product variety (including Cannabis 2.0 items), and falling prices. In October 2018, two provinces – Alberta and Ontario – were home to 78% of the country’s active registered medical cannabis clients. Alberta currently has 73,000 medical cannabis clients, down 19% from October 2018. Ontario currently has 171,000 medical cannabis clients, 1% lower than the number registered in October 2018. Another dataset that illustrates the downward trend in Canada’s medical market is the number of monthly medical cannabis shipments from licensed producers to patients. There is a clear downward trend from October 2018 to February 2020. However, that trend was disrupted notably in March 2020. Read More (Cannabis Benchmarks)
Acreage wins motion to block Maine city from favoring residents. Acreage Holdings (ACRGF) continues to prevail in its legal efforts to thwart Maine and, now, its largest city from favoring homegrown businesses in the state’s impending adult-use market. A federal judge ruled that Portland can’t enforce scoring criteria that give licensing preference to locally owned marijuana businesses, Law360 reported. U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen granted a request for a preliminary injunction against the city filed by NPG, which does business as Wellness Connection, Maine’s largest medical cannabis operator. In her ruling, the judge indicated that Portland would have a difficult time legally justifying its licensing scheme. Portland officials had countered that regardless of how the scoring came out, Wellness would still be in control of a lucrative medical marijuana license in the city. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Flower One appoints Salpy Boyajian to its board of directors. Flower One Holdings (FLOOF) announced the appointment of Ms. Salpy Boyajian to its board of directors. Ms. Boyajian officially joined Flower One in October of 2018 following the acquisition of NLV Organics, which she co-founded in 2014. She currently serves as Flower One’s chief operating officer, Nevada Operations and was one of the original winning applicants granted cannabis licenses by the State of Nevada. Ken Villazor, president and CEO of Flower One, said: “Since the formation of Flower One, Salpy has provided executive oversight of our Nevada operations team including, most recently, guiding our business successfully through the partial re-opening of Nevada’s economy since early June subsequent to earlier COVID-19 restrictions instituted by the State.” Read More (Flower One)
Florida REIT AFC Gamma raises $80 million to lend to cannabis companies. AFC Gamma raised $80 million that, coupled with a $40 million credit line, gives the West Palm Beach, Florida, firm approximately $120 million to lend to marijuana businesses. According to a news release, more than 20 large family offices participated in the equity raise. It was AFC Gamma’s first close of a $200 million investment vehicle. The REIT’s extra funding could prove useful for an industry battling funding challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to a news release, AFC Gamma has already provided debt financing for five cannabis companies, including retailers, cultivators and processors. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Organigram joins Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Inc. and TruTrace in effort to track source and genetics of cannabis used by medical patients. Organigram Holdings (OGI) announced that it has partnered with Medical Cannabis by Shoppers on Phase 2 of Shoppers’ Pilot Program powered by software partner TruTrace Technologies. The program is designed to genetically finger-print all participating cannabis products, tracking them throughout the supply chain, from genome to patient, in order to provide real-time information about the composition of each cannabis product used by Medical Cannabis by Shoppers customers. Organigram will provide cannabis products to Shoppers for use in the tracking program. Read More (Organigram)
Liberty Health Sciences announces strategic partnership with Seed Junky Genetics to bring unique cannabis strains to Florida. Liberty Health Sciences (LHSIF) announced a partnership with Seed Junky Genetics (SJG), a California-based pioneer in the cannabis industry, to sell and distribute its world-renowned and potent assortment of award-winning cannabis strains. SJG has developed an unparalleled amount of varieties of genetics and is a leader in cannabis cultivation, excelling in the smokable flower category. Liberty plans to roll out a variety of SJG products to all of its Florida locations between November and December of this year. Read More (Newswire)
Neptune introduces Mood Ring cannabis brand for Canadian market. Neptune Wellness Solutions (NEPT) introduced its proprietary Mood Ring cannabis brand for the Canadian market. The Mood Ring brand and product line will officially launch in select Canadian markets this fall to meet consumer demand for high-quality, affordable and environmentally friendly cannabis products. Mood Ring will use Neptune’s proprietary cold ethanol extraction process technology to create full spectrum extracts for the company’s tincture and capsule products and newly implemented solvent-less extraction for THC concentrates. These processes allow Mood Ring to provide consumers with all of the cannabinoid and terpene benefits of the plant with a significantly lower environmental impact, requiring significantly less energy use when compared to CO2 extraction. Read More (Newswire)
Cansativa chosen as sole distributor of German-grown cannabis. Cansativa won the German distribution tender, becoming the sole distributor of all cannabis that will be grown in Germany for medical purposes during the next four years, the company announced in a news release. The company, located in the Frankfurt Rhine-Main Region, will provide logistics, wholesale and distribution services to the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM). To do that, Cansativa will deliver to German pharmacies the cannabis flower grown by the German subsidiaries of Canadian-based Aurora Cannabis and Aphria, as well as Germany-headquartered Demecan. The distribution application process suffered some delays, but the plan remains to start supplying German-grown cannabis flower to pharmacies before the end of 2020. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Expert grape growers aim to become the leading cannabis cultivator for the biotechnology industry. When Paul and Margaret Caracciolo founded Mill Station Vineyards in Sonoma in 2008, they imagined a modest semi-retired life parlaying their careers in the biotechnology industry to perfect their winemaking craft. As scientists, they immediately started experimenting and optimizing their growing operations on 8 1/2 acres of ultra-premium grapes. Neighboring vineyards took notice of their expertise and started buying their grapes in volume to make some of the most coveted Pinot Noirs available from the Russian River Valley. “My wife and I both work in the biotech industry,” Caracciolo recounted. “As scientists, we look at Sonoma as a laboratory. We develop standard protocols for the way that we approach cultivation — everything from the soil, the water and fertilizers are precisely calibrated to create high-quality grapes.” Read More (Benzinga)
Curaleaf Q2 revenue increases 22% sequentially to $117.5 million. Curaleaf Holdings (CURLF) saw record managed revenue of $121.4 million during the second quarter. That’s up by 120% year-over-year and 16% sequentially. In addition, record second-quarter pro forma revenue amounted to $165.4 million, while total revenue was $117.5 million. The Wakefield, Massachusetts-based company also posted record first-half managed revenue of $226.4 million. It achieved record adjusted EBITDA of $28 million. That’s a sequential and year-over-year change of 40% and 534%, respectively. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)
Cresco Labs reports record revenue of $94.3 million, 42% QoQ growth in Q2 2020. Cresco Labs (CRLBF) reported that its revenue rose sequentially by 42% to $94.3 million in Q2 2020. The company also said on its earnings conference call that it achieved positive free cash flow in the month of June. Analysts at Yahoo! Finance on average expected revenue of $76 million. The company delivered a net loss of $4.7 million, which was less than last year’s net loss of $13.4 million for the same time period. Cresco said that its revenue increased sequentially by more than 30% in every U.S. market, with the exception of Massachusetts. Read More (Cresco Labs) and More (Green Market Report)
Delta 9 reports $25 million in net revenue for first half of 2020. Delta 9 Cannabis (VRNDF) released its quarterly and half-year earnings report for fiscal 2020. The Winnipeg, Manitoba-based company disclosed that its second-quarter and six-month net revenue amounted to $8.9 million and $24.8 million. That’s a year-over-year increase of 46% and 71%, respectively. John Arbuthnot, Delta 9’s CEO, said they are “pleased with the continuation of strong growth in top line revenue,” adding that results “demonstrate another quarter of profitability.” The company’s net income from operations was $1.7 million in the second quarter, versus a loss from operations of $1.1 million in the same period of 2019. Read More (Benzinga) and More (GlobeNewswire)
TerrAscend reports strong Q2 2020 net sales of CAD $47.2 million and adjusted EBITDA of CAD $11.4 million. TerrAscend (TRSSF) reported its financial results for its second quarter ending June 30, 2020. The company’s net sales increased 169% to CAD $47.2 million during Q2 2020 from CAD $17.6 million in Q2 2019. Adjusted EBITDA stood at CAD $11.4 million, or 24% of net sales in Q2 2020. Based on the ongoing strength of the company’s operations, TerrAscend anticipates full year net sales of at least $192 million driven by second half 2020 net sales growth of at least 34% versus the first half of 2020 and 109% year over year. Read More (Newswire)
THC free CBD for veterans reports > 400% increase in sales during COVID-19. Patriot Supreme, the veteran-owned company behind 0.0% THC CBD for veterans and military families, has reported a substantial increase of 432% in its online sales since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, the company has developed a full line of CannaSafe Certified CBD oil products created for veterans struggling with both mental and physical disabilities. The company states that it expects sales growth to continue, particularly with the recent approval of an amendment by Congress, which will allow military service members to use products containing hemp and its derivatives, including CBD. Read More (Extraction Magazine)
Struggling economy might signal time for cannabis businesses to seek out real estate deals. The COVID-19 crisis and ensuing economic downturn have created opportunities for cannabis companies to finagle deals on real estate belonging to mainstream businesses or marijuana firms that are scaling back or even closing their doors. Other cannabis companies are simply hoping their landlords will lower rents to fill vacant properties or to avoid losing existing marijuana tenants. Marijuana businesses that are seeking to acquire properties owned by distressed companies must be quick to move on such opportunities, according to experts who spoke with Marijuana Business Magazine. And cannabis companies hoping to find relief on their rent payments or seeking to use their properties to raise capital need to look at potential legal and debt ramifications. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
The cannabis industry needs banking now. The Democrats want to reintroduce tenets of the failed Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act into the newest round of Coronavirus legislation — under the guise that it’s related to cannabis as a COVID-19 therapy. The SAFE Banking Act is filled with hopeful possibilities. Simply put, the U.S. needs the SAFE Banking Act, the global cannabis industry needs the SAFE Banking Act, and post-COVID economy needs the SAFE Banking Act. Without banks, state-compliant cannabis businesses can’t accept credit cards, acquire loans, set up deposit accounts, write checks, run payroll or pay taxes. All this currently enables money-laundering, presents a safety hazard, and prohibits the U.S. from keeping pace with nearly all of its neighbors in the Western Hemisphere in the new commercial global cannabis economy. Read More (Forbes)
Barbarians at the gate: Institutions are buying U.S. cannabis stocks. In late July, Investopedia discovered that U.S. institutions began to accumulate U.S. cannabis stocks on behalf of their clients. That may not sound like a big deal but for the ardent industry followers among us, it’s seismic. Investopedia has long spoken about the perception of cannabis as an asset class shifting from denial to migration, and that being driven by a thundering herd of U.S. investors. While these institutions’ compliance officers could change their minds about allowing access to the sector, the more likely read is that when you see an elephant or two, the herd isn’t far behind. Legitimate growth at reasonable multiples with an expanding total addressable market would excite any investor but for small-cap growth managers, it’s their lifeblood; and those animal spirits have now been unleashed. Read More (Investopedia)
Red White & Bloom Brands announces $15 million bought deal public offering of units. Red White and Bloom Brands announced that it has entered into an agreement with PI Financial Corp. and Eight Capital to act as co-lead underwriters, on behalf of a syndicate of underwriters, pursuant to which the underwriters will purchase, on a bought deal basis, an aggregate of 20,000,000 units of RWB at a price of $0.75 per unit for aggregate gross proceeds of $15,000,000. The net proceeds of the offering will be used for working capital and general corporate purposes. The units will be offered by way of a short-form prospectus in all provinces of Canada except Quebec, and such other additional jurisdictions in Canada as agreed to by the company and the underwriter. Read More (GlobeNewswire)
Green Thumb Industries to sell 10 million shares. Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF) has filed an S-1 with the SEC to enable it, once the registration is effective, to sell 10 million shares. The company, which moved to U.S. GAAP accounting earlier this year and began filing with the SEC then, is describing it as its “initial public offering of securities in the U.S.,” as all of its previous sales have taken place in Canada. GTBIF suggested that the capital will be used to increase its capitalization and financial flexibility , allowing it additional working capital and funding capital expenditures. It may also use a portion to fund investments and acquisitions. The company didn’t specify an underwriter and said that it will sell securities directly to investors. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)
Planet 13 raises CAD $15 million selling units at CAD $3.70. Planet 13 Holdings (PLNHF) announced that it has entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters co-led by Beacon Securities Limited and Canaccord Genuity pursuant to which the underwriters have agreed to purchase, on a bought deal basis, 4,060,000 units in the capital of the company at a price of CAD $3.70 per unit for aggregate gross proceeds to the company of CAD $15,022,000. The net proceeds from the offering will be used for working capital and general corporate purposes. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)
Medical marijuana sales soar amid COVID-19, making Pennsylvania one of the nation’s fastest growing cannabis markets. During the last six months, the size of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has surged due to the anxiety-producing effects of COVID-19 and some favorable changes to regulation. “The program is doing really well,” said Chris Woods, CEO of Terrapin Care Station, a cannabis grower and processor upstate in Clinton County. “Pennsylvania really has become the model for what medical marijuana programs should do across the country,” said Woods, of Terrapin. “Obviously, there have been a few problems. But the Department of Health and the governor have worked hand-in-hand to increase supply to patients, and increasing patient access has accelerated things.” Read More (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Iowa medical cannabis businesses face profit woes amid heavy restrictions. Iowa’s 2-year-old medical marijuana program is struggling to become financially viable, constrained by low THC levels, high prices, minimal physician participation – and more. While most marijuana markets across the country have experienced robust demand during the coronavirus pandemic, Iowa’s MMJ sales have been weak. Patients have struggled to renew and register their MMJ cards because of complications related to the pandemic, and two of five dispensaries have shuttered their doors. Sales are on pace to reach only $3.2 million this year, according to state data through July. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
DEA proposes hemp and CBD rules to comply with crop’s legalization. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) unveiled proposed rules for hemp and CBD to put the federal agency officially in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill. The four main amendments include: 1) Adding language stating that THC does not include “any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that falls within the definition of hemp.” 2) Removing any CBD drug product from Schedule V status that has been approved by the U.S. FDA and contains CBD “derived from cannabis [with] no more than 0.1% … residual tetrahydrocannabinols.” 3) Removing import and export controls over hemp and its derivatives. 4) Modifying the definition of “marihuana extract” to exclude substances that contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC on a dry-weight basis. Read More (Marijuana Moment) and More (Cannabis Business Times)
New York says USDA hemp rules ‘unrealistic,’ bows out of plan to regulate. Calling federal rules for regulating hemp “unrealistic” and “unreasonable,” New York agriculture authorities say they won’t try to regulate the crop, telling hemp farmers they’ll have to rely on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s looming rules on hemp production. In a letter to farmers, New York Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said that the state is giving up on regulating hemp because the USDA hasn’t changed them to make them easier to administer. The result is that USDA, not in-state authorities, will be charged with regulating hemp production in New York after November 1, when the national rule is set to take effect. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
The FDA wants to test thousands of CBD products on the market. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving forward with plans to understand and oversee the booming CBD industry. A new call for bids is seeking a contractor to collect and assess samples of products containing CBD and other cannabinoids (outside of the state-legal cannabis market.) The purpose of these studies will be to develop a better understanding of the quantities of CBD and associated cannabinoids and their distribution,” according to the FDA. The contractor will collect 1,000 to 3,000 samples of CBD products on the market later this year and in early 2021. Read More (Cannabis Business Times)
Schumer urges USDA to aid hemp producers by delaying regulatory deadlines. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to delay the issuance of a final rule for the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program until 2022, and allow states to continue to operate hemp pilot programs as authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill. In a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, the Senate’s top-ranking Democrat argued that hemp farmers are having difficulty adapting to the department’s interim hemp regulations. “The timing of implementation of the Interim Final Rules, especially during the COVID crisis, will create extreme disruption in this nascent industry,” Schumer wrote. Stating that current compliance costs are “suffocating for the emerging industry,” he added that the cost for reporting would be around $17,363.40 and that testing could cost producers around $700 per sample — which is only half-correct. Read More (New Frontier Data)
The FDA is hiring a contractor to study thousands of CBD products. FDA is looking to award a contract to help study CBD as the agency develops regulations for products containing the non-intoxicating cannabinoid. In a notice, FDA said the chosen company will provide support with “collecting samples and assessing the quantities of CBD and related cannabinoids, as well as potential associated contaminants such as toxic elements, pesticides, industrial chemicals, processing solvents and microbial contaminants, in foods and cosmetics through surveys of these commodities.” FDA said that the results of the studies “will not only be reported to Congress, but will also be used to guide the development of future policy” and will help to “develop a better understanding of the quantities of CBD and associated cannabinoids and their distribution.” Read More (Marijuana Moment)
As hemp harvest nears, U.S. farmers face uncertainty about regulations. A lingering stalemate between state and federal regulators over rules for growing hemp is leaving farmers without strong direction as they head into a harvest season unsure about the rules that will govern them. The stalemate intensified when New York, one of the largest hemp producers with some 29,985 licensed acres this year, told its hemp growers it would bow out of trying to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rules that start November 1. New York Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball gave farmers the news in a letter August 14 – a day before the deadline for states to submit plans to the USDA. A few days later, Colorado, another major hemp producer, had its plan returned for revisions and clarification, underscoring the difficulty many states are facing in adapting to the new regulations. Several more states have been ordered by USDA to change their proposals. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
Smokable hemp: A market opportunity in legal limbo. With rates for CBD hemp biomass eroding dramatically and fewer processors willing to pay cash for such raw material, smokable hemp flower has since last year become a more prevalent production target among growers seeking higher commodity prices. According to data collected in a latest Hemp Benchmarks Spot Price Index report, as of July the price for a pound of smokable CBD hemp flower was nearly 20 times that of a pound of hemp biomass, if assuming a CBD potency of 10% for the latter. However, approaches to regulating smokable hemp are uneven across different states and nonexistent in some, creating confusion and difficulties in the market. Read More (Hemp Benchmarks)
CBD beverage maker teams with Pepsi NY to tackle New York City market. A New Jersey company that makes CBD-infused seltzers has an agreement with the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of New York to get the product in New York City grocery stores, convenience stores and bodegas. Hillview, a hemp and marijuana producer based in Pequannock, New Jersey, said the deal lands it in all five New York boroughs plus Long Island and Westchester. The Kaló-branded seltzers contain hemp-derived CBD and retail for $40 per eight-pack. “Plant-based beverages are extremely innovative and growing fast,” said Reginald Goins, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of New York’s president and chief operating officer. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
National retailer The Vitamin Shoppe putting new emphasis on CBD. One of the nation’s largest chained retailers of health supplements, The Vitamin Shoppe, is leaning into its CBD experiment with expanded plans to carry more ingestibles and topicals. The retailer says that strong demand prompted a move to ratchet up CBD displays in some 572 locations in 39 states, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico. The new “CBD HQ” sections come a year after the retailer started selling edible CBD supplements and drops despite repeated warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that such products are illegal. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
High Tide to acquire Meta Growth, creating major Canadian cannabis retailer. High Tide (HITI-CA) is acquiring competitor Meta Growth, creating an entity touted as Canada’s largest cannabis retailer. The combined companies will operate 63 retail stores across Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan, according to a news release. There are plans to grow to approximately 115 locations by the end of 2021. Meta Growth shareholders will receive 0.824 High Tide shares for each Meta share held. “Both companies have complementary retail footprints and similar proven operational efficiency models,” Meta Growth CEO Mark Goliger said in the release. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Inventory growth of Canadian cannabis edibles/beverages far outpaces sales. Packaged inventory of cannabis edibles in Canada has increased much faster than sales in recent months, according to fresh data from the country’s federal health department. Federal license holders, provincial distributors and retailers were sitting on roughly 6.3 million packaged units of cannabis edibles products as of May. That compares to sales of about 1 million units. Health Canada defines packaged inventory as cannabis held in stock by a cultivator, processor, distributor or retailer that is packaged for sale to consumers. Edibles inventory has risen 85% since March, whereas sales for medical and nonmedical use grew only 29%. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Pot-infused drinks hopeful for heyday in U.S. Canopy Growth’s (CGC) plan to launch cannabis-infused drinks in the U.S. marks the latest attempt by a marijuana company to position itself for a possible weed beverage boom. The Ontario-based company has licensed rights to its cannabis drinks line in the U.S. to Acreage Holdings (ACRGF), which is expected to soon provide more details. The move comes at an opportune time – the pot industry is hopeful for U.S. legalization as soon as 2021 and Americans are drinking less alcohol during the coronavirus pandemic. Read More (BNN Bloomberg)
Massachusetts cannabis company to dump $2.6 million worth of vape pens. Massachusetts-based marijuana business Temescal Wellness plans to destroy more than 40,000 vape cartridges, worth $2.6 million, that have sat unused after the state temporarily banned marijuana vaping during the 2019 health crisis linked to the hardware. “People are just not comfortable with these products, and they’re not comfortable with any company that would sell these products,” Temescal chief executive Ted Rebholz told The Boston Globe. Other cannabis companies in the state might also be destroying product, but the trend is not clear yet. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)
Niche product sales rising in Canada. Canadians decided to try something new in May, according to new figures released by Statistics Canada. Cannabis topical sales increased by 71.4% and cannabis seed sales increased by 59.1%. While they may not make up a large portion of total sales, these numbers show that Canadians are starting to get more curious. In April, only 1,736 units of cannabis topicals were sold, however, in May sales shot up to 6,068 as new products entered the market. Similarly, April saw only 1,798 units of cannabis seeds sold, but that number rose to 4,397 in May. Read More (Cannabis Retailer)
EU cannabis marketers face packaging challenges. Despite the twin constraints of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a regulatory pause on CBD applications for inclusion to the EU’s Novel Food Catalogue, there remains a strong upward trend in Europe’s CBD and medical cannabis industries. The U.K. market alone in 2019 was valued at £300 million ($356 million) by the Centre For Medicinal Cannabis, while New Frontier Data projects the EU CBD market (i.e., 27 countries, not including U.K.) to reach €8.3 billion ($9.9 billion) in 2020. As the market matures and grows, questions of marketing and packaging come increasingly into play. The pandemic may further change packaging and point-of-sale preferences. Euromonitor International’s research manager, Marguerite LeRolland, has reportedly suggested that COVID-19 may yet increase demand for the demonstration of safety, provenance, and transparency of ingredients in beauty products. Read More (New Frontier Data)
UK CBD company begins construction on production facility. London-based cannabis investment company World High Life says its CBD subsidiary Love Hemp has started construction on a bigger production facility. The company said the 3,500-square-foot facility will enable Love Hemp to increase production of its products including oils, cosmetics and capsules from the current 8,000 units per day to 43,000 units. Completion of the facility is expected in February. “This expansion further increases our capabilities in striving to exceed customer and consumer requirements while improving storage and production capabilities, lead times and ensuring the safety of our staff,” Love Hemp CEO Tony Calamita was quoted as saying. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
German vape market forecast to decline ahead of new ad rules, data shows. The CBD vape market in Germany had been expected to decline in coming years even without the restrictions and advertising bans for non-nicotine e-cigarettes that take effect in 2021, analysts say. According to market researchers at CBD-Intel, the German CBD vape product market – estimated at $11 million this year – is expected to decline to around $8.4 million by 2025. The analysts projected the decline before the country decided that CBD vapes will face new advertising restrictions next year. “Our assumption is that the format (of CBD consumption) is niche and lacks the characteristics and acceptance for mass-market adoption,” Nate Erskine, head of market data at CBD-Intel, told Hemp Industry Daily. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
Mexican president: Country’s Congress free to decide on hemp legalization next month. Mexico’s president says he won’t interfere with legislation to legalize marijuana and hemp when the country’s Congress takes up the bill next month. The comments from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a news conference are significant because he previously indicated his administration’s focus was on regulating hemp for medicinal use, not creating a market for recreational and industrial cannabis. The president said his administration is “respectful of the division and balance between powers” and that lawmakers “are going to decide freely” whether to pass the legislation. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)
Purdue University and hemp biotechnology company develop quantitative THC field test. Hemp Synergistics LLC, a Pennsylvania-based hemp biotechnology company, has partnered with Purdue University Northwest to develop a new THC rapid field test kit for law enforcement to distinguish hemp from marijuana in less than five minutes. The test, called TRU (THC Recognition Unit), has the ability to measure the amount of THC in a cannabis sample up to 1%. Ron Fazio, a former forensic scientist and the current chief operations officer at Hemp Synergistics, says the test also indicates if the sample contains more than 1% THC, although it cannot detect the specific amount beyond that. Read More (Cannabis Business Times)
P.L. Light Systems introduces new HortiLED TOP 2.0. With an efficacy of 3.3 μmol/J, the HortiLED TOP 2.0 delivers energy savings by reducing energy consumption by as much as 40% versus traditional HPS systems to deliver the same light levels. The optional remote dimming allows for integration with compatible control systems, where light output can be dimmed on a relative scale, based on lighting schedules and/or variable light requirements, enabling control of light levels and energy consumption. The HortiLED TOP 2.0 offers two spectrums designed for optimal spectral efficiencies in both supplementary and sole source lighting applications. Constructed from aluminum and LEDs, the HortiLED TOP 2.0 requires minimal maintenance and is designed for the harsh conditions of indoor growing. Read More (Cannabis Business Times)
LEGAL & IP
How does a cannabis retailer protect its brand names and logos? Brand names and logos can be protected through trademark law. You can acquire certain trademark rights simply by using your brand name or a logo in association with your goods or services, but generally speaking those rights are geographically limited and difficult to enforce. The trademark application process isn’t easy; there are many steps and it can take 2-3 years to get registered. Not all trademarks are registrable either. That’s why it’s extremely important to conduct due diligence on your proposed trademark before you invest in it. Don’t forget your trademark must also comply with s. 17 of the Cannabis Act, i.e. it can’t be appealing to young persons or evoke a lifestyle of glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk, or daring. Read More (Cannabis Retailer)
Geographic branding – Is weed the new wine? Terroir is the essence of a region distilled into a distinct expression of a plant. Wine, cacao, coffee, and tobacco are only a handful of examples of how the accumulation of soil, climate, terrain, and even the cultural landscape develops into a discernible essence of a final product. The push to document the terroir of cannabis is simply the next logical evolution of this idea, and one already well underway in California. The push to protect the quintessential spirit of cannabis cultivation in California is the first of what will surely become a worldwide phenomenon. Cultivators have successfully pushed for Appellation of Origin protections for the Emerald Triangle and beyond. Perhaps inspired by the success of the Napa Valley Vineyards, these cultivators and advocates are banking on regional weed as the new wine. Read More (Cannabis Tech)
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