MICHIGAN’S BLOOMING CANNABIS MARKET AND ITS BEST-POSITIONED PLAYER 

Driven by adult-use legalization, Michigan is emerging as one of the most attractive cannabis markets in the U.S., with 2020 sales expected to top $1 billion and an average basket size that is superior to all other states. Michigan began adult-use sales in December 2019 and the state’s marijuana market has grown by leaps and bounds ever since. Recreational sales are up ~800% in nine months from $7 million in December to $65 million in August, according to Headset data. Monthly recreational sales overtook medical sales in July, a trend that is likely to continue. The burgeoning recreational market adds to the state’s medical cannabis market which is the second largest in the country after California. Overall YTD cannabis sales (recreational + medical) stand at nearly $600 million, and with a monthly run rate of $110 million they are on track to top $1 billion this year, surpassing Nevada and challenging billion-dollar state markets like Oregon and Washington. The rapid rise in sales is backed by an industry-leading basket size – according to data from Headset, Michigan stands out among U.S. cannabis markets with the largest average basket size so far this year at $84.58. (See chart on next page.) That is 2.6x larger than Washington’s average basket size, which is the smallest basket of any state, and is reflective of the strong appetite Michigan citizens have for cannabis, with some stores reporting that customers tend to come in frequently, “almost like buying a coffee every single day.”

The growth runway is huge with 1,400 cities – including Detroit – yet to opt in for recreational sales, and demand-supply imbalance is expected to normalize in the near-to-medium term, creating a market with potential for $3 billion in annual sales. Local governments in Michigan had a November 2019 deadline to opt out of allowing cannabis businesses in their communities or be automatically opted in. Nearly 1,400 cities opted out, mostly to take their time to assess the state program and define their own approach. They were expected to start opting in this year before the pandemic hit and delayed the opt-in process, creating a demand-supply imbalance and keeping legal cannabis prices elevated. However, the opt-in process is likely to gather steam once COVID-related disruptions subside and lawmakers feel the need to boost tax revenue. The list of cities that have yet to opt in includes Detroit, the state’s biggest medical cannabis market. Thus, as and when these cities legalize adult-use sales, MI’s legal cannabis market will get a big boost due to 1) the influx of a new large consumer base, and 2) the increase in cannabis production and testing establishments that will lift supply and help lower prices and accelerate the illicit-to-legal market shift. State regulator Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) estimates that Michigan’s marijuana market has a $3 billion annual sales potential and a study by Michigan State University found that the cannabis market’s total economic impact (including ancillary businesses) is estimated to be $7.85 billion with a total impact on employment of 23,700.

With a 22% market share, Red White & Bloom (CSE:RWB/OTC:RWBYF) is the name that investors evaluating this fast-growing Midwest cannabis market should monitor. RWB has consolidated market share in the MI market through a series of acquisitions including MichiCann Medical (one of MI’s largest cannabis companies) and PharmaCo Inc. In June, RWB acquired the licensing rights for the branding of High Times dispensaries and High Times’ cannabis-based CBD and THC products in MI, IL, and FL. Thanks to these moves, RWB currently owns 41 licenses across the industry value chain in MI and has a strong operating presence through 10 dispensaries (plus eight that are ready to open) and five cultivation facilities. RWB is currently servicing 115k unique patients though 350k annual transactions. Its Midwest presence is also strengthened by the 3.6 million sq ft hemp CBD production facility – one of the world’s largest – that it owns in Illinois. Led by a strong management team, Red White & Bloom is one of the Midwest-focused cannabis stocks meriting investor attention, along with Green Thumb and Cresco. Also, Gage is a top retail brand in Michigan with an exclusive partnership with Cookies, which we will cover more in next week’s Stash.

Chart 1: Led by Adult-Use Consumption, Cannabis Sales in Michigan Are Growing at A Rapid Pace  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset, Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA)

Chart 1: Led by Adult-Use Consumption, Cannabis Sales in Michigan Are Growing at A Rapid Pace
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset, Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA)

 

Chart 2: Average Basket Size by State (2020 YTD)  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 2: Average Basket Size by State (2020 YTD)
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

CANNA NEWS

COVID-19

Democrats’ COVID-19 relief bill contains cannabis banking. Buried deep in the U.S. House Democrats’ latest $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package is a key provision that will delight cannabis businesses: the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking (SAFE) Act. According to NORML, the main provisions of the proposed law – which would help marijuana businesses gain access to banking services – were included in the Democrats’ bill. NORML Political Director Justin Strekal noted that the SAFE banking bill has already passed the House twice previously (the legislation has not been taken up by the full Senate) and called its inclusion a “positive development.” “Small cannabis businesses in particular are facing tough economic times, and access to traditional financial tools will help ensure that they can weather this pandemic,” Strekal said in a statement. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

The cannabis industry is putting up a fight against COVID-19. Here is how. With cannabis prohibition on the decline and medical marijuana now legal in 33 states, it’s a great time for innovators to create new and exciting technology to improve how people cultivate and consume cannabis. PathogenDx is one example of a company dedicated to cultivating positive change for the future. Their DNA-based microarray testing technology delivers efficient, viral testing solutions and is at the forefront of bacterial and fungal testing. PathogenDx promises “greater certainty at ultra-rapid speed.” Their pathogen detection technology can test for different microbes and fungi in a single well and deliver accurate results within six hours. PathogenDx has been incredibly important in the cannabis industry, as 23 states require pathogen regulatory testing to ensure the safety and quality of hemp. Read More (Green Entrepreneur)

How marijuana stores attract and keep senior shoppers – even during COVID-19. Cannabis retailers are taking extra steps to attract and retain senior customers at a time when marijuana use is increasing among older Americans. Senior-friendly dispensaries interviewed by Marijuana Business Daily said they have found success by building enduring relationships with seniors’ communities, training employees to take their time with older shoppers when needed, offering special perks such as seniors’ hours and discounts, and fine-tuning their approaches in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus appears to be changing the way those older consumers shop for cannabis. From January to August, the raw transaction volume for baby boomers 56-74 years old at adult-use cannabis stores declined by 14%, according to Headset’s point-of-sales data from California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

STATE AND REGULATORY NEWS

How Trump and Biden will affect the cannabis industry. Presidential candidates Trump and Biden, whose presence looms large over the shape of the next administration, theoretically hold both the power and influence to sway future developments in the space. But neither has formally stepped out in favor of the SAFE Banking Act. Democratic leaders maintain that the purpose of the Act (as stated in the Act) is to “increase public safety by ensuring access to financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses… and reducing the amount of cash at such businesses.” But Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, remain opposed to including this legislation within coronavirus relief bills. To date, the SAFE Banking Act appears unlikely to pass in 2020. For President Donald Trump and his circle, the reforms it proposes appear to be a non-starter. However, while Biden’s camp has largely tiptoed around the issue, the SAFE Banking Act seems to have a lot of Democratic support. Read More (Complex)

Billions at stake as voters decide on medical, adult-use marijuana markets in five states. Voters in five states—Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota—will decide whether to legalize medical and recreational cannabis on November 3, with billions of dollars of market opportunities hanging in the balance. In Arizona, recent polls have shown a range of results from a close vote to a 12% margin in support while in Mississippi, 81% favor MMJ legalization, with 52% for the citizen initiative. A University of Montana poll in February found that Montana residents supported recreational marijuana legalization by a margin of 54% to 37%, with 10% undecided. New Jersey residents favor the legalization proposal by a margin of 68% in favor and 26% against with 6% unsure, according to a July poll. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Chart 3: States with Legalization on the Ballot  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

Chart 3: States with Legalization on the Ballot
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

Croptober is going up in smoke amid U.S. wildfires. October usually heralds the harvest of outdoor cannabis plants, affectionately known as “Croptober.” But this fall, something more serious is in the air: smoke from the wildfires that are ravaging California and Oregon. Fires are clustered in Northern California’s “Emerald Triangle” and a pair of Oregon counties, areas that are among the nation’s most important for cannabis production. Even if crops aren’t destroyed in the more than 5 million acres of wildfires, massive amounts of smoke and ash will take a toll. Darkened skies can stunt the plants’ growth, said Jill Ellsworth, chief executive officer of Denver-based Willow Industries, which cleans marijuana flower for mold in California and other states. “We’re hearing that some cultivators are starting to harvest early, because it’s prematurely flowering, and they don’t want that,” Ellsworth said. Read More (BNN Bloomberg)

Western wildfire smoke delays outdoor cannabis harvest, exposing climate impact. Cannabis growers in California, Oregon and Washington state are contemplating two choices in the face of wildfires that have burned more than 5 million acres: 1) harvesting underdeveloped plants with lower yields in early October, and 2) trying to regain those lost days by harvesting later in the month, risking freezing temperatures or early snow. All of this further underscore the threat that climate change poses to cannabis and, more broadly, agriculture. The smoke and ash could diminish both the size and quality of the West Coast crop at a time when cannabis demand has been strong amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

U.S. legal cannabis industry to be worth $35 billion in 2025. In 2019, the U.S. legal cannabis industry generated an estimated $13.2 billion in sales across all medical and adult-use state markets. In 2020, despite socioeconomic disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, total legal cannabis sales are projected beyond $19 billion. Projecting a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 18% over the next five years, by 2025 total annual U.S. legal sales should exceed $35 billion. Between 2020-2025, the total combined U.S. market opportunity for legal cannabis sales is estimated at $172 billion. Legal cannabis industry expansion is fueled both by new markets as more states adopt legalization, and from sustained demand growth as consumers transition from illicit to legal markets. Conversely, illicit market sales will slow due to legal markets. Read More (New Frontier Data)

Chart 4: Growth of the U.S. Legal Cannabis Industry  Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

Chart 4: Growth of the U.S. Legal Cannabis Industry
Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

New recreational cannabis markets are seeing quicker starts to sales. The speedier launch of recreational markets is good news for industry advocates in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota. Residents in those states are set to vote on adult-use legalization in November, although South Dakota residents will be voting simultaneously on the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. The faster launches also are good news for states that have medical-only markets but aspire to offer recreational cannabis. A speedier market launch could be a blessing and a curse for cannabis businesses, however. On the plus side, companies might not have to wait years and years to open. But they will need to be nimble and able to set up quickly. This will also mean having flexible capital and being well organized. On the flip side, existing MMJ operators often still have the first crack at the recreational licenses. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Chart 5: From Medical to Recreational to First Sale: The Wait is Getting Shorter  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

Chart 5: From Medical to Recreational to First Sale: The Wait is Getting Shorter
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

Adult-use marijuana legalization in New Jersey expected to ignite domino effect. Billions of dollars in business opportunities are riding on whether New Jersey residents legalize a recreational cannabis market in November. A recreational marijuana industry in New Jersey itself – with a population of nearly 9 million people – would reach $850 million-$950 million in sales a year by 2024, according to a Marijuana Business Daily projection. But that’s not all: Approval is expected to cause a domino effect along the Eastern Seaboard and inland, creating an adult-use marijuana region that is among the biggest in the world. New Jersey “will be the final hurdle for New York, Pennsylvania and surrounding states,” predicted Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association. “It’s going to motivate the surrounding states for sure,” agreed Bridget Hill-Zayat, a cannabis attorney with Hoban Law Group who is licensed to practice in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Chart 6: New Jersey’s Potential Clout  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

Chart 6: New Jersey’s Potential Clout
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

California governor approves changes to marijuana banking and labeling laws. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a handful of marijuana bills into law, making a series of small adjustments to the nation’s largest legal cannabis system. More sweeping proposals such as overhauling the state’s marijuana regulatory structure will have to wait until next year, the governor said. Among the biggest of the new changes are revisions to banking and advertising laws. With many legal marijuana businesses are still unable to access financial services, Newsom signed a bill (AB 1525) to remove state penalties against banks that work with cannabis clients. “This bill has the potential to increase the provisions of financial services to the legal cannabis industry,” Newsom wrote in a signing statement, “and for that reason, I support it.” Read More (Marijuana Moment)

Colorado continues to see highest wholesale marijuana prices in years. The Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) recently released its monthly Marijuana Sales Report for July. After sales growth slowed somewhat in June, July saw a big jump in both adult-use and medical revenues, which pushed total sales to a new record high, surpassing the $200 million – as well as the $225 million – mark for the first time. Tax data indicates that the unprecedented demand has resulted in increased wholesale trading and transfer activity, with Colorado’s spot index responding by continuing the climb that commenced in June. In July, combined retail sales of adult-use and medical cannabis totaled over $226.3 million, up by 13.8% compared to June’s combined revenues of over $198.8 million. Historical trends show that sales typically rise from June to July. Read More (Cannabis Benchmarks)

U.S. cannabis spot index up 2.5% to $1,634 per pound, April 2021 forward initially assessed at $1,465 per pound. The simple average (non-volume weighted) price increased $2 to $1,770 per pound, with 68% of transactions (one standard deviation) in the $1,013 to $2,526 per pound range. The average reported deal size decreased to 2.1 pounds. In grams, the spot price was $3.60 and the simple average price was $3.90. The average reported forward deal size was 22 pounds. The proportions of forward deals for outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor-grown flower were 35%, 39%, and 26% of forward arrangements, respectively. Read More (Cannabis Benchmarks)

Chart 7: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Spot Index  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Chart 7: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Spot Index
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

 

Chart 8: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Implied Forward Curve  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Chart 8: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Implied Forward Curve
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

 

Chart 9: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Spot Price by Medical or Recreational  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Chart 9: Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Spot Price by Medical or Recreational
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks

Cannabis contributed more than $9.6 billion to Canada’s economy in July: StatsCan. Canada’s cannabis industry continues to carve out more space in the country’s economy, as it contributed $9.68 billion to the national gross domestic product (GDP) in July, according to Statistics Canada. That’s a 19 percent increase from last July, StatsCan data shows. The legal market’s contribution to GDP rose by about 54 percent in that same span. The illicit market represented $3.86 billion or about 40 percent of the pot industry’s contribution to Canada’s economy, the data showed. Read More (StatsCan, BNN Bloomberg)

Ontario government cannabis prices beating illicit market. Ontario’s government-operated Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) claims it is undercutting illicit marijuana prices with an average price of CAD $7.05 ($5.30) per gram of dried flower, taxes included, during its first fiscal quarter. In comparison, the average price for a gram of marijuana from illicit mail-order dispensaries was CAD $7.98, the OCS said in a new quarterly report covering April, May and June. The OCS said its illegal market prices were sourced via Weedmaps.com and the illicit online dispensaries themselves. The quarterly average per-gram price at licensed private-sector stores in Ontario was CAD $9.88 with taxes included, according to the OCS. The quarterly report highlighted “strong, positive consumer reaction to large-format 28-gram value offerings,” which grew to 3.9% of OCS dried flower sales during the first quarter from 1.1% in the previous quarter. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily) and More (Cannabis Benchmarks)

Chart 10: Illegal Market Price per Gram for Dried Flower: April 1, 2020 — June 30, 2020  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily, Cannabis Benchmarks

Chart 10: Illegal Market Price per Gram for Dried Flower: April 1, 2020 — June 30, 2020
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily, Cannabis Benchmarks

Legal pot sales continue to eat into illicit market: Ontario Cannabis Store. The legal cannabis industry continued to make inroads against its illicit counterparts, as one-quarter of all sales took place among regulated players in the first quarter of the year, according to new data from the Ontario Cannabis Store. The provincial pot distributor’s quarterly review showed that the province controlled a 25.1 percent share of the cannabis market in the fiscal first quarter of 2020, a slight uptick from the 24.7 percent share observed in the previous quarter. The number lagged behind the national share for the legal market, according to OCS and Statistics Canada calculations. The market share gains indicate that Canada’s approach to legalizing pot for recreational use is gaining traction amongst consumers. Additional data showed household spending on legal cannabis in the second quarter of 2020 outpaced the illicit market for the first time. Read More (BNN Bloomberg)

Ontario cuts into cannabis store shortage by doubling authorizations. Ontario’s cannabis store regulator has started issuing 10 Retail Store Authorizations (RSA) per week, double the previous pace of five new stores weekly. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario said in a notice on its website that “… as of Sept. 28, it will move from issuing five to 10 RSAs each week.” The move will help alleviate the province’s shortage of legal marijuana outlets, but it will be years before Ontario catches up to other provinces. As of September 28, 173 cannabis retailers were open in Ontario, or about 1.19 stores per 100,000 people, which is the second-lowest in the country. By comparison, Alberta leads with more than 500 store licensees serving a population roughly one-third that of Ontario’s – about 11.5 licenses issued per 100,000 people. Ontario is promising to further increase its authorizations this fall to 40 new stores per month. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Chart 11: Per Capita Cannabis Stores by Province in Canada  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

Chart 11: Per Capita Cannabis Stores by Province in Canada
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

Manitoba cannabis sales reaching new highs. While many sectors in the province have experienced heavy financial strain due to COVID-19, Manitoba’s cannabis industry appears to be flying as high as ever. Indeed, cannabis sales in the province are projected to reach close to $100 million in 2020, according to Cannabis Benchmarks. “For the calendar year of 2020, we’re projected $96.8 million in sales,” said Het Shah, Cannabis Benchmark’s managing director of price assessments. That figure compares to total sales of $62.5 million in 2019. During the first six months of this year, Manitoba had already reached $41.2 million in sales, with a monthly average sales number of $6.9 million. In July, that monthly number reached $9.1 million, nearly double the $5.83 million in sales from the same month in 2019. Shah said they expect Manitoba’s month sales average for the second half of the year to be in the $9.3-million region. Read More (Winnipeg Sun)

COMPANY NEWS

Aurora Cannabis execs saw raises, bonuses despite multibillion-dollar loss. Top Aurora Cannabis (ACB) executives were rewarded with millions of dollars in bonuses and raises for the fiscal year ended June 30, the company disclosed, despite mass layoffs and a loss exceeding CAD $3 billion ($2.3 billion). Share and option-based awards for the six executive officers listed in the circular rose 58% compared to the year earlier, to CAD $9.8 million. Those awards account for most of the executive compensation. Cash bonuses awarded to the executives, meanwhile, amounted to nearly CAD $700,000. The circular shows that no increases to salaries will be awarded at the executive level for the current fiscal year, which began July 1 and extends through the end of June 2021. The disclosure also shows that founder Terry Booth was awarded a compensation package worth almost CAD $5 million, consisting of a CAD $458,911 salary, almost CAD $2 million in shares and option-based awards, a CAD $350,000 bonus plus another CAD $2.1 million. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Nelson Peltz resigns as advisor to Aurora Cannabis. Nelson Peltz has resigned as a strategic advisor to Aurora Cannabis (ACB), ending an 18-month collaboration that dashed expectations for a deal based on the billionaire investor’s mighty rolodex. Aurora has undergone sweeping changes from its boardroom to its greenhouses since Peltz’s role was announced last March. Under the leadership of new CEO Miguel Martin, the company has a path to the U.S. market through the acquisition of CBD distributor Reliva, where Martin served as CEO prior to the deal. “The company and Nelson Peltz have concluded their relationship,” an Aurora spokesperson told Yahoo Finance Canada in an emailed statement. “This change is a direct result of Mr. Peltz’s decision to pursue other commitments, and the company appreciates his valuable contributions.” Read More (Yahoo!)

Auxly strengthens its board and announces additional steps on path to profitability. Auxly Cannabis (CBWTF) announced changes to its board of directors and management team and a company-wide operational update on its path to profitability. Auxly founder & chair Chuck Rifici has resigned from the board of directors and independent director Genevieve Young will be assuming the role of chair, effective immediately. The company is dedicated to executing on its corporate strategy and increasing its market share, while also improving its margins and reducing corporate overhead, with a target of achieving positive adjusted EBITDA during the first half of 2021. In addition to the actions already taken to reduce operating costs at two of Auxly’s cultivation assets, Inverell S.A. located in Uruguay and Robinsons Outdoor Grow located in Nova Scotia, the company has taken added measures to reduce its workforce to further accelerate its path to profitability. Read More (GlobeNewswire)

Green Thumb’s sale-leaseback cannabis deal in Ohio valued at $32.2 million. Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF) announced an amended sale-leaseback deal valued at up to $32.2 million for a facility in Ohio, reflecting a further loosening of capital – especially for expansion in fast-growing markets. The transaction with San Diego-based Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR) calls for $25 million in additional funding from the initial agreement to construct a cultivation operation at a property in Toledo, according to a news release. The property currently houses a processing facility. The original deal signed on January 31 was valued at $7.2 million – $2.9 million for the sale of the facility and $4.3 million for tenant improvements. Such funding deals are becoming more common in the industry to support well-run marijuana businesses with their expansion initiatives. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Ayr Strategies moves into Ohio medical cannabis market, boosts PA presence. Ayr Strategies (AYRSF) announced deals worth $39 million that will allow the multistate marijuana operator to enter a new market, Ohio, and expand its presence in Pennsylvania. The company’s two transactions in Ohio are worth a total of $18.2 million and include agreements to buy a 9,000-square-foot “operational processing facility” and acquire exclusive management rights to a cultivation license Ayr described as “the largest canopy license” in Ohio,” a 58,000-square-foot facility that’s currently under construction. In Pennsylvania, Ayr said it signed a $20.8 million deal to buy “a leading grower-processor” with a 38,400-square-foot cultivation and extraction facility that has been “approved as operational.” Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Trulieve loses out on West Virginia growers permit application. It appears that a false start for Trulieve Cannabis (TCNNF) was fired in West Virginia earlier this year. In August, it was reported that a grow facility application had been approved for the company within the state. However, it appears that the state has skipped over Trulieve in granting a grower’s permit. On October 2, the State of West Virginia revealed the first ten grower permits that were approved to begin cultivation of cannabis products. Unfortunately for Trulieve and the prior reports, the company was not one of the winners selected to receive a permit, despite the company having already spent funds to purchase property in the state for the purpose of cultivation. Read More (the deep dive)

Tilray reports positive results for medical marijuana in chemotherapy patients. Tilray (TLRY) announced that Australian researchers have published preliminary results finding that one of the company’s GMP-produced products is showing promise reducing nausea and vomiting for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy in a world’s first clinical trial. Results published in Annals of Oncology found a significant improvement in the control of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. A quarter of the patients taking medicinal cannabis experienced no vomiting and nausea, compared to 14 percent of people who took a placebo. The pilot phase of the study ran for two-and-a-half years with 81 participants enrolled. Read More (Tilray)

Canopy to bring cannabis beverages to the U.S. next year. Canopy Growth (CGC) is moving to bring cannabis beverages to the U.S. in 2021. The drinks will contain THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, in dosage amounts designed to keep people buzzed and social in a similar way to beer, cocktails or wine, the company said in a statement. “Just as hard seltzer disrupted beer by providing a lighter, low-calorie alternative, we believe cannabis beverages will be an attractive option for what have traditionally been alcohol-driven occasions and mood states,” said David Klein, Canopy’s chief executive officer, in an email exchange with Bloomberg News. Read More (MSN)

The Valens Company and TREC Brands launch vape cartridges under WINK’S premium product portfolio. The Valens Company (VGWCF) announced the launch of vape cartridges under a custom manufacturing agreement with TREC Brands for its WINK brand premium product portfolio. The 510 thread cartridges, WINK Onyx and WINK Chalice, are the first set of vape products to be introduced to WINK’s carefully curated collection of unique products. The cartridges contain high THC, custom formulations crafted using a broad-spectrum CO2 extraction process, offering consumers terpene-rich cannabis extract, free of carriers and additives. In addition to WINK, The Valens Company will also manufacture vape products for two other existing TREC brands, Thumbs Up Brand and Blissed, with the potential to later produce other innovative products in partnership with the company. Read More (Newswire)

Distribution company PRO Group selects cbdMD and Paw CBD as exclusive CBD brands. cbdMD (YCBD) announced that PRO Group has selected cbdMD and Paw CBD and the CBD brands to distribute through its national network effective immediately. PRO Group is a multidivisional international merchandising and marketing organization, with over 79 distributors operating over 140 distribution centers serving all 50 states and combined sales volume exceeding $6 billion through its member distributors and an alliance with the VAL-TEST Group. PRO Group is dedicated to generating ideas and developing for-profit programs for distributor and retailer members. Read More (Yahoo!)

Kushy Punch’s illicit market reach more than first known. Vertical Bliss’ reach into the illegal cannabis market when the company, operating as Kushy Punch, was busted in 2019 was more than three times what was estimated when it first landed in state regulators’ crosshairs. That’s according to a civil lawsuit filed by the California attorney general on behalf of the state Bureau of Cannabis Control and the Department of Public Health. Kushy Punch’s two California cannabis business licenses were revoked as a result of last fall’s raid, and the Los Angeles-area company could be fined up to $498 million. Neither Kushy Punch officials nor the company’s representatives could be reached for comment. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

B.C. cannabis producer brings in ‘largest harvest in Canadian history’. A British Columbia cannabis farm is about to enjoy the fruits of its labour. SpeakEasy Cannabis Company (EASY-CA) in Rock Creek, B.C., is currently processing what may be the largest legal outdoor harvest in Canadian, if not North American, history. Workers are expected to collect around 70,000 kilograms of pot over the next few weeks from 60,000 marijuana plants sprawled across 24 hectares of land, according to CBC News. “As far as we know, as best we can tell, this will be the largest harvest in Canadian history,” said SpeakEasy founder Marc Geen. He believes it also eclipses any legal operation south of the border because U.S. regulations do not allow for unlimited plant canopy. Read More (The GrowthOp)

EARNINGS

Jushi pre-announces Q3 revenue at $24 million and boosts outlook for 2020 and 2021. Jushi Holdings (JUSHF) announced preliminary financial results for its third quarter ending September 30, 2020 and provided updated guidance for its fourth quarter ended December 31, 2020 and fiscal year 2021. Based on a preliminary review, the company currently anticipates: 1) Q3 2020 expected revenue of $24 million from the previously announced range of $22-25 million, representing 61% sequential growth 2) Q4 2020 total revenue to be at the high end of the previously announced range of $25-30 million and to report positive adjusted EBITDA, 3) total fiscal year 2021 revenue revised from $200-250 million to $205-255 million, and 4) adjusted EBITDA is expected to be between $40-50 million. Jim Cacioppo, chief executive officer, chairman and co-founder of Jushi, said: “By selectively investing our shareholders’ capital in high-growth markets with strong barriers to entry across the country, we’ve positioned Jushi for sustained, long-term profitable revenue growth.” Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)

WeedMD posts CAD $5.9 million in 2Q revenue and closes deal for CAD $30 million credit facility with LiUNA Pension Fund. WeedMD (WDDMF) reported its fiscal 2Q results that saw it generate CAD $5.9 million over the quarter ended June 30, 2020, driven by its new direct-to-consumer model in the adult-use market. It is sharpening its focus on higher-margin consumer-directed revenue, which contributed $2.4 million to overall revenue for the quarter. Cultivation cost was $0.55 per gram for the quarter, compared to $0.96 in Q2, 2019. It has closed a definitive agreement for a CAD $30 million credit facility with an affiliate of the LiUNA Pension Fund of Central and Eastern Canada (LPF). It said the $30 million credit facility will mature in August 2022. The funds will boost the company’s working capital and provide WeedMD with “significant financial” muscle to drive commercial initiatives during its next stage of growth. Read More (Proactive Investors)

Cannabis NB posts CAD $3.3 million quarterly profit as privatization review continues. Cannabis NB, the government-owned marijuana retail monopoly in the Atlantic Canadian province of New Brunswick, posted a third consecutive positive quarter, this time with a profit of CAD $3.3 million ($2.5 million). Meanwhile, a delayed government review to determine whether to sell off Cannabis NB to the private sector has resumed after New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative party won a majority in a September provincial election. “We will continue to objectively compare Cannabis NB’s latest projected figures with the offers we have on the table from the private sector,” New Brunswick Finance Treasury Board communications director Jennifer Vienneau wrote in an emailed statement. Cannabis NB sold CAD $20.1 million worth of marijuana during the quarter ended September 27, an increase of about 23% over the previous quarter. “We said we would fix our business, and we have,” Cannabis NB president and CEO Patrick Parent said in a news release. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

CAPITAL MARKETS

Are more cannabis company write offs coming? We dove into the Viridian Cannabis Credit Tracker and found that there is a likelihood of more public cannabis company write-offs on the horizon. Companies with a high percentage of intangibles and low market to book ratios are likely candidates for write-offs. Write-off risk is exacerbated when consensus EBITDA margin estimates (yellow dots) are below average (yellow line). Aurora Cannabis (ACB) is depicted before (dark green) and after (light green) it announced $1.6 billion intangibles write-off. Read More (Viridian Capital Advisors) and More (TheStreet)

Chart 12: Intangible Assets % / Market-to-Book Ratios of Public Cannabis Companies  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 12: Intangible Assets % / Market-to-Book Ratios of Public Cannabis Companies
Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Debt for equity swaps can create an opportunity for cannabis investors. Whether it’s through convertible debt that is underwater or straight debt, many companies are burdened by too much debt, and the stock prices reflect the risk of the company going into bankruptcy. Investors should be paying close attention to these transactions, as a debt-for-equity swap has the potential to create gains for equity investors. First, if the restructuring of the balance sheet leaves the company with plenty of runway, equity investors will be more confident given the lower probability of bankruptcy. Second, and perhaps more important, the actual process can have a very negative short-term impact. Recall the awkward transaction done by Aurora Cannabis (ACB) in November, which crushed its stock. More recently, many of the shares issued by Supreme (SPRWF) apparently hit the market, pushing the stock to a new multi-year low. Read More (New Cannabis Ventures)

Chart 13: Price % Change of Aphria, Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth, Cronos Group, and Tilray As of September 26, 2020  Source: Intro-Blue, New Cannabis Ventures, YCharts

Chart 13: Price % Change of Aphria, Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth, Cronos Group, and Tilray As of September 26, 2020
Source: Intro-Blue, New Cannabis Ventures, YCharts

Schwazze backs out of deal to acquire marijuana R&D firm MedPharm. Schwazze (MDCL) said it has terminated its planned acquisition of MedPharm, a medical marijuana company in the same city that landed Colorado’s first cannabis research and development license. Schwazze said earlier this year it had moved forward on numerous term sheets with Colorado cannabis operators but had completed limited due diligence at that time. The MedPharm move is part of Schwazze’s updated acquisition strategy and another deal the company has scrapped this year. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Mistakes by Canada’s largest cannabis companies offer insight into global expansion. If there is a lesson to be learned from the overseas misadventures of Canada’s large cannabis producers in recent years, it is this: Being first to a market is a waste of time and money if that market is still years (or decades) away from producing material revenue—more so if you’re unable or unwilling to bankroll losses in the meantime. In recent years, much ink was spilled on Canada’s so-called international advantage. While American marijuana companies were largely hamstrung by federal prohibition and prevented from competing internationally, Canadian producers were free to splash their capital around the world, gaining leverage and establishing toeholds in promising markets. That practice turned out to be imprudent. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Bruce Linton-led Gage Cannabis plans Canadian listing in first quarter. Bruce Linton-led Gage Cannabis Co plans to list on the Canadian stock market in the first quarter of 2021, its president told Reuters, as the U.S.-based dispensary operator looks to capitalize on strong demand for weed during lockdowns. Linton joined Gage as executive chairman in 2019, months after being ousted from the board of Canopy Growth (CGC) – a business he founded in 2013, took public the next year and transformed into the most valued cannabis company through a string of deals. Gage, which currently focuses solely on the Michigan market, is expecting sales of around $13.2 million in the third quarter, up 11% from the previous three months. Read More (Reuters)

MEDICAL CANNABIS 

Utah’s new medical marijuana program more popular than officials expected. Six months after medical marijuana became legal for purchase inside Utah for the first time, the program has already surpassed enrollment projections. But high demand has also led to shortages in both product and providers interested in recommending medical marijuana to patients. Now, 10,000 active medical cannabis patients have received medical marijuana cards — a number state officials said they didn’t expect to reach until one year into the program, said Richard Oborn, director of the Center for Medical Cannabis. Between the program’s March 2 launch and Augsut 31, MMJ sales totaled $8 million, according to the state’s most recently available data. Monthly sales now exceed $2 million, which puts Utah’s MMJ program on pace to generate about $25 million in sales on an annualized basis. Read More (Deseret) and More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Arkansas medical marijuana sales surpass 24,000 pounds. Arkansans have spent $154 million to obtain 24,067 pounds of medical marijuana since the first dispensary opened in May 2019. There are currently 29 dispensaries in operation with eight remaining that are working toward opening. There are 83,779 Arkansans holding a patient card. Since April 2020, due to a directive patient cards that expired were honored by dispensaries and these patients maintained the ability to purchase medical marijuana. Earlier this month, dispensaries’ average daily sales reached $600,000. As of September 30, the cards that expired over the last few months will no longer be considered active and must be renewed in order to make a purchase. Read More (Cannabis Business Times) and More (KARK)

Product shortages, rising prices hit Arkansas medical marijuana market. A leading Arkansas medical marijuana dispensary says it’s facing a product shortage that can be resolved only by additional cultivation capacity. Dragan Vicentic, owner of Green Springs medical marijuana dispensary in Hot Springs, the leading MMJ seller in the state, told Little Rock TV station KATV that the shortage has been increasing since June. He said his dispensary recently ran out of a dozen marijuana strains. “We had to raise our prices because we had just too many people coming through the shop,” Vicentic said. While that might seem like good news to a business, the product shortages are hampering the ability of the stores to meet patient demand. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Hawaii gets two more medical marijuana dispensaries. Hawaii’s medical marijuana program is adding two new dispensaries, even though the coronavirus pandemic has slowed the amount of tourists visiting the islands and, thus, participating in the state’s MMJ reciprocity program. The state health department approved: Hawaiian Ethos on Hawaii Island and Noa Botanical on Oahu. The two additional dispensaries are Hawaii’s 14th and 15th. Hawaiian Ethos opened as the second dispensary on the Big Island. Noa Botanical’s opening brings the total number of medical marijuana stores on Oahu to six. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Maryland awards medical cannabis cultivation, processing licenses aimed at diversifying industry. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission awarded 11 medical cannabis cultivation and processing licenses October 1 in an effort to diversify the state’s industry, according to The Baltimore Sun. The three cultivation and eight processing licenses were issued after more than a year of delays stemming from logistical errors and allegations that the process was flawed, the news outlet reported. Viola Maryland, Herbiculture Cultivation and MAS Alliance won “pre-approval” for the cultivation licenses, according to The Baltimore Sun, while Herbiculture Manufacturing, Organic Remedies MD, Bouquet Labs, Element MD, AHI Group, Ceres Naturals, Marileaves Extractions and Greener Good were awarded pre-approval for the processing licenses. At least half of all the companies’ ownership qualifies as “disadvantaged,” female or minority, the news outlet reported. Read More (Cannabis Business Times)

Medical cannabis is not associated with cognitive problems for older adults, study finds. A new study suggests medical cannabis use isn’t associated with cognitive problems in older adults. The new study, conducted by researchers in Israel, looked specifically at whether adults over 65 were at risk from cognitive impairment when using medical cannabis. To test whether elderly medical cannabis patients were more likely to have cognitive issues, researchers recruited older patients with a chronic pain condition. 63 of these patients used medical cannabis, while 62 did not. Then, at a time when the medical cannabis patients had not used cannabis for at least 3 hours, they assessed their cognitive function with a variety of measures for assessing psychomotor reaction time, attention, working memory and new learning. The results showed no statistically relevant differences between the two groups when it came to cognitive function. Read More (Forbes)

CBD/HEMP

The DEA’s new interim hemp rule has left many companies confused. The DEA recently issued an interim final rule addressing the implementation of hemp provisions of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the Farm Bill). But the rule has left many hemp companies confused and concerned. Specifically, the DEA seeks to criminalize certain cannabinoids in what appears to be a direct contravention of the letter and spirit of the Farm Bill. Many in the industry are specifically worried about the rule’s possible impact on Delta-8 THC, the use of which has rapidly expanded lately due to its vast and therapeutic benefits, including appetite stimulation, nausea reduction, and relief from anxiety and pain. The DEA’s proposed criminalization of Delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids exceeds its authority and that the production and use of Delta-8 THC should remain compliant with the law. Read More (420 Intel)

Hemp farmers get last-minute delay on USDA compliance, but not everyone is happy. Hemp farmers in states without federally approved cultivation plans got a one-year extension to continue growing the crop under older, less strict rules so regulators can harmonize local and federal laws. The extension was included in the stop-gap budget measure Congress approved September 30, giving a reprieve to growers in some states, tribes, and territories that said they would not be ready by November 1 to switch to stricter hemp rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Instead, they will continue to be grandfathered into less-restrictive 2014 regulations. Many of them have yet to see USDA approve their plans for 2021 and beyond. The Hemp Industries Association cheered the delay, saying it provides “much-needed stability for hemp businesses” in many states that don’t yet have USDA-approved plans. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

USDA invites additional public comments per hemp IFR till October 8. Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it would reopen the comment period for its interim final rule (IFR) per hemp regulations. Seeking additional input from industry stakeholders, the USDA hopes to gain feedback regarding 12 specific issues. These issues are: 1) measurement of uncertainty for sampling, 2) liquid chromatography factor: 0.877, 3) disposal and remediation of non-compliant plants, 4) negligence, 5) interstate commerce, 6) 15-day harvest window, 7) hemp seedlings, microgreens, and clones, 8) hemp breeding and research, 9) sampling methodology – whole plant vs. flower, 10) sampling methodology – homogenous composition, frequency, and volume, 11) sampling agents, and 12) DEA laboratory registration. The comment period on the USDA’s IFR is open until October 8; interested parties may submit comments online. Read More (New Frontier Data)

Chart 14: Number of DEA-Approved Testing Labs  Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

Chart 14: Number of DEA-Approved Testing Labs
Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

CBD biomass price drops sharply as harvest is brought in; smokable CBD flower price maintains recent recovery. As the harvest ramped up this month, September’s assessed price for CBD biomass dropped significantly, by 28% from August. Decreases were observed across all trading volumes, but the most dramatic was that documented for smaller deals. Market participants expect this year’s crop, combined with remaining supply from 2019, to keep rates for CBD biomass low. Prices for refined forms of extracted CBD – specifically broad-spectrum distillate and THC free distillate – saw rare increases in September. Additionally, this month’s assessed price for Crude CBD Oil rose after stabilizing in recent months. However, with more supply on the way as this year’s crop gets processed it is too early to say that the upward price movement is the beginning of a trend. Read More (Hemp Benchmarks)

Ohio’s hemp industry could take years to mature. Ohio legalized hemp last year, giving farmers hard hit by drought and low commodity prices another option. The crop boasts a variety of uses and comes from the cannabis plant, making it a cousin of marijuana but without the intoxicating effects. However, a look at the hemp industry in states already growing it suggests that years could pass before Ohio farmers see a hemp windfall. Kentucky farmer Bobby Huff poured nearly $70,000 into 10 acres of hemp, only to see the company that had promised to buy his crop renege when it faced financial difficulties. Other buyers offered to take the crops off Huff’s hands, but at a steep loss. “I got offered $1 a pound, or I got offered $5 a pound, and I put $7 or $8 per pound into it,” he said. “On my contract, I was going to get $45 or $50 pound. I’ve still got 4,000 plants just hanging up.” Huff called hemp cultivation “fool’s gold.” Read More (The Columbus Dispatch)

Is construction the future of hemp in Europe? With the regulatory landscape for CBD in Europe growing more and more tenuous, some hemp producers are adamant that plant fiber offers a way to prop up the industry. One such business is HempFlax, Europe’s largest independent hemp grower and processor. The Netherlands-based company acquired German natural fiber insulation manufacturer Thermo Natur earlier this year to diversify its product offerings, double down on hemp construction materials and protect itself from CBD-market volatility. Still, interest and investment in hempcrete businesses and projects has so far amounted to a fraction of what the CBD industry has experienced—something that grates on Steve Allin, director of the International Hemp Building Association and the author of “Building With Hemp.” “The focus on CBD is going completely the wrong way and is part of an out-of-date paradigm,” Allin, who is based in Ireland, told Hemp Industry Daily recently. “The only CBD I’m interested in is Cannabis Building Design.” Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

The UK’s ACI adds 16 CBD companies to its CBD toxicity trial. Sixteen CBD companies have signed up to a UK trial that will help determine the toxicity and safety of the popular cannabis compound. The study, which has been organized by the UK’s Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), will involve 90-day-long tests on rodents to assess how CBD affects the liver, if it promotes drowsiness, and how it may interact with other drugs. Participation in the trial, the ACI says, will benefit the novel foods applications CBD companies currently have with the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), which, this February, announced that any CBD oil, drink or treat without such an application will be “taken off the shelves” by March 2021. Read More (Analytical Cannabis)

Hemp countries to watch: From dominant China to tiny Lithuania, more nations are embracing uses for the plant. 1) China: According to the FAS report, China produces more than half the world’s hemp supply. 2) Romania: It is among the top five European Union member states cultivating hemp—mainly for fiber, oil, seed or grain. 3) Colombia: It’s tropical weather and plentiful land make it ideal for low-cost greenhouse cultivation year-round, allowing growers to generate up to three or four crops annually. But most common cultivars for industrial hemp don’t perform well with year-round tropical weather. 4) Ecuador: It is still very much a hemp industry taking its first steps. When growing hemp for industrial uses, it faces the same challenge as Colombia. 5) Lithuania: Currently, farmers can grow EU-approved strains to produce hemp fiber and seeds, but they cannot process leaves or flower for anything other than research and development. 6) Germany: In 2019, the country grew 11,140 acres (4,508 hectares) of hemp, which was an increase of about 45% from 2018. German retailers say they’re seeing demand for hemp-derived products such as cereals and cereal bars, hemp flours, oils and beverages. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

RETAIL

Retail marijuana applicants in Maine city might be disqualified. Twelve out of 43 of applicants for a municipal permit to sell marijuana in Portland, Maine, are facing disqualification. Maine’s largest city issued pre-denial letters to those applicants after a preliminary review, the Portland Press Herald reported. According to the report, reasons for the preliminary disqualifications include applicants: 1) lacking a state license, 2) being late on local taxes or fees in the past five years, 3) land-use disputes, and 4) zoning issues. The 12 would-be retailers have 10 days to challenge those initial disqualifications. Three other applicants are facing municipal inquiries into their state cannabis licenses, a municipal lawyer told the newspaper. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

COVID-19 ushering in automated future for retail pot. Green Solution, one of the state’s largest dispensary chains, has installed self-service kiosks in the lobbies of all 21 of its retail stores. Meanwhile, Boston-based Anna offers self-service marijuana purchasing lockers that operate similar to vending machines; those are currently featured at stores owned by Starbuds and Strawberry Fields dispensaries. Technology enabling fast, self-service marijuana sales was actually being developed before the pandemic, but the minimal-contact vending machines and self-serve kiosks are becoming more popular in Colorado dispensaries as social distancing continues. Read More (Westword)

Future of Ontario pot shops predicted to mirror Walmart and Costco. Cannabis retail sector will mirror the evolution of grocery, not technology retail. Although technology users and early adopters index higher on their use of cannabis (this user base is driven largely by younger and affluent demographics) it is the convenience store and health and wellness shoppers who will bring cannabis into mainstream retail because these users have a higher share of wallet and spending power at the moment. Cannabis users are avid grocery shoppers with the highest percentage (25 percent) going out food shopping twice a week. Should, for example, mini cannabis kiosks move into big malls or into the physical limits of Loblaws and Costco, it will represent a sizeable market currently not tapped into. Read More (The GrowthOp)

PRODUCTS

Building a cannabis-infused product industry has challenges but also rewards, like a $21.5 billion market by 2025, new report says. A new report from New Frontier Data estimates that legal retail sales of THC-infused products alone (separate from flower and vape products) will exceed $21.5 billion between 2020 and 2025. That’s a substantial increase from the 2019 sales figure of $2.02 billion. “With most Americans now aware of CBD, and a strong majority having had positive conversations about the compound, new entrants into the sector should find highly engaged target audiences who favorably view CBD,” says the analytics company’s CEO Giadha DeCarcer in her introduction to the report. Read More (Forbes)

Cannabis vape companies are experiencing a sales boom during the pandemic. The global pandemic is driving interest toward cannabis, and device makers are recording record sales. From startups to major players, several leading manufacturers told that their companies are seeing a boom in sales since the start of the crisis. Coupled with supply constraints, consumers are now seeing limited supply on some top models as makers try to keep up. Some company CEOs see the pandemic driving consumer acceptance and pushing legalization at the national level. With legalization, new consumers enter the market, and companies such as Canopy Growth (CGC), PAX and Grenco Science look to benefit as makers of some of the best vaporizers on the market — that is if consumers can find them in stock. Read More (Tech Crunch)

Cannabis 3.0 – Health products? Now that more Cannabis 2.0 products are hitting the shelves, Health Canada is testing the waters around a new category: Cannabis Health Products (CHPs). This includes everything from skincare, to supplements, to topicals and more. In a new report, Health Canada acknowledged Canadians’ interest in the potential for therapeutic uses of cannabis without the need for the oversight of a practitioner. Over the summer, Health Canada held a public consultation on the potential market for CHPs and 1,104 consumers, industry representatives, and other interested parties gave their opinions. Overall, interest in CHPs seems high. Read More (Cannabis Retailer)

SOCIAL

Marijuana arrests decline nationally for first time in four years, FBI data shows. Marijuana arrests in the U.S. declined in 2019 for the first time in four years, a new federal report shows. While many expected the state-level legalization movement to reduce cannabis arrests as more markets went online, that wasn’t the case in 2016, 2017 or 2018, which each saw slight upticks in marijuana busts year-over-year. But last year there was a notable dip, the data shows. There was a total of 545,601 marijuana arrests in 2019—representing 35 percent of all drug arrests—according to FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program. That’s down from 663,367 the prior year and 659,700 in 2017. Read More (Marijuana Moment)

Chart 15: Drug Abuse Violations in 2019 Across Different U.S. Regions  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Moment, FBI

Chart 15: Drug Abuse Violations in 2019 Across Different U.S. Regions
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Moment, FBI

Why is Twitter flagging searches for marijuana (and not alcohol or tobacco)? Twitter has started to work with the federal government to flag searches on the social media platform that include the word “marijuana” and provide users with a message offering substance abuse resources. The message is coming from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). If you enter “marijuana” on the Twitter search page, you get this message under the headline “Help is available: “If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, you are not alone. Our partner SAMHSA 1-800-662-4357 can help.” What about alcohol and cigarettes? This type of message is not available if you type in beer, wine, alcohol, tobacco or cigarettes. With the numbers that show the negative impact of alcohol and tobacco, why offer substance abuse help only for those who search for marijuana? Read More (Green Entrepreneur)

Neptune Wellness Solutions believes U.S. federal regulation of cannabis will deliver compound growth for decades to come. Neptune Wellness Solutions (NEPT) plans to expand its line of cannabis consumer product goods readying itself for expansion into the U.S. based on the results of an independent recent survey commissioned by the company. OnePoll conducted a study, on behalf of Neptune Wellness Solutions, which found bipartisan support for legalization. 71% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans agreed that federal restrictions on marijuana should end and that cannabis should be legalized; 67% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans are more likely to vote for candidates with positive voting records on marijuana legislation; and 60% of both Democrats and Republicans state that a candidate’s stance on cannabis is one of the issues they look for when they vote. “Our consumer and hemp-based products already sell across North America,” said Chief Executive Officer Michael Cammarata. “As more clarity develops around cannabis regulations and countries move toward legalization, we can quickly scale our brands to introduce additional cannabis products to complement our hemp and essential oil lines.” Read More (Newswire)

INTERNATIONAL

Europe is recording one million cannabis offences a year. Drug offences involving cannabis are following a stable, albeit slightly rising trend in Europe, which registers over one million cannabis offences each year, despite the fact that over 25 million (7.6%) Europeans consumed cannabis in the last year. However, trends widely differ at the national level, with varied levels of use and a diverse range of policies and black-market supply chains. It’s difficult to assess the reasons for an increase or decrease in offences. Prohibition is usually blind in regards to the difference between the informal market (for example clubs & associations) and the illicit market, and it is often the average consumer or patient paying the price of cannabis criminalization. Legalization is the best way to regain the focus. Read More (Prohibition Partners)

Chart 16: Criminalization of Cannabis in Europe  Source: Intro-Blue, Prohibition Partners

Chart 16: Criminalization of Cannabis in Europe
Source: Intro-Blue, Prohibition Partners

Increased French cannabis consumption adds pressure for new regulations. Despite its size and centrality in the European continent, France generally does not feature strongly in cannabis industry news – except in negative ways. The strict legislative environment is said to have roots in President Emmanuel Macron’s desire to ramp up security in the country, and contrasts with more liberal attitudes among France’s neighbours, such as Spain. But folding in cannabis users with the law alarms French cannabis advocates, especially since France is thought to have the highest number of users per capita in Europe: With more than 40% of residents ages 15-64 claiming to have tried cannabis, that rate is more than 2x that of the European average, and up 21% since 1993. While production of higher-THC cannabis remains illegal in France (despite France’s being the world’s second-largest producer of hemp) reports suggest that upwards of 200,000 people work in the cannabis market, indicating a thriving illegal economy. Read More (New Frontier Data)

Chart 17: Turkey, Belgium, and Norway See Largest Increases  Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

Chart 17: Turkey, Belgium, and Norway See Largest Increases
Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

Spain still won’t allow local cannabis market, even as exports are occurring. Spain has several medical cannabis licensed producers, and at least one already exports flower to countries such as Germany. But these products remain unavailable to Spanish patients, and a recent government reply to a member of parliament indicates the situation will not change for the time being. In a reply to a question by Josune Gorospe, a member of the Congress of Deputies of Spain, the government erased any near-term hope that domestic patients can expect the country to launch a medical cannabis program. The level of “available evidence” is “insufficient to recommend its generalized (medicinal) use,” the reply says. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

‘Portuguese Experiment’ in legal cannabis offers expansive opportunities. When Portugal decriminalized the possession and consumption of all drugs in 2001, including cannabis for personal use, it put the country in the avant-garde of global drug policy. The brainchild of Portugal’s national drugs coordinator Joao Goulao, the “Portuguese Experiment” was a radical initiative to address increases in the nation’s addiction rates and drug-related violence. Nearly two decades on, a reminder of Portugal’s liberal regime arrived in late May when Uruguay’s Fotmer Life Sciences exported almost 1.5 metric tons of high-THC cannabis flower to the country, following a 1 metric ton shipment six months earlier. Portugal’s southern European climate is seen as advantageous for year-round cultivation and low production costs. Read More (New Frontier Data)

Chart 18: Cannabis Market Opportunities in Portugal  Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

Chart 18: Cannabis Market Opportunities in Portugal
Source: Intro-Blue, New Frontier Data

Mexico, plagued by cartel wars, on cusp of legal cannabis ‘green rush.’ For Guillermo Nieto, a Mexican businessman who grew up smoking pot, the cannabis greenhouse on his family’s vast farmlands in Guanajuato state is part of a bigger dream. One that involves deep-pocketed pharmaceutical companies. Mexico finally outlined rules in July covering cannabis for medical use, and the sign-off is expected in coming weeks. A bigger prize may also be close for Nieto and foreign companies; Senate majority leader Ricardo Monreal told Reuters he expected a law to be passed before December for recreational use of the drug, allowing regulated private firms to sell it to the public. “It’s going to generate a market,” said Nieto, wearing a smart blue shirt, blazer, and bright marijuana-leaf print yellow socks. “We are expecting to create jobs and revenue for the government. We think it could really help our economy.” Read More (Yahoo!)

New CBD product available under prescription in Peru. A new prescription CBD product is available in Peru, another sign the market is moving in the right direction. Toronto-headquartered Khiron Life Sciences (KHRNF), a company with its main operations in Colombia, said it became the “first company to sell and fill medical cannabis prescriptions through private pharmacies in Peru.” Khiron’s CBD is sold through Peruvian pharmacy chain Farmacia Universal. The product is made in the pharmacies. With this new option, patients in Peru have access to two prescription CBD products. One is imported from the U.S. and sold through a pharmacy owned and operated by the government; the other is Khiron’s product imported from Colombia. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

Ecuador eyes hemp grain to replace corn in feed for shrimp. One of the latest Latin American countries to legalize low-THC cannabis, Ecuador, is looking to hemp grain as a cheaper alternative to corn for its large shrimp industry. The U.S. and other countries see CBD as the biggest moneymaker now. But Ecuador sees industrial hemp as having a better economic benefit in the long run, said Andrés Luque, who’s in charge of cannabis regulation at Ecuador’s Ministry of Agriculture. “Our long-term vision, as the Ministry of Agriculture, is to develop the industrial hemp industry,” Luque said in an interview. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

Jacinda Ardern admits past cannabis use. New Zealanders shrug: ‘Us, too.’ The question from the debate moderator in New Zealand was simple and to the point: “Jacinda Ardern, have you ever used cannabis?” “Yes I did,” said Ms. Ardern, the country’s popular prime minister, “a long time ago.” Ardern later declined to say whether she supported the legalization of marijuana, which New Zealanders will decide in a referendum with the national election on October 17. Roughly 80% of New Zealanders have tried marijuana, according to independent studies — more than double the rate for Australians, and far above what Americans report, too. So when Ardern acknowledged her own past drug use, the nation of five million — where a lot of things are green and dank — simply shrugged. Read More (The New York Times)

Israel medical cannabis patient count hits record as imports soar. The number of authorized medical cannabis patients in Israel has more than doubled in the past two years – topping 70,000 – despite persistent supply and regulatory challenges, according to new data from the Israeli Medical Cannabis Agency. By type, flower continues to be the most common form of medical marijuana prescribed, followed by extracts. A lack of publicly available data has been a major hurdle in the global medical cannabis industry, as most governments do not proactively release key data for industry and academic researchers trying to better understand business and patient trends. Israel says the charts will be published monthly. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

Chart 19: Number of MMJ Patients in Israel by Dose and Age as of August 2020  Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

Chart 19: Number of MMJ Patients in Israel by Dose and Age as of August 2020
Source: Intro-Blue, Marijuana Business Daily

CANNA SCIENCE

Bench-top automation: ATG Pharma’s solution for filling production in COVID-19. ATG Pharma is a Canadian manufacturer focused on providing cost-effective solutions for filling production and packaging in the cannabis and cosmetics industries. The RoboCAP, ATG Pharma’s signature product, was designed to optimize the filling process for bottles, cartridges, capsules, creams/lotions, candies/confectionary, and balms. ATG’s engineering team designed three distinct filling systems (pneumatic, peristaltic, and volumetric) tailored to optimize production for each specific product. Standard automated filling machines are overpriced, and ordering equipment from China can pose a high risk due to unreliability and the lack of customer support for the product. Read More (Extraction Magazine)

A resource-efficient cannabis industry starts with benchmarking. Global brands with cultivation assets in various parts of the world are generally incapable of achieving consistent quality from site to site – and their stock prices reflect it. All of this points to the urgent need for producers to become more operationally efficient. In order to begin a journey down the efficiency path, a producer must first know how efficient their operation already is. From this, they can establish a baseline from which to measure and report performance. Just as financial benchmarking enables a comparative assessment of a firm’s performance, so does resource benchmarking. Energy and water efficiency are critical key performance indicators (KPIs) of both financial competitiveness and brand risk. Read More (Health Europa)

Chart 20: Cannabis Cultivation Electricity Use  Source: Intro-Blue, Health Europa, New Frontier Data, Resource Innovation Institute

Chart 20: Cannabis Cultivation Electricity Use
Source: Intro-Blue, Health Europa, New Frontier Data, Resource Innovation Institute

TECHNOLOGY

Akerna and Dutchie integrate to create optimized online ordering experience for cannabis consumers, patients, and businesses. Akerna (KERN) announced an enhanced integration with Dutchie, an e-commerce solution for cannabis, to provide an optimized experience for cannabis consumers, patients, and business operators. The integration expands safe online access to cannabis for consumers and patients, particularly at a time where the public health and safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the need for online e-commerce solutions across every industry, including cannabis. The enhanced integration allows for business owners to streamline operations, reduce manual errors, and eliminate the need for dual data entry. Read More (PR Newswire)

Machine learning could “fill the cannabis knowledge gap,” say researchers. In the new UC Boulder study, Daniela Vergara and her team analyzed a dataset consisting of more than 17,600 cultivars of cannabis flower. More dramatic amounts of missing data were seen in the cases of CBN (60.3% missing), CBC (63.1%), THCV (81.2%), and CBDV (96.6%). Across the entire 17,600-sample dataset, only 153 cultivars included data on all seven cannabinoids of interest. The UC Boulder scientists believe that data science and machine learning could be key. By applying machine learning techniques to interpolate the missing data, the UC Boulder team set out to try and uncover hidden patterns and clusters in the cultivar database. Instead, they very quickly realized that one of their key assumptions had been wrong. Read More (Analytical Cannabis) and More (Phys.org)

Can AI create a cannabis grading system? Keirton, a product development firm that makes technology for the cannabis industry, has developed an automated system that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to determine not only the potency of cannabis but to visually grade it. According to Jay Evans, CEO of Keirton, it may even be able to smell cannabis soon. This innovation was born out of the need for a better way to test the quality of cannabis and get consistent results. “Right now LPs are using potency, which can create big challenges.” Evans suggests that a better option might be the grading system used in the illicit market, which uses A to AAAAA to denote the quality of a bud based on potency as well as smell, taste, appearance, and effects. Read More (Cannabis Retailer)

LEGAL & IP

Green Thumb faces trademark lawsuit over edibles brand. Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF) is being sued over its “Incredibles” cannabis edibles brand by Edible Arrangements, a franchisor of stores that sell bouquet-shaped fruit baskets. Edible Arrangements claims GTI’s Incredibles brand infringes upon its numerous federally registered trademarks, including “Edible” and “Incredible Edible,” according to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Edible Arrangements, headquartered in Atlanta, also says GTI engaged in unfair competition and deceptive trade practices. The suit alleges violations of both federal and Illinois state law. Read More (Marijuana Business Daily)

California judge waives need for FDA guidelines to rule on CBD chocolate lawsuit. A judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit against a CBD candy manufacturer, saying it was not necessary to wait for U.S. guidelines on CBD in edibles to issue a ruling on the case. Charles Ballard filed suit against Toronto-based Bhang Corp. in 2019, alleging that he purchased Bhang Medicinal Chocolate with “a specific quantity of THC and CBD” between 2016 and 2018 across Southern California. Ballard later said he had an independent lab test the chocolate, and the results allegedly revealed that Bhang chocolate did not contain the amount of CBD advertised. Read More (Hemp Industry Daily)

CANNA FACTS

Chart 21: Ontario’s First Fiscal Quarter Of 2020–21 Cannabis Operations  Source: Intro-Blue, Ontario Cannabis Store

Chart 21: Ontario’s First Fiscal Quarter Of 2020–21 Cannabis Operations
Source: Intro-Blue, Ontario Cannabis Store

CANNA CAPITAL MARKET TRENDS

Chart 22: Weekly Summary (September 21 – September 25, 2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 22: Weekly Summary (September 21 – September 25, 2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 22: Weekly Summary (September 21 – September 25, 2020)
Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

 

Chart 23: Cannabis Capital Raises by Week (2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 23: Cannabis Capital Raises by Week (2020)
Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

 

Chart 24: Cannabis M&A by Week (2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 24: Cannabis M&A by Week (2020)
Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

 

Chart 25: Capital Raises by Sector (2020 vs. 2019)  Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

Chart 25: Capital Raises by Sector (2020 vs. 2019)
Source: Intro-Blue, Viridian Capital Advisors

CANNA PRICES – WEEKLY TREND

Chart 26: U.S. Cannabis Market Prices  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

Chart 26: U.S. Cannabis Market Prices  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

Chart 26: U.S. Cannabis Market Prices
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

 

Chart 27: U.S. Implied Forward Prices (Week Ending September 25, 2020)  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

Chart 27: U.S. Implied Forward Prices (Week Ending September 25, 2020)
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

 

Chart 28: Canada Cannabis Spot Index  Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

Chart 28: Canada Cannabis Spot Index
Source: Intro-Blue, Cannabis Benchmarks Price Index

CANNA BRANDS AND PRODUCTS RANKING – STATE IN FOCUS: WASHINGTON

Chart 29: Best-Selling Flower Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 29: Best-Selling Flower Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 30: Best-Selling Edibles Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 30: Best-Selling Edibles Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 31: Best-Selling Vapor Pen Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 31: Best-Selling Vapor Pen Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 32: Best-Selling Beverage Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 32: Best-Selling Beverage Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 33: Best-Selling Capsule Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 33: Best-Selling Capsule Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

Chart 34: Best-Selling Topical Brands and Products in Washington  Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

Chart 34: Best-Selling Topical Brands and Products in Washington
Source: Intro-Blue, Headset

 

CANNA INDEX

Chart 39: U.S Cannabis Index  Source: Intro-Blue, The Marijuana Index

Chart 39: U.S Cannabis Index
Source: Intro-Blue, The Marijuana Index

 

Chart 40: Canada Cannabis Index  Source: Intro-Blue, The Marijuana Index

Chart 40: Canada Cannabis Index
Source: Intro-Blue, The Marijuana Index

 

Important Disclosures

Analyst Certification

I, Peter Wright, certify that the views expressed in the research report accurately reflect my personal views about the subject securities or issues. I also do not receive direct or indirect compensation based on my recommendations or views.

 

This report has been issued by Intro-Blue, LLC, in consideration of a fee payable. Fees are paid upfront in cash without recourse. Intro-Blue, LLC may seek additional fees for the assistance with investor targeting, access, and further investor preparation services, but does not get remunerated for any investment banking services. We never take payment in stock, options, or warrants for any of our services.

 

Accuracy of content: All information used in the publication of this report has been compiled from publicly available sources that are believed to be reliable, however we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report and have not sought for this information to be independently verified. Opinions contained in this report represent those of the Intro-Blue analyst at the time of publication. Forward-looking information or statements in this report contain information that is based on assumptions, forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable, and therefore involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of their subject matter to be materially different from current expectations.

 

Exclusion of Liability: To the fullest extent allowed by law, Intro-Blue, LLC shall not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential losses, loss of profits, damages, costs or expenses incurred or suffered by you arising out or in connection with the access to, use of or reliance on any information contained in this note.

 

No personalized advice: The information that we provide should not be construed in any manner whatsoever as personalized advice. Also, the information provided by us should not be construed by any subscriber or prospective subscriber as Intro-Blue’s solicitation to effect, or attempt to effect, any transaction in a security. The securities described in the report may not be eligible for sale in all jurisdictions or to certain categories of investors.

 

Investment in securities mentioned: Intro-Blue has a restrictive policy relating to personal dealing and conflicts of interest. Intro-Blue, LLC does not conduct any investment business and, accordingly, does not itself hold any positions in the securities mentioned in this report. However, the respective directors, officers, employees, and contractors of Intro-Blue may have a position in any or related securities mentioned in this report, subject to Intro-Blue’s policies on personal dealing and conflicts of interest.

 

Copyright: Copyright 2019 Intro-Blue, LLC (Intro-Blue).

 

Intro-Blue is not registered as an investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Intro-Blue relies upon the “publishers’ exclusion” from the definition of investment adviser under Section 202(a) (11) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and corresponding state securities laws. This report is a bona fide publication of general and regular circulation offering impersonal investment-related advice, not tailored to a specific investment portfolio or the needs of current and/or prospective subscribers. As such, Intro-Blue does not offer or provide personal advice and the research provided is for informational purposes only. No mention of a particular security in this report constitutes a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold that or any security, or that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.