Pot Stocks, ETFs, Top News And Data From The Cannabis Industry This Week

Tilray Inc TLRY dominated news in the cannabis sector this week after its stock went on a wild rollercoaster ride. Even talk about The Coca-Cola Co KO exploring entry into the marijuana industry took a back seat to the action in Tilray’s shares.

The company’s stock spiked up more than 50 percent Wednesday following an announcement about the weed producer securing DEA approval to import marijuana to the U.S. for a clinical trial and a bullish interview between CNBC’s Jim Cramer and Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy, and ended with the stock shedding most of its gains over Thursday and Friday. See Benzinga’s full coverage on what has been called Tilray’s “Bitcoin Moment” here.

“The momentum in Canadian cannabis stocks is a byproduct of significant institutional demand and limited investable options in the market,” Terra Tech Corp. CEO Derek Peterson told Benzinga.

“Canadian companies like Tilray, are trading at multibillion-dollar market caps while similarly sized U.S. companies are trading at a hundredth of those values. Eventually when the legal environment changes in the U.S., we feel domestic companies should respond as favorably considering the U.S. is likely the largest global cannabis market."

Curaleaf CEO Joe Lusardi said the intense investment activity points to pent-up demand for the limited number of public cannabis companies that are trading mostly on Canadian exchanges. 

“Our hope is over time there will be a shift in the regulatory environment in the United States that will allow U.S. cannabis companies to list on the Nasdaq and NYSE,” he said. 

Back to Coca-Cola: the beverage titan said in a statement that it is eyeing CBD rather than a broader cannabis play. 

“We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis. Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world. The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time,” a blog post said.

Marijuana Indexes & ETFs

The United States Marijuana Index, which tracks most of the largest marijuana stocks in the U.S., gained roughly 8.6 percent this week, while the North American Marijuana Index, which also includes Canadian stocks, ended the week up 7.2 percent, despite experiencing a big tumble Thursday and Friday.

Over the last five trading days, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF HMLSF HMMJ rose 13.1 percent, while the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ gained 14.5  percent. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY closed the week up almost 0.45 percent.

Stock Moves

The following are how some of the top marijuana stocks with market caps above $100 million trading on U.S. exchanges performed over the last five trading days:

  • 22nd Century Group Inc XXII: up 10.2 percent
  • Aphria Inc APHQF: up 1.3 percent
  • Aurora Cannabis Inc ACBFF: up 41.4 percent
  • CannTrust Holdings Inc CNTTF: up 16.9 percent
  • Canopy Growth Corp CGC: up 5.6 percent
  • Cronos Group Inc. CRON: up 20.5 percent
  • Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd TGODF up 13.3 percent
  • Green Thumb Industries Inc GTBIF up 15.5 percent
  • GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR GWPH: up 16.6 percent
  • iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc ITHUF: up 12 percent
  • Medical Marijuana Inc MJNA down 2.7 percent
  • MedMen Enterprises Inc. MMNFF up 2.5 percent
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro Co SMG: up 2.9 percent
  • THC Biomed Intl Ltd THCBF: up 4.1 percent
  • Tilray Inc TLRY: up 16.2 percent
  • Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc ZYNE: up 21.5 percent

In Other News

Canadian licensed producer The Flowr Corporation completed its previously announced reverse takeover of a TSX Venture Exchange-listed company, clearing the way for Flowr to begin trading on the TSXV Sept. 26. The company will trade under the symbol FLWR; it was founded by Aurora-owned MedReleaf co-founder and noted cultivator Tom Flow, and is focused on the super-premium flower market for both the medicinal and recreational channels. It is also the exclusive cannabis R&D partner of Scotts Miracle-Gro.

Flowr recently raised $27 million as part of the RTO process, with the funds to be used to complete the buildout of its 85,000-square-foot growing facility in Kelowna, BC. The company says the facility will employ proprietary cultivation systems that enhance quality and efficiency and that it expects the facility to produce at least 12,000 kilograms annually of super-premium, non-irradiated flower beginning in 2019.

“This is an exciting step forward on the path we've laid out,” said CEO Vinay Tolia. “With the transaction behind us, we can increase our focus on executing our business plan and delivering results for investors as well as a premium cannabis experience for customers and patients.”

As it moves forward with its Regulation A+ funding process, High Times announced it has cleared escrow on $5 million raised from more than 6,000 new investors. The brand also decided to extend the deadline for investing in the offering, and it is now open as late as Oct. 31 ahead of its intended public listing later this year.

The cannabis heavyweight, which was acquired by a new ownership group early last year, has reportedly been increasing revenue, advertising opportunities and events this year.

“We couldn't be more proud of our growth and success over this past year-and-a-half, but receiving this level of acknowledgement and support from the community doubles down on our belief that we're moving in the right direction and that the community is behind us," CEO Adam Levin told Benzinga. "This is just the beginning for High Times, and we're not slowing down!"

Acreage Holdings, one of the largest vertically integrated, multistate cannabis operators in the U.S., announced six additions to its product development, R&D and procurement teams. The new hires include Heather Boyd, who brings extensive experience in the spirits industry, along with well-known names in the industry: Phillip Hague, William Fenger, Ryan Clendenin, Ry Prichard and Tamer Mohamed.

CEO Kevin Murphy told Benzinga the company is passionate about providing the safest, most accessible product. "It all begins with our cultivation and extraction efforts. Creating a team of veteran cultivators and cannabis product experts under Heather Boyd’s leadership will play a critical role in ensuring we continue to lead the industry in cultivation and extraction operations."

BioTrackTHC, a subsidiary of Helix TCS Inc HLIX, completed and passed a Service and Organization Control 2 Type I audit to evaluate software design and organizational procedures for proper storage and handling of customer data.

This type of audit is often required by government entities to validate the security protocols of an organization that is expected to handle private and highly sensitive information.

“Nothing is more important to seed to sale software than security and confidentiality, and this independent audit further distinguishes both BioTrackTHC’s software and our organization,” said President and CEO Patrick Vo.

"As concerns around sensitive data in our industry continue to mount, it is imperative that companies entrusted with such data take the necessary steps to protect our industry’s future by operating and adhering to nationally recognized security standards.”

In other software-related news, MJ Freeway, often considered the inventor of the seed-to-sale technology that has become standard in the marijuana industry, announced Thursday that it has closed on a $10-million Series C financing round. See Benzinga’s full coverage in the article below.

Related Link: Cannabis Tech Company MJ Freeway Closes On $10M Funding Round: 'We're The Backbone Upon Which The Cannabis Industry Is Built'

Hydroponic and organic gardening stores operator GrowGeneration Corp (OTC: GRWG) announced the purchase of HeavyGardens.com, an online seller of hydroponic and grow supplies. HeavyGardens.com expects to generate over $5 million in sales at the end of fiscal 2019. 

“HeavyGardens.com expands the GrowGen reach to every state, including every current and future grower that uses a computer or smart device. HG brings a sophisticated, data-driven digital marketing platform that has proven scalability, with an easy-to-navigate search tool to over 10,000 cultivation products, providing access to hundreds of GrowGen’s cultivation experts at the click of a mouse,” said CEO Darren Lampert.

Phoenix Life Sciences International Limited MJMD started trading on the OTC Markets and released information on its global production strategy for cannabis health care solutions.

Phoenix Life Sciences — a consolidation of multiple domestic and international businesses including Stem BioScience Inc., Blue Dragon Ventures and the MediJane brand — aims to change the way that many diseases and conditions are treated with cannabis around the world, working with doctors, botanists and pharmaceutical industry veterans to develop a pipeline of medicinal cannabis products with multiple delivery systems targeting the treatment of various medical indications, in addition to supplying generic medical cannabis products for doctor’s prescription and pharmacy fulfillment.

“We are confident that we will be able to impact the health of millions of people around the world with our cannabis-derived formulations and our out-of-the-box production and distribution models,” said the company's incoming CEO Martin Tindall.

“I am excited to help guide the company to success and help many people across the world gain access to the affordable treatments they need."

It has also been reported that Phoenix is working with the government of the Republic of Vanuatu to come up with a cannabis-based treatment for diabetes.

Elixinol Global Ltd ELLXF, parent company to U.S.-based Elixinol, a company that distributes seed-to-sale CBD to 40 countries, listed on the OTC as well. This listing is simultaneous to the company’s ASX listing. 

“The entire Elixinol team is excited that the U.S. market will finally have an opportunity to see what investors in Australia see in our parent company, Elixinol Global, and we’re proud to continue to be the driver of the company’s growth,” said General Manager Gabriel Ettenson.

Las Vegas-based CLS Holdings USA Inc CLSH executed two letters of intent to enter the rapidly growing Massachusetts market, which has been operating as a legalized medical jurisdiction since 2015 and has approved legalized recreational use.

CLS has agreed in principle to loan $5 million to In Good Health, a licensed medical dispensary in Brockton, Massachusetts with a significant market share. Along with the loan, CLS will have an option to acquire In Good Health, which is servicing 17,000 registered patients and delivering to 1,700 homes.

CLS has also agreed to form an 80-20 joint venture with CannAssist as the majority stakeholder. CannAssist plans to build out a recreationally licensed 86,000-square-foot grow facility in Leicester, Massachusetts.

“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to enter the Massachusetts market. It’s something we have been eyeing for a long time given the attractive characteristics and recent approval of adult use cannabis," said CLS CEO Jeff Binder. "his opportunity fits into our stated objective of entering markets that are on the cusp of implementing a robust adult use market.”

California-based real estate investment group Pelorus Equity Group launched The Pelorus Fund, a $100-million, cannabis-focused structured commercial real estate fund. The announcement follows the receipt of an inital $25 million in funding. The fund invests in real estate assets and transactions, and has made investments in high-profile companies like Desert Hot Springs, California cultivator Canndescent.

Software company ORHub announced the addition of award-winning neurosurgeon Dr. Burak Ozgur to its medical advisory board.

“We remain focused on scaling our digital solutions to market and embracing our physicians' initiatives to drive economic change for health care providers,” said CEO Colt Melby.

“Optimizing the business of surgery enables health systems to better serve their patients and respective communities.”

Online education platform Green Flower launched its Green Flower Cannabis Fundamentals Certification program this week and provided Benzinga with early access for review. 

The Fundamentals program is the first e-learning course for the newly established Green Flower Cannabis Programs, intended to support anyone seeking to enter the cannabis business market or people working at companies looking to improve their knowledge and skills.

The program has been endorsed and utilized by companies including Green Kiva, Canna Advisors, Papa & Barkley, Growcentia, Bloom Farms and Swami Selects. Registration and course details can be found at Green Flower Academy: https://www.green-flower.com/academy.

Shares of MJ Holdings Inc MJNE traded up 50 percent this week, driven by the announcement of a partnership with Healthier Choices Management Corp HCMC, developer of the Q-Cup. The product is a prefilled quartz cup with 50mg of cannabis, delivering a THC equivalent to eight to10 “hits” per cup. MJ Holdings is expecting an initial shipment of 800,000 Q-Cups. 

Healthier Choices CEO Jeffrey Holman said the stock reaction to the Q-Cup announcement is a testament to the technology and the company's choice of partner. 

"We are hopeful that as we expand into additional markets the excitement surrounding this technology will grow exponentially," he said. 

L’eela, a luxury line of hemp-derived CBD topicals, launced this week. Co-founder Lisa Richards said she has been a devotee of CBD and whole-plant cannabis products after finding them effective in post-workout healing and recovery, as well as fitness-related injuries. 

L’eela seeks to meet a higher standard for integrity with its collection of responsibly sourced hemp-derived CBD supplements and natural topical products, she said. The products are rooted in holistic health, whole-body wellness and internal and external beauty. 

Co-founder Amy Andrle added that L'eela products are unique and have a "tangible, positive impact on our customers' lives and well-being." 

Find out more about this news and more on Pure Global Cannabis Inc PRCNF, MPX Bioceutical Corp MPXEF, KushCo Holdings Inc KSHB, Sunniva Inc SNNVF and Canopy Rivers with our friends at Marijuana Money, who make a weekly video summary of the top financial and business news in the cannabis industry.

More From Benzinga’s Cannabis Newsdesk

Over the week, Benzinga’s Cannabis Newsdesk also reported on:

Altitude Investment Management’s latest cannabis investments.

KeyBanc Capital Markets’ view on Shopify Inc SHOP’s upside potential following cannabis legalization in Canada.

ETF ProfessorTodd Shriber's take on the rally in pot ETFs and short holdings.

Jim Cramer’s words of caution for cannabis investors.

New Frontier Data’s view on cannabis tax revenue, home grow markets and banking risks,

Michael Burton’s analysis on the future of cannabis genetics.

Mazakali CEO Sumit Mehta’s opinion on why it’s time for cannabis investments to have active managers.

Jeff Siegel’s analysis of companies that could benefit from a Coca-Cola-Aurora deal.

Options activity on Tilray, GMP Securities’ take on its volatility and the stock’s tumble on Thursday and Friday.

Interesting Data

Consumer Research Around Cannabis, a U.S. consumer company specializing in cannabis and the general consumer market, said Coca-Cola's interest in the CBD market is well-founded.

“Soft drink drinkers are more inclined to use cannabis than the general market according to our ongoing studies," Vice President Jeff Stein said in an email to subscribers. "The heavier the soft drink consumer [they are], the more likely they are to purchase cannabis in the next year."

About 15 percent of the general market is extremely likely to purchase recreational cannabis in the next year, according to Consumer Research Around Cannabis data.

Of adults who drink five or more soft drinks weekly, 18 percent said they're extremely likely to purchase recreational weed in the next year — a figure that increases to more than 1 in 5 for consumers of 10 or more weekly soft drinks. 

Vice President Cynthia Methvin said recreational cannabis users drink regular soft drinks, not the diet variety. 

Recreational cannabis users drink reular soft drinks, not the diet variety, said Cynthia Methvin, 

“Within the regular soft drink market smaller (Monster, Fanta) to midsize brands like Mountain Dew and Sprite hold disproportionately strong appeal to cannabis users. Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, the No. 1 and 2 brands, both index well above the general market. Diet drinks are at the bottom of the cannabis consumer's popularity list. Depending on the action of the big brands, cannabis may mean added growth potential for the smaller brands.”

Source: Consumer Research Around Cannabis

According to Viridian Capital Advisors’ Cannabis Deal Tracker, the cultivation and retail subsegment of the cannabis industry continues to attract the most capital of the more than $5.6 billion invested year-to-date. Investment firms and extraction companies follow from far behind.

Events Calendar

◘ Sept. 21-22: Anaheim, California plays host to the CBD Expo West 2018. Powered by CBD Health and Wellness Magazine, the CBD-focused event will feature 75 exhibitors, along with a large lineup of presentations and panel discussions from experts in the production, distribution and sale of CBD products. Tickets and can be purchased online; check out cbdexpo.net for more detail.

◘ Sept. 22: The Minority Cannabis Business Association will host its inaugural Medical Marijuana Summit at The Motor House in Baltimore, Maryland. This event marks the first in a series of summits to be held nationwide that bring together medical professionals like Dr. Rachel Knox of American Cannabinoid Clinics; cultivators; processors; and patients of color to discuss the merits of cannabis medicine and the significant role it can play in the treatment of illness and disease.

“The work we are doing to create equal access and economic empowerment for black and latinx communities, those most affected by the war on drugs, is wholly dependent on improving the health of those communities," said MCBA Board of Directors President Shanita Penny. “We are launching this series in Baltimore and look forward to bringing it to communities throughout the country in 2019.”

◘ Sept. 28-29: Nashville, Tennessee has the inaugural Southern Hemp Expo, an extension of the NoCo Hemp Expo produced by the Colorado Hemp Co. Often credited as the world’s largest and most comprehensive trade show and conference for industrial hemp, the Southern Hemp Expo will offer a full-scale exhibit hall, networking opportunities, presentations and workshops by pioneers, innovators and activists in the rapidly expanding hemp industry.

◘ Oct. 11: the United Nations NGO Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples presents a Conference in Health Challenges of Indigenous Peoples at New York’s Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission, 221 East 52nd St. in New York City. Topics include physical and mental health; climate change; high suicide, drug and alcohol abuse rates; political strains; and loss of biodiversity. Presenters include Dr. Josephine Tan, Rashmi Jaipal and Rafael Latorre, M.D.

◘ Oct. 11: Leafwire will be hosting its 4th Future of Cannabis Pitch Contest as part of New West Summit in Oakland, California with a $10,000 cash prize, their biggest yet. The Future of Cannabis Pitch Contest tour will have visited Denver, Los Angeles and Miami in its first three stops by this date. Powerhouse judges include Emily Paxhia of Poseidon Asset Management and Tahira Rehmahtullah of Hypur Ventures.

◘ Oct. 11-13: The New West Summit, a conference focused on “game-changing, disruptive developments in technology, science, media and investment within the cannabis space,” hits Oakland, California. Speakers include Weediquette’s Krishna Andavolu, Slow Ventures’ Dave Morin, Berner the rapper, Steve DeAngelo and Ricardo Baca.

◘ Oct. 19-21: The Initiative presents "Hustle Hard: A Cannabis Friendly Retreat For Women Who Mean Business," a three-day intensive retreat for women in cannabis in Bend, Oregon.

◘ Oct. 25-26: Enlighten, the first full-scale enterprise technology solution in the cannabis space, will be partnering with Lemonhaze to put on The Lemonhaze Cannabis & Comedy Convention at the Tacoma Dome. This event hopes to be for cannabis what SXSW has been for technology, pairing innovation and a hub of influence with fun and education. The event will feature comedy by headliner Doug Benson and will combine a major networking event for the cannabis industry together with performances from some the world's most recognized entertainers. 

◘ Oct. 30-31: Michigan is hosting its 1st Commercial Cannabis Conference & Expo. This inaugural year is special, celebrating the state's first year in a commercial framework and supporting the upcoming recreational legalization vote. Collectively, the state cannabis community is taking a stand for a healthy and strong cannabis industry in Michigan. Sponsorship, booths and tickets are available.

◘ Nov. 1: The Arcview Group, CannaTech and URI Capital Management are co-hosting Hong Kong’s first-ever Cannabis Investor Symposium, focused on the global investment opportunity, with an emphasis in those attractive to the Asian market. Keynote and panel discussions include: Cannabis and China, The Cannabis Value Chain, Market Insights: Australasia, Public and Private Investment Opportunities, Risks and Regulations, World Cannabis Policy and more.

Picture by Javier Hasse.

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