This Week's Cannabis News: The FDA And CBD, The STATES Act, Cresco And Origin House, Europe And High Times

The week brought big cannabis news, with the FDA setting its first hearing regarding CBD's legality in food and drinks for May, and the STATES Act, which aims to protect cannabis businesses and users in legal states from federal intervention, being introduced in Congress.

“Allowing states to determine their own cannabis laws without the threat of federal interference is a key component to sensible federal cannabis policy and would give more states the confidence to move forward with legalization and start addressing the harms caused by prohibition, particularly to marginalized communities," said National Cannabis Industry Association spokesman, Morgan Fox, commenting on the legislation. 

As for the FDA’s hearing on CBD, Tim Moxey, founder of edibles brand botanicaGLOBAL, said: “We think this is a huge step forward for consumers that are clearly very excited about having CBD included in everything from topicals to infused foods and beverages."

A surge of businesses are coming out with CBD products, and FDA guidelines and rules would enable the industry to "seriously commit" to producing the hemp-derived products that are already being sold in legal states, Moxey said. 

Lou Leon Guerrero, governor of the U.S. island territory Guam, signed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis.

Follow Benzinga Cannabis (@BZCannabis) on Twitter for up-to-date news and stories on cannabis, hemp and CBD.

On the markets realm, the big news of the week was Cresco Labs CRLBF’s acquisition of Origin House ORHOF for about $825 million. Debra Borchardt, CEO of Green Market Report, told Benzinga the acquisition is a continuation of the cannabis industry's consolidation trend.

“Many of these combined companies feel they can be stronger competitors if they are bigger players. It feels as if all the multistate operators are preparing themselves for the day that state lines drop with regards to the cannabis industry. Cresco Labs has a great reputation in the industry, so I'm sure Origin House is happy to team up with them,” she said.

The Cannabis Capital Conference is coming back to Toronto April 17-18!

Marijuana Stocks & ETFs

Over the last five trading days, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF HMLSF HMMJ gained almost 1 percent, while the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ tumbled 0.2 percent. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY closed the period up almost 2.2 percent.

Top marijuana stocks with market caps above $400 million that trade on U.S. exchanges performed as follows over the last five trading days: 

Acreage Holdings ACRZF: up 4.1 percent

• Aphria Inc APHA: up 8.15 percent

• Aurora Cannabis Inc ACB: up 1.2 percent

• CannTrust Holdings Inc CTST: down 1.8 percent

• Canopy Growth Corp CGC: down 0.3 percent

• Cronos Group Inc. CRON: down 0.2 percent

Curaleaf Holdings Inc CURLF: up 8.3 percent

Green Growth Brands Inc GGBXF: down 2.5 percent

• Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd TGODF: down 9.6 percent

• Green Thumb Industries Inc GTBIF: up 6.3 percent

• GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR GWPH: down 1.95 percent

Hexo Corp HEXO: down 3 percent

Harvest Health & Recreation Inc HRVSF: up 2.35 percent

• iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc ITHUF: down 1.4 percent

Marimed Inc MRMD: down 16 percent

• MedMen Enterprises Inc. MMNFF: down 1.6 percent

OrganiGram Holdings Inc OGRMF: up 7 percent

• Scotts Miracle-Gro Co SMG: up 3.9 percent

• Tilray Inc TLRY: down 9.1 percent

In Other News

Helix TCS, Inc. HLIX, a provider of critical infrastructure services to the legal cannabis industry, announced the acquisition of California-based security provider Tan’s International Security. Helix said the acquisition enables it to further expand its security services, including Spanish- and Chinese-speaking physical security guards, in the state of California.

“Employing primarily veterans and ex-law enforcement, our security team brings unmatched operational excellence for compliant security services, which is demonstrated by our dominant market share in Colorado that was achieved in just under three years years,” said Helix CEO and Executive Chairman Zachary Venegas.

“As California’s legal cannabis industry progresses, we look forward to leveraging our proven track record and operational processes to achieve similar market dominance in the emerging market.”

Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. HRVSF announced a new round of $500 million in debt financing. The proceeds will be used to fuel the company's nationwide growth.

“This transaction is fuel for growth to realize our vision of becoming one of the most valuable cannabis companies in the world," Harvest CEO Steve White said in a press release.

"With the recent announcement of our acquisition of Verano Holdings, not only will we have the largest and deepest footprint of licenses in the U.S., we are equally well-capitalized to ensure our growth ambitions as a company.”

Aphria, Aurora Cannabis and the Wayland Group were the three winners of the public tender to cultivate and distribute medical marijuana in Germany. Read the full story here.

Haleigh’s Hope, a whole-plant hemp extract, received USDA organic certification for “handling” last week. The crop from which the extract comes had already been certified organic; with this new certification, Haleigh’s Hope became the first hemp-derived CBD product receive a vertically integrated USDA Certified Organic product label.

“By controlling all aspects of production ourselves, we can assure the highest quality possible for our product,” said Jason Cranford, founder of Haleigh’s Hope.

Vireo Health International VREOF a science-focused multistate cannabis operator, is expanding into Massachusetts through the acquisition of Mayflower Botanicals, one of the state’s registered marijuana dispensaries.

Vireo operates in nine states, but Massachusetts will be the company’s first foray into an adult-use recreational marijuana market. 

Vireo’s CEO and Founder Kyle Kingsley, M.D., told Benzinga he started the company with the experience of being an emergency room physician who was tired of watching patients die of opioid overdoses.

"Medical cannabis is not only a good alternative for pain medications, but it can also help save lives by becoming an alternative for the recreational use of alcohol and tobacco, which are more addictive and create greater health concerns.”

High Times Holding Corp. owner of the iconic High Times Magazine, Cannabis Cup Festivals, Dope Magazine, Culture Magazine, Green Rush Daily, The Big Show and Spannabis — is undergoing a management reshuffle as it comes closer to closing its Reg A+, pre-IPO capital raise.

Ahead of an IPO projected for later this year, the holding company announced it has named media veteran Kraig Fox as its new president and chief executive officer. The previous CEO, Adam Levin, will transition to an executive chairman position.

Ahead of its proposed public debut, High Times is undergoing a larger corporate restructuring aimed at stepping up its content and products. Recent changes include the naming of Jon Cappetta as VP of content, Christina Heintzelman as the new publisher of Dope Magazine and Mark Kazinec as the new events director. 

Veritas Farms VFRM, a vertically integrated hemp company, launched enhanced consumer-friendly packaging that include batch-unique QR codes linking to verifiable certificates of analysis from an approved scientific testing laboratory.

“Our full-spectrum hemp oil extract products serve a broad range of consumers in the United States and internationally. As we continue the planned Veritas Farms expansion from e-commerce only into several major new distribution channels and brick-and-mortar retailers, we have taken the opportunity to enhance our labels and packaging with more information for consumers to better understand our products right at the point of sale," Alexander Salgado, CEO and co-founder of Veritas Farms, told Benzinga.

Ancillary services cannabis industry company TILT Holdings Inc. SVVTF announced the expansion of its Blackbird delivery and supply chain services in the greater Los Angeles area. The expansion will “include on-demand cannabis delivery, positioning Blackbird to become one of the largest direct-to-consumer distributors in the cannabis industry, which complements its significant wholesale presence,” according to the company. 

Défoncé, the creator of artisanal cannabis-infused chocolates, announced the launch of new products, including low-dose bites and single-serving squares. The offerings are all gluten-free (with vegan options as well) and flavors include dark chocolate blueberries, milk chocolate hazelnuts and matcha tea white chocolate, along with classic milk and dark chocolates.

“We are incredibly excited to introduce our expanded line of cannabis confections, providing Californians with delicious new options to enjoy premium, low-dose edibles,” said Eric Eslao, founder and CEO of Défoncé.

“Our goal has always been to elevate the edible experience, and we’ve worked hard to develop a brand that is consistent, safe and delicious. Our new products are perfect for those looking to indulge in a discreet and sophisticated fashion, and with the wide array of flavors, there is something for everyone to enjoy.”

iAnthus Capital entered a licensing agreement with Blissiva, which specializes in creating medical cannabis products designed specifically for women, wherein iAnthus will manufacture and sell Blissiva’s products across its 11-state footprint. Sales will begin in Maryland on April 20 with the launch of the Blissiva Balance Pen in Health for Life dispensaries.

“We are extremely proud to partner with Blissiva in launching female-focused cannabis products into the market. We believe that women should be able to ‘have it all,’ and I’m excited to be working with this team to fill the gap in the industry,” said iAnthus Chief Strategy Officer Beth Stavola.

The company also reported its fourth-quarter financial results this week, including pro forma revenue of $14.8 million. Read about them here.

Cannabis-focused Merida Capital Partners announced the launch of a third fund worth $200 million, the opening a new office in Canada and three new hires. Read all about it here.

Front Range Biosciences (FRB) partnered with The Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) to build out its marker-assisted breeding platform. Utilizing CRAG’s world-class research facilities, FRB will continue its development of new cannabis plant varieties and make improvements in hemp cultivation methodology.

“We are happy to establish our presence in Europe with the help of such an innovative and well-regarded organization,” said Ray French, director of product development for FRB. “Partnerships with leading entities like CRAG are vital to developing crops that are internationally proven and created with methods informed by the best available worldwide knowledge.”

Arcanum, a hemp-derived CBD sports supplement company, released Arcana-Lyte, a hydration powder packet with 5mg of water-soluble CBD and replenishing electrolytes. Arcana-Lyte has a mild taste that mixes easily into 16 oz. of any liquid.

Created for athletes by athletes, Arcana-Lyte provides systemic hydration that helps manage energy and boost performance. The unique mix of CBD and electrolytes in Arcana-Lyte can prompt bronchial relaxation  increased air flow and respiration into the lungs during inhalation — and improve mental clarity and focus, the company said. Additional benefits may also support a quicker overall return to homeostasis post-workout.  

“Arcana-Lyte decreases the negative symptoms associated with intense workouts through CBD and electrolytes. This first-to-market blend also activates chemicals unique to athletes otherwise known as a ‘runner’s high,’” says Tyler Mintz, founder and COO of Arcanum. “These nutrients, along with the known benefits of cannabinoid supplementation, help athletes gain a new edge.”

CB2 Insights, a provider of predictive analytics tools and data-driven software for the cannabis industry, acquired Colorado-based medical cannabis clinic group Rae of Sunshine Health Services, operating as “Relaxed Clarity.” This acquisition follows the March 20 announcement of an agreement to acquire Arizona and Colorado-based MedEval. 

“At CB2 Insights, we continue to focus on bringing a new level of clinically validated, evidence-based data to the medical cannabis industry.  Much of the data we collect that is used to build analytical tools and insights comes from our own clinical operations," CB2 Insights CEO Prad Sekar told Benzinga.

"While we currently operate the largest multistate cannabis clinical group in the U.S., a core part of our growth strategy is to continue to increase our data pool through accretive acquisitions of other cannabis-focused clinical operations in both strong and emerging markets. This acquisition of Relaxed Clarity — as well as the pending acquisition we have announced of MedEval — both work to grow our data asset and are set to have an immediate, positive impact on our financial metrics.”

Celebrity and cannabis activist Montel Williams announced that his team reached a lawsuit settlement with Timothy Isaac and some entities he owns and/or is associated with.

“The lawsuit alleged that Isaac, his companies and a variety of internet marketers hawked CBD (cannabidiol) oil products to unsuspecting consumers by unlawfully using Mr. Williams’ name and likeness as if they were his own products,” according to a press release. 

“Mr. Williams is pleased to announce today that we have resolved our lawsuit against Mr. Isaac and his various affiliated entities. The case concerned the use of false news articles and advertising that used Mr. Williams’ name or likeness without his permission to sell cannabis or CBD products as if he personally endorsed the products," said Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Williams. 

Detroit-based Emerald Growth Partners (EGP) announced that it received pre-qualification status from the State of Michigan LARA Bureau of Medical Marihuana Board. The approval of 12 Pleasantrees retail locations, four class C cultivation licenses, one Class A cultivation license and one processing facility license marks a significant step for EGP’s state retail footprint in Michigan.

The state has become one of the largest medical cannabis markets in the U.S., with a population of 10 million people and nearly 300,000 registered patients in its state medical cannabis program, the company said.

Hemp company Folium Biosciences announced the launch of Folium Finance, which they said is “the hemp industry’s one-stop-shop program offering CBD/hemp customers supply chain financing, competitive CBD merchant processing services, traditional accounts, CBD/hemp-friendly credit lines, P&C insurance and employee insurance benefits.”

Oxnard-based CURE Pharmaceutical CURR announced plans to acquire formulation technology company Chemistry Holdings Inc. in an all-stock transaction. The deal will allow the former to gain IP and rights to the later’s pharma technology, including a chewable delivery system that will complement its CUREfilm platform — an oral thin film used to deliver active ingredients. 

"[The] combined technologies expand the CUREfilm platform to enable delivery of a wider range of active ingredients at higher doses and create a highly versatile platform for both immediate and controlled-release drug delivery," according to CURE. 

CEO Rob Davidson said the deal “will create a pioneering drug delivery engine with the promise to transform patient experience and wellness.”

CURE will receive $2 million from Chemistry Holdings as a convertible note investment upon closing. Chemistry Holdings is set to bring at least an additional $8 million in cash to the combined entity. The transaction is expected to be completed April 30. 

CropLogic Limited CLI, a global agricultural technology company, said it is utilizing agricultural technology to optimize yields from its trial hemp farm in Oregon. After receiving its first shipment of industrial hemp seeds, the company is germinating them at a third-party nursery in Oregon ahead of a May planting. 

With the passing of the Farm Bill in late 2018, acreage under industrial hemp in Oregon has and will continue to increase significantly, said CropLogic CEO James Cooper-Jones.

“By demonstrating CropLogic’s agronomy and technologies, such as CropLogic realTime, on industrial hemp at its trial farm this season, CropLogic is well-positioned to take advantage of what is likely to prove a lucrative and expanding market.”

Find out more about this and other news with our friends at Marijuana Money.

More From Benzinga Cannabis

The following are some of the most interesting cannabis-related stories from this week.

420 Investor Alan Borchstein outlined his bullish thesis for Alcanna Inc LQSIF.

This author interviewed Kevin Frija, CEO of VPR Brands LP VPRB; Nabis Holdings INNPF execs on their $26-million raise; and Défoncé’s CEO on their premium infused chocolates brand.

Wayne Duggan took a look at Tilray’s technical support point.

Andrew Ward analyzed the CBD for pets market.

Stem Holdings Inc STMH announced the acquisition of Western Coast Ventures, Inc. in an all-stock deal, gaining access to cultivation, processing and distribution of cannabis across California.

Halo Labs founder Kiran Sidhu shared his view on what the U.S. needs to do to prepare for global cannabis legalization.

Evogene Ltd EVGN launched a medical cannabis subsidiary.

Aurora filed a preliminary prospectus to raise up to $750 million.

Vertical Companies closed its Series A financing round at $58 million.

Tilray announced its support of two clinical cannabis studies in Australia and Canada.

Check out these and many other cannabis stories in our cannabis portal.

Events Calendar

April 8-10: the Cannabis Science Conference will host its first east coast event at the Baltimore Convention Center. The Cannabis Science Conference, organized by CSC Events, LLC, will feature television icons and cannabis advocates Montel Williams and Ricki Lake along with over 75 expert presenters.

April 9: Cannabis innovation showcase company REVEL is hosting an educational showcase featuring Chanda Macias of Women Grow and National Holistic, Ashley Piccolo of Point7 and Breaking the Grass Ceiling and Jason Starr, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's assistant counsel.

The showcase will consist of educational "talks" on how to obtain a marijuana license in addition to giveaways, vendors and networking opportunities.

“We think we have assembled an absolutely dynamite showcase,” said Lulu Tsui, co-founder of REVEL with Jacobi Holland.

“Licensing is vital for any serious cannabis entrepreneur, and our experts have either hands-on experience obtaining them or are literally writing the legislation that will allow businesses to get them once New York legalizes cannabis.”

April 10: Denver, Colorado, is holding its monthly CIA meet up. But it’s not what you think. This is a Cannabis Industry Associates Meet Up.

“I was new to the cannabis industry and wondered what others did in the space, so I started a monthly networking group on Meet Up called CIA about a year and a half ago. Today we have grown to over 1,000 members with approximately 45-75 people in attendance each month," said Karen Thomas, the event organizer and executive project manager at Medicine Man Denver.

"The group represents a wide spectrum in the cannabis space from attorneys to chefs, bankers, dispensary owners, sales reps, investors, [and] insurance reps. No agenda, no featured speakers, just a place to gather, meet and connect others to those that may need their services or are looking to get into the space."

April 17-18: The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, the premier gathering of cannabis entrepreneurs and investors in North America, returns to Toronto. Keynote speakers include Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, Cam Battley, Alan Brochstein, Jon Najarian, Danny Moses, Jeanne M. Sullivan, Tim Seymour, and many more! Find all the info you need at

April 20: Escape into a multidimensional, cannabis-inspired, cross-pollinating celebration launching New Highs CBD on 420 in NYC, presented by Humble Bloom, to explore all five senses with all things that flower, heal and tantalize.

“The New Highs launch event at The William Vale, appropriately called Full Spectrum, is about curiosity, education, and inclusion. The wide range of ways one can experiment with CBD and the ways in which we can explore what makes the hemp plant powerful," said New Highs CBD founder Sarah Remesch.

Raffle proceeds will be donated to the New York office of the Drug Policy Alliance.

April 25-26: The CannaMéxico World Summit returns to Centro Fox in Leon, Mexico. Hosted by former Mexican President Vicente Fox, the conference elevates a safe and legal global cannabis market. By 2028, the Latin American cannabis industry could reach a valuation of $12.7 billion. 

More than 2,000 attendees are expected to converge at CannaMéxico 2019, as well as high-profile speakers including television host Montel Williams, scientist Inbar Maymon-Pomeranchik and vice president of NORML Canada Deepak Anand. 

Topics include legislation and regulation, eco-growth, medicine and science, security and industrial opportunities.

May 7: DCM hill host its inaugural Cannabis Technology Summit, CannTech 2019, designed to accelerate the cannabis technology industry by bringing together entrepreneurs, industry executives and investors from all across North America. The agenda includes discussions on the most salient topics in the industry — such as regulation, distribution and financing — and culminates in a startup pitch competition with a $30,000 prize (“The Golden Seed”) to showcase some of the most exciting companies in the space.

Featured speakers include Eaze CEO Jim Patterson, Pax CEO Bharat Vasan and Dosist CEO Gunner Winston, with more to be announced. CannTech is scheduled for May 7 in San Francisco.

“We've been optimistic about the cannabis industry for a while now, starting with our seed round investment in Eaze in 2014, which made DCM the first firm on Sand Hill Road to get in the space. We created CannTech to be a launchpad for emerging cannabis professionals to get funded, educated and connected, and we're excited to hear the ‘big ideas’ brought to the table,” said Kyle Lui, partner at DCM.

May 8: LeafLink is hosting a panel at its NYC headquarters moderated by Eric Hippeau, managing partner at Lerer Hippeau Ventures. The panel will explore the emergence of NYC as the epicenter of East Coast cannabis, and will feature the following panelists: LeafLink co-founder and CEO Ryan Smith; Vangst founder and CEO Karson Humiston; NYC-based cannabis journalist Debra Borchardt; and Vireo Health of New York CEO Ari Hoffnung. RSVP by emailing to reserve a spot. 

May 9-11: The ExpoCannabiz Business Conference and the Cannabis Investing Forum are disembarking in Cartagena, Colombia. The first event in this series will feature keynote speakers Vincente Fox, former president of Mexico; Steve DeAngelo of the Arcview Group; Jennifer Sanders of CNS Equity Partners; and this author, managing director of Benzinga Cannabis. Get your discounted tickets at using the code javierhasse20.

May 28-June 1: The Cons is a gathering of three trade and fan shows, the Cam Con, the Cannabis Con, and the Inked Con, all under one roof, at the SLS South Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. The Cons 2019 will offer a variety of seminars with top industry panelists, networking parties and performance displays to benefit the industry’s content providers, models and affiliates. 

May 30-31: The Concentration Expo is coming to San Diego. Concentration is a Cannabis extraction conference and event assembling the entire specialty cannabis extraction and analytical science spectrum in one connected space that’s focused on providing real solutions with proven success.

Attendees will connect firsthand with industry leaders offering tangible ideas and practical applications for all areas of cannabis extraction and analytical science. The conference is a two-day immersive event offering exclusive content and keynote seminars alongside vetted exhibits and interactive experiences. 

June 7-8: The Women Grow 2019 Leadership Summit is coming to the East Coast. Dr. Chanda Macias, the CEO of the woman-focused organization, will welcome multitudes to her hometown of Washington, D.C., from June 7-8 for the largest cannabis event of its kind.

“We look forward to amplifying our message of cannabis legalization, inclusion and equality here in our nation’s capital,” Macias said.

“Being steps away from the U.S. Capitol, where we have witnessed an influx of women assuming leadership positions, is sure to inspire our community as a whole to connect, educate and empower female leaders in this space.”

Traveling: the CBD Expo Tour is kicking off. The events feature more than 70 exhibitors, along with a substantial lineup of speaker presentations and panel discussions from experts in the research, production, globalization and sale of CBD products.

“After a successful 2018 tour, our busy 2019 schedule opens with CBD Expo MIDWEST. We're taking it into a hardworking area of America where the population is seeking natural pain relief. We will be continuing to educate on the benefits of CBD wellness and why the pharmaceutical companies, as well as the FDA's suppression efforts are self-serving,” said Celeste Miranda, founder of the CBD Expo Tour and CEO of MACE Media.

Picture by Javier Hasse.

Posted In: CannabisNewsFDAMarketsTrading IdeasETFsGeneral420 investorAdam LevinArcanumBlissivaCannabis ETFcannabis newsCannabis Stock Indexcannabis stocksCBDChristina HeintzelmanDebra BorchardtDéfoncéExpoCannabizFolium BiosciencesGreen Market ReportGuamHaleigh’s HopeHigh Timesinvest in marijuanaJon CappettaKraig FoxLeafLinkLou Leon GuerreromarijuanaMarijuana ETFMarijuana IndexMarijuana Moneymarijuana newsmarijuana stocksMayflower BotanicalsMerida Capital PartnersMontel WilliamsMorgan FoxNCIAPot StocksSTATES ActTim MoxeyZachary L. Venegas


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