Market Overview

Cannabis Companies Take Over Toronto, Talk Importance Of California Market

Cannabis Companies Take Over Toronto, Talk Importance Of California Market

Investors heard from dozens of top cannabis executives April 17-18 at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Toronto.

MedMen Enterprises

Medmen Enterprises Inc (OTC: MMNFF) has licenses for 82 stores in four states — California, Florida, Nevada and New York — Vahan Ajamian, the company's managing director of analyst relations, said in a presentation.

Echoing a common theme at the Cannabis Capital Conference, Ajamian said California, where MedMen has 10 stores and is building out two more, is the ultimate prize for the cannabis industry as a retail trendsetter.

"There's a reason that other large retailers in other areas have more stores in California than anywhere else. In retail, if you win California, if you establish dominance there, you're in a position to run the table in other states."

4Front Ventures

Kris Krane, president of 4Front Ventures, a consulting company in the process of merging with Washington-based cannabis producer Cannex Capital Holdings Inc (OTC: CNXXF), said the transaction is not intended to combine assets to grow for scale's sake.

"This has been a merger of operational competency," Krane told conference attendees. 4Front Ventures, which has expertise in navigating financial and capital markets, is joining with Cannex, the largest cannabis producer and wholesaler in Washington state.

"We've not found anybody in the U.S who produces as efficiently and at scale," Krane said of Cannex Capital.


U.S. cannabis retailer Curaleaf Holdings Inc (OTC: CURLF), which has 43 dispensaries, is focusing on a CBD products line, said CFO Neil Davidson.

"It's something that's really become top of mind in the last three or four months," Davidson said. "We think it [CBD] can exceed the cannabis market by 2023."

Curaleaf is opening the national retail market for CBD, including distribution through CVS Health Corp (NYSE: CVS), the CFO said.

As a major operator of single-branded retail stores mainly on the U.S. eastern seaboard, including New York, New Jersey and Florida, Curaleaf is eyeing growth opportunities on the west coast, with a focus on growing its California footprint, Davidson said.

"We're taking our strategy to the west."

KushCo Holdings

KushCo Holdings Inc (OTC: KSHB) is a leader in vaporizer products, packaging and supplies, said Stephen Christoffersen, the company's executive vice president of corporate development.

Vape products and cannabis extracts surpassed traditional flower and joint consumption last year in California, the exec said, adding that he sees this as a sign of future market trends across the U.S.

KushCo has in-house teams for helping emerging cannabis players understand a fast-evolving regulatory environment — and even how to package their products — making the company a full-service seed-to-sale provider, Christoffersen said.

"People think we're a packager. People think we're a manufacturer, when I would argue we're a service provider," he said.

"You can throw around volumes and negotiate better terms with partners."

DionyMed Brands

DionyMed Brands Inc (OTC: DYMEF) serves more than 850 dispensaries, said Dan Fields, the company's executive vice president of capital markets.

Beyond that geographical reach, Fields highlighted how DionyMed is expanding in California: not as a cultivator, but by targeting high-end consumers, millennials and young professionals with direct-to-consumer home delivery.

"In a state where there's a deep market for flower, we believe in leaving cultivation to farmers and we choose to focus on manufacturing the product, branding the product and going direct to consumers in California," Fields said.

"We believe that will sweep the country."


Kim Rivers, the CEO of Florida-based multistate operator Trulieve Cannabis Corp (OTC: TCNNF), discussed the challenge of becoming a national cannabis player in a country with diverging east and west coast attitudes toward weed production and branding.

"There's an east coast philosophy of a strict rollout and control of the supply chain," Rivers said.

The west coast, in contrast, is dominated by cannabis brands and a decentralized production model, the CEO said.

Rivers asked how differing east and west coast attitudes be combined for effective cannabis branding and scaling.

For Trulieve, it means following Whole Foods and other retail giants and introducing a three-tier strategy of brand selection and distribution, Rivers said.

Trulieve has a private label; a second and diverse suite of brands for new cannabis users; and finally a luxury product line "you want to bust out when you have friends over on a Friday night," the CEO said.

Ignite Cannabis 

Ignite Cannabis Co. President Jim McCormick has good reason for arguing "brand owners will be the big winners" in the global cannabis industry.

Dan Bilzerian, the professional poker player and social media star, heads up the cannabis producer and reaches consumers in part with his nearly 26 million Instagram followers.

With Bilzerian driving consumer awareness, McCormick said it's left to him and his management team to execute by finding the right partners to scale in the U.S. market and beyond.

"I'm glad they weren't just trying to win California," McCormick said of his hiring process before he jumped to Ignite from rival KushCo. in February.

"We can win the world. I want to win China. Dan has a global reach and ambition," McCormick said.

Related Links:

Cannabis Execs Pitch Investors In Toronto; iAnthus CFO Says Market Will Grow To Same Magnitude As Alcohol

National Brands, Blue Sky Startups Address Investors At Cannabis Capital Conference

Vahan Ajamian, MedMen's managing director of analyst relations, speaks at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference earlier this month in Toronto. Photo by Juil Yoon.

Posted-In: Dan Bilzerian Dan Fields Ignite Cannabis Jim McCormickCannabis News Events Markets Best of Benzinga


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