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The Week In Cannabis: Earnings Madness, Illinois Legalization, FDA Hearing, And More

June 2, 2019 4:05 pm
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The Week In Cannabis: Earnings Madness, Illinois Legalization, FDA Hearing, And More

In a week that can only be described as eventful, Illinois lawmakers passed a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis – which now only needs the governor’s signature; the FDA held a public hearing on the regulation of products containing CBD; and a federal appeals court re-opened a case against the federal government and the DEA, which challenges cannabis’ illegality – ultimately the court urged the federal government to move forward with the de-scheduling of marijuana “with all deliberate speed.”

Commenting on Illinois’ legalization, Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Chicago-based Cresco Labs Inc (OTC:CRLBF), told Benzinga, “The legislation passed in Illinois reflects the positive social equity and economic impact that the regulated recreational-use cannabis industry can have on cities and states.”

Regarding the lawsuit against the federal government, one of the plaintiffs, Nelson Guerrero, executive director of the Cannabis Cultural Association told Benzinga: “Come fall we will be heard again by the second circuit, and hopefully the DEA will do right by the people with a fair and fast decision. The unconstitutional prohibition of cannabis is coming to an end under this administration or the next; we are one step closer to freeing the plant so we can free the people.”

In relation to the FDA hearing, Benzinga spoke with Wendy May Real, MBA, founder and CEO of Pure Bloom CBD. She said the FDA’s public hearing, featuring more than 100 speakers, medical professionals and advocates within the CBD industry, left her with mixed emotions.

“I was happy to see of the FDA’s willingness to hear public comment and acknowledged the need for a more defined regulatory framework. But, [the FDA] was unable to provide any immediate timeline or path forward for this framework.”

In other news, the Transportation Security Administration updated its rules to allow people to travel with certain hemp-derived CBD products, Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled in favor to the legality of cannabis extracts – reversing a lower court decision, and South Africa passed legislation that partially legalizes CBD and CBD products.

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On the markets front, we learned Harborside, one of the most iconic cannabis dispensary chains, is going public on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the symbol “HBOR.” Harborside was founded by activist Steve DeAngelo and is known for completing the first legal cannabis sale ever in California.

We also witnessed a myriad of big earnings reports and other big developments in the corporate world, all featured in detail below.

Story of the Week: Heisman Healer Ricky Williams Talks Wellness In Detroit: 'Cannabis Can Help You Connect To Yourself'

Marijuana Stocks & ETFs

Over the last five trading days, including last Friday, since U.S. markets were closed on Monday due to Memorial Day:

• The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (OTC:HMLSF) (TSE:HMMJ) lost 7.4 percent.

• The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE:MJ) tumbled 7.4 percent.

• The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (NYSE:YOLO) lost 6.1 percent.

• The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE:SPY) closed the period down 2.66 percent.

Here are some of the top marijuana stocks (market cap above $500 million) in U.S. exchanges and how the performed over the last five trading days:

Acreage Holdings (OTC:ACRZF): down 3.85 percent

• Aphria Inc (NYSE:APHA): down 10.3 percent

• Aurora Cannabis Inc (NYSE:ACB): down 8.7 percent

• CannTrust Holdings Inc (NYSE:CTST): down 7.9 percent

• Canopy Growth Corp (NYSE:CGC): down 9.4 percent

• Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ:CRON): down 8.45 percent

Curaleaf Holdings Inc (OTC:CURLF): down 9.1 percent

Green Growth Brands Inc (OTC:GGBXF): down 9 percent

• Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd (OTC:TGODF): down 13.3 percent

• Green Thumb Industries Inc (OTC:GTBIF): up 2.6 percent

• GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ:GWPH): down 5.65 percent

Hexo Corp (NYSE:HEXO): down 5 percent

Harvest Health & Recreation Inc (OTC:HRVSF): down 10.7 percent

• iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc (OTC:ITHUF): up 1 percent

Marimed Inc (OTC:MRMD): down 5.75 percent

• MedMen Enterprises Inc. (OTC:MMNFF): up 0.2 percent

OrganiGram Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:OGI): down 3.3 percent

• Scotts Miracle-Gro Co (NYSE:SMG): up 0.7 percent

• Tilray Inc (NASDAQ:TLRY): down 13.4 percent

In Other News

'The Week In Cannabis' Exclusive

Cannabis compliance software provider Simplifya will announce Monday former senior DOJ official John Vardaman is joining the company as Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel. While at DOJ in 2014, Vardaman drafted the department’s marijuana banking policy memo, one of the federal government’s first efforts to enable banking services for the cannabis industry. 

Vardaman will help lead the team at Simplifya that analyzes state and local cannabis compliance and regulatory requirements, so that those requirements can be reflected in the software in a simple and easy-to-follow format. Simplifya’s software is guiding the compliance efforts of cannabis cultivators, retailers and product-makers across 12 states.

Earnings Madness

Green Thumb Industries announced record revenue of $28 million and record sequential revenue growth of 34 percent for first quarter 2019. Highlights of the company’s year-to-date performance includes the opening of five new Rise retail stores across Ohio and Florida; the closing on acquisitions of Advanced Grow Labs and the Beboe brand; and the closing of a $105.5 million senior secured debt financing.

Brand development and distribution is key to GTI’s strategy, according to GTI founder and CEO Ben Kovler.

“Our core brands Rythm, Dogwalkers, The Feel Collection and Beboe, are experiencing great quarter-over-quarter growth, driven by new distribution across the country. Rythm has new distribution in Florida and Nevada; Dogwalkers has begun selling in Nevada and Massachusetts; and The Feel Collection is gaining great traction in Florida. We've expanded the Beboe brand with the launch of Beboe Therapies, a premium CBD-infused skincare line, which began selling online and in select high-end retailers including Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus.

"We believe the mainstream visibility will reinforce the core TCH product line as we launch it across the country. We continue to invest in our core brands and believe that our branding will be further elevated as we explore new distribution channels in both existing and new markets,” he said.

Acreage Holdings said in its first-quarter report that its revenue grew substantially despite regulatory delays in the opening of dispensaries. Total revenue for the first quarter of 2019 totaled $12.9 million, marking a 487-percent jump from the same period last year. Acreage reported pro forma revenue of $33.1 million and a net loss of $31.2 million. Full results here.

Trulieve Cannabis stated that the first quarter of 2019 marked another milestone in record revenue. Compared to the same quarter the previous year, Trulieve's revenue grew 192 percent, totaling $44.5 million. Other financial highlights for the quarter include an adjusted EBIDTA that increased from $6.1 million the same period the previous year to $19 million in 2019. Full results here.

Origin House (OTC:ORHOF) reported first-quarter results that showed substantial revenue growth — and expenses that grew proportionately higher.  The company's revenue of CA$11.2 million ($8.29 million) was significantly higher than CA$600,000 a year earlier and grew by 41 percent sequentially. Origin House's gross margin amounted to C$A1.7 million in the quarter versus a flat figure in the same period of 2018.

“Moving forward through the balance of the year, we’re confident that, once completed, the combination of Cresco Labs’ scale and Origin House’s California-wide distribution footprint will further accelerate growth and build significant value for the shareholders of both companies,” Origin House CEO and Chairman Marc Lustig told Benzinga. Full results here.

Cresco Labs released its unaudited financial results with revenue growth of 313 percent year over year.

First-quarter revenue came in at $21.1 million, which was also up 24 percent quarter over quarter. That revenue number missed the consensus estimate of $22.8 million, according to Refinitv. Full results here.

Green Growth Brands released fiscal third-quarter 2019 results, with revenue at its Nevada cannabis operations growing to $5.1 million. Green Growth reported total revenue, including both of its MSO and CBD operations, was $5.6 million. The company’s Nevada gross margin was 41 percent. The company expanded into Massachusetts during the quarter, through completion of a transaction with Just Healthy LLC. Full results here.

MedMen Enterprises’ fiscal third-quarter results saw increased revenue by 22 percent to $36.6 million across operations in California, Nevada, New York, Arizona and Illinois. MedMen continued to perform favorably in California with $24.9 million in retail revenue and retail gross margins increasing to 57 percent. MedMen reported its revenue from pending acquisitions and pre-closing revenue from recently closed acquisitions, pro forma quarterly revenue was approximately $57 million. Full results here.

Vireo Health International, Inc. (OTC:VREOF) first-quarter earnings showed total quarterly revenue of $5.8 million, marking a 57-percent increase year over year. Pro forma revenue for the quarter was roughly $7 million. The company also successfully completed the reverse takeover Darien Business Development Corp., raising $51.4 million through brokered and non-brokered private placement. Vireo also acquired several licenses in Arizona, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Rhode Island. Full results here.

Curaleaf Holdings reported first quarter revenue of $75.1 million, a year-to-year increase of 260 percent. Curaleaf opened seven new dispensaries in key markets such as Florida, Maryland and New York, building on existing licenses and prior acquisitions. Curaleaf recently acquired Select, a cannabis wholesale brand; It completed the acquisition of exclusive rights to operate Absolute Healthcare's Emerald dispensary in Arizona; And the company also completed the acquisition of Eureka Investment Partners in California. Full results here.

iAnthus Capital Holdings first-quarter earnings showed $18.5 million in pro forma revenue, representing a 22-percent increase from the fourth quarter. The company increased its wholesale distribution across three states. Of the 11 states iAnthus operates in, nine generated revenue. The company was able to reach 11 states by completing the first public-to-public transaction of MPX, which occurred on Feb. 5. Full results here.

More News

Helix TCS, Inc. (OTC:HLIX) subsidiary, BioTrackTHC, collaborated with the North Dakota Department of Health to launch digital mobile-friendly ID cards for medical marijuana patients in the state. BioTrack provides the government seed to sale traceability system in North Dakota, and this is the first legal medical cannabis program where patients will have instant access to their patient cards upon approval as well as real-time visibility over their daily purchase limits.

“BioTrack worked closely with the North Dakota Department to incorporate this new feature into our traceability system, so that patients will not have to wait days or weeks for a physical card to be printed and mailed to them,” said Patrick Vo, CEO of BioTrackTHC. “They are able to download their mobile cards the moment they are approved and walk into a licensed dispensary to obtain the medicine they need.”

Commenting on Harborside’s go-public annoubcement, Duane Morris LLP corporate partner and co-chair of the firm’s private equity group Nanette Heide, who led the team that represented Harborside in the U.S., told Benzinga, “This deal was incredibly complex from day one with a two-tiered capital structure, a complex inversion analysis, as well as two rounds of financing conducted under simultaneous securities registration exemptions… We are delighted for our client and honored to work with Harborside on their strategic transactions.”

Cresco Labs announced its Social Equity & Educational Development (SEED) program, the cannabis industry’s first national social equity initiative promoting inclusion, expungement, equality, access and community engagement designed to ensure that all members of our society have the skills, knowledge and opportunity to work in and own businesses in this industry.

Cresco is providing a pathway to business ownership through its incubator program, which will assist states in achieving their diversity goals for regulated cannabis programs. Their plan is to drive social change through collaboration with universities and local organizations and provide 20,000 individuals with the opportunity to seek employment in the cannabis industry by 2022.

“Cresco’s success to date is firmly rooted in our early understanding that this industry will develop in a very community-focused manner.  The SEED initiative is a reflection of our goal to create inclusion and share the benefits that come from being a part of this industry,” said CEO Charlie Bachtell. “The future of the cannabis industry, especially as this industry transitions to more of a focus on adult-access programs, includes a significant priority on matters of Social Justice, Social Equity and Inclusiveness, and Cresco has made these priorities a core part of our business model.”

AYR (formally known as CSAC), a vertically integrated multi-state operator, began trading earlier this week as the first recreational cannabis company over the billion-dollar threshold to list on NEO. As part of its qualifying transaction, AYR acquired five distinct cannabis businesses consisting of three cannabis cultivation and production facilities and eight dispensaries, all of which operate within Nevada and Massachusetts. AYR is led by CEO Jonathan Sandelman, former President of Bank of America Securities and Jennifer Drake (COO), former Managing Director of Goldman Sachs."

Emerald Growth Partners (EGP) announced the addition of Travis Harrison, former Shinola Head of Retail, as their Chief Operating Officer. This news comes as the company prepares to launch its first Pleasantrees Cannabis Career Days on June 1 in metro Detroit, a series of job creation events focused on filling positions in its medical marijuana cultivation, processing and provisioning center facilities.

Chemesis International Inc. (OTC:CADMF)’s wholly owned subsidiary La Finca Interacviva-Arachna Med SAS received notification of the approval of three new cultivation licenses for three additional farms located near Bogota, Colombia.

Vireo Health announced that Harris Rabin will become the company’s first Chief Marketing Officer. Rabin will lead the company’s brand marketing, e-commerce, and sales efforts. Rabin brings two decades of experience, including senior leadership roles in the consumer healthcare and alcohol industries.

Before joining Vireo, Global Vice President of Marketing at Anheuser Busch Inbev NV (NYSE:BUD), where he led brand building efforts. Prior to ABInBev, Rabin worked for nearly a decade at Bayer HealthCare as a brand builder in the Consumer Health division, where he built brands and ultimately oversaw the Global Aspirin franchise.

“I am excited to join an industry leader like Vireo that maintains a unique position in the market,” Said Rabin. “Vireo’s experienced leadership group, led by a team of physicians and scientists, combined with licenses in ten medical and recreational states, a growing portfolio of brands, and compelling IP is a recipe for success.”

Driven Deliveries (OTC:DRVD) signed a Letter of Intent to acquire Mountain High Recreation (MHR). This acquisition deal will provide Driven Deliveries with another revenue vertical which will ultimately increase the company's market share. 

"Driven Deliveries is executing on its strategic plan by growing both organically and with acquisitions as we continue to scale our business to service our customers and stakeholders," commented Mr. Brian Hayek, President of Driven Deliveries. "As the cannabis industry in California continues to mature, we are confident that acquisitions of companies such as MHR will provide us with the scale and infrastructure to maintain our competitive advantage." 

Planet 13 Holdings Inc (OTC:PLNHF), the world’s largest dispensary, launched its national Planet M CBD brand – a line of custom formulated full-spectrum and CBD isolate products. Planet M will sell CBD tinctures, edibles, topicals and more. The company also announced Q1 results, including Q1 revenue of $13.8 million with the SuperStore now generating over $5 million per month in revenue.

Canopy Rivers Inc (OTC:CNPOF) promoted Narbé Alexandrian from President to Chief Executive Officer. In his expanded role as CEO, he is responsible for leading Canopy Rivers’ growth strategy and building value for all Canopy Rivers shareholders. His appointment is effective immediately.

Bruce Linton will continue to serve as Chairman of the Canopy Rivers Board of Directors.

“This opportunity represents a rare once in a lifetime opportunity to build a global company in a brand new worldwide market. I am incredibly excited about the potential this represents for the Canopy Rivers team and for our portfolio companies," Alexandrian said.

Coda Signature developed new formulations for its award winning edibles array with a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC- infused chocolate bars. Each bar features 100 milligrams of THC and 100 milligrams of CBD, which is twenty 5mg CBD and 5mg THC servings. This formulation is an optimal cannabinoid profile to activate the entourage effect CBD and THC.  

“The formulation was developed with equal parts THC and CBD for a centered feeling of bliss and calm in our Coffee & Doughnuts, Cream & Crumble, Caramel & Corn and Snap & Spice,” said Mark Grindeland, Coda Signature Co-Founder and CEO. “At Coda, we’re celebrating the synergistic duet of THC and CBD.”

The Green Organic Dutchman  announced a supply agreement to Alberta, Canada, increasing their distribution footprint. They can talk about supply challenges or distribution in Canada’s legal market. 

International Cannabrands Inc (OTC:GEATF)  completed its 51 percent acquisition of La Vida Verde, which has generated $13.8 million in revenue in 2018. 

Biome Grow Inc (OTC:BIOIF) announced the first commercial harvests of cannabis from its Antigonish, Nova Scotia cultivation and distribution facility, commencement of shipments to licensed retailers in Nova Scotia and the onboarding of the Newfoundland & Labrador market. 

“The quarter reflected the start of our commercial activities. We are ramping our volumes significantly in Q2 where each month dwarfs the revenue we generated in all of Q1. We are also garnering some of the highest prices in Canada for our products reflecting our local branding approach, the high visual quality of our flower products, attractive cannabis and terpene profiles, and low waste packaging. We are excited to unveil these increased volumes later this summer as well as our international projects that will drive considerably more revenue that what Biome will generate in Canada,” Khurram Malik, CEO of Biome Grow, told Benzinga.

True Leaf Brands Inc. (OTC:TRLFF), formerly True Leaf Medicine International, signed its first CBD supply agreement for the supply of full spectrum, farm-fresh CBD oil to support the development and launch of its debut line of CBD products for pets. 

The line will be unveiled this summer at SuperZoo 2019, North America’s premier pet industry trade show, being held August 20-22, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We are closer than ever to launching our highly anticipated line of CBD products for pets,” said Darcy Bomford, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of True Leaf. “Our CBD supplier Atalo is well-known for its focus on sustainable agronomics, and their proprietary, internationally certified pedigreed seed grown by seventh generation Kentucky hemp farmers. With Atalo’s supply of top-quality CBD we are confident that we can meet the growing market demand and continue to be the cannabis-for-pets brand that retailers and pet parents trust.”

RADD Capital invested $5.5 million into HempFusion, a U.S. hemp-based CBD company that manufactures, markets and sells whole food hemp extract products in over 3,400 retail locations.

Canopy Growth subsidiary Vert Mirabel announced it received the last needed cultivation license from Health Canada to approve all 700,000 square feet of its cannabis production facility in Mirabel, Quebec. Full story here.

TerrAscend Corp. (OTC:TRSSF) closed its non-brokered private placement. Orders totaled an approximate CA$69 million (about $93 million USD). Full story here.

MediPharm Labs Corp. (OTC:MEDIF), a company that specializes in research-driven cannabis extraction and cannabinoid isolation, announced an agreement with Bank of Nova Scotia (NYSE:BNS) on behalf of a syndicate of underwriters that will purchase 10.815 million common shares of the company on a bought deal basis, at a price of $5.55 per share. Gross proceeds will amount to C$60 million. Full story here.

Cannabis company Ionic Brands Corp (OTC:ZRRRF) acquirer famed British pipe maker Astleys of London for $7.8 million in cash and stock. Full story here.

Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (OTC:CWBHF) started trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Full story here.

More From Benzinga Cannabis

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

An analysis on Cronos Group potentially finding technical support.

This piece on Cowen’s latest report on cannabis.

“8 Things You Need To Know About Eating Marijuana Edibles.”

“Google Takes Measures To Restrict Marijuana Sales”

“Your Brain On Weed: Concussions And Cannabis”

“Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton Talks The 'Next Wave' Of Cannabis With Cramer”

“Cowen's Pascarelli: CBD Market Shows 'Encouraging Signs'”

“The Polarizing Position Of CBD Products Among Veterinarians”

Check out these and many other cannabis stories on Benzinga.com/cannabis

Events Calendar

June 2: Faith in Cannabis will be held at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, featuring the Rev. Kirk T. Berlenbach of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania; Rabbi Eli Freedman of Rodeph Shalom; and Reverend Greg Holston, executive director of POWER.

June 7–9: 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,” said Dr. Macias. “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.”

June 18: Martha Stewart will speak at the World Cannabis Congress (WCC) in Saint John, NB, Canada. Stewart is an example of big brands and high-profile personalities that are entering into the cannabis space as outdated stigma gives way to mainstream growth opportunities. “I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experience in the lifestyle space with this tailored audience,” says Stewart. “As I begin to collaborate on products for the CBD market, and as the demand for these types of product grows, I’m very interested in the conversations and connections at this event.” Stewart will be joining Riedle and Founder, Chairman and Co-CEO of Canopy Growth Bruce Linton on stage in a fireside chat on June 18 to close the conference. Read more about it here.

June 25: MjMicro, an investor forum that seeks connects “highly qualified investors with best-in-class and emerging publicly-traded cannabis companies” will debut in New York at the Westin Grand Central. The event will be held 4 times a year with future events scheduled for Beverly Hills, West Palm Beach, and Seattle.

October 23–24: Marijuana Venture Magazine’s Retail and Dispensary (RAD) Expo, a national trade show focused on the retail cannabis industry, will return to the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. The RAD Expo will feature presentations from industry veterans to speak about successful entrepreneurship and topics including merchandising, partnership management, interior store design and retail operations. The 2019 show will focus heavily on CBD products and CBD brands with a presence in health grocery stores, luxury retailers, pet stores and other retail categories that carry hemp-derived products.

November 19–21: The Medcann World Forum 2019 will be held in the Mediterranean Conference Centre which dates back to the 16th Century. where it was originally built as a hospital  by the order of St. John. The 3 days will focus on 6 main pillars – Medical, Business, Research, Legislation, Regulatory and Fintech. The event will host Malta’s top policymakers, international regulatory experts and global business leaders.

Photo by Javier Hasse.