The Week In Cannabis: Illinois Goes Rec, Federal Commerce And Banking Bills, Surterra's $100M Raise And More
While cannabis wasn’t really a hot topic in the Democratic presidential debate last week, it was trending in the news after Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker printed his autograph on the legalization bill, making the state the 11th to legalize adult-use marijuana. Commenting on the issue, Debra Borchart, CEO of Green Market Report, told Benzinga what she likes most about Illinois’ approach is “that the legislation will also expunge the records of over 700,000 residents convicted of marijuana-related offenses.
“The bill also includes a ‘social equity program,’ which makes it easier for those with marijuana convictions to get business licenses and the program also allocates $12 million for startup businesses related to cannabis,” she said.
On the federal level, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a bill into Congress that would allow for inter-state cannabis commerce. Another bill that would provide protections to banks that service legal cannabis businesses was passed in the House and is now in Senators’ hands.
Kyle Jaeger, associate editor of Marijuana Moment, is one of the people with their ears closer to the Hill’s beat when it comes to cannabis-related topics. When asked for commentary on these developments, he mentioned that, after years of inaction and stalling, Congress finally seems positioned to “take the incremental steps needed to legitimize and normalize this expanding industry.
“Freeing up banks to service cannabis businesses is considered one of the most commonsense legislative changes lawmakers can enact while advocates rally support for broader reform, and the bipartisan nature of the legislation bodes well for its passage in the Senate,” said Jaeger. The Senate’s appetite for inter-state cannabis commerce is yet to be seen, but recent legislative developments suggest a friendlier approach toward marijuana intiatives in general.
If you want to get this news recap in your email inbox every week, please subscribe to https://tinyletter.com/javierhasse
On the corporate front, Surterra Wellness closed a $100 million Series D funding round, seeking to accelerate its growth domestically and internationally. The company also announced two key additions to its Board of Directors: former Patrón Spirits CEO Ed Brown and Kevin Fisher, former CEO of New England Treatment Access.
The news is the latest development in a period of rapid growth for Surterra, which includes the recent closure of its acquisition of Massachusetts-based NETA, a $100 million exclusive global partnership with Intrexon Corp (NASDAQ:XON) to advance commercial scale fermentation-based cannabinoid production, and the continuation of global brand building and innovation through R&D, science and technology.
Surterra CEO William “Beau” Wrigley, Jr. told Benzinga, “The results of our Series D funding round illustrate how much trust sophisticated, curated investors have in our vision, business model, and financial track record.”
Newly public Akerna Corp. (NASDAQ:KERN), parent company to seed-to-sale tracking company MJFreeway, shared some predictions on cannabis consumption trends. The company anticipates Americans will spend more on cannabis this Fourth of July than chicken for their BBQs. Actually, cannabis sales are expected to increase by 80% compared with an average week, ringing in approximately $450 million in total sales nationally. At the current growth rate, Americans are poised to spend more money on cannabis than wine on the Fourth of July by 2020.
Marijuana Stocks & ETFs
Over the last five trading days:
• The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (OTC:HMLSF) (TSE:HMMJ) lost 1.%.
• The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE:MJ) tumbled almost 1%.
• The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (NYSE:YOLO) rose 0.4%.
• The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE:SPY) closed the period down 0.34%.
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 14%
• Aphria Inc (NYSE:APHA): up 4.2%
• Aurora Cannabis Inc (NYSE:ACB): up 7.1%
• CannTrust Holdings Inc (NYSE:CTST): down 1.4%
• Canopy Growth Corp (NYSE:CGC): up 0.4%
• Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ:CRON): up 0.25%
• Curaleaf Holdings Inc (OTC:CURLF): down 4.65%
• Green Growth Brands Inc (OTC:GGBXF): down 3.4%
• Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd (OTC:TGODF): down 0.4%
• Green Thumb Industries Inc (OTC:GTBIF): up 3.3%
• GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ:GWPH): down 0.7%
• Hexo Corp (NYSE:HEXO): down 4.8%
• Harvest Health & Recreation Inc (OTC:HRVSF): down 2.3%
• iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc (OTC:ITHUF): up 7.9%
• Marimed Inc (OTC:MRMD): down 8.6%
• MedMen Enterprises Inc. (OTC:MMNFF): up 11.15%
• OrganiGram Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:OGI): up 1.3%
• Scotts Miracle-Gro Co (NYSE:SMG): up 0.8%
• Tilray Inc (NASDAQ:TLRY): down 7.7%
In Other News
Surterra Wellness also acquired Boston-based Molecular Infusions (Mi). This marked the company’s third acquisition in six months. “Through Mi’s advanced R&D platforms, we will reimagine product formulations and delivery strategies, allowing patients and consumers to benefit from cannabinoids in more effective and predictable ways – both today and in the future,” said Wrigley, Jr.
After much legislative back and forth, Maine finally set up its legal framework for the sale of adult use cannabis, more than two years after citizens voted for legalized sales. Gov. Janet Mills signed the bill into law Thursday. The governor's office said it will accept business license applications by the end of 2019. See more detailas here.
ONE Cannabis announced the expansion of its leadership team with the additions of Frank Knuettel as Chief Financial Officer, Kacy Sindel as Director of Operations, Cultivation and Jayne Levy as Director of Communications. See more details.
Venture capital firm Vice Ventures launched a $25 million fund focused “non-traditional” investment verticals like cannabis, alcohol, CBD, e-sports, addiction recovery, sextech, and others. Among investors are World Wide Web Hall of Famer Marc Andreessen and Bradley Tusk, investor, philanthropist, and former Deputy Governor of Illinois.
Founding Partner Catharine Dockery told Benzinga, “I've found that Vice Ventures is often a very divisive topic – some people think of us as drug runners or arms dealers, and others see us as social arbitrageurs. I tend to see us as much more of the latter. We have a catchy name and concept, to be sure, but we care deeply about working with founders who create products for consenting and informed adults. Binary approaches towards vices, from the prohibition of alcohol to the inclusion of cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, have had little success and have caused real social harm in the United States. The social winds of change are blowing, and if we execute on our thesis I'm confident we can deliver exceptional returns to our investors.”
Fruit Slabs, makers of organic, vegan, cannabis-infused fruit strip edible, partnered with cannabis advocate, social influencer and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Laganja Estranja, to launch its newest flavor, Pride Passion Fruit flavor.
“Pride Passion is such a special flavor and collaboration for Fruit Slabs. Being able to work closely with La Ganja Estranja and have a true ambassador bring our product to the LGTBQ community makes a huge impact," said Roxanne Dennant, Fruit Slabs CEO. "This product is for everyone, but it is a uniquely honoring our LGBTQ friends.”
Cannabis company CB2 Insights Inc (OTC:CBIIF) acquired New Jersey Alternative Medicine, one of the state’s largest medical cannabis evaluation and education clinic groups. NJAM, which operates six clinics in the state and serves over 15,000 patients, will transfer all patient care to CB2 Insights under a performance-based agreement. CB2 Insights will operate in New Jersey under its subsidiary Canna Care Docs, the largest multistate medical cannabis clinic operator in the U.S. See more details.
Cannabics Pharmaceuticals Inc (OTC:CNBX), a company focused on personalizing cannabinoid medicine, especially in relation to cancer and its side effects, this week announced the appointment of two new members of their board of directors: Dr. Estery Giloz-Ran and Eran Ballan. See more details.
WGBH News in Boston, KPBS in San Diego, Arizona PBS, NJTV News and WTTW in Chicago recently collaborated to produce “Cannabis Country,” a half-hour news special covering the state of marijuana across the country.
WGBH News takes a look at the new Massachusetts recreational marijuana industry and also grapples with the lack of research on medical marijuana. KPBS takes a look at San Diego cannabis cultivators attempting to meet the demands of a burgeoning legal market. Arizona’s AZPBS takes a look at the business of medical marijuana through the lens of the banking industry, a tricky venture given the drug’s illegal federal status. New Jersey’s NJTV takes a criminal justice angle, digging into how possible legalization in the state would affect those in the criminal justice system with marijuana charges and how law enforcement would need to adapt to a change in legal status. Chicago’s WTTW speaks with both Illinois doctors and patients to learn more about the plant’s medicinal properties.
Kate Zachry, news director at WGBH News said, “With ‘Cannabis Country’ we created a nationally relevant program by pooling the resources of local public media newsrooms across America. The program demonstrates the power of public media to uncover the stories most important to our communities and the flexibility of the system to deliver these stories to new audiences.”
ABV Cannabis Company developed two pre-rolled joint packs with the help of Hippo Packaging. “The goal was to create packs of pre-rolls for an affordable price to our end consumers. I wanted to make sure that the pre-rolls would remain fresh within their packaging and that the packaging was unique and easy to use,” CEO Adolphus A. Busch V told Benzinga.
Organigram is more than doubling its number of cultivation rooms after receiving approval from Health Canada. The authorization will add 17 cultivation rooms to the cannabis producer's previously licensed 13. See more details.
Canopy Growth is adding to its production capacity, announcing that it received a license for an outdoor cultivation site in Northern Saskatchewan.
The first cannabis cuttings were planted at the 160-acre field in the province hours after the license came through, Canopy said. See more details. The company also completed a transaction to acquire Canada-based KeyLeaf Life Sciences, a bio-product extractor company.
CBD Vida announced the launch of its website for the sale of CBD products in Brazil. CBD Vida Fabio Candello explained that “since the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) reclassified CBD as an approved for therapeutic use substance, subject to control, a huge market warmed to different forms of exploitation. We have an incredible demand for CBD on domestic soil.”
Mission Dispensaries announced an official partnership with Formula Drift Racer Alexander Lichliter. The wellness-inspired dispensary will sponsor Lichliter’s participation in upcoming races, including the most recent Drift Nirvana Trilogy of Drift event. Alexander Lichliter, who got his start in racing in 2009, will now race with Mission as a primary sponsor. In alignment with Mission’s goal to promote cannabis and CBD as part of a healthy and active lifestyle, Mission sees this partnership as an opportunity to provide approachable access to information on cannabis on a national platform.
Columbia Care Inc. (OTC:COLXF) will add to its global footprint in the medical cannabis space with the opening of its San Diego, California flagship dispensary on July 3. The launch also marks the first time Columbia Care’s provider-based dispensary process will be implemented in the state. See more details.
Curaleaf will expand in Arizona through the acquisition of two separate businesses that will allow it to open two new stores in the Phoenix area. See more details.
GeoShepard launched an Android app that aids cultivators in the digital planning, reviewing and measuring of crops while simultaneously automating the data entry of compliance information to government regulatory agencies.
“Cannabis cultivators know how time consuming the monitoring and reporting of everything that comes with compliance can be. From tracking weights and inventory to ensuring plants of a certain growth stage are in the right place and information is accurately reported, the GeoShepard application empowers growers and garden employees to streamline the cumbersome process — easier, faster, more accurate – right from their smartphone,” said CEO Michael Lands.
Green Growth Brands announced the appointment of Jann Parish as its Chief Marketing Officer. Parish has a vast marketing experience, having previously served in leadership positions at a number of global brands. She was previously the CMO of Victoria's Secret. See more details.
Supreme Cannabis Company Inc (OTC:SPRWF) launched a premium cannabis oil in partnership with Khalifa Kush Enterprises Canada. The companies first partnered up in December of last year. See more details.
Matthew Ippolito, a 15-year employee and former VP of E. & J. Gallo Winery, announced he’ll take over the role of Vice President of Sales at Vertical Companies. In his previous position, Ippolito led Gallo Winery’s 250-employee Northern California Affiliated Wholesaler, Gallo Sales Company, as Vice President & General Sales Manager. In his new position as VP of Sales for Vertical, Ippolito will lead the build out of the company’s Northern California Sales & Operations.
“Since the end of CA’s Cannabis prohibition, I have followed the cannabis industry closely and saw its potential. Given my experiences in the wine and spirits space, I see the parallels between the two industries. I feel I can be a tremendous asset in broadening distribution of Vertical’s vast Cannabis/CBD brand portfolios, and in the designing of sales structures in the legal markets,” he told Benzinga.
Cannabis brand Miss Grass closed a $4 million funding round, with investors including Listen Ventures, Casa Verde Capital, Advancit Capital, firstminute Capital, Third Kind Venture Capital, and Muse Capital’s Assia Grazioli-Venier and Rachel Springate, among others.
The funds will be fundamental for the company co-founded by Kate Miller and Anna Duckworth, as it prepares to launch its owned product, expand its team, and scale its marketing and partnerships efforts.
"We’re building Miss Grass as a brand that represents how cannabis actually fits into our lives,” asaid Kate Miller, co-founder and CEO of Miss Grass. "When I worked in a medical dispensary in 2008, there weren't any brands that did that, that authentically spoke to the modern consumer. In this evolving industry, creating a strong brand with a loyal community is the recipe for an enduring business. And with our direct relationship to our consumer we see there’s a huge appetite for our educational content, product curation, and real experiences. We're excited to launch product based on what we know our community wants.”
Cannabis media and technology company, Lift & Co Corp. (OTC:LFCOF) has created a meeting place for all consumers, entrepreneurs and investors. The technology helps cannabis consumers explore and understand the legal cannabis market, while offering extensive research and development around products, reviews, events and data. See more details.
MariMed Inc. (OTC:MRMD) announced the appointment of Mr. David Allen to its Board of Directors. As a Director, he will serve as Chair of MariMed’s Audit Committee.
Allen told Benzinga, "I’m looking forward to bringing my experience in managing the business and finances of numerous companies in order to help MariMed capitalize on its innovative product and business strategies during this exciting period of growth in the cannabis and hemp industries. As an easing in the banking restrictions is being considered, we are closely analyzing every aspect to ready MariMed for the transition, as this normalization of the business cycle will likely enable even more investment and growth."
International Cannabrands Inc. (OTC:GEATF) announced that its 51%-owned subsidiary La Vida Verde, entered into an agreement with Bettie Janes, LLC to further expand sales efforts throughout Northern California.
Harvest Health & Recreation’s shareholders held a meeting to approve its acquisition of Verano Holdings with 100% of votes cast.
Bellator MMA announced a new multi-year exclusive partnership with cbdMD Inc (NYSE:YCBD), a consumer cannabidiol) brand. As part of the agreement, mixed martial arts organization Bellator MMA will give cbdMD exclusive branding rights inside the Bellator cage. See more details.
GrowGeneration (OTC:GRWG), a specialty retail hydroponic and organic gardening stores, completed a private placement totaling $12.8 million. See more details.
Flowr Corp (OTC:FLWPF) made three significant announcements. It announced the acquisition of the remaining 80.2% of Holigen, a company with cultivation and GMP manufacturing and processing assets in Portugal and Australia. With over 500,000kg of annual capacity, Holigen’s assets include one of the largest cultivation facilities in the developed world (Portugal), which has been designated a project of national interest by the government. The company also announced an equity offering of C$125 million and last week they gave word of non-dilutive capital via a C$50 million senior secured credit facility.
Vinay Tolia, Flowr’s CEO told Benzinga, “We had been looking for a global partner for some time and when we met the Holigen team we were extremely excited about their GMP, regulatory and pharma expertise plus the sheer scale of their assets. The combination of Flowr’s cultivation expertise and the mix of Hoiligen’s team and assets makes this a highly complementary acquisition to service the European and Australasia markets.”
The UK’s Centre for Medicinal Cannabis released its latest report. Titled “CBD in the UK: Towards a responsible innovative, and high-quality cannabidiol industry,” the report provides wide-ranging recommendations including amending existing out-of-date legislation; clarity relating to current policy; investment in medical research; and self-regulation among existing business owners. See more details.
True Leaf’s hemp-based supplements will be the first products for pets sold by a Namaste e-commerce platform when the line launches on Namaste’s CannMart.com.
“We’re excited to expand our online direct-to-consumer strategy with Namaste,” said Darcy Bomford, Founder and CEO of True Leaf. “In addition to being in more than 3,500 stores worldwide, we’re seeing tremendous growth online with direct-to-consumer sales. We also look forward to working with Namaste as a key distribution partner when we launch our line of legally-compliant CBD products for pets.”
Indiva Advisors acquired Missouri Cannabis CPA. “We are very excited to expand. There is a huge need and demand for trusted, competent CPAs who can provide specialized services. We keep cannabis businesses both compliant and profitable, so that their owners can sleep easier at night, with less anxiety with potential audits, fines, and fees,” said Indiva Advisors Managing Partner Jessica Velazquez.
Helix TCS, Inc. (OTC:HLIX) announced its subsidiary, BioTrackTHC, was awarded a government cannabis technology contract with the state of New Hampshire, the company’s second government contract in 2019. Earlier in the year, BioTrackTHC’s industry-leading cannabis seed to sale technology was selected by the state of Maine for a government traceability contract, and extended existing traceability contracts with Hawaii, Illinois, and Delaware bringing its total to 10 government contracts.
“We are pleased with the continued confidence in our cannabis tracking technology and look forward to further expanding our market presence as the industry grows,” said Zachary L. Venegas, Executive Chairman and CEO of Helix TCS, Inc.
Cannabis beverage company K-Zen Beverages announced the launch of its first brand, S-Shots, a line of cannabis-infused wellness shots developed with natural ingredients.
“With S-Shots, we wanted to create a brand of great tasting, convenient cannabis wellness shots that appeal to all cannabis users, from the experienced to the curious,” said K-Zen Beverages co-founder and co-CEO Judy Yee. "We're on a mission to share the benefits of cannabis beverages, and with these four initial S-Shot SKUs, we're excited to help consumers find the sensations they seek through consistent formulas, delicious flavors and rapid, predictable results."
Natura Life + Science, a vertically integrated cannabis platform and contract manufacturer, announced an exclusive manufacturing and distribution partnership with Cannibble, an Israel-based food formulation company that specializes in cannabis category innovation. The new agreement will allow Natura to bring dozens of consumer-tested cannabis food products into the U.S. market.
Ori Bytton, CEO of Natura Life + Science, said, "We believe Cannibble's recipes and products solve an important problem in the edibles category, and we thrilled to be working with them to bring their products from Israel into the US market for the first time. This type of partnership is what Natura is all about given our commitment to help cannabis brands launch, scale, and ultimately thrive in the budding cannabis market. It's a win for both of us – Cannibble will grow, and we will be able to offer our manufacturing partners and US consumers cannabis food products that they haven't had access to before."
CannAmerica Brands signed a non-binding letter of intent with Canna Provision for an exclusive license to manufacture and distribute CannAmerica branded cannabis infused gummy products and disposable vape pens, and Live Labs branded cannabis concentrate products, including droppers, shatter and wax concentrate products, and gelatin based capsules in Massachusetts.
“Expanding into the New England region has been a fundamental goal for CannAmerica, we’re looking forward to the prospects of our agreement with Canna Provisions and introducing our products to a thriving, new market,” said Dan Anglin, CEO and Co-Founder of CannAmerica.
Ignite International launched a new line of topical CBD products, CBD Pain Relief Cream and CBD Roll-On Oil. The new CBD Pain Relief Cream is designed to reduce discomfort and inflammation at the source, and the CBD Roll-On Oil helps with aromatherapeutic stress relief.
Daytrip announced the release of its CBD-infused sparkling water. Daytrip also plans to release a THC infused sparkling water line in California dispensaries.
“Daytrip is on a mission to set the gold standard for cannabis consumables. We plan to completely redefine expectations for CBD and THC infused products, and we’re thrilled with the initial reaction to our sparkling water line,” said Shawn Biega, CEO Daytrip.
Learn more about these and other news with out friends at Marijuana Money.
More From Benzinga Cannabis
Here are some of the most interesting cannabis-related stories from this week.
Check out these and many other cannabis stories on Benzinga.com/cannabis
July 27: Microscopes & Machines will bring leaders in cannabis medical research and manufacturing technology for a day-long exploration of cannabis and hemp’s life-changing potential. Featuring Jeff Chen of UCLA’s UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, Ace Shelander PE of Beaker & Wrench, and many more.
August 1-2: CannaFarm Con will focus on the new and complex challenges that cannabis farmers face. The event assembles the entire specialty cannabis farming spectrum in one connected space that is focused on providing real solutions with proven success. Attendees will connect firsthand with cutting-edge industry leaders and forward thinkers offering tangible ideas and practical applications for all areas of cannabis agriculture. The event will take place at Paradise Point Resort in San Diego.
August 17-18: The 9th CannaGrow Expo will take place in Palm Springs, California, featuring more than 35 cultivation-focused educational sessions and an expo hall filled with cannabis-related technologies. “One thing that differentiates CannaGrow Expo from other cannabis events is the exciting educational content focused on the foundations of the cannabis industry,” says Jessi Rae, COO of CannaConnections, producers of CannaGrow, DispensaryNext and Science of Cannabis Summit. CannaGrow Expo will feature a special Extraction Summit and the popular Grower Networking Roundtables. Pass prices range from $69 – $399. For more information and to purchase passes, please visit https://cannagrowexpo.com.
October 11-12: CBD Expo MOUNTAIN will bring the largest CBD event platform to Denver, CO to broadcast products with the community and share knowledge with the industry. The event features more than 150+ exhibitors, along with a substantial lineup of speaker presentations, panel discussions, demos and workshops from experts in the research, production, globalization, distribution and sale of CBD products. The theme for CBD Expo MOUNTAIN will focus on compliance & regulation and investments & business.
October 22-23: The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is coming to Chicago, Illinois! You know you can’t miss it. Go to https://www.benzingacannabisconference.com/ for more information.
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 15-16: CBD Expo EAST will bring the largest CBD event platform to Orlando, FL to broadcast products with the community and share knowledge with the industry. The event features more than 150+ exhibitors, along with a substantial lineup of speaker presentations, panel discussions, demos and workshops from experts in the research, production, globalization, distribution and sale of CBD products. The theme for CBD Expo EAST will focus on globalization and spa + wellness.
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 three days will focus on six main pillars – Medical, Business, Research, Legislation, Regulatory and Fintech. The event will host Malta’s top policymakers, international regulatory experts and global business leaders.
December 5-6: CBD Expo WEST will bring the largest CBD event platform to San Diego, CA to broadcast products with the community and share knowledge with the industry. The event features more than 150+ exhibitors, along with a substantial lineup of speaker presentations, panel discussions, demos and workshops from experts in the research, production, globalization, distribution and sale of CBD products. The theme for CBD Expo WEST will focus on research and development and cannabinoid formulations.
Photo by Javier Hasse.
© 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.