The Week In Cannabis: Hexo Postpones Q4 Report, Rapinoe Teams With CBD Brand, Sanders Unveils Legalization Plan

Business, finance and policy leaders from around the globe convened this week in Chicago for the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference to hear from the main voices in the space, from Bruce Linton, executive chairman of Gage Cannabis, and Jessica Billingsley, CEO of Akerna Corp KERN, to Tim Seymour, Jon Najarian and Jim Belushi.

The corporate world continued to suffer, as more big public companies continued to put out bad news, including HEXO Corp HEXO postponing its fourth-quarter report and announcing considerable layoffs — and at the same time launching a $70 million private placement.

Firings in the industry this year stand at around 600, according to Business Insider's Jeremy Berke

“It's been another difficult week for cannabis companies. The combination of Zenabis Global Inc ZBISF and Hexo both delivering disappointing news to the industry continues to keep the pressure on stock prices,” Debra Borchartd, CEO of Green Market Report, told Benzinga. “Zenabis announced a rights offering that sparked a torrent of accusations about shorting, while Hexo delayed its earnings announcement and said it would layoff 200 employees. I expect this is the beginning of more reality checks by cannabis companies.”

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In a bit of good news, soccer star and gender equality icon Megan Rapinoe joined CBD brand Mendi as ambassador, board advisor and strategic partner; while Mexican Senate committees released marijuana legalization legislation.

Finally, Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential candidate and independent senator from Vermont, released a plan Thursday to legalize marijuana within his first 100 days in office if he's elected, and Acreage Holdings Inc. ACRG ACRGF and GreenAcreage Real Estate Corp. closed a series of sale-and-leaseback transactions valued at $72.3 million.

Cannabis ETFs delivered decent gains. Over the last five trading days:

  • The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF HMLSF HMMJ rose 5.06%.
  • The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ gained 4.44%.
  • The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF YOLO was up 1.88%.
  • The Cannabis ETF THCX advanced 3.08%.
  • The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF CNBS rose by 2.77%.
  • The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY closed the period up 1.22%.

More News From The Week

Communications firm Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency completed its first real estate purchase, a 5,071-square-foot building located in central Denver, following four new hires.

“For an agency that works in creative professional services, having a home base that is a physical manifestation of your team and capabilities is essential. This space is a former bar and event venue and we can’t wait to embrace its open floorplan and fill it with art and design and the same kind of creative thinking we employ everyday while working on behalf of our clients,” Grasslands CEO and Founder Ricardo Baca told Benzinga.

Plus Products Inc. PLUS PLPRF announced that Dr. Ari Mackler, who was formerly vice president of clinical development for The Wonderful Company, has been named as Plus Products' first chief scientific officer.

Canopy Growth Corporation WEED CGC said it is expanding in the U.K. and Luxembourg.

Canadian cannabis company TerrAscend Corp. TER TRSSF announced it has obtained an amendment to its existing Health Canada license that enables it to sell cannabis extracts, topicals and edibles. The company also entered into a strategic collaboration with Kindred Partners Inc., a cannabis brokerage and services company.

CBD company and wellness brand beam closed a $5-million funding round led by Obvious Ventures.

Cannabis-focused real estate company Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc. IIPR said it has completed the acquisition of two Illinois properties.

Planet 13 PLTH PLNHF, the world’s largest cannabis dispensary, launched Elysium, a THC-infused line of sparkling water beverages using all-natural fruit flavors and zero added sugar, designed to be a fast-acting alternative with low calories for an uplifting high.

Elysium will be available in five flavors: Valencia Orange, Persian Lime, Eureka Lemon, Wild Berry and Ruby Red Grapefruit.

“We've created and perfected a sparkling water beverage based on both customer demand and market trends,” said Bob Groesbeck, co-CEO of Planet 13. “This low-calorie refreshing drink was designed to be a fast-acting alternative without the guilt — the perfect micro-dosing beverage."

NEO Alternatives announced the launch of its newest brand, Root 66, a seed-to-store brand that sources its hemp from the organic farms of Oregon and the “Emerald Triangle” in California.

The initial lineup of Root 66 products includes four distinct tinctures, specifically formulated for their targeted health and wellness benefits: Holistic, Sleep, Pain Relief and Focus.

Each tincture in the Root 66 lineup is organic, vegan, gluten-free, pesticide-free and non-GMO, with each product third-party tested for efficacy and quality standards.

“Our mission is to deliver effective solutions for those desiring a better quality of life and who focus on nurturing their overall health and wellness. Achieving these goals shouldn’t require sacrificing quality ingredients, and we’re very excited to start connecting with people so they can feel the difference with our products,” said Kevin DiSano, president and head of consumer products with NEO Alternatives. 

Green Growth Brands Inc. GGB GGBXF reported total fiscal 2019 revenue of $15.7 million on Wednesday.

For the fourth quarter ended June 30, Green Growth posted revenue of $7.2 million, representing a 29% quarter-over-quarter increase. Quarterly CBD revenue of $1.7 million was up by 271% from the previous quarter. Green Growth said it expects first-quarter CBD revenue to increase by 200%.

Calvin Broadus, aka Snoop Dogg, signed on as a brand ambassador for Seedo Corp SEDO.

GreenWay Herbal Products, a botanical innovation company, announced this week an upcoming product line resulting from a 10-year, $2.5 million licensing research agreement with Middle Tennessee State University. 

The grant studied medicinal plants, including hemp and its cannabinoid components like CBD and CBDA. The grant licenses GreenWay to manufacture and sell nutritional supplements. The first of these products will be available in the next few weeks to consumers. 

Edibles maker 1906 published the results of a consumer poll revealing that Americans feel they are being overprescribed when it comes to traditional pharma drugs.

Eighty percent of respondents said they would be willing to try CBD products, cannabis products, supplements, herbs or plant-based medicines if they worked as well as traditional pharmaceuticals.

The survey was part of a marketing effort designed to accompany the launch of Drops, a new pressed tablet that seeks to present an alternative to traditional edibles.

1906 also announced the close of an $18-million capital raise led by Navy Capital. 

“Consumers don't have to smoke in order to have a fast onset cannabis experience," said Peter Barsoom, 1906 Founder and CEO. "Through our rapid delivery technology and easy-to-swallow Drops, we're offering people a healthier, more effective product alternative."

Abstrax Tech, a company focused on the study and production of botanical and cannabis-derived terpenes, announced the commencement of its research initiative aimed at the study of the recent vaping-associated pulmonary illness cases.

“We’ve noticed there’s a potentially dangerous void in safety information within our industry,” said Max Koby, founding partner and CEO at Abstrax Tech.

“We’re leveraging our $3-million labratory and our collaboration with The University of California Riverside (UCR) to address this void and report our unbiased findings to the public.”

The partnership is  studying the safety and efficacy of fractionated coconut oil (MCT oil), propylene glycol (PG), triethyl citrate (TEC), Vitamin E acetate and “natural extracts.”

Wana Brands partnered with edibles creator Azuca to license its rapid-onset culinary technology. Azuca, an NYC-based culinary CBD and edibles brand founded by Chef Ron Silver, has a patent-pending TiME Infusion process that it said makes CBD or THC molecules “water-friendly” so they are quickly absorbed and processed by the body.

Typical products on the market take up to 90 minutes to kick in, but Azuca’s are made to take effect within 2 to 15 minutes of consumption. Wana Brands and Azuca have entered a multiyear agreement to fill the gap in the marketplace for effective quick-onset edibles.

“The partnership with Wana Brands allows us to stay true to our culinary roots and bring our fast-acting infusion process to a large base of cannabis consumers seeking a more controlled, reliable and positive experience,” said Azuca CEO and President Kim Rael.

Pharm Organics launched a new monthly subscription service that allows consumers to choose from a variety of kits to be delivered on a monthly basis. Products are bundled together specifically for beginners, athletes, exercise fans, travelers and pet lovers with appropriate CBD products.

“Discovering the effectiveness of CBD for my symptoms was a life-changer,” said military veteran Geoff Kudlacz, founder of Pharm Organics. 

“I wanted to share these incredible products with the world. Coming from a military background, I know firsthand how service can take a toll on your body. As a result, a portion of every sale we make is donated to charities that support military members.”  

AXIM Biotechnologies Inc AXIM announced that its nutraceutical division, AXIM Wellness, launched its flagship nutraceutical product line, AXIM Wellness Gum.

“We are excited for the launch of the Wellness Gum product line and look forward to sharing our new cannabinoid-based nutraceutical gum line with the cannabis community,” said CEO John Huemoeller II. 

TILT Holdings Inc. TLLTF announced that its plant-touching operating asset Commonwealth Alternative Care has received local approval for adult-use cannabis sales at its retail store in Taunton, Massachusetts.

“With the overwhelming support for this approval shown by the City Council’s 8-1 vote, we are confident that we have all of the pieces in place to receive final approval on an adult-use permit for our Taunton retail facility. Beyond our wholesale business that continues to see high growth, our vertically integrated positioning in the state creates an opportunity for additional high-margin cannabis product sales and customer awareness," said Mark Scatterday, the company's interim CEO. 

Medical Marijuana Inc. MJNA announced that its subsidiary Kannaway has been selected as a board member for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable.

“Since forming our company, Kannaway, in association with its parent company Medical Marijuana, Inc. and its other subsidiaries, [we] have participated in many domestic and international efforts to advocate for expanded access to hemp by hosting educational events and speaking with prominent regulatory bodies,” said Kannaway CEO Blake Schroeder.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to continue these efforts as a member of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable Board of Directors.”

Flower One announced that Old Pal, one of its leading brand partners, is now the top-performing cannabis flower brand in Nevada, according to data from Headset, a leading cannabis industry analytics services provider.

Flower One is licensed to produce, manufacture and distribute the entire Old Pal product line, which Old Pal intends to expand beyond flower to include a variety of cannabis products, including vaporizer cartridges and disposables designed to meet the needs of the Las Vegas market.

“As we continue to expand Old Pal into new markets, the Nevada market specifically represents a unique opportunity to expose the brand to global group of consumers passing through each year. We've only scratched the surface of penetration in the broader Nevada market and the brand has already proven resonance here,” CMO Allison Pankow told Benzinga.

Top Stories Of The Week

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Events Calendar

Oct. 28: in Ontario, Canada at Blue Mountain Village, the tourism and cannabis industry will come together for the first time for the 1st Annual New Heights Cannabis Tourism Summit.

The one-day event will feature trailblazers and experts who are already creating canna-tourism experiences such as cannabis-friendly hotels, resorts, festivals, spas, activities and more.

"Canna-tourism can have a major economic impact, both directly and indirectly for both industries, similar to wine tourism," said Jennifer Mason, the founder of New Heights. 

“This Summit is designed to bring together the two industries to forge partnerships in order to build experiences and attract new customers. Recent market research indicates the future cannabis consumer looks more like a wine tourist than the stereotypical ‘stoner.’ There are many untapped opportunities, [and] Canada is posed to lead the industry with culinary tourism, spa and wellness experiences and more.”

Oct. 27-28: Benzinga Cannabis Managing Director Javier Hasse will speak at The Fourth Annual Cannabis LAB (CLAB) Conference & Expo in Miami. Other speakers include Brady Cobb, CEO of Sol Global Investments Corporation; Ricky Williams, vice president of Real Wellness; Gerry Greenspoon, co-founder of Greenspoon Marder Law; Matthew Ginder, senior counsel at Greenspoon Marder Law; Brett Finkelstein, managing director at Phyto Partners LP;  Jose Javier Hildago, CEO of FLUENT Cannabis; Jared Mirsky, CEO of Wick & Mortar; Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve; Jon Robbins, partner at Akerman LLP; David Tran, co-founder of Dope Media; Chloe Villano, founder of Cannabis Business Awards; Rosie Mattio, CEO of Mattio PR; and many others.

Nov. 1-3: HTBX LLC, makers of The HTBX public cannabis consumption spaces, is hosting a Denver Arts Week Block Party. The event will include live music, a local arts marketplace and social cannabis consumption for attendees age 21 and over. HTBX is also holding the Cannabis Conversations symposium on Nov. 2 during the event, with panel discussions about the future of cannabis in the consumption era.

Nov. 7: The Leaders Summit, brought to you by Cannabis Europa, is an intimate and exclusive event for industry frontrunners and pioneers in North America looking to gain a competitive edge within European markets.

The Summit will take place at Manhattan’s members-only establishment, the Metropolitan Club, and aims to help investors navigate emerging cannabis markets and sectors with a focus on investment trends and commercial opportunities.

"There’s a lot of uncertainty in the cannabis market at the moment and what we’re saying to North American businesses is: ‘Europe Is Open.’ We’re bringing delegations from European governments and some of the largest European cannabis operators to show the range of business, investment and political opportunities that are forming across the Atlantic,” Alastair Moore, the co-founder of Cannabis Europa, told Benzinga.

Picture by Javier Hasse.

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