The Week In Cannabis: Stock Volatility, NJ, $1.9B IPO, Policy Moves, Financings, And More

This week, cannabis stocks experienced quite a bit of volatility amid a slew of big news items.

On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a trio of adult-use cannabis reform bills, making recreational marijuana legal and regulated for adults 21 years and older, while also decriminalizing the possession among all inhabitants of the state.

Following the news, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic recommended investors to keep an eye on three companies with a large presence in the Garden State — Curaleaf Holdings Inc. (OTCQX: CURLF), Green Thumb Industries Inc. GTBIF and Columbia Care Inc. CCHWF.

Also this week, Parallel CEO and chewing gum billionaire William “Beau” Wrigley Jr. confirmed the company will go public via a $1.9 billion merger with Ceres Acquisition Corp. CERAF, a special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC). Ceres was co-founded by music industry entrepreneur Scooter Braun.

Over the last five trading days:

  • The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ: lost 9.1%
  • The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF YOLO: fell 9.4%
  • The Cannabis ETF THCX: lost 13.6%
  • The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF CNBS: tumbled 11.5%
  • The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY was down 1.5%.

In addition, the AdvisorShare Pure US Cannabis ETF MSOS, which launched on Sept. 2, 2020 with $2.5 million in assets, confirmed Tuesday it has exceeded $1 billion in assets under management.

Benzinga Cannabis content is now available in Spanish on El Planteo.

Former Eaze Technologies Inc. CEO Jim Patterson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, according to Law360. A trial is set for March 1, with charges against businessmen Ruben Weigand and Hamid Akhavan in the Southern District of New York federal court. Eaze has not been charged.

Koach Capital launched a new $100 million fund, Benzinga learned exclusively. The Michigan-based sale-leaseback provider, focused on retail locations for the cannabis industry, will leverage the success of its first fund to continue to pursue transactions of this nature, building on the more than $40 million it has already invested via its first fund. In addition to launching Koach Capital Fund II, the firm appointed Grassroots Cannabis founder and CEO Mitch Kahn to be partner and chair of Koach’s Investment Committee.

Rainbow Realty Group (RRG), a real estate investment firm focused on the U.S. cannabis industry, has completed a $47 million fundraise, Benzinga learned. Of that total, $10 million was raised from nearly 200 individual investors via CrowdStreet, a real estate investing online marketplace.

Cronos Group Inc. CRON CRON released Friday its fourth quarter and full-year 2020 financial results with a yearly net loss of $75 million, compared to a net income of $1.1 million in 2019.

Policy Moves And International News

  • Lawmakers in Virginia voted for the legislation that enables the sale of smokable cannabis flower.
  • The  North Dakota House of Representatives voted for three different cannabis-related measures, which would legalize and tax recreational cannabis and decriminalize low-level possession. It's up to the Senate to vote on these bills now.
  • Alabama legalized medical marijuana. The state’s Senate approved the bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, in a 21-8 vote on Wednesday.
  • New York State's policymakers held the first public hearing of the year on proposals that support the cause on Tuesday.
  • New Mexico took another step toward legalizing marijuana. The state's Taxation and Revenue Committee gave a green light for the legislation supporting the cause,  just a week following the Health & Human Services Committee's approval.
  • Germany, during the last quarter of 2020, imported the record amounts of cannabis flower (on a quarterly basis): 3,264 kilograms.
  • The government in Thailand decided to encourage cannabis cultivation advertising it as a “cash crop” that would help farmers increase their earnings.
  • Norway officials presented a bill that decriminalizes the consumption and possession of small amounts of narcotics. The idea behind the bill is to offer help to those who are using illegal substances instead of just punishing them.

Financings And M&A

  • Australis Capital Inc. agreed to acquire 51% of ALPS for a price tag between $13.7 million and $25.94 million. Industry veteran Terry Booth will take over as AUSA's CEO.
  • Verano Holdings Corp. VRNO is purchasing three dispensaries in Arizona. Separately, the company secured some CA$100 million ($79.514 million) in financing through a bought deal private placement. The company also announced it is expanding in Illinois and Pennsylvania, and opening a new MÜV store in Florida
  • MedMen Enterprises Inc. MMEN MMNFF received a $73 million investment from Ascend Wellness Holdings LLC, a multi-state cannabis operator.
  • Red White & Bloom Brands Inc. RWB RWBYF is purchasing Acreage Holdings Inc. ACRGF’s Florida operations for $60 million.
  • After raising some $100 million, Green Thumb Industries Inc. GTBIF, secured an additional $56 million in financing through the sale of its shares.
  • Indus Holdings Inc. INDXF will buy Lowell Herb Co., a California-based organic cannabis brand, in a $39 million cash and stock deal. The deal includes all of the Lowell Herb and Lowell Smokes brands, as well as production assets from The Hacienda Group.
  • GrowGeneration Corp. GRWG bought San Diego Hydroponics & Organics, a four-store chain of organic, hydroponic, and aquaponics garden centers in San Diego, California.
  • Sundial Growers Inc. (NASDAQ: SNDL) invested $22 million in Indiva Ltd. NDVA NDVAF.
  • Terra Vera closed a $2 million seed funding round.
  • Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. FAF FFLWF partnered with American Acres Managers to expand across California, Arizona, and Nevada. The Toronto-based company agreed to license its Fire & Flower brand, store operating system and Hifyre technology platform for dispensaries across these states.
  • KushCo Holdings Inc. KSHB raised $40 million via a registered direct offering.
  • BevCanna Enterprises Inc. BEV BVNNF purchased Naturo Group Investments Inc.
  • MassRoots Inc. MSRT announced it is considering the re-launch of its mobile applications, concentrating on “on the community-driven product and strain reviews.” The company recently advanced its capital position, raising $446,000 via the sale of its Series X Preferred Stock.
  • Coda Signature announced a $6-million funding round.
  • MJ Holdings Inc. MJNE agreed to buy two cultivation and two production licenses, and transfer the proper licenses to its land for $1.25 million in cash and 200,000 shares.

Other News

Pro hockey legend Mark Messier joined NXT Water as an equity partner and brand captain.

Hawthorne Gardening Company, a subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro SMG, announced the launch of the Hawthorne Social Justice Fund — a $2.5 million fund created to support not-for-profit organizations with cannabis social justice missions.

The Battle Brothers Foundation obtained authorization from the national Independent Review Board for the study on the efficiency of medical cannabis in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans, in partnership with NiaMedic.

"We lose 22 veterans a day due to post-traumatic stress and its effects," Bryan Buckley, founder of Battle Brothers Foundation, told Benzinga. "It's time that the research and medical community acknowledge the benefits cannabis can provide in alleviating some of these symptoms for veterans." The University of California, Irvine will serve as the participating center for the study.

LeafLink partnered up with Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to cannabis-related criminal justice reform, allowing the latter to tap into a platform that powers over $3.3B in annual orders, or 35% of U.S. wholesale cannabis commerce.

The give-back model is accessible directly in LeafLink’s marketplace and has the potential to stimulate the entire network of cannabis businesses that use the B2B platform to streamline wholesale ordering.

Smoking accessories maker Poke A Bowl entered into an agreement to sell its products through Walmart.

Actor and Poke A Bowl co-founder Creagen Dow told Benzinga, “As a company, we had to consider another avenue for consumers to purchase our product after receiving numerous requests asking if our product is available at Walmart. After our team reviewed Walmart and its access to our customer base, it was determined that it would add value to our existing distribution channel and add exposure to the product market, which will give us the edge we are looking for.”

The Blinc Group Inc. and Labstat International Inc. will be conducting a North American Cannabis Vape Consumption Survey, aimed at better understanding how consumers use vaping devices. Administered by Abacus Data, the survey will collect information from more than 2,000 medical and adult-use consumers across North America to understand how they use cannabis vape devices. The data collected will assist the Blinc Group and Labstat in developing a baseline “puffing regime” for cannabis vape testing to help craft standards for future vape policy. You can take the survey here.

Artist-focused cannabis brand LOOP/POOL announced its launch. The company was co-founded by members of Our Lady Peace, Roy Woods, Blue Rodeo, Felix Cartal, Stars, dvsn, and Kiesza.

The company also closed an initial funding round led by Inner Spirit Holdings Ltd. ISH, Kiaro Holdings Corp. KO, Canadian radio host Alan Cross, and prolific investor Michael Wekerle, following an appearance on the Season 15 finale of CBC's Dragons’ Den. CEO Ian Kwechansky told Benzinga, “I am incredibly honored to be working with such a robust roster of talent to shine light on emerging homegrown talent. LOOP/POOL, as a brand, collective, and movement, is committed to giving back and ensuring that artists across all genres feel supported.”

Executive Moves

Software company Fyllo hired former Twitter Inc. TWTR executive Katie Ford as its new chief operating officer. Ford, who served as Twitter’s head of global brands, will leave her spot at Fyllo’s board of directors to undertake this new challenge.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy announced Jason Ortiz as its new executive director.

"As someone who was arrested for cannabis at a young age, the work of SSDP made it possible for me to go to college and become the man I am today," Ortiz told Benzinga. "Activism changes lives, and changes our communities, and I'm honored to be able to share what I have learned with our next generation of community builders."

For more Movers & Shakers news, click here and here

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Lead image by Ilona Szentivanyi. Copyright: Benzinga.


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