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EXCLUSIVE: Gage Growth CEO On Possible M&A, How Michigan Could Become No. 2 Cannabis Market, SAFE Banking Act

May 13, 2021 1:28 pm
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EXCLUSIVE: Gage Growth CEO On Possible M&A, How Michigan Could Become No. 2 Cannabis Market, SAFE Banking Act

Michigan’s cannabis market strength is such that it could unseat Colorado as the No. 2 state nationally in sales, Gage Growth Corp. (CSE:GAGE) CEO Fabian Monaco said Thursday at Benzinga’s Global Small Cap Conference.

Gage, which is based in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale and went public with an April listing on the Canadian Securities Exchange, is focused on Michigan, Monaco told Cheddar cannabis reporter Chloe Aiello during a panel discussion at the virtual, two-day Benzinga conference.

Michigan had a nearly 300,000-strong medical cannabis patient base prior to the Dec. 1, 2019 kickoff of recreational marijuana sales, and Monaco said he knew this would help fuel Gage’s growth as the state’s adult-use market launched.

“We wanted to show the industry how powerful Michigan can be as a market," he said.

Michigan Could Unseat Colorado: While 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic brought a surge in cannabis consumption in Michigan, the Gage Growth CEO said the numbers in 2021 are even bigger.

“We were outside of the top 10 in 2019 in sales; jumped to No. 6 in 2020; and are now at a run rate of $1.8 billion, the third-largest [market] in the country, only behind California and Colorado,” Monaco said.

Michigan’s cannabis market could compete for the nation’s No. 2 ranking in sales exiting 2021, the CEO said.

Gage Researches Expansion Outside Michigan: A major advantage of going public is access to capital, Monaco said, adding that Gage’s CSE listing gives the company confidence in negotiations for acquisition deals.

And Gage is looking for acquisition deals, the CEO said, telling Aiello that Gage execs have visited about 10 states in recent months as part of the company’s cannabis market research.

Monaco named Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio as markets of interest that have similar demographics and consumption habits as Michigan.

Related Link: Gage Growth Posts Q4 Earnings: What Cannabis Stock Investors Need To Know

Why Monaco Says SAFE Act Is Legislative Priority: While federal cannabis legalization is on Monaco’s wish list, he said his legislative priority is the SAFE Banking Act, which has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and would provide protection for banks that service state-legal cannabis businesses.

The legislation would give cannabis businesses access to proper banking, ease the reliance on cash, improve insurance costs and potentially lead to tax reform, the Gage CEO said.

“It would be instrumental to helping grow this industry the way it should be growing,” he said. “A legalization bill is not something we need to see today. It’s something we hope happens sooner rather than later, but SAFE is so key for us.”

Photo courtesy of Gage Growth.

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