The Week In Cannabis: Federal Drug Decrim, Connecticut, Louisiana, Big M&A Moves And More

U.S. House Reps Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Cori Bush (D-MO), in collaboration with the Drug Policy Alliance, introduced the Drug Policy Reform Act (DPRA): a bill seeking to end criminal penalties for drugs possession at the federal level.

The bill contains suggestions for a more “health-centered approach” and proposes reinvestment in alternative approaches, among many other important provisions.  

“Every 23 seconds, a person’s life is ruined for simply possessing drugs,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy manager for National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Drug possession remains the most arrested offense in the United States despite the well-known fact that drug criminalization does nothing to help communities, it ruins them. It tears families apart and causes trauma that can be felt for generations. The drug war has caused mass devastation to Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income communities and today we say, ‘Enough is enough!’”

In Maine, lawmakers approved a similar bill to decriminalize all drugs on Friday.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed off on House Bill 652 to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis possession for personal use.

Possession of up to 14 grams will now be categorized as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Those caught violating the law face up to a $100 fine without jail time.

Connecticut is on the verge of becoming the latest state to legalize marijuana for adult use, after lawmakers finally sent a cannabis reform bill to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk on Thursday morning, the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of the war on drugs.

Gov. Lamont, who previously threatened to veto it over the eleventh-hour amendment, is now expected to sign the bill that will legalize the use and possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis by adults 21 and older as of July 1. However, the launch of commercial cannabis sales is not expected to begin until May 2022.

Cannabis stocks traded down, underperforming general markets. Over the five trading days of this week:

  • The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ: lost 7.5%.
  • The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF YOLO: fell 7.1%.
  • The AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF MSOS: dropped 6.6%.
  • The Cannabis ETF THCX: was down 5.4%.
  • The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF CNBS: tumbled 5.7%.
  • The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY closed the week down 2%.

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

In the business world, cannabis tech firm WM Holding Company, LLC MAPS, known for its Weedmaps brand, started trading on the Nasdaq, following a merger with investment management firm Silver Spike Acquisition Corp SSPK

Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, one of the top 15 alcohol distributors in the U.S. will soon offer Marley CBD beverages and confections, Benzinga learned exclusively ahead of an official announcement.

The deal between cannabis company Docklight Brands and Southern Glazer's will originally span across 7 states. The latter will leverage its 42 distribution centers, 14.8 million square feet of warehouse space and fleet of more than 2,600 delivery trucks, to make sure Marley CBD products reach as many consumers as possible.

The companies assure more states will be added in the coming months.

Policy, Science, Data And Advocacy

With cannabis being legal in some form in 47 states and with federal legalization just around the corner, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) released a summary of scientific, historical and medical uses of cannabis designed to inform policymakers and medical professionals.

Rhode Island's Senate Judiciary Committee approved an adult-use cannabis bill, marking the first time a cannabis proposal of its nature has ever reached the state General Assembly floor.

California is injecting $100 million into the state's struggling legal cannabis industry.

A new measure, proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, was approved by the California Legislature on Monday and aims to help legal cannabis operators acquire permanent licenses.

According to Newsom’s office, about 82% of the state’s legal operators still hold provisional licenses as of April 2021. These provisional licenses are due on Jan. 1, 2022.

Viola cannabis brand, launched by NBA veteran Al Harrington and named after his grandmother, announced on Wednesday that it has a new incubator partner - Mezz Brands.

Financings And M&A

Hydroponics equipment manufacturer Hydrofarm Holdings Group, Inc. HYFM is acquiring Aurora Innovations, Inc., Aurora International, Inc. and Gotham Properties LLC for $161 million.

Cronos Group Inc. CRON CRON is poised to acquire a stake in PharmaCann for approximately $110.4 million. Under the terms of the agreement, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Toronto-headquartered company has bought an option to obtain a roughly 10.5% ownership stake in PharmaCann on a fully diluted basis.

Columbia Care Inc. CCHW CCHW CCHWF 3LP is poised to secure up to $74.5 million in financing through a private placement of 6% secured convertible notes.

The company also announced it is acquiring Medicine Man Denver for an upfront consideration of $42 million, including $8.4 million in cash and $33.6 million in stock. The move comes months after Medicine Man’s termination of a term sheet agreement with Schwazze SHWZ last year.

Berlin-headquartered cannabis company Sanity Group has completed a $44.2 million Series A financing round led by Swiss venture capital firm Redalpine, US-based Navy Capital and SOJE Capital. The round was also supported by GMPVC. 

Acquired Sales Corp. AQSP intends to purchase all of the ownership interests in the Irvine, California-based Savage Enterprises for $44 million, in a stock and cash deal.

CBD producer Brains Bioceutical Corp. raised $31.9 million through an investment round. DSM Venturing, the corporate venture arm of Royal DSM, a company focused on health, nutrition and sustainable living, was a lead investor.

Cannabis information platform Leafly aims to raise up to$30 million via a securities offering that includes debt, convertible debt and options to acquire securities.

Terra Tech Corp. (OTCQX: TRTC) will monetize its investment in Hydrofarm Holdings Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: HYFM), which would yield gross proceeds of around $40 million. The original investment in Hydrofarm from November 2018 amounted to $5 million.

CBD company Trait Biosciences Inc. reported Wednesday it has raised CA$31 million ($25.46 million) through a Series A financing round led by the corporate venturing unit of British American Tobacco, Btomorrow Ventures and backed by Gotham Green Partners.

Alternative Finance Network (AFN) facilitated a $3.15 million sale-leaseback transaction for an Oregon cultivation property owned by Stem Holdings, Inc. STEM STMH

“This deal truly illustrates the path toward leveling the playing field for all cannabis businesses for equal access to capital and our ability to assist leading cannabis companies in their search for working capital,” AFN founder Scott Jordan told Benzinga. “I have completed over $70 million in transactions for cannabis companies for equipment, real estate and working capital financing and am thrilled to see this low-rate lending environment and continued growth and expansion in the industry.”

Simplifya, a provider of regulatory and operational compliance software for the cannabis industry, has closed a $6 million Series B funding round led by Blue Zone Wealth Advisors.

Power REIT (NYSE-AMEX: PW) bought a 9.35-acre property in Craig County, Oklahoma via its subsidiary PropCo for a total of $2.65 million.

Cirona Labs raised $1.5 millio in an oversubscribed seed round led by LiDestri Food & Drink, BevSource and Sweetener Supply.

“Consumers are interested in CBD infused products, but many traditional food & beverage brands can’t navigate the complexities of the emulsion process alone,” Hunter Friedland, CEO of Cirona Labs, told Benzinga. “Our science-based approach is the ideal solution for companies looking to utilize cannabinoids and our high-quality products are already being called a ‘secret ingredient’ by our customers.”

Kadenwood is poised to acquire the Portland, Oregon-based Social CBD brand.

Earnings Reports

HEXO Corp. HEXO HEXO posted its third-quarter earnings, with total net revenue amounting to CA$22.66 million ($18.66 million) down from CA$32.88 million in the previous quarter.

Flower One Holdings Inc. FONE FLOOF (FSE: F11), the top flower producer in Nevada, saw revenue jump to $34.2 million in 2020. That's a 260% year-over-year spike compared to what the Canadian company reported for 2019.

The fourth-quarter revenue also rose by 66% year-over-year, reaching $9.6 million in the last three months of last year.

KushCo Holdings, Inc. KSHB expects that its preliminary and unaudited fiscal third quarter 2021 revenue will range between $27.5 million and $28 million, representing an increase between 21% and 26% on a year-over-year basis.

The revenue growth can be mainly attributed to a spike in sales to the company's top 25 customers, including several multi-state operators, licensed producers and brands.

Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. FAF FFLWF posted its latest financial earnings report Tuesday, touting a pop in revenue and the fourth consecutive quarter of positive adjusted EBITDA.

The Toronto-based company generated CA$44.1 million ($36.3 million) in the first quarter of fiscal 2021, representing an increase of 91% year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA, a non-IFRS measure, came in positive at CA$2.3 million versus a CA$1.4 million loss in the same period of 2020.

Find all the details on these and other earnings reports on Benzinga Cannabis’ Earnings Center.

Celebrity Moves

Joe Exotic is not letting a 22-year prison sentence get in the way of his entrepreneurial spirit.

The controversial zoo operator and focus of the Netflix Inc NFLX docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” is planning to launch his own cannabis product line in partnership with Tango Hotel Charlie Group LLC and Cannaxxs LTD.

Former Boston Celtics forward and ESPN presenter Paul Pierce is launching his own line of adult-use cannabis products for the Massachusetts market.

The brand, dubbed “Truth,” will be launched in partnership with The Hub Craft, a Massachusetts cannabis operator.

Pierce, who was nicknamed “The Truth” by fellow NBA player Shaquille O'Neal, told the Boston Globe that he's been a casual user of cannabis since his teenage years and relied on it as a pain reliever after a near-fatal stabbing attack in 2000. 

The legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, nicknamed Birdman, is endorsing a nutraceutical line of polarized CBD products by Medolife Rx, Inc, a subsidiary of Quanta Inc.

The Burbank, California-based company said Thursday that the famous athlete agreed to help promote Aelia, Medolife’s rebranded line of new CBD pain relief products.

Latin America

PharmaCielo PCLO PCLOF completed the inaugural shipment of medical-grade cannabis extract from its Colombian Rionegro facility to Canada. The initial shipment arrived at a Canadian life sciences customer that intends to use PharmaCielo’s APIs for the development of an innovative proprietary sublingual product platform.

Henning von Koss, CEO of PharmaCielo, told Benzinga, “As a Canadian-based company with operations in Colombia, this initial shipment is more than symbolic. It further validates our global go-to-market strategy to play an active role as a partner to both small disruptive as well as well-established B2B end-product manufacturers as they develop their future cannabinoid-derived products. This collaboration with the Canadian life sciences player in its R&D process is one of PharmaCielo’s key differentiators that integrates the company very early in customers’ supply chains.” 

Clever Leaves Holdings Inc. CLVR will become a member of the Russell Microcap Index, effective June 28 at the market opening in the U.S.

The company is also poised to enter the Mexican market through a supply deal with CBD Life Holdings SAPI de CV.

Uruguay-based medical cannabis operator NetCann announced a new partnership with Megalabs, one of Latin America’s leading pharmaceutical companies.

Under the agreement, Megalabs will have rights to distribute NetCann’s branded pharmaceutical products across 27 countries in Latin America.

Executive Moves

Fyllo has tapped yet another prominent expert to its leadership team.

Wes Chaar, who brings vast knowledge in data strategy, data fusion, mathematical modelling, machine learning and artificial intelligence, has agreed to join the cannabis compliance technology platform as chief data and analytics officer.

Also find out all about the latest executive moves at:

Trulieve, Decibel, MediaCentral, Pelorus Equity Group

Top Stories Of The Week

Check out the top stories on Benzinga Cannabis this week:

Top Spanish stories:

Lead image by Ilona Szentivanyi. Copyright: Benzinga.

Market News and Data brought to you by Benzinga APIs
Actual EPS
EPS Surprise
Actual Rev
Rev Surprise
Posted In: CannabisEarningsM&ANewsPenny StocksFinancingSmall CapMarketsAuroraaurora newsCanadian cannabis newsCannabis ETFcannabis legalization newscannabis newscannabis news Californiacannabis news todaycannabis stockCannabis Stock Indexcannabis stock newscannabis stocksCBDDebra BorchardtGreen Market Reportinvest in marijuanamarijuanaMarijuana ETFMarijuana IndexMarijuana Moneymarijuana newsmarijuana stocksmarijuana stocks 2019NORMLpot newsPot Stocks
Benzinga simplifies the market for smarter investing

Trade confidently with insights and alerts from analyst ratings, free reports and breaking news that affects the stocks you care about.

Join Now: Free!

The Top Cannabis Event In New Jersey

Join the Benzinga Cannabis Market Spotlight in New Jersey on June 17th! Grow your business, raise money and capitalize on the booming NJ recreational market. Don’t miss this must-attend event in New Brunswick. Secure your tickets now. Very few spots are left. Use the code "JAVIER20" for 20% off!