The Week In Cannabis: House Approves Banking Bill, Stocks Surge, Mississippi Legalizes Medical, M&A, Hexo's Troubles And More

Below is a recap of the main news related to the cannabis industry and markets for the week of January 31st, 2022.

House of Reps Approves Marijuana Banking Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives formally attached a marijuana banking reform amendment to a large-scale bill dealing with innovation and manufacturing, marking the most recent development in the push to protect financial institutions that work with state-legal cannabis businesses.

Marijuana Moment first reported that the amendment from sponsor Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) was preliminarily approved on Wednesday on a voice vote as part of an 'en bloc group' with other amendments, but a roll call was requested. The chamber then took that package back up on Thursday and passed it in a 262-168 vote.

“There was no floor debate about the cannabis provision itself, demonstrating how relatively noncontroversial the bipartisan-supported reform is in the House,” noted Marijuana Moment's Kyle Jaeger. “The Senate, as observers of the issue know, is a different story.”

Advocates will need to wait and see whether the America COMPETES Act, with the now-attached Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, will actually pass in the House on Friday when a final vote is expected. 

Marijuana legalization proponents have been pushing for the SAFE Banking Act to be passed into law for several years. 

Though legislative hurdles have arisen in the past, it appears as though there may be momentum for meaningful change. The hope is that bicameral negotiations do not remove the desired language from the currently proposed legislation, ultimately setting the stage for its enactment.  

Biden's Commerce: No Decriminalization Updates On Her Agenda

President Joe Biden’s Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo revealed in a recent interview with Politico that she has no updates on cannabis decriminalization that was promised during the presidential campaign.

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

When a reporter asked if cannabis should be descheduled, pointing out that some businesses don’t want to see this as it would likely increase competition creating across state markets, Raimondo replied that the matter is “so far afield from anything that I’m working on.” As Raimondo’s focus continues to be trade and supply chain management, marijuana is apparently not yet on her agenda.

Just recently, a new poll conducted by YouGov and The Economist, revealed that more than half of the U.S. adult population concurs that President Biden has made little to no progress on his crucial campaign promise to decriminalize cannabis during his first year in office.

Mississippi Legalizes Medical Marijuana

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed legislation late Wednesday making Mississippi the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana. The law goes into effect immediately. 

"There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do significantly better if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis," Reeves said in a statement after signing the bill, reported local media outlets. 

Senate Bill 2095, the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, will regulate the production and distribution of cannabis flowers and concentrates to patients with "debilitating medical conditions" such as cancer, refractory pain, post-traumatic stress, spinal cord disease and other qualifying ailments.

The law also sets taxes on the production and sale of cannabis and specifies that plants must be grown indoors under controlled conditions.

Verano To Acquire Goodness Growth Holdings In $413M All-Stock Deal

Verano Holdings Corp. VRNO VRNOF and Goodness Growth Holdings, Inc. GDNS GDNSF have entered into a definitive arrangement agreement pursuant to which Verano will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Goodness in an all-share transaction valued at approximately $413 million on a fully-diluted basis.

Pepsi Launches Hempseed Extract-Infused Energy Drink

Beverages giant PepsiCo PEP is launching Rockstar Unplugged, a new kind of energy drink infused with hemp seed extract.

Rockstar Unplugged, designed to offer less energy boost but more “good vibes,” contains hemp seed oil and B vitamins. The drink also contains 80mg of caffeine providing that burst of energy. The new sugar-free, calorie-free beverage is available in three sugar-free flavors - blueberry, passionfruit and raspberry cucumber.

Rockstar Unplugged also features a new campaignTurn Up Your Mood –  with colorful groove-shaped illustrations symbolizing aura, music and energy. These shapes swirl and expand from the iconic Rockstar star on the 12oz slim cans.

Markets

Stocks were finally up this week. Over the five trading days of this week:

  • The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ: gained 4%.
  • The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF YOLO: rose 8.5%.
  • The AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF MSOS: advanced almost 10%.
  • The Cannabis ETF THCX: was up 4.4%.
  • The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF CNBS: rose 8.3%.
  • The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY was up 2%.

M&A

  • GrowGeneration Corp. GRWG will acquire Horticultural Rep Group (HRG). In addition, Keith Harrington founder and president of HRG has been appointed senior vice president of business development at GrowGen.
  • 4Front Ventures Corp. FFNT FFNTF wrapped up the previously announced purchase of Massachusetts-based cannabis cultivator New England Cannabis Corporation (NECC).
  • A conglomerate of marijuana and hemp brands Palmer Jane, Inc. and Chooze Corp announced that Palmer Jane has acquired the cannabis brand LucidMood. This deal combines Palmer Jane's benefit-focused knowledge center and technology platform with LucidMood's select effect product line designed to provide a consistent experience for every mood of the day.
  • Agrify Corporation (NASDAQ: AGFY) acquired Lab Society for $8 million, $4 million in cash and $4 million in unregistered shares of Agrify common stock.

Financings

  • Jushi Holdings Inc. JUSH JUSHF closed an aggregate of 1,000,000 subordinate voting shares at a price of US$3.68 per share for gross proceeds of US$3,680,000 with Kenneth Rosen and group in a non-brokered private placement offering.
  • Decibel Cannabis Company Inc. DB DBCCF closed its previously announced financing with ConnectFirst Credit Union Ltd. in respect of $54 million of debt capital over an initial 5-year term. The committed amount is comprised of $40.5 million of term debt, a $6 million authorized overdraft secured against government receivables, and an accordion line of $7.5 million.
  • Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc IIPR announced that its operating partnership, IIP Operating Partnership, LP, has commenced a public offering, subject to market and other conditions, of $300 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2027.
  • Delta 9 Cannabis DN DLTNF entered into a binding commitment letter with ConnectFirst Credit Union Ltd. for $32 million in credit facilities. The proposed credit facilities would be offered to the company through First Calgary Financial, a division of ConnectFirst.
  • Upwise Capital funded a $10 million 1st Lien Position Construction Loan with Rainbow Realty Group (at 11.5% fixed interest only) to National Green Source.
  • Columbia Care Inc. CCHW CCHW CCHWF 3LP completed a private placement of $185 million aggregate principal amount of 9.50% senior-secured first-lien notes due in 2026.
  • Resonate Blends, Inc. KOAN closed on a $500,000 bridge funding round with two accredited investors who have funded multiple rounds with the company and another $250,000 committed, on the same terms.
  • Silver Spike Investment Corp. priced its initial public offering of 6.07 million shares of its common stock at $14.00 per share.
  • Nass Valley Gardens Inc. announced that it will file with the SEC to launch a Reg A+ public offering and seeks to raise up to $75 million pursuant to Regulation A, Tier 2 guidelines. 

Earnings Reports

  • Sproutly Reports Q3 Revenue Growth Of 167% YoY, Higher Net Loss
  • When Is Curaleaf CURLF Reporting Earnings? Cannabis Co. Changes Date Of Q4 & FY2021 Earnings Conference Call
  • Greenlane Holdings GNLN Reports Q4 Earnings With 54% YoY Net Sales Increase Following KushCo Merger
  • ScottsMiracle-Gro SMG: First Quarter Results, Increases Full-Year Sales Outlook for U.S. Consumer Segment
  • Aurora Cannabis ACB To Host Q2 Fiscal Year 2022 Investor Conference Call
  • Pelorus Equity Group Reports 434% YoY Growth
  • Avicanna AVCNF Provides Q4-2021 Results And Fiscal 2022 Guidance
  • American Green's Q2 Revenue For Its Cannabis Grow Facility Up 20% YoY
  • Item 9 Labs Corp. INLB Announces First Quarter Fiscal Year 2022 Earnings Call
  • High Tide HITI Files 2021 Audited Annual Financial Statements, Confirms Adjusted EBITDA Of CA$12.5M
  • Neptune Wellness NEPT To Report Fiscal Q3 2022 Financial Results On February 10

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

Hexo’s Tough Week

Marijuana operator HEXO Corp HEXO HEXO, confirmed that it received notification from the Nasdaq that it is not in compliance with the minimum bid price requirement in Nasdaq Listing Rule 5500(a)(2) for continued listing. The closing bid price for the company’s common shares listed on Nasdaq was below $1.00 for 30 consecutive trading days, which is against Nasdaq listing rules.

The notification has no immediate effect on the listing of the company’s common shares on the Nasdaq Capital Market. Under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(A), Hexo has a period of 180 calendar days from the date of Notification, being until July 25, 2022, to regain compliance, during which time the common shares will continue to trade on the Nasdaq Capital Market.

If at any time before July 25, 2022, the bid price of the common shares closes at or above $1.00 per share for a minimum of 10 consecutive business days, the company will regain compliance with the minimum bid requirement. In the event the company does not regain compliance with the minimum bid requirement by July 25, 2022, the company may be eligible for an additional period of 180 calendar days to regain compliance or may be subject to delisting of the common shares from the Nasdaq Capital Market.

Later in the week, concerned shareholder, Adam Arviv, through his fund KAOS Capital Ltd. announced his plan to nominate five new independent directors at HEXO Corp.HEXO with a goal of replacing the majority of the currently entrenched legacy board members and turning around the company's performance.

Arviv, who currently owns an approximate 2% stake in HEXO, has been waging a battle with management at the cannabis company over the past months, since the company's August 2021 acquisition of Redecan.

He alleged that former chair Dr. Michael Munzar and former CEO Sebastien St-Louis deceived the Redecan group of investors and destroyed shareholder value by completing a number of destructive financings and that the incumbent board of directors, led by current board chair John Bell and director Vincent Chiara, was grossly remiss in approving these transactions.

He also said that the HEXO management and board were fully aware the Redecan group of investors was primarily comprised of First Nations individuals and supporters of First Nations groups, who, trusting in the professional management of the publicly-listed HEXO, invested their savings into this stock. This was the first foray into the capital markets for many of these First Nation individuals, who have now lost significant net worth and feel betrayed by the mismanagement of the company.

As of the date of this letter, HEXO common shares traded at a 52-week low of C$0.58, down from a high of CA$14.00, within the span of one year.

 

 

Since St-Louis’ departure, HEXO shares plummed more than 50%. Even the lift in Canadian cannabis stock performance this week had little effect on the feeble HEXO share value.

 

The World's First Intrinsically Seedless Cannabis

Dark Heart Industries has produced the world’s first seedless triploid cannabis for commercial growers. Dark Heart’s PistilGuard technology produces triploid cannabis seeds and clones that essentially cannot produce seed, even when directly exposed to pollen.

This technology innovation means that triploid cannabis can be grown on the same scale as corn, wheat or industrial hemp, minimizing the risk of accidental pollination and seed production. And the process is expected to slash production costs.

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Lead image by Ilona Szentivanyi. Copyright: Benzinga.

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