Week two of 2020 was an exciting one, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledging to legalize adult-use marijuana in the state this year, news about a medical marijuana legalization measure making it to the November ballot in Mississippi, and South Dakota announcing its Secretary of State Steve Barnett has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize adult-use cannabis and make the state legislature enact a hemp cultivation law.
Commenting on the latter, Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project told Benzinga, “The majority of South Dakota voters support legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adults. Elected officials in the state have not taken action to effectuate the will of the people, so the only recourse for advocates is to bring this issue to the ballot for voters to decide.”
In Illinois, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation disclosed sales of recreational marijuana had almost hit $11 million in their first week, while Chicago’s O'Hare International Airport and Midway Airport installed boxes for passengers to dispose of any cannabis they might have before boarding an airplane in the wake of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois on Jan. 1.
In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly revealed two of the most important goals for the year, one being the expansion of Medicaid, and the other, medical marijuana legalization.
Meanwhile, the Argentine province of Chubut announced a government sponsored cannabis event, at the same time as Mexico prepares for its final debate around the regulation of legal cannabis. The Senate now has till April 30 to make a decision on the regulation of the use of recreational weed in the country.
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In the scientific realm, researchers discovered two new cannabinoids in the cannabis plant: tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) and cannabidiphorol (CBDP). The latter is believed to have similar properties to those of CBD, while the former is thought to be similar to THC, although 30 times stronger in potency.
In the corporate world, High Times Holding Corp., owner of High Times Magazine, Dope Magazine, and other cannabis brands, named Stormy Simon, former President of Overstock.com Inc (NASDAQ: OSTK), as its new CEO, following the departure of Kraig Fox less than one year into his tenure. The company also announced it will be developing a physical and virtual cannabis distribution businesses.
See Also: Cannabis Tech Companies On Restrictions At CES: 'Lots Of Room For Growth Ahead'
Canopy Growth Corp (TSE: WEED) (NYSE: CGC) announced it will be working in conjunction with 10 Ontario retail license holders to open new Tokyo Smoke-branded retail cannabis stores across the province.
FSD Pharma Inc (CSE: HUGE) (NASDAQ: HUGE) started trading on the Nasdaq.
Cresco Labs Inc. (CSE: CL) (OTC: CRLBF) completed its acquisition of CannaRoyalty Corp (OTC: ORHOF), doing business as Origin House.
“This is a transformational deal for Cresco and represents the culmination of the better part of a year’s work for both the Cresco and Origin House teams,” Charlie Bachtell, Cresco’s CEO and co-founder, said in a statement.
Finally, Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. (CSE:HARV) (OTC: HRVSF) filed a lawsuit against an R&D and brand development company, Falcon International. The former is seeking to terminate a merger.
“The federal lawsuit is a petition to compel arbitration between the companies, and Harvest said it will seek both restitution and the appointment of a receiver for Falcon's business and assets,” explained Benzinga’s Dustin Blitchok. Check out the full story here.
Debra Borchardt, CEO of Green Market Report, told Benzinga, "We continue to see cannabis deals unwind and this week's termination between Bhang and Origin House is the latest. However, Origin House did note that its deal with Cresco Labs is still on and looks to close pretty soon. The cannabis industry has taken a beating when it comes to valuations and most companies are focused on profitability and not expansion at this point, so I expect we'll hear of fewer deals in the 2020."
Cannabis stocks posted moderate losses this week, dragging ETFs down. Over the last five trading days:
• The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (OTC: HMLSF) (TSE:HMMJ) was down 3.64%.
• The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE: MJ) lost 1.97%.
• The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (NYSE: YOLO) dropped 3.45%.
• The Cannabis ETF (NYSE: THCX) tumbled 2.83%.
• The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (NYSE: CNBS) declined 3.44%.
• The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) closed the period up 1%.
Helix Technologies transitioned the Illinois State traceability system to support the commencement of recreational sales. First five days saw sales top $11 million after first day numbers of $3.2 million, which tied Oregon for the biggest first day sales numbers of any cannabis market. This compares to Michigan’s $221,000 on its first day of sales.
“The launch of Illinois Adult Use program was a historic moment, many of the licensees had planned for that day over five years ago. We are proud to have played a critical role in ensuring a successful roll-out and laying the critical infrastructure for the massive cannabis pipeline that will emerge in the coming year,” Dr. Moe Afaneh, COO of Biotrack, told Benzinga.
Grow Tech Labs is partnering with the ETC3 Emerging Technologies Centre in Vancouver to launch Canada’s first privately-owned plant science research center. Through the development and innovation of plant science, the center aims to support the advancement of plant medicine and nutrition. Strategic advisors for the plant science research center will include Dr. Ivan Casselman, Alexzander Samuelsson and Susan Chapelle.
“Research and innovation are were Canada can provide a value-add to the global cannabis industry. With Canada leading in the legalization of cannabis products, our the country is well-positioned to be a leader in the new fields of plant medicine,” Barinder Rasode, CEO and Co-Founder of Grow Tech Labs, told Benzinga.
Green Peak Innovations, Michigan’s vertically-integrated marijuana operator, began recreational sales Jan. 9 at the company’s Skymint retail store in Ann Arbor. The location, one of five operated by GPI, opened for medical marijuana sales in November and was one of the first recipients of a recreational marijuana retail license from the state in December. GPI holds licenses for extensive cultivation and processing of medical and recreational marijuana product, with more applications pending and additional Skymint storefronts under development across the state.
“As marijuana enthusiasts, we have waited for this moment for most of our adult lives,” said Jeff Radway, CEO of GPI. “Being part of this exploding industry in Michigan is just the icing on the cake for us. We’re eager to bring our fun and inviting retail experience to medical and recreational customers around the state.”
Acella Construction Corporation announced the completion of construction on the new T. Bear Inc. (TBI) cannabis extraction and manufacturing facility in Wareham, Massachusetts.
“Acella’s Cannabis Construction Team met the challenge of creating a facility that combines numerous manufacturing elements, a laboratory, offices and an employee locker room in one aesthetically pleasing and functional structure, while ensuring all state regulations were met,” said TBI Co-Founder Angela Brown.
California-based liquid cannabis brand ALT (Advanced Liquid Technology) named leading global brand expert Cheyne Nadeau Director of Marketing. Cheyne joins the ALT team from his most recent position at leading cannabis luxury brand Canndescent, where he was a senior member of the marketing team that led the Stylus launch & Nevada expansion. During his Canndescent tenure, Cheyne also launched goodbrands™as the top-selling greenhouse flower brand in market.
As a leader in the cannabis marketing space, Cheyne Nadeau brings over 15 years of global marketing experience to ALT, most notably from his previous role at Red Bull where he sat on global culture marketing teams.
Santa Cruz, California-based cultivator and processor Goldenseed announced it received approval for a Reg A+ stock offering from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc (TSE: FIRE) (OTC: SPRWF) appointed Colin Moore as interim president and CEO, following the departure of its previous CEO. Moore previously worked as president of Starbucks Corporation's (NASDAQ: SBUX) Canadian division.
The cannabis information platform Leafly announced it has extended its cooperation with retail software company Cova to bring order integration to cannabis retailers, increasing performance and delivering a better consumer experience.
The vertically integrated cannabis and hemp brand Stem Holdings, Inc. (OTC: STMH) (CSE: STEM) announced a joint venture with the vertically integrated Massachusetts company Community Growth Partners. Per the agreement, Stem will acquire 49% of CGP's common stock, and provide the company with a line of revolving credit for its Massachusetts expansion efforts. The plans for the joint venture call for Stem to license and market CGP's Rebelle line in four states: California, Oregon, Oklahoma and Nevada.
C3 Industries, a cannabis producer and retailer from Michigan, completed the construction of a 36,000-square-footindoor cultivation facility that will produce marijuana for both the medical and recreational markets.
Harvest Health & Recreation Inc (CSE:HARV)(OTC: HRVSF), a vertically integrated cannabis company, said it's in negotiations to acquire Interurban Capital Group Inc, the owner and operator of Have a Heart. The preliminary terms of the deal stipulate an acquisition valued at about $87.5 million.
Gage Cannabis Co. is bringing Berner’s Cookies brand to Detroit. A flagship, 3,500 square-foot cannabis provisioning center will open Jan. 31 on 8 Mile Road, the thoroughfare made famous globally by Eminem.
KushCo Holdings Inc. (OTC: KSHB) reported fiscal first-quarter revenue of $35 million, compared to $25.32 million in the same quarter of the prior year. KushCo posted a net loss of $12.51 million or 12 cents per share versus a net loss of $8.58 million and 11 cents per share in the corresponding period in 2018.
Recent data from BDS Analytics suggests the market fallout from the e-cigarette vaping-associated illness (EVALI) crisis has peaked. The news coincides with a late December report from the Centers for Disease Control that found new cases of EVALI were on the decline.
SOL Global Investments Corp (CSE:SOL) (OTC: SOLCF) and Goldstream Minerals Inc (NEX:GSX.H) announced that Goldstream and CannCure Investments Inc, a portfolio company of SOL Global, have entered into a letter of intent that would have Goldstream acquire a 100% interest in CannCure, resulting in a reverse takeover of Goldstream by the shareholders of CannCure.
Wana Brands will bring its infused marijuana products to medical marijuana patients in Oklahoma through a partnership with 24K Labs. Wana Brands products are expected to be available in the Sooner State in the first quarter of 2020.
“Wana’s entry into Oklahoma solidifies our Midwest expansion,” said Wana CEO Nancy Whiteman. “We have been impressed with Oklahoma’s leadership in developing an effective regulated medical marijuana industry, and we look forward to providing Wana products as a consistent option to patients in the state.”
Hunter + Esquire hired former Mile High Labs executive Art Massolo as a partner. Massolo will help expand the cannabis executive search firm’s capabilities in business consultancy and strategy.
“It’s more than matching companies with candidates. The goal is to be a trusted partner that helps elevate businesses to build out the industry as it should be,” said Art Massolo, partner at Hunter + Esquire. “We want to build partnerships with companies who want long term success.”
Franny’s Farmacy is opening its latest dispensary located at 2361 W Broad St #10 Athens, GA on Jan. 23. The Grand Opening lasts through Jan. 26.
"We're very proud and excited to kick off 2020 by bringing hemp-wellness and our knowledge about the plant to the people of Athens, GA," Franny Tacy, Owner of Franny’s Farmacy, said.
Moxie announced it has been awareded a medical retail license in Utah through Pure UT. The company also closed on a deal for a state-of-the-art LED cultivation facility in Sacramento California. In addition to creating employment opportunities in Utah, Pure UT has committed to donating to select community organizations with the goal of ensuring medical cannabis is used responsibly.
"We are pleased to announce a rapid and exciting start to 2020 for Moxie with the successful award of a medical dispensary license in Utah as well as the closing on a state-of-the-art LED cultivation facility in California. With our new California cultivation facility utilizing exclusively LED lighting technology, we will further strengthen our assortment of extracts, vapes, and flowers, as well as be conscious of our company's carbon footprint and environmental impact," Jordan Lams, CEO of Moxie and Principal of Pure UT, told Benzinga.
Cantor Fitzgerald’s Pablo Zuanic reiterated an Overweight rating on Aphria Inc. (NYSE: APHA), but trimmed his price target from CA$10.40 ($8.02) to CA$9.90 ($7.63) ahead of the company’s Jan. 14 second-quarter report.
The analyst also lowered his price for Organigram Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: OGI) ahead of its first-quarter report on Jan. 27. Zuanic maintained an Overweight rating on Organigram, and cut the price target from CA$13.30 ($10.25) to CA$9.50 ($7.32).
Zuanic weighed in on Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE: STZ)’s potential buyout bid for Canopy Growth Corp (NYSE: CGC) (TSE: WEED), which he believes remains “more likely than not.”
Piper Sandler analyst Michael Lavery downgraded Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE: ACB) from Neutral to Underweight and lowered the price target from $3 to $1. Meanwhile, BofA Securities analyst Christopher Carey downgraded the stock from Neutral to Underperform and trimmed the price target from CA$4 ($3.07) to CA$1.50. See details from both reports here.
Check out the top stories on Benzinga Cannabis this week:
Check out these and many other cannabis stories on Benzinga.com/cannabis
January 11: LA Weekly and Green Entrepreneur will be hosting a farmer’s market dedicated solely to CBD: the CBD Saturday Market. The event will take place in Hollywood, at Academy LA. The marketplace experience will celebrate the lifestyle, community and culture of CBD with over 20 of the top brands in the industry. Discover everything you need for CBD health, wellness, beauty, pets and more. Plus, live entertainment, CBD massages, infused bites and cocktails, yoga, pop-up shops and an educational Blunt Talks panel featuring leading experts and more.
February 24–25: The premier gathering of cannabis entrepreneurs and investors in North America, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, is heading to Miami in 2020 for its sixth installment.
The conference, which takes place at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, creates an ideal setting for attendees to learn from the individuals and experts driving the cannabis space forward amid regulation, legalization and industry changes.
March 13-22: SXSW disembarks in Austin, Texas, once again, with its second year featuring a CannaBusiness track. Check out details here.
Lead image by Ilona Szentivanyi. Copyright: Benzinga.