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The Week In Cannabis: Aphria's Earnings, New York's Decriminalization, Crapo's Support, Pirro's Involvement

Javier Hasse

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to decriminalize cannabis use and expunge all criminal penalties for possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana. Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) came out in support of federal banking protections for state legal cannabis businesses, a federal court ordered the DEA to explain its delays in approving applications for cannabis research; Fox’s Jeanine Pirro joined the board of directors of SOL Global Investments Corp (OTC: SOLCF) subsidiary HeavenlyRx; and top aides of the new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly could hold the key to legalization in the country.

On the markets front, Aphria Inc (NYSE: APHA) took the stage as the stock spiked 30% following a favorable earnings report, including the first ever profitable quarter reported by any Canadian cannabis company. On the other end of the spectrum was CannTrust Holdings Inc (NYSE: CTST), which saw its stock recuperate a bit after firing key execs following a massive licensing scandal, but still announced it would consider a sale of the entire company to a bigger player.

“The misdeeds of some of the market's cannabis companies has weighed on the entire group,” said Debra Borchardt, CEO of Green Market Report. “CannTrust says it’s for sale now; but if the company loses its licenses, then really what is it worth?”

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“It will probably end up being a fire sale for a bargain hunter and the shareholders are hurt because the company couldn't follow the rules,” Borchardt said. She then brought up TILT Holdings Inc (OTC: SVVTF), which had to restate its filings this week.

“It isn’t that hard to be transparent, but it seems these companies struggled with that. The only good part is that with the sector selloff, there are good prices on stocks these days,” Borchardt said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed Bill 57, allowing for the cultivation and commercialization of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is now in charge of writing the necessary regulation to begin implementing the state’s hemp programs.

Story of the week: 420 In 2020: Every Democratic Presidential Candidate's Cannabis Position

Cannabis ETFs

Over the last five trading days:

• The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (OTC: HMLSF) (TSE:HMMJ) gained 2.16%.

• The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE: MJ) tumbled 1.01%.

• The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (NYSE: YOLO) was up 2.26%.

• The Cannabis ETF (NYSE: THCX) rose 3.09%.

• The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (NYSE: CNBS) was up 2.25%.

• The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) closed the period down 3.03%.

In Other News

Coming off the heels of a successful retail roll out, Veritas Farms  expanded its already sizable distribution partnership of full spectrum CBD topical products with Kroger Co (NYSE: KR) into five new states. The company also added presence in additional stores in existing states totaling more than 400 new stores. The combined additional distribution will now feature Veritas Farms topical products in a total of 22 states and 1,350 locations across the Kroger Family of Stores.

Charlotte's Web Holdings, Inc. (TSX:CWEB) (OTC: CWBHF) also said Kroger will start carrying Charlotte’s Web topical products in 22 states.

Aphria announced a subsidiary of the company will expand operations to Jamaica.

Related Story: Podcast: Cannabis Finance And International Opportunities With Benzinga's Javier Hasse

Cresco Labs Inc. (CSE:CL) (OTC: CRLBF) announced the launch of its new dispensary brand Sunnyside.

In an effort to fully communicate its desire to help people feel inspired and achieve their goals, CBD pioneer Strength of Hope Pure Hemp Extract revealed a new “welcome to better” positioning, branding and website. The contemporary look coincides with the company’s expansion. Strength of Hope products are now available at multiple major national retail and pharmacy stores and will soon to be found at more than 1,000 independent pharmacies.

“Since 2017, our team of scientists, researchers, and doctors has been on a mission to give real hope to people with real challenges. Our work is fueled by a relentless pursuit to create the best environment for the body to heal itself," said co-founder and EVP Alex Rullo.

Argentina will hold its first big cannabis conference, Expo Cannabis, October 4-6 at the La Rural event hall in Buenos Aires. The event arrives at a key moment in the country’s regulatory history and the development of a nascent legal industry.

Lowell Herb Co. expaneded its product line with a cold-pressed cannabis oil, developed through a proprietary method. The difference between the flavor and consistency of cold-pressed cannabis oil is notable and creates an experience that is as close to smoking the raw plant as possible.

Green Thumb Industries (OTC: GTBIF), owner of the Rise and Essence retail stores, opened its 27th location nationwide, Rise Cleveland. This is the third Rise store in Ohio, and Cleveland’s first cannabis retail store. Rise Lorain and Toledo earlier this year in Ohio and the company is building out two stores in nearby Lakewood with plans to open later this year. GTI has opened nine stores so far year to date in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and currently has licenses for 95.

The company’s Chief Strategy Officer Jennifer Dooley told Benzinga, “The team is diligently executing on our retail expansion plans and thrilled to open Rise in the heart of downtown Cleveland – our 27th store in the country and third store in the state of Ohio. Along with exciting progress in the retail business, we continue to scale distribution of our branded products, all of which we look forward to discussing during our upcoming earnings call on August 28.”

Cannabis-focused real estate company Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc (NYSE: IIPR) announced it has acquired a property in Holyoke, Massachusetts for $3.5 million, which includes around 150,000 square feet of industrial space from Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (OTC: TCNNF).

Binske announced it has partnered with the multistate operator MariMed Inc (OTC: MRMD) in a licensing deal. The partnership will see Binske’s line of concentrates, edibles and topicals reach 52% of the legal consuming American public across 11 states, totaling 52.4 million people between 21 and 61 years old, according to the company.

Helix TCS, Inc. (OTC: HLIX), a provider of critical infrastructure services to the legal cannabis industry, has been identified for the second time in a row as the leading provider of point of sale software in the U.S. based on market share, through its seed to sale software solution, BioTrackTHC. Holding 24% total market share, the report also states the company is among the top three providers in both of the two largest emerging U.S. cannabis markets, California and Oklahoma.

“We are establishing a unique competitive advantage through significant market share in retail dispensaries, in addition to our leading position in the cultivation and manufacturing verticals,” said Zachary L. Venegas, Executive Chairman and CEO of Helix TCS, Inc. “As we expand our offerings, we look forward to capitalizing on our continued growth and sustained market share dominance.”

Medterra CBD and Baylor College of Medicine Researchers announced they're conducting a study on the effects of CBD, with hopes to discover an accurate viewpoint regarding the benefits of the product derived from the cannabis plant, as there has been little evidence to support claims yet, a struggle in the industry as it works towards mainstream acceptance. Medterra approached Baylor College of Medicine to conduct this independent study on several of the brand's products. 

Jay Hartenbach, Medterra CEO, told Benzinga, “The opportunity to work with Baylor is an extension of our dedication to providing the most powerful CBD products to our consumers. With the studies being performed at Baylor, we are determining the efficacy of our products on a variety of conditions and testing new formulations against our existing products. Early results have been very promising and we expect to publish the studies in academic journals."

True Leaf Brands Inc. released its operating and financial report for the fiscal year ended March 31. The company reported record annual revenue of CA$2.3 million, up by 65% from the comparable period. Its fourth-quarter sales were up 54% year over year, reaching CA$595,251. The revenue growth was achieved through broadening its total retail distribution to 3,500 stores across North America and Europe, the company said.

Planet 13 Holdings Inc (OTC: PLNHF) announced new edible and chocolate brands and an update about the major Phase II expansion at its world’s largest dispensary, located in Las Vegas within walking distance of the world famous Vegas Strip.

“We’re very excited to announce that HaHa Gummies and Dreamland Chocolates will be produced in our new 15,000 sq.-ft. customer facing Phase II production facility that includes 115 feet of windows where visitors can watch and learn what goes into the creation of individual products,” said Larry Scheffler, Co-CEO of Planet 13. “Edibles, especially premium sativa-based edibles, have been very popular with our tourist customer base."

Sproutly Canada, Inc. (CSE: SPR)(OTC: SRUTF) on released its financial report for the first quarter.

The company declared a cash position of $3.85 million as of May 31, and disclosed signing a definitive agreement to form a joint venture with Moosehead Breweries Ltd.’s affiliate, OCC Holdings Ltd.

Valeritas Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: VLRX) shared traded up following a pre-clinical data readout from the medical technology company. Valeritas, which makes the V-Go – Wearable Insulin Delivery Device using its proprietary h-Patch technology, announced positive results from a preclinical pharmacokinetic study of cannabidiol subcutaneous infusion with two dosing regimens delivered using its proprietary h-Patch wearable drug delivery device.

Consumer cannabidiol company cbdMD Inc (NYSE: YCBD) announced a new partnership with retired NFL players Steve Smith, Sr. and Jonathan Stewart.

Vertically integrated cannabis company Kaya Holdings, Inc. (OTC: KAYS) announced it has entered into an agreement with The Franchise Academy, a dominant company in the Canadian franchise development and sales industry.

Turning Point Brands (NYSE: TPB) released its financial report for the second quarter. The company disclosed net sales of $93.3 million, and gross profit record of $41.2 million, both up by 15.1% year-over-year. Its adjusted EBITDA was up 6% to $18.3 million, while adjusted diluted earnings per share were of 53 cents, compared to 51 cents in the same period last year.

DionyMed Brands Inc. (OTC: DYMEF), announced an exclusive distribution agreement to make Woah Candy Co.'s cannabis-infused caramels and chocolate edibles available to consumers in California.

Harvest Health & Recreation Inc (OTC:  HRVSF) said it has entered into a term sheet for a secured term loan of as much as $225 million from an investment fund operated by Torian Capital Partners.

Smart Decision, Inc. (OTC: SDEC), a "next-generation, consumer-based LED and CBD algorithm innovator," said it's listingits common shares on the OTC Markets under the ticker symbol “SDEC.”

Revolution Florida, defined as a sister company of Revolution Enterprises, has appointed prominent LGBTQI+ activist Candace Gingrich as Vice President and Head of Business Development in Florida. Gingrich a well-known LGBTQI+ advocate, is married to Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the lead sponsor in the House of the state’s adult-use legalization bill signed earlier this year.

Twitter (NASDAQ: TWTR) and Snapchat (NASDAQ: SNAP) are the only two big names in Silicon Valley’s social media alley willing to provide a space for cannabis companies to show ads in Canada. According to a MarketWatch report by Max Cherney, this willingness to accommodate cannabis businesses could result in punishment by Canadian law.

View more earnings on APHA

Choom Holdings (OTC: CHOOF) announced the appointment of Corey Gillon as President, effective Aug. 16. Gillon joined the company to develop and expand Choom’s retail strategy before the launch of Cannabis 2.0, strengthening Choom’s management team as they prepare for future growth.

Tribune Content Agency, a division of Tribune Publishing Co (NASDAQ: TPCO), said it reached an agreement with cannabis content provider The Fresh Toast to provide reliable cannabis information on its platform.

PanXchange, a provider of OTC market structure solutions for commodity markets, launched the first institutional-grade hemp exchange.

Cronos Group Inc (NASDAQ: CRON) announced it reached an agreement to acquire a CBD company with exposure to the United States.

Curaleaf Holdings Inc (OTC: CURLF)'s former vice president of Dispensary Operations and Development, Gretchen McCarthy, has joined Acreage Holdings Inc (OTC: ACRGF) as vice president of Retail Operations.

Medical Marijuana, Inc. (OTC: MJNA) subsidiary Kannaway entered a strategic partnership with Endocanna Health, a research and development biotechnology company specializing in endocannabinoid DNA testing and personalization.

AXIM Biotechnologies Inc. (OTC: AXIM), a company conducting cannabinoid research and development, launched its AXIM Wellness division that will be focused on bringing consumers premium cannabinoid-based nutraceutical products.

Arizona retailer CBD Emporium and Legacy Foundation Christown YMCA announced a year-long fundraising partnership to promote the health and well-being of inner city youth and prevent childhood drownings. Since June 1, CBD Emporium has been donating 50 cents from each purchase to Legacy Foundation Christown YMCA’s swim lesson program, which offers low-cost lessons for children and families in need of financial assistance.

“We have a mission to help change lives through health and wellness,” said John Flanders, CEO of CBD Emporium. “I feel it is important for inner city kids to have a chance to learn how to swim to improve their confidence, safety and health. Saving just one life, makes it all worth it.”  

Copperstate Farms Management, a vertically integrated cannabis company, has officially launched its new dispensary Sol Flower in Tempe, Arizona. A second location is coming soon to Sun City and will feature an adjoining Cafe and Wellness Center which will be open to the public. 

Designed to be a resource for the canna-curious and medical cannabis patients, the Sol Flower Wellness Center will provide a diverse curriculum of educational classes on alternative healthcare. The Café will offer an additional gathering space for patients and the public offering a healthy menu of non-medicated breakfast and lunch items.

“Sol Flower Tempe will be a resource for patients to explore alternative healthcare and tap into our team of dedicated wellness experts,” said Allie Marconi, Director of Marketing at Copperstate Farms.

Wana Brands launched a Wana Vape 510 Cartridge line featuring a variety of ratios and classes in eight flavors.

“Our strategy was to build a following with our Wana Disposable Vapes, which was a complete success and now ranks as the top disposable vape in the intensely competitive Colorado market according to BDS Analytics. Now we’re leveraging that success by launching our 510 line in all ratios and classes. This is exciting for Wana Brands because the 510 cartridge market is so much larger than the disposable vape market,” said Wana CEO Nancy Whiteman.

Industrial hemp research in Florida received a boost of support from Star Manufacturing, a private label CBD manufacturing company, which donated $60,000 to the University of Florida/IFAS Hemp Pilot Project.

Jushi Holdings Inc. (NEO: JUSH.B), announced open market insider purchases. Subordinate Voting Shares were purchased by Denis Arsenault, Board Advisor, Erich Mauff, President, Board Member and Co-founder, and Louis Jon Barack, Co-founder, EVP, Business Development. 

More From Benzinga Cannabis

Here are some of the most interesting cannabis-related stories from this week.

Unearthing Cannabis Roots To Support Future Growth

What To Know About The Senate Hearing On Hemp

• FDA Can't Figure Out How To Regulate CBD - And It Doesn't Really Want To

• 'Developing A Vocabulary That Will Be Understood': The Havas Approach To Cannabis Marketing

• Ladyjane: Empowering Cannabis Businesses Through Inexpensive Branding

• Report: Twitter And Snapchat's Cannabis Ads In Canada Could Face Legal Punishment

• The Top VC Investors In Cannabis

• US Hemp Authority Looking For Public Commentary On New Guidance Plan

• What The Public Needs To Know: Your Brain Is Already On CBD

• You Can Now Trade Options For This Cannabis ETF

• The State Of CBD Regulation: Clear Rules Or Consumers At Risk?

• How The CLAIM Act Could Expand The Cannabis Industry's Insurance Options

• Cannabis, Hemp Execs On How Regulation Has Divided The Sectors

• Sundial Growers IPO: What You Need To Know

• 'Billion Dollar Dimebag' Author Jackson Tilley On Sobriety, LGBTQ+ Acceptance In The Cannabis Industry

• Please Hold The E. Coli, Pesticides And Heavy Metals: Two Companies Work To Protect California Consumers

Check out these and many other cannabis stories on Benzinga.com/cannabis

Events Calendar

August 15: The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is coming to Detroit, Michigan! You know you can’t miss it.

Go to bzcannabis.com for more information.

August 17-18: The 9th CannaGrow Expo will take place in Palm Springs, California, featuring more than 35 cultivation-focused educational sessions and an expo hall filled with cannabis-related technologies. “One thing that differentiates CannaGrow Expo from other cannabis events is the exciting educational content focused on the foundations of the cannabis industry,” says Jessi Rae, COO of CannaConnections, producers of CannaGrow, DispensaryNext and Science of Cannabis Summit.

September 5–6: the Cannabis Science Conference is returning to Portland, Oregon. This year, “Amazon” John Easterling and special guest Olivia Newton-John will deliver a joint-celebrity plenary address entitled, “Plant Medicine - A Personal Healing Journey.” This year’s conference covers a wide selection of topics, including genomics, informatics, medical cannabis, testing and hemp science. It brings together a diverse group of people including laboratory personnel, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, patients, plant experts, and scientists.

October 11-12: CBD Expo MOUNTAIN will bring the largest CBD event platform to Denver, CO to broadcast products with the community and share knowledge with the industry. The event features more than 150+ exhibitors, along with a substantial lineup of speaker presentations, panel discussions, demos and workshops from experts in the research, production, globalization, distribution and sale of CBD products. The theme for CBD Expo MOUNTAIN will focus on compliance & regulation and investments & business.  

October 11–12: the first ever Budtender Awards are coming to Las Vegas, sponsored by cannabis financial technology Canna Paid and cannabis educational program Clover Leaf University. The awards aim to pay homage to the nation’s top Budtenders and the many facets of cannabis culture. The two-day event offers panel discussions, a product and service expo, a closing night performance, awards show, and after party culminating in a performance by legendary hip hop artist Cypress Hill.

October 22–23: The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is coming to Chicago, Illinois! Go to https://www.benzingacannabisconference.com/ for more information.

October 23–24: Marijuana Venture Magazine’s Retail and Dispensary (RAD) Expo, a national trade show focused on the retail cannabis industry, will return to the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. The RAD Expo will feature presentations from industry veterans to speak about successful entrepreneurship and topics including merchandising, partnership management, interior store design and retail operations. The 2019 show will focus heavily on CBD products and CBD brands with a presence in health grocery stores, luxury retailers, pet stores and other retail categories that carry hemp-derived products.

November 15-16: CBD Expo EAST will bring the largest CBD event platform to Orlando, FL to broadcast products with the community and share knowledge with the industry. The event features more than 150+ exhibitors, along with a substantial lineup of speaker presentations, panel discussions, demos and workshops from experts in the research, production, globalization, distribution and sale of CBD products. The theme for CBD Expo EAST will focus on globalization and spa + wellness.  

November 19–21: The Medcann World Forum 2019 will be held in the Mediterranean Conference Centre which dates back to the 16th Century. where it was originally built as a hospital  by the order of St. John. The three days will focus on six main pillars - Medical, Business, Research, Legislation, Regulatory and Fintech. The event will host Malta’s top policymakers, international regulatory experts and global business leaders.

December 5-6: CBD Expo WEST will bring the largest CBD event platform to San Diego, CA to broadcast products with the community and share knowledge with the industry. The event features more than 150+ exhibitors, along with a substantial lineup of speaker presentations, panel discussions, demos and workshops from experts in the research, production, globalization, distribution and sale of CBD products. The theme for CBD Expo WEST will focus on research and development and cannabinoid formulations.

Photo by Javier Hasse.

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