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The Week In Cannabis: CannTrust Rallies Unexpectedly, Josh Kushner And Shane Victorino Join The Industry, And More

Javier Hasse

In a week with relatively few cannabis news items, Florida state Rep. Shevrin Jones filed a bill to decriminalize the possession and delivery of cannabis; the Mexican government announced a public hearing to discuss the legalization and regulation of cannabis; Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital entered the marijuana space, leading the closing of a $35-million Series B funding round for cannabis wholesale marketplace LeafLink; and KPMG withdrew its CannTrust Holdings Inc (NYSE: CTST) financial statements for 2018 and 2019, a few weeks after the company was involved in a licensing scandal in Canada.

CannTrust shares spiked Friday, closing the day up more than 43.5%. 

In other news, Canada-based TerrAscend Corp (OTC: TRSSF) (CSE:TER) announced it is acquiring Pennsylvania-based Ilera Healthcare in a transaction valued between $125 million to $225 million.

TerrAscend is a portfolio company of Canopy Rivers Inc (OTC: CNPOF), the investment arm of Canopy Growth Corp (NYSE: CGC).

Arcadia Biosciences (NASDAQ: RKDA) announced a hemp products joint venture, Archipelago Ventures, involving Shane Victorino, a former MLB player and son of Maui Mayor Mike Victorino. Vapen CBD, a subsidiary of Vapen MJ Ventures Corp (OTC: VAPNF) will assist in the construction and operation of Archipelago’s Hawaiian hemp extraction facilities.

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U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast and said that, if elected president, he would legalize marijuana federally.  

“You can argue the pluses and minuses of marijuana, but marijuana ain’t heroin. So we have to end that. That’s what I will do. As president of the United States, I believe we can do that through executive order. And I will do that,” he said. 

Despite a "bear market," the cannabis sector saw signs of life due to earnings reports from Aphria and GW Pharmaceuticals, Green Market Report CEO Debra Borchardt told Benzinga. 

“Earlier in the week, Aphria delivered a sales number that lifted the entire group and then GW Pharm reported strong Epidiolex sales. The good news was welcomed by investors, and even though stocks struggled along with the broader market, it was a much-needed positive move.” 

Cannabis ETFs

Over the last five trading days:

• The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (OTC: HMLSF) (TSE:HMMJ) gained 0.44%.

• The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE: MJ) rose 0.78%.

• The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (NYSE: YOLO) was down 0.68%.

• The Cannabis ETF (NYSE: THCX) rose 0.43%.

• The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (NYSE: CNBS) tumbled 0.73%.

• The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) closed the period down 0.34%.

In Other News

Pasha Brands Ltd (OTC: CRFTF) started trading on the OTC Markets.

GW Pharmaceuticals PLC-ADR (NASDAQ: GWPH), the British manufacturer of the CBD drug Epidiolex, said Tuesday that the medication posted net sales of $68.4 million during the quarter and $101.9 million in the first half of 2019. GW Pharma posted $72 million in revenue in the quarter versus $3.3 million in the same period last year.

Epidiolex has been prescribed to more than 12,000 patients since its launch, the company said. Patients are now being recruited for a Phase 3 trial in Rett Syndrome.

GW's second-quarter EPS of 21 cents was higher than a 25-cent loss in the same quarter last year, and sales of $72.038 million beat a $47.05-million Street estimate.

Morgan Stanley analyst David Lebowitz maintained an Overweight rating on GW Pharma and increased the price target from $234 to $238. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Elemer Piros reiterated an Overweight rating and $229 price target.

Greenlane Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: GNLN) and Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE: CGC) announced a partnership Thursday for the exclusive distribution of Storz & Bickel vaporizers throughout the U.S.

Canopy also said Friday it reached an agreement to acquire Beckley Canopy Therapeutics, a global cannabinoid-based medical research company.

Cannabis consumer packaged goods company Dixie Brands (USA) Inc (OTC: DXBRF) announced an agreement Wednesday with iced tea maker AriZona to explore the production of cannabis-infused products.

Cannabis company Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd (OTC: TGODF) said Wednesday that it has applied to list its stock on the Nasdaq exchange.

KushCo Holdings Inc (OTC: KSHB) has announced the creation of a retail services division. The business unit will focus on providing CBD companies with comprehensive retail solutions through strategic partnerships.

Choom (OTC: CHOOF), an emerging adult-use cannabis company in Canada, signed an agreement Tuesday to acquire The Green Room, a popular cannabis retail store chain. The agreement involves the purchase of location assets from The Green Room, which includes three locations in British Columbia and four locations in Alberta.

Cannabis brand Henry’s Original closed an $11-million Series B funding round investment led by Merida Capital Partners. Henry’s CEO Jamie Warm told Benzinga the funds will be used to expand its cultivation, processing, distribution, retail and marketing operations in California and other new markets.

Tilray Inc (NASDAQ: TLRY) has expanded its outdoor medical cannabis growing capacity by adding 20 additional hectares to its Alentejo, Portugal campus. The additional land is targeted for the expansion of the cultivation site, which already has 6,500 square meters of outdoor growing space, in addition to 5 hectares for indoor growing. Tilray is leasing the land from one of Portugal’s largest agriculture businesses, Esporão.

The company also Thursday that it has received approval from the U.S. government to import CBD and has successfully brought in a shipment to support two New York University School of Medicine clinical trials.

Cannabis researcher and cultivator Avicanna Inc (TSE: AVCN) announced a joint venture Thursday with the Canadian full-service testing and research laboratory Sigma Analytical Services Inc. to set up the first cannabis-exclusive analytical facility in South America that meets Canadian, European, U.S. and EU GMP standards.

The laboratory will perform testing on cannabis products to analyze the presence of pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, aflatoxins and microbials, as well as perform genotyping and cannabinoid and terpene profiling.

CCELL obtained certificates of analysis from Belcosta Labs that prove its products are in compliance with California's Phase 3 regulations, becoming one of the first companies of its kind in compliance with the new rules. CCELL also announced the release of three new models.

Lavvan announced the appointment Thursday of Neil Closner as its chief executive officer. Closner left his position as CEO of MedReleaf and will be joining Lavvan's team along with seven other members of MedReleaf’s leadership team, Lavvan said in a press release.

On Thursday, Acreage Holdings Inc (OTC: ACRGF) (CSE: ACRG) announced it has hired Steve Hardardt as chief people officer.

Agritek Holdings Inc (OTC: AGTK) entered into an agreement to acquire California-based Apex Extractions, a manufacturer, producer and distributor of cannabis products including concentrates, vape pens and cartridges. 

“This acquisition will provide additional resources to fund increased research and development and help the company expand and better serve its collective customers,” a representative told Benzinga.

Ignite International Brands Ltd (OTC: IILBF) announced that WHSmith, a worldwide retail market leader, has submitted a purchase order and will begin to offer, under exclusive contract, Ignite's CBD products at 276 retail travel stores in the United Kingdom starting this month. 

Both WHSmith and Ignite will coordinate future product introductions, including additional vape and health and beauty applications, in concert with Ignite's product roadmap. 

Retail sites featuring the Ignite products include Heathrow Terminals 2 through 5, Gatwick North and South, Birmingham Airport, Liverpool Airport, London City Airport, Manchester Airport (Terminal 1) and Kings Cross Station. These sites offer exposure to a total of approximately 192 million travel passengers per year. 

Leafbuyer.com and Trichome Institute presented the season finale of its cannabis myth-busting series “Spliff Busters,” which seeks to dispel many long-engrained myths that have permeated through cannabis culture and into the legal cannabis industry for years. You can watch the episode here.

LED lighting company Fluence by OSRAM announced a partnership with The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (OTC: TGODF), in which the former will provide its technologies to help improve productivity and energy use in the latter’s facilities.

PLUS Products Inc (OTC: PLPRF) said it donated $60,000 to the SF LBGT Center from the sales of its Pride-themed rainbow sorbet gummies. Jake Heimark, co-founder and CEO of PLUS, told Benzinga that “working with the SF LGBT Center was a natural fit for the PLUS brand and for our limited edition Rainbow Sorbet gummies. We’ve always admired the work they have done here in the Bay Area.”

Highland Events was awarded a cannabis event license to host a pop-up dispensary at Outside Lands festival in San Francisco.

Moxie and The Original Jack Herer announced they have collaborated on an Original Jack Herer pod for the MOXIE Dart vaporizer system. The pod system was developed by CCELL and is the first strain-specific release for the MOXIE Dart pod system. It launched with an exclusive drop at the Moxie Gas Station activation this weekend at Outside Lands in San Francisco.

MariMed Hemp, a subsidiary of MariMed Inc. (OTC: MRMD) launched the Hemp Engine, a retail marketing platform for the CBD sector. The platform supports sales and marketing decisions for a wide range of CBD products based on quality, popularity and price point, allowing distributors and retailers to maximize returns and increase sales efficiency. Co-developed with Sprout, a CRM provider in the cannabis industry, the platform is driven by proprietary data and technology.

Confident Cannabis announced CGM LABDAQ and LabWare as approved integration partners to connect labs to the cannabis industry. This integration also brings more cannabis producers and retailers to a wholesale platform powered by verified lab results.

“We're thrilled to partner with LabWare and CGM LABDAQ to expand our service offering to cannabis testing labs,” said Steve Albarran, CEO of Confident Cannabis. “As more labs join the Confident Cannabis ecosystem, we want to give our users the widest array of tools to use.”

Helix TCS Inc. (OTC: HLIX) announced that four of its leadership team members have been selected to serve on the Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan initiative, which sets out to establish a recommended regulatory and supply chain management framework for the state’s industrial hemp and CBD industry.

As states begin to enact their respective industrial hemp and CBD industries, cannabis companies are being tapped across the country to lend their subject matter expertise, which is why executives from Helix TCS subsidiaries BioTrackTHC and Helix Security were selected to participate alongside a variety of industry stakeholders and government regulators.

“Industrial hemp and CBD will present a massive business opportunity that will benefit from our critical infrastructure services,” said Zachary Venegas, executive chairman and CEO of Helix TCS, Inc.

“We look forward to assisting our 10 current government and state partners, as well as other governments, in establishing an efficient and accountable supply chain and regulatory framework for industrial hemp both domestically and internationally.”

Louisiana recorded the first transaction for its medical marijuana program at Capitol Wellness Solutions, serving Louisiana’s capitol region, one of nine geographical designations in the state where medical cannabis will be available.

"We are so happy to be able to open our doors for our patients this week. Louisiana is doing it right by offering a regulated medical marijuana program for patients who need this medication to address very serious medical concerns," said Randy Mire, founder and CEO of Capitol Wellness Solutions.

Mire thanked Louisiana's residents and lawmakers, including the state's Board of Pharmacy, for making the program possible. 

Grenco Science announced the closing of its Series A financing. Investors in the financing round included Serruya Private Equity and Stable Road Capital.

“This is a milestone for Greco Science. Innovation has always been a cornerstone of the company, and with the funding we are investing in revolutionary technology, expanding our pioneering product range, and continuing to lead the way in cannabis vaporization," said CEO and founder Chris Folkerts. The company said it plans to deploy the funding to invest in technology and to expand its product range.

Flowr Corp. (OTC: FLWPF) withdrew its application to list on the Nasdaq.

The Marley family legacy became even more connected with cannabis as Rohan Marley, the son of late Jamaican reggae singer and marijuana advocate Bob Marley, signed a marketing and spokesperson agreement with the public agricultural biotech brand Zero Gravity Solutions, Inc. (OTC: ZGSI).

Shares of Aurora Cannabis Inc (NYSE: ACB) traded up following a fourth-quarter guidance update. Aurora said it expects net revenues for the fiscal fourth quarter ended June 30 to be between $100 million and $107 million net of excise taxes. By comparison, the company collected $65.1 million in revenue during the preceding quarter and $19.1 million for the quarter ending June 30, 2018.

Zenabis Global Inc (OTC: ZBISF) announced Tuesday a Health Canada licensing win that will augment its annual production capacity by roughly one-third.

The previously announced 50-50 joint venture between Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (TSXV: KHRN) and Dixie Brands Inc. (CSE: DIXI) has received its conditional approval from the TSX Venture Exchange.

The illicit or "black" cannabis market in Canada is valued at around $5 billion, and Aphria Inc (NYSE: APHA) wants to replace it with its legal brands, interim CEO Irwin Simon told CNBC's Jim Cramer Monday. 

The house of cannabis brands Bhang Inc (OTC: GOLDF) announced it will start distributing its hemp-derived CBD in Europe.

More From Benzinga Cannabis

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

CBD And Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy: What Science Tells Us

• 'The Next Evolution Of Cannabis Financing': Inside Harvest Health & Rec's 5-Million Loan

• Switzerland-Based SIX Launches Securities Monitoring For Marijuana-Related Businesses

• Aiming To Bring Africa's Abundant, Untapped Hemp Market To Bear

• Europe's Medical Cannabis Programs: Countries To Watch

• Potential Additional Annual Revenues From States Currently Debating New Cannabis Laws

• 'Evolving Interests And Values': 3 Takeaways From The Inaugural Apex Millennial 100 Report

• Analyst: Cronos-Redwood Deal 'Just The Tip Of The Iceberg'

• North American Cannabis Firms Flexed Muscle At This Big London Event

• Challenges, Concerns Surround Rise In Automated Cannabis Cultivation

• Why The Most Sizzling Investment Opportunities May Be In The STEM Of Cannabis

• More THC Companies Are Starting CBD Companies - Here's Why

• How Medical Cannabis Eases HIV Symptoms, Reduces Disease Progression

• Cannabinoids Without Cannabis? Yes, And These Everyday Foods Have Them

• Read These Emergency Rules If You Plan To Sell, Grow Marijuana In Michigan

• What To Do In Detroit During The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference

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

Events Calendar

Aug. 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.

Aug. 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,” said Jessi Rae, COO of CannaConnections, the producers of CannaGrow, DispensaryNext and the Science of Cannabis Summit.

Sept. 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.

Oct. 4-6: Argentina will hold its first big cannabis conference, Expo Cannabis 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.

Oct. 11-12: CBD Expo MOUNTAIN will bring the largest CBD event platform to Denver 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 themes for CBD Expo MOUNTAIN are compliance and regulation and investments and business.  

Oct. 11-12: the first ever Budtender Awards are coming to Las Vegas, sponsored by cannabis financial technology Canna Paid and the 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 afterparty culminating in a performance by legendary hip hop artist Cypress Hill.

Oct. 22-23: The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is coming to Chicago, Illinois! You know you can’t miss it. Go to https://www.benzingacannabisconference.com/ for more information.

Oct. 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.

Nov. 15-16: CBD Expo EAST will bring the largest CBD event platform to Orlando, Florida to broadcast products with the community and share knowledge with the industry. The themes for CBD Expo EAST are globalization and spa + wellness.  

Nov. 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 3 days will focus on 6 main pillars - Medical, Business, Research, Legislation, Regulatory and Fintech. The event will host Malta’s top policymakers, international regulatory experts and global business leaders.

Dec. 5-6: CBD Expo WEST will bring the largest CBD event platform to San Diego, California to broadcast products with the community and share knowledge with the industry. The themes for CBD Expo WEST are research and development and cannabinoid formulations.

Picture by Javier Hasse.

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