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The Week In Cannabis: Corporate Turmoil, Mass Layoffs And Stocks In Red

It was a turbulent week, with both Tilray Inc (NASDAQ: TLRY) and Aurora Cannabis Inc (NYSE: ACB) announcing mass layoffs, each getting rid of approximately 10% of employees.

Benzinga · 02/09/2020 20:48

It was a turbulent week, with both Tilray Inc (NASDAQ: TLRY) and Aurora Cannabis Inc (NYSE: ACB) announcing mass layoffs, each getting rid of approximately 10% of employees.

Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy explained the move was part of a companywide restructuring focused on driving continued growth. “By reducing headcount and cost, Tilray will be better positioned to achieve profitability,” he said in a statement.

Aurora experienced an ever bigger shakeup, which included the retirement of its CEO Terry Booth, who will be replaced by interim CEO Michael Singer. Aurora also laid out a plan to increase the size of its board and a “business transformation plan” as it seeks to achieve positive EBITDA. These moves may signal an industry-wide issue, and an inevitable market correction. Read about it here.

Commenting on the new, Debra Borchardt, CEO of Green Marker Report, told Benzinga, “It was a rough week for the cannabis industry... While the Canadian markets continue to face headwinds, the U.S. market continues to heat up as Planet 13 in Las Vegas once again reported huge monthly sales.”

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In some good news, Illinois announced recreational cannabis sales hit $39.2 million in January, the first month of adult-use sales. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic pointed out that 22% of sales, or $8.6 million, were to out-of-state residents. “This should lend further credence to the domino effect thesis: i.e., more neighboring states to follow,” the analyst said.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Senate approved the passage of a bill that could make it legal for medical cannabis patients and their caregivers to grow cannabis at home. The USDA announced “details of 2 risk management programs for hemp producers. Producers may apply for both programs now through March 16, 2020."

Leafly came out with its annual jobs report, recounting 243,700 full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs supported by the legal cannabis industry as of January of 2020. This number marks a 15% year-over-year increase in cannabis jobs. Check out details of the report here.

On Friday, Acreage Holdings Inc (OTC: ACRGF) announced it had secured a $100 million credit facility that would not dilute the terms of its deal with Canopy Growth.

In Mexico, we saw the creation of the Mexican Council for Cannabis and Hemp, focused on promoting and regulating the use of medical cannabis, among other things. And, in Argentina, the governor for the province with the first medical cannabis license in the country promised the first batches of marijuana oils would be produced this year.

ETFs were once again in the red. Over the last five trading sessions:

  • The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (OTC: HMLSF) (TSE:HMMJ) was down 5.07%.
  • The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE: MJ) lost 2.72%.
  • The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (NYSE: YOLO) fell 2.84%.
  • The Cannabis ETF (NYSE: THCX) slipped 3.29%.
  • The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (NYSE: CNBS) lost 2.46%.
  • The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) closed the period up 3.25%.

More News From The Week

Old Pal announced that Kiva Sales and Services (KSS) will be its exclusive distribution partner for the state of California. This partnership between these two powerhouse brands is projected to more than double Old Pal’s retail availability.

“The partnership with Kiva Sales and Service is a recommitment to our dispensary partners and ultimately our customers to ensure consistent service and delivery of our products. Accessibility is a foundational pillar of the Old Pal brand and continuing to expand our availability throughout the state with a best in class partner like KSS allows us to deliver on that mission,” Rusty Wilenkin, CEO and co-founder of Old Pal, told Benzinga.

Avicanna Inc (OTC: AVCNF)(TSE: AVCN), a biopharmaceutical company focused on organic and sustainable plant-derived cannabinoid-based products, was rated highest amongst global cannabis companies participating in the SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), issued by S&P Global. This sustainability index family is one of the most prestigious benchmarks for investors who understand sustainability as the principal component of a successful business models in order to produce long-term shareholder value. As an emerging segment, cannabis companies are starting to play a role in this kind of index, and Avicanna received the highest score out of all cannabis companies assessed.

Whoopi & Maya, a Canada-based cannabis company launched in 2016 by Whoopi Goldberg and Maya Elisabeth, announced it's closing down.

Independent Canadian cannabis retailer Fire & Flower Holdings Corporation (TSX: FAF) (OTC: FFLWF) began trading on the OTC under the ticker symbol "FFLWF."

Colorado-based Coda Signature — a maker of cannabis-infused edibles, all-natural topicals and concentrates for medicinal and adult-use markets — announced a new line of distillates for the Colorado market.

Planet 13 (OTC: PLNHF), the world’s largest cannabis dispensary, announced record-breaking revenue in January, with the average guest spend/ticket increasing to approximately $100 per visit. The enhanced customer engagement is resulting in longer average time spent exploring and shopping in the SuperStore, the company said.

“Our January revenue numbers are a strong proof point for the network effect of our Phase II expansion, which includes our new restaurant, café, events center, and consumer-facing production facility,” Larry Scheffler, co-CEO of Planet 13, told Benzinga. “As we add additional attractions and store-in-store options we expect the cross promotion and improved customer experience to continue to drive traffic and ticket growth.”

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) announced its new board directors:

  • Narbe Alexandrian is the president and CEO of Canopy Rivers (OTC: CNPOF).
  • Omar Figueroa, principal of Law Offices of Omar Figueroa, Inc.
  • Liz Geisleman, vice president of Rocky Mountain Reagents, Inc.
  • Ryan Hurley, general counsel for Copperstate Farms.
  • Chris Jackson, co-founder of Indica LLC and Sticky Ypsi.

In addition, three of the previous board members were re-elected for another term: Cody Bass, Khurshid Khoja, and Manndie Tingler.

Outgoing board members are: Board Chair A.C. Braddock, Jessica Billingsley, Alex Cooley, Steve DeAngelo, Sean McAllister, and Erich Pearson.

Sparkling CBD water brand Day One hired executives Christian Patiño, Joel Jay and Blake Nyman to lead the brand in 2020. Christian Patiño will join the team as Executive Vice President and General Manager, Joel Jay as Director of Distribution, and Blake Nyman as Head of Brand.

Christian Patiño boasts over 17 years of experience in the consumer-packaged goods industry, and previously worked with Red Bull, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble where he gained experience transforming multiple brands and increasing their revenue. Joel Jay was previously a Senior Sales Manager and National Account Manager with Red Bull North America, and his expertise lies primarily in market development, broker management, distributor management, and key account management. He brings over 12 years of experience in the beverage industry to Day One. Blake Nyman, another industry veteran, has over eight years of experience building brands in the beverage, health and wellness space. Recently, he spent time with brands such as Alo Yoga, Generosity Water and Red Bull, spearheading various brand, marketing and strategic initiatives.

Commentin on his hire, Patiño told Benzinga, “We all believe in the benefits and potential that CBD will bring to the community, in addition to new jobs. All new brands and manufacturers should be focused on providing best-in-class products and experiences to consumers. That is what will define the new brand leaders in the upcoming years.”

Colorado-based Hemp Depot says the company has developed a proprietary new process that can reduce the price of CBD-rich hemp seed by up to 70%. Hemp Depot co-founder Luke Pickering says the process allows maximum production of seeds that test 98% feminized with a CBD to THC ratio of 26:1.

“The process guarantees seed performance while bringing down the costs, and that will significantly impact margins for large and small-scale farming operations,” said Pickering, who notes that sustainable, consistent seed quality and pricing will be key to the future of the hemp and CBD industry.

Curaleaf (OTC: CURLF) launched CuraChews, chewable medical cannabis gel product, in New York. Exclusively available at Curaleaf, the lemon-flavored, chewable gel contains 5mg of active cannabinoids and provide a slower onset and longer lasting effect that vaporization.

“With our new CuraChews product, we can provide patients with alternative routes of administration allowing for expanded patient access and care,” said Olga Krueger, President at Curaleaf NY. “In the coming months, we will make additional formulations and flavors available so patients can continue to access their medications in easy-to-use doses and routes.”

Nextleaf Solutions (OTC: OILFF) officially completed its acquisition of additional intellectual property around water-soluble technology for cannabis beverages. Through its newly acquired technology, Nextleaf Solutions will now be able to mix tasteless, odorless distillate with water. 

Paul Pedersen, CEO of Nextleaf Solutions, told Benzinga “We are excited to have acquired this IP for the nano delivery of cannabinoids as this innovative technology allows Nextleaf to supply bulk distilled CBD and THC oils that our manufacturing partners can add as the base ingredient to their branded beverage and edible cannabis consumer products.”

Metrc announced Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) hired its services to replace BioTrack’s. CEO Jeff Wells told Benzinga, “With Maine coming on board, Metrc now has the most state government contracts of any track-and-trace system in the nation. We look forward to bringing our world-class technology and expertise to the state and help get its new, legal adult-use market off the ground.

Cannabis lifestyle company From The Earth struck its first retail licensing agreement outside California, in Pulaski Township, Michigan.

Green Thumb Industries Inc. (CSE: GTII) (OTC: GTBIF) closed a sale-leaseback agreement for a Toledo, Ohio processing facility with medical cannabis real estate company Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc. (NYSE: IIPR). The agreement is for $2.9 million, not including transaction costs.

iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc. (CSE: IAN) (OTC: ITHUF) received approval to begin cultivation operations in Pleasantville, New Jersey. The permit was granted to company affiliate MPX New Jersey.

BofA Securities reiterated a Buy rating and $224 price target on GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ: GWPH) and sees Epidiolex delivering blockbuster sales in years to come. The update came after a teleconference call with an epilepsy specialist who treats about 260 patients.

Drug Science (UK) selected an African company as its supplier for its medical cannabis-focused clinical research initiative, Project Twenty21. The business in question: MG Health Limited, from the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Australis Capital Inc (CSE: AUSA) (OTC: AUSAF) announced it has entered into a non-binding letter of intent to acquire Paytron, an omnichannel payment service provider, which will continue its operations as a subsidiary.

The Arcview Group, a cannabis investment and market research network, announced this week the launch of a member-based fund, the Arcview Collective Fund. The fund will be led by Arcview Ventures Chief Investment Officer Jeanne Sullivan and its CEO Jeffrey Finkle.

Canopy Growth (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC) and BioSteel launched their line of CBD sports supplements in the U.S. ahead of schedule.

Top Stories Of The Week

Check out the top stories on Benzinga Cannabis this week:

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

Events Calendar

February 11-12: the Cannabis Packaging Summit is set to debut at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, adjacent to packaging technology event WestPack. As the global packaging market for cannabis products is expected to be worth $25 billion by 2025, the Cannabis Packaging Summit will be the first event to exclusively focus on cannabis packaging. Tabletop exhibits and networking sessions with engineers, brand managers, and other key decision-makers will also explore the packaging challenges and opportunities facing cannabis manufacturers and how the suppliers of packaging solutions can begin to approach this booming consumer market with greater insight and understanding.

February 13-15: USA CBD Expo returns for its landmark show in Las Vegas. Following a successful inaugural event in Miami, the Expo will provide retailers and buyers with the opportunity to evaluate new products, learn about industry trends, and network with more than 300 vendors.  Notable sponsors include PureKana, Ignite CBD, CaniBrands, and Verge CBD, among others. USA CBD Expo will also host pop culture personalities like Ronnie Ortiz-Magro from Jersey Shore, Dan Bilzerian, Olympic medalist Dara Torres, and former NFL player Kyle Turley, just to name a few. The USA CBD Expo in Las Vegas will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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.

May 1-3: The CBD Show returns to the UK with 3 full days of content, more than 50 speakers, specialized workshops, and 100+ exhibitors from around the globe. Hosted at London Olympia, days one and two of the event are dedicated to the business side of things. Day 3 is open for the public sector to explore the latest offerings on the CBD market. Register for your tickets here.

Lead image by Ilona Szentivanyi. Copyright: Benzinga.