Pot Stocks, ETFs, Top News And Data From The Cannabis Industry This Week

This was a big week for cannabis on the policy front, as lawmakers introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 I Congress, seeking to address the industry’s banking woes.

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Don Young introduced another bipartisan bill that seeks to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, ending federal prohibition.

New Mexico’s House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, while Hawaii moved to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and launched a program for out-of-state visitors to apply for a temporary medical cannabis card twice a year, when visiting the island.

Commenting on these developments, Benzinga contributor Jeff Siegel, co-founder and managing editor of Green Chip Stocks, said “Gov. Grisham has indicated that she would sign a legalization bill if it landed on her desk. Now it’s up to the Senate to get it there.”

He noted this is still great news for the good people of New Mexico, who have been fighting for legalization for years.

“Of course, the bill isn’t perfect, as it does prohibit home cultivation (unless its medical), and most retail outlets would be run by the government, which of course opens the door to all kinds of inefficiencies and potential loss of tax revenues,” he explained. “We’ve already seen evidence of this in states that only allow liquor sales through state-run retail outlets. Those outlets generate billions in tax revenues, but they also require operational costs, such as leases and utilities. Privately-run retail operations pay for all of these things, meaning the end result of using just privately-run retail outlets could be even more tax revenues for the state.”

In Siegel's view, the state will get its money either way. So why burden it with operational costs that don’t need to exist?

“Either way, I’m happy to see some progress being made in New Mexico. I just hope someone wises up and realizes that having the state run cannabis retail outlets is little more than an exercise in bureaucratic buffoonery,” he said.

On the markets front, we learned Nielsen Holdings PLC NLSN is getting into cannabis. The company best known for putting out television ratings partnered up with Headset, one of the top data and analytics service providers in the legal cannabis industry to deliver a read into the U.S. legal cannabis market for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies.

“Strategically partnering with Nielsen... is pivotal in helping to validate Headset’s mission and the mission of the cannabis industry as a whole,” Cy Scott, CEO of Headset, told Benzinga. “Bringing together Nielsen’s unequivocal knowledge in the field of analytics services and Headset’s breakthrough cannabis market measurement data will provide crucial support in the development of the first ever legal cannabis industry within the U.S.”

Finally, we learned of a few big corporate migrations from established industries into cannabis. Benzinga reported on Joel Lunenfeld, former vice president of global brand strategy at Twitter Inc TWTR joining NorCal Cannabis as CMO. Longtime Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN executive Tim Leslie was appointed CEO of Leafly, and Kelsey Barnes left a senior project manager position in IBM's cybersecurity division to take a job at Vinzan International.

The Cannabis Capital Conference is coming back to Toronto April 17-18!

Marijuana Stocks & ETFs

Over the last five trading days, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF HMLSF HMMJ lost 3.8 percent, while the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ slipped roughly 4.7 percent. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY closed the period down 2.5 percent.

Here are some of the top marijuana stocks (market cap above $400 million) in U.S. exchanges and how the performed over the last five trading days:

Acreage Holdings ACRZF: down 13 percent

• Aphria Inc APHA: down 6.9 percent

• Aurora Cannabis Inc ACB: up 5.5 percent

• CannTrust Holdings Inc CTST: down 12.6 percent

• Canopy Growth Corp CGC: down 4.4 percent

• Cronos Group Inc. CRON: flat

Curaleaf Holdings Inc CURLF: down 19 percent

Green Growth Brands Inc GGBXF: down 0.2 percent

• Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd TGODF: down 4.9 percent

• Green Thumb Industries Inc GTBIF: down 11.8 percent

• GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR GWPH: down 7.9 percent

Hexo Corp HEXO: down 5.4 percent

Harvest Health & Recreation Inc HRVSF: down 14.6 percent

• iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc ITHUF: down 9.5 percent

Marimed Inc MRMD: up 3.6 percent

• MedMen Enterprises Inc. MMNFF: down 6.4 percent

OrganiGram Holdings Inc OGRMF: down 0.7 percent

• Scotts Miracle-Gro Co SMG: flat

• Tilray Inc TLRY: down 12.3 percent

In Other News

Michigan state officials said they would enforce the previously set March 31 deadline for unlicensed cannabis dispensaries to close their doors.

“Our ongoing discussions with medical marijuana stakeholders have demonstrated that this is the right thing to do in order to provide for continued patient access while ensuring that only tested products are being distributed,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “This next step in the process is important in order to continue to move the medical marijuana industry forward.”

Caregivers will be able to continue to sell their to licensed growers and processors, however, the latter are obliged to test them before sending them to dispensaries.

Related Link: Analysis: Are State-Run Cannabis Sales 'The Smart Way'?

Driven Deliveries Inc DRVD announced Adam Berk will join the company’s Board of Directors. Berk founded and developed a technology and logistics company that went on to become GrubHub Inc GRUB. Chris Boudreau, CEO of Driven Deliveries, told Benzinga, “the addition of Mr. Berk is the latest example of renowned talent, migrating towards the emerging cannabis industry. We believe that his expertise and insight will mesh perfectly with our proven business model at Driven. I look forward to leveraging his knowledge as we continue to execute on our strategic growth plan.”

The NHL Alumni Association and NEEKA Health Canada announced a partnership with Canopy Growth, to research the efficacy of cannabinoids in treatment of post-concussion neurological diseases.

Aphria secured a license to boost its cannabis production capacity by more than 250 percent.

Aurora Cannabis wrapped up its acquisition of Whistler Medical Marijuana. The agreement is for approximately CA$175 million ($131.3 million).

"Applying certain of our best practices to the Whistler cultivation protocols, we anticipate an increase in capacity of the Pemberton facility beyond the stated 5,000 kg annual production target," Aurora CEO Terry Booth said in a statement.

Shares of Oregon-based maker of craft spirit maker Eastside Distilling Inc EAST rose after the company's potential move into the CBD-infused beverages space became clearer, with the acceptance of a trademark application.

True Leaf Medicine International Ltd TRLFF, a cannabis and hemp wellness brand for pets, announced that the phase of construction of True Leaf Campus is complete. The completed phase of True Leaf Campus – the company’s cannabis cultivation and production facility – includes a two-story, 18,000 square foot central hub for the initial grow area, laboratory services, whole-plant extraction, and the production of therapeutic cannabis products for pets and their owners.

The facility, located in Lumby, British Columbia, sits on an industrially-zoned 40-acre site owned by True Leaf with full local government support.

“We are closer than ever to becoming a licensed producer of cannabis,” said Darcy Bomford, Founder and CEO of True Leaf. “Having our own cultivation facility to support the research and development of legal medicinal cannabis products for pets will take True Leaf to the next level.”

Helix TCS Inc HLIX announced its further extended reach in Europe, with cultivators and manufacturers in the United Kingdom using the industry leading seed to sale and cannabis point of sale solution, BioTrackTHC. Additionally, Helix announced the on-time and on-budget deployment of the North Dakota medical cannabis traceability system, which tracks and oversees the state’s entire cannabis supply chain.

“The global cannabis industry continues to expand, and our critical infrastructure technology solutions continue to play a vital role as with both governments and businesses,” said Zachary Venegas, Executive Chairman and CEO of Helix TCS. “We look forward to continuing to be a steadfast partner to all of our clients across the cannabis ecosystem.”

Flowhub, a compliance and POS software for dispensaries in the U.S., and Leafbuyer Technologies Inc LBUY, a technology company that partners with dispensaries to bring legal cannabis deals to customers, announced a partnership. The alliance will integrate the software from both platforms as well as from Greenlight, Leafbuyer’s loyalty mobile application, so that customers can view dispensary menu and product availability information updated in real time - taking the burden of updating online menus off the dispensary employees.

“Leafbuyer is a valuable addition to Flowhub’s partner ecosystem," said Flowhub CEO Kyle Sherman. "Together, we’re making it easy for dispensaries to connect high performance technology in order to save time, automate online menu accuracy, enhance the customer experience, and increase revenue.”

Emblem Corp EMMBF’s shareholders approved Aleafia Health's proposed acquisition of the company.

“It is difficult to overstate the significance of securing the highest quality medicine for our patients and Aleafia,” said Aleafia Health CEO Geoffrey Benic. “Emblem’s product leadership in the medical and adult-use sectors and highly coveted supply agreements will perfectly complement Aleafia’s cannabis production and clinic operations. This is a transformative transaction that positions Aleafia Health as a global cannabis leader.”

Arizona-based cannabis marketing and branding firm Proven Media was named agency of record for the second-annual CannaMéxico World Summit. The event is hosted by former President of Mexico Vicente Fox. Proven Media will join representatives of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association of Arizona (MITA-AZ), an organization advocating for international cannabis reform, at the conference.

“I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural CannaMéxico World Summit and look forward to working with the Centro Fox team again," stated Proven Media vice president Neko Catanzaro. "The Latin American cannabis market has the potential to reach a valuation of more than $12 billion in ten years. Cannabis is a global conversation and we are proud to be a part of it."

SLANG Worldwide SLNG, a cannabis consumer packaged goods company announced its entry into the Puerto Rican medical cannabis market. Through a partnership with one of the largest agro-industrial companies in the Caribbean, SLANG will bring a portfolio of products to the territory. This is the company's second major market expansion announcement in 2019, following news of its partnership announcement with Florida-based Trulieve Cannabis Corp TCNNF.

SLANG Worldwide CEO Peter Miller told Benzinga, “SLANG is incredibly excited to supply great products to the medical cannabis consumers of Puerto Rico, manufactured in a world-class facility, through an exciting partnership. The medical cannabis framework in Puerto Rico was thoughtfully organized, well executed, and accommodating to patients, as a result. We look forward to serving this market with our brands.”

Cannex Capital Holdings Inc CNXXF signed a definitive agreement to combine with 4Front Holdings. The combined entity will apply to trade on the CSE under, initially under Cannex's symbol “CNNX.”

Clean cannabis company Dr. Robb Farms has partnered with Rove Featured Farms line to release its first oil cartridge.

“This is the first time we have made our flower available as a vaping experience so we needed the experience, taste and flavor to be phenomenal. We chose Rove because of their proprietary extraction methodology which really capture the pure essence and terpenes of the flower - the results are unparalleled,” said Dr. Robert Flannery, founder of Dr. Robb Farms.

Balanced Health Botanicals -- makers of CBDistillery, an online retailer for hemp-derived CBD products -- announced the launch of CBDistilleryRx, a line of pharmacist-recommended hemp-derived CBD products that will be available in-store only at select pharmacies and medical offices nationwide. The CBDistillery Rx product line is formulated using Broad Spectrum hemp extract with non-detectible THC in the finished products, expanding Balanced Health Botanicals product and brand portfolio.

Flower One announced a hardware partnership and long-term licensing agreement with Grenco Science, a pioneer in advanced technology cannabis vaporization. The Gio is a draw-activated concentrate vaporizer that is intuitive, portable, and accessible, and features a cutting edge cartridge system with an optimized heating temperature and integrated airpath for maximum vaporization, and consistent, smooth, and flavorful pulls. Flower One is licensed to sell, distribute and integrate G Pen's proprietary, innovative hardware with new cannabis products from its diverse portfolio of Brand Partners.

"We are thrilled to have partnered with Flower One to expand our ability to bring our innovative technology and hardware to Nevada, introducing a diversified product offering with their brand partners." Chris Folkerts, Founder and CEO of Grenco Science.

SOL Global Investments Corp SOLCF portfolio company Heavenly Rx announced it acquired 568 acres of agricultural property across Tennessee and Kentucky for the cultivation and production of raw hemp biomass. In addition to the property acquisition, the company is set to enter into a contract farming agreement with farmers in both states, with the aim of producing 500,000 pounds of hemp biomass in the first year of the deal. That hemp will be used to produce CBD-derived products including isolates, oils, tinctures, balms and other goods categories.

Knoxville-based hemp processing and extraction company Blühen Botanicals, a Heavenly Rx portfolio company, will manage the farms to ensure quality control and EuGMP certification standards. SOL Global CEO Brady Cobb says the acquisitions and contract farming agreement are the latest moves geared toward his company’s full vertical integration in the hemp and CBD marketplaces

“This essentially allows us to fill large national and international orders using our own farms and supply agreements,” said Cobb. “It allows us a significant competitive advantage over other companies that are forced to rely on inconsistent suppliers, and we’ll also save a ton of money by owning our own land.”

Target Group Inc CBDY, a vertically integrated Canadian cannabis company, completed the acquisition of CannaKorp, a Massachusetts-based technology company focused on vaporizing products. 

The Telegraph reported Facebook, Inc. FB is looking to ease its cannabis advertising rules.

Cannabis producer Harvest One Cannabis Inc. HRVOF said it will acquire specialty biotechnology company Delivra Corp. in an all-stock deal valued around CA$19 million ($14.22 million). 

Read about these and other news with out friends at Marijuana Money.

Interesting Data & Information

With an increasing number of states legalizing recreational marijuana, American Addiction Centers conducted a study to understand the use and perceptions by parents across the country. The study polled Americans – half who smoke and half who do not – to understand the impact recreational marijuana use has on parents and child rearing.

“Our study found that 30 percent of parents are using recreational marijuana,” said Ruchi Dhami, a director at American Addiction Centers who oversees the research team. “However, the majority of children do not know their parents smoke. Still, it’s important for all parents — whether they use marijuana or not — to communicate the dangers of drug use to children as early and often as possible.”

The study’s interesting findings include that 74 percent of parents would rather their children smoked marijuana instead of drink alcohol and overall, more than 54 percent of parents with some college credit but no degree reported using recreational marijuana compared to around 39 percent of parents with a master’s degree.

Anderson Economic Group released its 2019 benchmarked AndCan Index, which uses a new, improved methodology. The 2019 index shows that consumer demand for cannabis products has been increasing much faster than previously recognized.

The demand for marijuana products in the U.S. surged by 1.9 percent in December, according to the report. And over the past year, cannabis product demand rose by 20 percent.

Flower Co., a membership-based cannabis company, launched in Los Angeles. Their business model gives members access to wholesale cannabis prices at 30 to 50 percent off retail pricing. Flower Co. is available in Northern California, including San Francisco, Alameda County, and Marin and now Los Angeles.

“Expanding from San Francisco to Los Angeles was a natural progression for the company,” said Ted Lichtenberger, CEO and Co-founder of Flower Co. “Los Angeles is where culture happens. It’s creative and forward thinking, attributes that we recognize in our own brand. This launch represents the first of many, and we look forward to bringing Flower Co.’s unique membership program to even more cities in the future.”

More From Benzinga’s Cannabis Newsdesk

Here are some other interesting cannabis-related stories from this week.

By Alex Oleinic:

Flowr Partners With Chef Ryan Reed To Develop Premium Edibles

Namaste Technologies Expands Into Edibles With Choklat Investment

How Topicals Are Bringing CBD To Mass Retail Customers

By Andrew Ward

Intrexon, Surterra Wellness Collaborate On Plant Propagation For Cannabis Cultivation

Tilray Harvests Medical Cannabis In Portugal, Ramps European Business

Cowen Out Bullish On Aurora Cannabis, Takes Neutral Stance On Cronos

Jefferies Bearish On Tilray: 'The Stock Is Too Expensive For Its Outlook'

710 Security Acquires Leif Alert In Consolidation of Colorado Cannabis Security Firms

Why Banning 'Marijuana' From The Cannabis Industry Doesn't Work

By Javier Hasse

California Marks 1 Year Of Recreational Marijuana: How Much Cannabis Was Sold?

Arcadia Biosciences Granted New Hawaiian Hemp License

A Chat With LeafLink CEO Ryan Smith: 'Not All Money Is The Same' In Fundraising

A Chat With Life On Earth's C-Suite: CBD Products, Uplisting Plans And More

More From Benzinga Cannabis

From Martha Stewart To NY's Southern Tier, A Cannabis-Do Attitude, by New Frontier Data.

Where Do The Major North American Sports Leagues Stand On Cannabis?, by Dave Royse.

Bulls And Bud Of The Week: True Leaf And 'Mary Janes: The Women Of Weed', by Jeff Siegel.

Gottlieb's Departure Creates Uncertainty For Tobacco, Biopharma, Cannabis Industries, by Dave Royse.

General Electric Takes A Hit, Retailers Outperform Amid Broader Market Pause, by TDAmeritrade’s JJ Kinahan.

Piper Jaffray: Tilray, GW Pharma Are Early Leaders In Medical Cannabis, by Wayne Duggan.

Hemp Is A $3.7 Billion Global Industry, But Where Does The US Fall In The Blossoming Market?, by Chris Dier-Scalise.

Facing FDA Scrutiny, Producers Get Cagey Selling CBD, by New Frontier Data.

Why Illinois, New Jersey Governors Badly Need To Legalize Cannabis This Year, by Dave Royse.

Investment Dealer Cormark Securities Looks To Build More Cannabis Relationships In The US, by Nick Esquer.

Will There Be Enough (Legal) Marijuana In Canada This Year?, by Andre Bourque.

These Were The Most Actively Traded Stocks On The OTC Markets In February, by Spencer Israel.

5 Cannabis And CBD Stocks That Aren't Blowing Smoke, by Joshua Rodriguez.

CBD Vs. THC: The Science Behind The Most Popular Cannabinoids, by Shanti Rexaline.

Canopy Growth's Bruce Linton Talks Martha Stewart, Constellation Brands: 'Good Science Leads To Great Products', by Jayson Derrick.

6 Things You Didn't Know About Hemp, by New Frontier Data.

Check out these and other cannabis stories in our cannabis portal.

Events Calendar

March 29–30: The NoCo Hemp Expo will gather hemp industry people at the Crowne Plaza DIA Convention Center in Denver. Morris Beegle, founder of NoCo Hemp Expo told Benzinga, “The sheer industry response and anticipation for this year's NoCo Hemp Expo has been off the charts. We have expanded our Business Conference and Farm Symposium programming by 50 percent, added a new Investor's Forum, and we sold out of exhibition space within 25 days of opening registration.”

April 8–10: Cannabis Science Conference will host its first east coast event at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland. The Cannabis Science Conference, organized by CSC Events, will feature television personalities and cannabis advocates, Montel Williams and Ricki Lake, along with over 75 expert presenters.

April 17–18: The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, the premier gathering of cannabis entrepreneurs and investors in North America, returns to Toronto, Canada. Keynote speakers include Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, Cam Battley, Alan Brochstein, Jon Najarian, Danny Moses, Jeanne M. Sullivan, Tim Seymour, and many more! Find all the info you need at bzcannabis.com

May 28 – June 1: The Cons is a gathering of three trade and fan shows, the Cam Con, the Cannabis Con, and the Inked Con, all under one roof, at the SLS South Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. The Cons 2019 will offer a variety of seminars with top industry panelist, networking parties and performance displays to benefit the industry’s content providers, models and affiliates.

Traveling: CBD Expo Tour is kicking off. The events feature more than 70 exhibitors, along with a substantial lineup of speaker presentations and panel discussions from experts in the research, production, globalization, and sale of CBD products.

“After a successful 2018 tour, our busy 2019 schedule opens with CBD Expo MIDWEST. We're taking it into a hard working area of America where the population is seeking natural pain relief. We will be continuing to educate on the benefits of CBD wellness and why the pharmaceutical companies, as well as the FDA's suppression efforts are self-serving,” said Celeste Miranda, Founder of CBD Expo Tour and CEO of MACE Media.

Picture by Javier Hasse.

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