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Vol. 8, No. 56 -  October 16, 2021 - Edited by Dr. Lloyd Covens

McCARTNEY ALSO MUST SHELTER HEMP --  Shown above tuning up for song, former Beatle Paul McCartney told an English paper he has "to keep his hemp away from teens" who think its pot, and may consider taking down the crop.   According to legend, McCartney was introduced to cannabis by Bob Dylan in 1964 and   became a regular smoker. His love of marijuana led to him having numerous run-ins with the law over cannabis possession--first in Sweden in 1972 and again in Barbados in 1984.  The Daily News quoted the Beatle lead man as saying, "I don’t do it anymore. Why? The truth is I don’t really want to set [a bad] example to my kids and grandkids. It’s now a parent thing.”
M&A Stampede: $Billions in
Deals for MJ Assets Quicken 

by Lloyd Covens, Editor, West420
It's Spring, 2020, and LivWell co-founder John Lord and  his senior management decided that the nationwide COVID shutdown should not result in laying off staff, proceeding to forego executive pay to ensure the company's stable cash flow.    Colorado's largest chain this week sold its' holdings(including stores in Michigan) to Illinois-based PharmaCann--for an undisclosed amount, with sources estimating a deal worth $650 to $860Mil.--rewarding those executives with a major payday, and placing Lord on the board at PharmaCann.   At the Boulder base of WANA Brands, Colorado founder Nancy Whiteman decided to accept a $297Mil. payday for her leading edibles firm, giving new owner Canopy Growth USA a future wedge into the U.S. market, like its 45%-owned Acreage Holdings.  As part of a bigger move of mergers-and-acquisitions, the pace of industry roll-ups is hitting a new pace.  Majors like CuraLeaf, TruLieve, Cresco and Verano continue to keep a close eye on one another, even as the list of viable takeovers begins to dwindle.

            “The consolidation of the large MSOs along with large suppliers of products also shows that MSOs are beginning to increase the separation from the rest of the cannabis pack. This is a palpable concern from smaller operators nationally who are concerned about their ability to compete against the large operators.” said cannabis economist Beau Whitney. “There is a lot of positioning that is occurring right now in advance of greater federal clarity. Look for this to continue to accelerate in the near and medium terms”, Whitney predicted.   The massive debt and stock dilution being taken on by these MSO deals points to the movement from just retail outlets, to the more longer play of national cannabis brands.

Source: Viridian Holdings

          With increasing pressure to get bigger--and a big runup in the value of their stock, Florida MMJ giant TruLieve grew its by 40% all-stock (estimated at $2.2Bill.) acquisition of Arizona's Harvest Health and Recreation.  The combination pushed the pair into a solid number 2 multi-state operator position for TruLieve, now focused on growing out its billion-dollar  MJ sales machine into new northeastern markets(like Pennsylvania) and Harvest into expanding in the western US.         Chicago-based Cresco Labs last week announced its' acquisition of Pennsylvania-based Laurel Harvest Labs in a cash-and-stock deal worth $80 million-- having earlier paid a  $90 million stock/cash purchase of Cure Pennsylvania.  The nation's largest MSO, CuraLeaf, just closed its' purchase of Colorado massive grower, Los Suenos, and earlier this year became the first U.S. firm with European holdings by purchasing EMMAC in September.   With recent rollouts of new vaping technology, CuraLeaf is pushing its "SELECT" brand into a likely first spot for all cannabis products.   Another Colorado MJ giant, The Green Solution, was acquired by Columbia Care.

          In addition to its home state of Illinois, PharmaCann operates in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It recently raised $85 million in a debt offering, part of which is heading to LivWell founders.  Two years ago, MedMen had hoped to acquire PharmaCann in an all-stock deal which was abandoned.  This summer, the financially battered MedMen was acquired by TILRAY,  which had earlier this year merged with Canada's number 3 MMJ provider, Aphria.
           Lord, a native of New Zealand --who brought his small fortune from car-safety seat making to Denver's opening MMJ industry in 2009-- set the standard for others in the industry by increasing product options and brought the world's first celebrity-backed line of cannabis offerings with entertainment giant Snoop Dog.   During its first years of adult-use sales, activists targeted LivWell to stop using Eagle 25 (
Myclobutanil) which the company phased out.  Lord was a founder of lobby group, Cannabis Trade Federation, which morphed into the current U.S. Cannabis Council, the largest group of MJ lobbying interests.

             In 2017, former Colorado governor(now U.S. Senator) John Hickenlooper faced industry outrage with a pre-Presidential run decision to veto a legislative bill in 2017 which would have allowed Colorado companies to gain investment from out-ot-state public companies.  "Had Hick signed that bill," said a long-time industry watcher, "it's likely that billions would have come into the state, and Colorado, not Illinois, would be the base for many MSO's now reaching out to get bigger through deals."   Hickenlooper had been told by his Republican attorney general that allowing out-of-state investment would result in an invasions by the cartels."    So with the quickening of M&A, the new ownership of many Colorado greatest foundational MJ companies--along with sales of legacy Hoban Law Group to Michigan based Clark-Hill and a smaller deal from Schwazzie grabbing MedicineMan and Starbuds-- has ended the possibility that any of the world's top 20 cannabis companies will ever have a Denver headquarters office.  

              In the longer-run picture, Viridian Capital Advisors lead analyst Jonathan DeCourcey wrote that 2023 will be another key watershed for MJ stocks, as major new states continue to come online.  " DeCourcey believes significant upside will occur for today's smaller MSO's like  Ascend Wellness, Ayr Strategies, Body & Mind, Cansortium, Columbia Care, Glass House, Goodness Growth, Jushi, TerrAscend, and Tilt Holdings.

       "Now we will have to see if anyone will be able to make any profit.," wondered Whitney, adding the large group of sellers "is definitely a reward for those well- funded operators who drove scale early at the sacrifice of profits, with the intention of being acquired later on.”

Above:  November 10 - 12, 2021, Denver         Register:
Cannabis legal issues are of paramount importance not only to practitioners working with businesses in retail products, peripherals, and other ancillary industries , but attendant legal issues will eventually impact every practice area. It is, therefore, important to analyze the impact of the legalization of cannabis, its products, their consumption, and supplemental issues.
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VEGAS MJ WEEK Summary: Read "CannaPlanna" 
CANNABIS News Briefs..........

       12 states have published aggressively-hopeful rules for social equity programs-- all aimed at boosting new opportunities for selected applicants, and for pushing new community projects to "impacted communities."  While promised future programs to send millions per year into "War on Drugs" communities -- and help deliver MJ licenses to "people of color, women, veterans" (and sometimes LGBTQ applicants)---  it may be years before true impacts are felt.  Virtually all states desire expungements (automatic or easy-access) for low-possession MJ-offenses, there is major logjam issues surrounding seed funding, micro-business loans, grants or other assistance in the licensing process.  The Denver sponsored "Social Equity Fair"  Oct. 16th brought 200 interested possible new applicants who visited tabletops from 20 private and government support programs. "Our goal was to get social equity applicants get info about city and state licensing requirements, potential funding avenues with a new program about to be launched by the state," said Denver Licensing's Eric Escudero.   However, with an initial June deadline, the new social equity program for Denver has only issued eight licenses--all for delivery transporters.   Five applications for new Denver retail stores are pending, but no applications have been submitted by any firm for Denver's new cultivation, infused products, research or lab licenses.  

Here is a short list of key studies examining the Social Equity area:
Hispanic Participation in the Cannabis Industry ---   from the National Hispanic Cannabis Council
MJBiz Study:  "Women and Minorities in Cannabis"  https://bit.ly3AnuVvc
National Association of Cannabis Businesses--

Seeds of Change -- Social Justice in MJ-- by Leafly   https://bit.ly3DtXekm

Better CBD Sales Ahead?:   A report from Meticulous Research projected that the CBD-infused products market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 45.6% from 2021 to 2028 to reach $216.8 billion by 2028. The report said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted many economies around the globe. As a measure to control the spread of this disease and avoid its associated consequences, governments across the globe announced partial or complete lockdowns, majorly impacting many industries, but the cannabis industry is having a breakthrough moment. Since it is beneficial for COVID-19 respiratory effects, thus state and local governments are gradually accepting the value and benefits of medicinal cannabis. Thus, this factor is expected to boost the demand for CBD-infused products."  Researchers call CBD "an attractive option for people spending more time at home, both as a means of entertainment and to reduce stress and anxiety. As a result, CBD-infused product sales are soaring, ultimately driving the growth of the CBD-infused products market. Also, legalizing recreational cannabis in various countries, escalating demand for CBD-infused wellness drinks, increasing disposable income of the consumers." said Meticulous.

Leading U.S. cannabis economics firm, Whitney Economics, is collaborating with West420 News Weekly to conduct a national survey of businesses and stakeholders the U.S. cannabis industry. Below, please find a link to the Survey of U.S. Cannabis Industry Sentiment and Business Conditions. It examines the key issues facing the industry including what you are experiencing when doing business in the industry. The survey seeks to investigate what is working and what can be improved from the perspective of businesses and stakeholders in the cannabis industry.  The goal of the survey is to tabulate ancillary business and cannabis operator opinions on the state of the U.S. cannabis market. Responses are CONFIDENTIAL and will be kept ANONYMOUS.  
Your participation and insights will help policy makers understand the issues that face the industry from your perspective. The survey takes between 4 – 5 minutes to complete.   Please take the survey at:
Unjust laws remain on the global scene:  The United Arab Emirates have a zero tolerance for THC,  revealed in a 25-year sentence handed to a British citizen for possession of CBD vape oil.   After moving to Dubai last January,  soccer coach Billy Hood, 25, continued his CBD use, legal in Britain, but the trace THC was enough to receive a quarter-century sentence.     "The conditions here are shocking... I still don't have a mattress," Hood told his mother in a phone call filmed by ITV News.

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