Editor-in-Chief

Debra BorchardtOctober 27, 2021
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4min4070

The state of Nevada has joined the billion-dollar bud club as the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) and the Nevada Department of Taxation (DoT) released figures showing more than $1 billion in taxable sales reported by Nevada’s legal cannabis industry over a 12-month period. The agencies noted that during the Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021), licensed adult-use cannabis retail stores and medical dispensaries generated $1,003,467,655 in taxable sales. Th groups stated that this is an increase of more than $318 million versus the $685 million in taxable sales from the fiscal year 2020. The majority of sales took place in Clark County and unincorporated cities in Southern Nevada.

Provided by CCB/DOT

Schools received over $67 million from the CCB, representing combined revenue from the State Wholesale Cannabis Excise Tax, along with civil penalties, licensing, and other fees collected through regulation of the cannabis industry. In addition to that, over $92 million in Retail Cannabis Excise Tax Revenue was sent to the school’s distributive account in FY 21.
In 2019, Governor Sisolak signed SB 545, which stated all revenue from the 10% retail cannabis excise tax would be sent to the Distributive School Account.

“This is what Nevadans expected since the legalization of recreational marijuana,” Governor Steve Sisolak said. “Education remains one of my top priorities, and I’m proud to see promised tax revenue from cannabis sales directly funding our students and classrooms.” The CCB officially began regulating Nevada’s cannabis industry on July 1, 2020, transitioning oversight
from the DoT’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.

Nevada Cannabis Statistics

There are now 346 certified medical cannabis establishments in the state and 408 licensed recreational cannabis establishments. 336 entities hold dual licenses. There are 87 active dispensary/retail stores in the state.

Planet 13

One of the best-known operators in the state, Planet 13 Holdings Inc. (OTCQX: PLNHF) reported $11.9 million in sales during July. During the first month of operations, the new Orange County store generated ~$800 thousand in sales. In September, the company doubled the size of the Las Vegas superstore cannabis retail area by adding 40 registers for higher sales volume and faster customer checkouts. The store also added an additional reception desk in order to better address the crowds of shoppers.

“Based on the early results we’ve seen from the Orange County store we are confident in the trajectory of sales and the quality of service and product we are providing. Sales have grown week over week as we start to gain traction as one of the top dispensaries in Orange County,” said Bob Groesbeck, Co-CEO of Planet 13. “Looking back at the early days of Planet 13 Las Vegas is a good reminder that it takes time to build customer trust and awareness. We took that dispensary from generating around $3 million a month to now north of $9 million with gross margins above 50%, all by focusing on the customer and continuing to refine and improve the experience and product selection.”


Debra BorchardtOctober 26, 2021
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5min4700

MedMen Enterprises Inc.  (CSE: MMEN) (OTCQX: MMNFF) announced the appointment of Roz Lipsey to the role of Chief Operating Officer. She succeeds Tim Bossidy, who has served as interim Chief Operating Officer since 2020. Ms. Lipsey has served on MedMen’s executive management team since 2020 in the role of Senior Vice President, Business Operations, and brings more than 25 years of operational experience, focusing on business start-up, scaling, and strategy.

The appointment comes during the midst of the company’s saucy trial with former CFO James Parker. The trial began last week and testimony from Parker continued on Monday. According to Law360, Parker expanded upon his first day of testimony regarding moving cannabis across state lines. The report stated that Parker was sure that MedMen had stocked a Nevada grow house with cannabis plants that were grown in California. Interstate transportation of cannabis is illegal even if cannabis is legal within the state. In 2018, MedMen opened a 45,000-square-foot facility near Reno. The facility recently announced that it was going to be grown under a new company called LitHouse.  LitHouse will expand its current California production, enter the Nevada market for the first time and produce flower for MedMen’s private label line MedMen Red. MedMen also has three dispensaries in Las Vegas.

Another issue that Parker testified about was stock price manipulation. In previous court filings, Parker has said he learned MedMen was sending large amounts of money to a consulting company and was told by Bierman the money was being used to buy company stock, which would keep the price of the stock from falling. Law360 reported that Parker said on the stand, “I told him it was outright securities fraud and that it needed to stop.” Parker stated that he resigned soon after the discovery and reached out for legal advice.

Law360 reported that Parker told the jury about why he was concerned about the spending habits of Modlin and Bierman, “We’ve gone public, we have investors. It’s not their company. It’s not their money. You look at this, it starts to look like you’re enriching yourself. It exposes us, especially in situations where we’re running out of money and a number of times constantly looking at a drop-dead point of having no capital. It opens us up to a tremendous amount of liability.”

Toxic Culture

Parker has also stated in his original court filing that former CEO and Co-founder Adam Bierman created a toxic culture with his descriptions of various people. MedMen for its part has fired back saying Parker is just as guilty of these comments. It seemed according to the Law360 reporting that Parker is trying to get ahead of those accusations as the jury was shown a clip from the 2016 film “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.” Law360 wrote, “The film is about a clueless pop star, and the clip in question showed the star of the film, Andy Samberg, singing about his support of gay rights but going out of the way to make sure the audience knows he is straight. Parker said he was asked about the clip during his deposition, and said he once sent the clip to Bierman because he thought it was funny. He added that he did not think the clip was offensive.”

 


Debra BorchardtOctober 26, 2021
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8min4480

Hydrofarm Holdings Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: HYFM) is buying Illinois-based Innovative Growers Equipment Inc. for approximately $58 million. The deal is expected to close in early November 2021. At the same time, Hydrofarm also released preliminary third-quarter results and gave guidance for the full year of 2021.

Third Quarter Earnings

Hydrofarm reported that its net sales will range between $121.0 million to $124.0 million for the three months ending September 30, 2020 versus last year’s $96.7 million. This is increase of approximately 27% was driven entirely by M&A growth. The net income is expected to range between $13.3 million and $18.3 million, versus last year’s net income of $2.7 million for the same time period. The adjusted EBITDA is estimated to be between $14.4 million to $16.4 million versus last year’s $7.4 million, an increase of approximately 108%. 

Bill Toler, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hydrofarm said, “We believe a short-term oversupply has put downward pressure on cannabis growing activity predominantly in California and Canada. In addition, sales activity in highly-populated states such as New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Connecticut, which have passed new adult-use legislation within the past year, has not yet gained full momentum. We expect sales in these states to improve as they begin to more aggressively implement revenue-generating cannabis legislation as part of their respective state budgets. Despite the disruption, we continue to believe our long-term growth algorithm remains intact and that we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the unprecedented expansion of Controlled Environment Agriculture. We remain convinced that we have only scratched the surface of the long-term opportunity in front of us.”

Outlook

Hydrofarm lowered its outlook from a range of $565 million to $590 million of net sales to approximately $470 million to $490 million. The original forecast of adjusted EBITDA of approximately $80 million to $90 million was reduced to adjusted EBITDA of $47 million to $53 million, or approximately 10% to 11% of net sales for the full fiscal year, up from approximately 6% in the prior year.

The company said that the expected increase in year-over-year adjusted EBITDA was due primarily to “(i) anticipated higher sales of proprietary brands which represented a higher proportion of total sales in the Q3 2021 period due to the company’s four completed acquisitions of proprietary branded product companies and (ii) anticipated higher gross profit and gross profit margin in the third quarter of 2021 primarily resulting from the aforementioned mix change to higher-margin proprietary brands. Those increases were partially offset by higher selling, general and administrative expenses as company further built-out its growth platform versus the same period in the prior year.”

Hyrdofarm said in a statement that since it recently completed four acquisitions with the closing of one additional acquisition pending in the fourth quarter, the company estimates that on a pro forma full-year basis as if all five acquisitions had occurred on January 1, 2021the company would have expected to generate between approximately $580 million and $600 million of net sales and $85 and $95 million of Adjusted EBITDA.

ICE Acquisition

Hydrofarm said that the addition of the IGE commercial equipment product range complements its existing lineup of high-performance, proprietary branded products. 

“We are excited for IGE to officially join the Hydrofarm family,” said Toler. “With their manufacturing capabilities and strong line of customized CEA solutions for commercial growers, including benching and racking systems, made-in-America LED lighting solutions, and other equipment and services, IGE is a solid addition to our growing portfolio and will further solidify our position as the acquirer of choice in the CEA industry.”

Hydrofarm said it will fund the acquisition using a combination of cash, the company’s credit facilities, and approximately $11.6 million in HYFM common stock. 

“Our success in the indoor growing market is rooted in our premium quality products and high level of service to our customers,” said Chris Mayer, President and CEO of Innovative Growers Equipment Inc. “Hydrofarm is a longtime customer of ours and we have been selling Hydrofarm’s superior line of lighting products for many years. We admire their deep understanding of indoor growing and look forward to joining the Hydrofarm team.”

$125 Million Loan

Hydrofarm also announced that it has entered into a new $125 million senior secured term loan facility. The Term Loan bears interest at a rate of either LIBOR (with a 1.00% floor) plus 5.50%, or an alternate base rate (with a 2.00% floor) plus 4.50% and matures on October 25, 2028. Hydrofarm intends to use the net proceeds from the Term Loan to fund the cash portion of the IGE purchase price and for general corporate purposes, which may include, among other things, repaying any outstanding balance under the company’s existing revolving credit facility and funding future M&A opportunities. Should additional capital needs arise, Hydrofarm can, per the terms of the Term Loan agreement, seek to upsize the facility. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. acted as sole lead arranger and bookrunner for the Term Loan.


Debra BorchardtOctober 26, 2021
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5min3720

Turning Point Brands, Inc. (NYSE: TPB) announced financial results for the third quarter ending September 30, 2021 with net sales increasing 5.5% to $109.9 million. This missed the Yahoo Finance average analyst estimate for revenue of $112 million.

Turning Point also reported that its net income increased 49.3% to $13.4 million and the adjusted EBITDA increased 9.9% to $26.3 million. The diluted EPS of $0.65 and Adjusted Diluted EPS of $0.72 rose versus last year’s $0.44 and $0.69 in the same period one year ago, respectively. This also missed the analyst estimate for earnings of $0.07 per share.

“Our third-quarter performance fell within our expectations with sales growth of 11% in our core business despite facing the headwind of COVID-related consumption and other benefits we experienced in the prior-year period,” said Larry Wexler, President, and CEO, Turning Point Brands. “Zig-Zag had another robust quarter driven by our strategic initiatives and growth within our Canadian business. Stoker’s saw double-digit growth in our Moist Snuff Tobacco (MST) business which drove growth in the overall segment. Regarding capital deployment, we continued to repurchase our shares during the quarter and today announced an increased share repurchase authorization. We also maintain a strong balance sheet to pursue a healthy pipeline of investment opportunities. Overall, we remain optimistic about the growth prospects in our core business.”

Outlook

Turning Point also revised its guidance downward from a range of $447 to $462 million to $433 to $443 million. The company cited the FDA regulatory environment along with the further implementation of the PACT Act. Turning Point also noted that to a lesser extent supply chain-related delays were pushing some sales of new products into the first quarter of 2022. The company also changed its forecast for its adjusted EBITDA to $104 to $108 million versus the previous guidance of $108 to $113 million.

Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, TPB said it expects net sales of $93 to $103 million with growth in the Zig-Zag and Stoker’s segments and a double-digit decline in NewGen. “A decline in sales for NewGen Products (compared to previous guidance of flat sales growth) which includes a double-digit decline in our vape distribution business (compared to previous guidance of low single-digit decline) offset by expected growth in Nu-X.”

On a positive note, TPB said it expects strong double-digit sales growth for Zig-Zag Products and mid-to-high single-digit sales growth for Stoker’s Products (compared to previous guidance of high-single-digit sales growth)

Mr. Wexler continued, “NewGen managed through a disruptive environment due to the uncertainty surrounding the PMTA process. We are encouraged by the FDA’s decision to reconsider and place back into review our application for our proprietary vapor products. I am confident that we submitted a robust application and look forward to engaging with the FDA in its review. We will manage through near-term disruptions and limited visibility in the vape distribution business resulting from the PMTA process and logistical transitions driven by the PACT Act. We have temporarily reduced our exposure to mitigate risk while we navigate the evolving regulatory landscape and adjusted our short-term guidance accordingly. We continue to believe that robust regulatory oversight is a positive for the industry and we believe we are favorably positioned to leverage our strong regulatory and logistics capabilities to capitalize on an attractive long-term opportunity.”


Debra BorchardtOctober 25, 2021
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8min9180

The MedMen (OTC: MMNFF) trial in Los Angeles began on Friday with a spicy first day of testimony. Former MedMen Chief Financial Officer James Parker took the stand to testify against his former employers in a case that stems from a 2019 complaint. Parker was once the CFO of the hard-charging California-based cannabis company but abruptly left filing a case that ultimately caused Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder Adam Bierman to leave the company and lose majority voting rights.

According to Law360, Parker told the Los Angeles jury on Friday that he had no choice but to resign after discovering potential illegal transportation of marijuana and stock market manipulation. Law360 also reported that Parker did not finish his testimony and that Parker’s attorney Michael J. Kump of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP told the jury during his opening statement that Modlin and Bierman also “created and imposed a toxic management style that included racist, homophobic and sexist slurs and other abusive conduct,” and that Parker complained to them “repeatedly about this.”

The report stated that MedMen’s attorney William F. Dugan of Baker & McKenzie LLP “told the jury during opening statements that Parker was a poor CFO who was in over his head and that he negotiated the terms of his own contract. Dugan also said Parker violated his contract by suddenly quitting without giving a 90-day notice, and did so just as he had been informed he was being put under a performance review.” For its part, MedMen is paying for Parker’s legal fees which can go as high as $500,000 a year.

Law360 also noted that attorneys for the individual defendants, Bierman and Modlin, did not deliver any opening statements. 

The scandal broke not long after MedMen became a publicly-traded company when Parker abruptly resigned and filed a case that exposed many scandalous details about the co-founders. The most serious claims accused the founders of transporting cannabis across state lines and paying someone to buy the company’s stock in order to artificially inflate the price. In addition to those allegations, Parker also claimed that the MedMen dispensaries were accepting credit card charges, which are not allowed by the major credit card companies MasterCard and Visa. In addition to those allegations, Parker cited the toxic workplace and abusive language he was subjected to by Bierman. MedMen also claims that Parker is also guilty of inappropriate and offensive comments.

Background

MedMen began trading publicly in 2018 and was described as the cannabis industry’s first unicorn with a billion-dollar valuation. Parker led the company’s move to become a publicly-traded company, but then he resigned in November 2018. This was seen as a red flag as it is pretty unusual for a CFO to leave a company within months of going public. MedMen was also changing the terms of its capital raise while reporting big losses and mediocre revenue (when compared to the company’s valuation).

It was in February 2019, that Parker filed the lawsuit claiming wrongful termination saying MedMen had begun searching for a new CFO while he was still performing those duties. He alleged that MedMen ordered him to make payments from the company’s money for personal expenses by the co-founders. These expenses ranged from high-tech safe rooms in their homes to special-ordered vehicles. He also accused the co-founders of taking private jets and bringing along friends and family and basically using the MedMen company money to pay for an extravagant lifestyle. 

Parker alleged he sent money to a “consultant” in Canada that was propping up the stock when it sold off. Parker claimed that he personally paid for company items with his credit card because the co-founders Bierman and Andrew Modlin were able to get a large enough credit line due to their work in the cannabis industry. Parker said in the court filing that these expenses could reach as high as $150,000 to $250,000 a week. 

More Problems

In March 2019, MedMen’s CEO Bierman claimed ignorance when it came to light that the OTC Markets were making inquiries into stock promotion activity by a company hired by MedMen. The website www.marijuanastox.com ran a story created by a third-party consulting firm that was intended to promote MedMen stock. By April, more top executives began to leave the company. COO Ben Cook and General Counsel Lisa Sergi both resigned along with the Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Daniel Yi. 

The expenses at the company remained elevated, while the revenues were not enough to cover the costs. Rumors of the company being unable to pay vendors caused even more problems. 

In addition to that, MedMen made great fanfare about buying the privately-held PharmaCann only to terminate the deal months later. 

CFO Churn

By August 2019, MedMen was churning through CEO’s like tinder dates. Jim Miller had been appointed interim CFO after Parker resigned. He was replaced by Michael Kramer in December 2018, who was terminated in October 2019. Zeeshan Hyder was named the new CFO in October 2019. Hyder only lasted a little over a year before leaving in December 2020. Reece Fulgham became the new interim CFO and remains in that role today. 

Bierman Ousted

It wasn’t until January 2020, that co-founder Adam Bierman stepped down and relinquished his super-voting shares. The company’s COO Ryan Lissack took over as interim CEO. In March 2020, Tom Lynch was named interim CEO and was made the permanent CFO in July of 2021. He remains in that role today. 

MedMen has since sold several assets and most recently reported that its 2021 fourth-quarter revenue was $42.0 million, up 55.4% year-over-year and up 18.5% from the previous quarter. 

 


Debra BorchardtOctober 15, 2021
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6min9200

Viridian Capital Advisors analyst Jonathan DeCourcey is looking into his cannabis crystal ball and says skip 2022 – it’s 2023 that should be the focus for investors. He points out that 2023 will be the first full year with adult-use cannabis sales in the key markets of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. He wrote,

Based on 2023 expectations, top operators are likely to look much cheaper overall than they do today.

The analyst said that the cannabis market’s current bear market is unwarranted and presents buying opportunities. While company estimates for 2022 have been increasing, he says the real story will be what happens in 2023. He wrote, “As we look to 2023, the opportunity becomes even more favorable. Even omitting the share gains for large public players (both through execution and consolidation) and conservatively growing estimated 2022 revenues by the roughly 20% growth rate for broader US cannabis sales in 2023 and leaving adjusted EBITDA margin levels unchanged from 2022 estimates, US cannabis companies will be trading at a roughly 50% discount to the one year forward projections of this winter with 2023 multiples (’23EV/Sales at 2.1x and EV/EBITDA at 6.3x). These valuations levels are incommensurate with the high growth nature of US cannabis and look inexpensive even relative to slower growth more mature industries.”

In his opinion, many of the companies considered to be the top operators for 2023 are not necessarily the biggest by market cap or the most expensive today. His big list of companies that he believes look even better when considering the 2023 numbers are Ascend Wellness, Ayr Strategies, Body & Mind, Cansortium, Columbia Care, Glass House, Goodness Growth, Jushi, TerrAscend, and Tilt Holdings. The two companies DeCourcey specifically highlighted in his report that was published on October 15, was 4FrontVentures (OTC: FFNTF) and Planet 13 (OTC: PLNHF).

4Front

Viridian has a Buy rating on 4Front and a $2 target price. The analyst noted that the 2022 estimates only represent about 40% of the company’s long-term plans. 4Front recently broke ground on a cultivation and production facility in Illinois called “Big Daddy.” The first phase of this project will be a 250,000 square foot cultivation facility that will open in early 2023 giving the company 65,000 square feet of cultivation versus its current 9,000 sq. ft. today. This expansion will allow 4Front to sell more house brands at its own locations, plus open itself up to wholesale business. The company has said that the initial buildout will allow it to produce $100 million of sellable product.

In addition to Illinois, the Massachusetts operations are expanded by a recent acquisition of  New England Cannabis Corporation. 4Front said that NECC is expected to be significantly accretive to its EBITDA expectations for 2022 and will immediately scale 4Front’s presence as a dominant wholesaler and producer in the state. The acquisition is said to more than double 4Front’s total flower canopy in Massachusetts to over 30,000 sq. ft, with further expansion potential for up to an additional 10,000 sq. ft. of canopy, and will approximately triple 4Front’s kitchen, processing, and distribution space.

4Front also has an outstanding license application in New Jersey, which could also present a big opportunity. DeCourcey also pointed out that 4Front could end up being a potential takeover target by a larger MSO.

Planet 13

Planet 13 was truly beaten up by the pandemic. As a dispensary superstore that thrived on tourist traffic, the lockdown was especially difficult. Fast forward to today and Vegas is coming back. The MJ Biz conference next week is sure to bring lots of attention to the flagship store in Las Vegas and could be a short-term catalyst for the stock. Beyond that, the company has also opened a superstore in California.

Yet the analyst stated that right now, Planet 13 appears expensive as it has an EV/EBITDA multiple of 13.8x or a roughly 81% premium to the broader peer group. Still, he doesn’t think the 2022 outlook tells the whole story for the retailer. Looking even further out to 2023 results, Planet 13 has plans to open another store in Chicago now that it has a license through a joint venture and it acquired a Harvest license in Florida.

“We anticipate additional expansion even beyond those two initiatives coming given the company’s well-capitalized balance sheet and management’s stated initiative of having at least eight Superstore locations open within the next five years,” wrote the analyst. He suggested Planet 13 could potentially buy smaller assets that could be built out and more stores in tourist-friendly cities. He also thinks Planet 13 could be a target for a larger MSO to acquire.

 


Debra BorchardtOctober 13, 2021
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9min12540

If you are a first-time attendee at the MJ Biz conference or even if you are a veteran, we are going to try to help streamline your time at the event. Green Market Report has pulled together the top ten things you must put in your calendar while at the convention center. You’re welcome. 

 

  1. If you want to get the event started with as much background as possible, tune into the opening session by MJBiz President and CEO Chris Walsh on Wednesday at 9am. Since the last in-person event, multiple states, some traditionally more conservative than others, have legalized new medical and adult-use cannabis programs. Walsh will bring everyone up to speed on the industry on existing markets with a nod toward the M&A landscape and any legislative movement in D.C.
  2. The exhibitor floor.  While some people complain it’s too big and others complain that it’s mostly cultivators and processors (giant extraction setups are not your thing?) It is still the main attraction. Walking the floor you are sure to run into someone you know and are likely to meet someone new. Bring lots of those old-fashioned business cards. You’ll likely run out of them on the first day. The press booth is located in the middle of the floor as beleaguered journalists are mobbed by PR professionals eager to get their clients a mention or interview. Be nice to the journalists and feed them as they have limited budgets.
  3. You’ll have to wait until Friday to see keynote speaker Daymond John (Fubu/Shark Tank) speak. Instead of opening the event, he will deliver a closing keynote on Friday at 9am. John is known for his advice to start-up companies and has also invested in many that have appeared on Shark Tank. While numerous celebrities have gotten into the cannabis industry, John so far looks to have stayed away from the industry. Still, MJ Biz is hoping his wisdom for entrepreneurs will send the MJ Biz attendees away with inspiration and motivation to be successful.
  4. Psychedelics – There has been a huge crossover between the cannabis industry and the psychedelics industry.  The Psychedelics Market Panel on Friday at 11:45 will address cannabis operators and investors who continue to gravitate toward this new opportunity. It will also address the parallels to the early days of the legal cannabis market and why this space will develop differently. Daniel Goldberg, Co-Founder & Partner, The Palo Santo Fund will be on the panel highlighting the outlook for the market moving forward for investors and operators.
  5. MJBizCon is making industry numbers fun and interactive by sharing consumer and market trends in the cannabis and CBD industries game-show style. Get the most up-to-date data and trend insights from industry analysts and operators. The panel on Friday at 10:30 is headed up by some of the top women in the tech side of cannabis  Jessica Billingsley CEO of Akerna (NASDAQ: KERN), Carmen Brace CEO of Aclara and Liz Connors the VP Of Data and Analytics at Headset.
  6. Entrepreneurs may find that the ancillary space is the easiest way to get your foot in the door to this rapidly growing industry and this panel on Thursday at 10:15 will provide the insights needed to find the best opportunities in the growing, ancillary landscape. Patrick Rea, a Managing Director at Poseidon, one of the top venture capital firms in the cannabis industry will be on the panel. In 2013, Patrick founded CanopyBoulder, a seed-stage, mentorship-driven business accelerator, and investment fund focused on data, fintech, software, and IoT in the cannabis industry as well as hemp/CBD businesses.
  7. Sevenpoint Interiors always wows the floor with its retail layout. This year’s booth is all about the industry eye-catching “Focus on Flower”. The firm is launching a series of innovations dedicated to improving the customer experience when shopping for flower cannabis at dispensaries. Their newest development, The Flower Globe is an innovative display accessory and technology. It allows consumers to check out the flower without compromising it.
  8. It grows like a weed, say many people in the cannabis industry. That is until you have to deal with mold, pests, water, and lights. David Kessler, CEO of Agrify will be on a panel on Thursday at 3pm that will give tips on maximizing cultivation yields and best practices for growers. When cultivators are facing intense competition, they need to grow the cleanest cannabis for the most economical price. This panel will combine tech know-how with plant-growing secrets.
  9. Hawthorne, the hydroponic subsidiary of Scott’s Miracle-Gro (NYSE: SMG) is hosting its own conference in a conference called the Hawthorne House that will be happening all three days. Thursday at 1:30 is a social justice panel featuring Steve D’Angelo, Jeanette Horton, and Roz McCarthy. But what you really want to do is go by on Friday when they will have an R&D open house. Stop by and ask the experts anything about equipment ownership, irrigation, and more.
  10. Hall of Flowers Experience – If you haven’t been able to go out to California for a real HOF event, then this is the next best thing. It might motivate you to go to their next event in Palm Springs if you like this one.  Here’s a partial list of just some of the fab suppliers you can meet:
  • Big Island Grown Dispensaries
  • Bud’s Goods & Provisions Corp.
  • Buddies Brand
  • Buddy Boy Farms
  • Canndescent Brands
  • Country Cannabis
  • Ember Valley
  • Green Life Productions
  • Hype
  • Kiva Confections
  • Leune
  • NUG
  • Riverview Farms Inc.
  • Select
  • Stanley Brothers USA
  • Willie’s Reserve

Debra BorchardtOctober 12, 2021
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13min26070

Before COVID, the MJ Business Daily Conference in Las Vegas was the “go to” event for people in the cannabis industry. Over 30,000 people attended the last pre-pandemic conference as a testament to its popularity. Also in the past during the MJBiz event, there have been several other events that have tried to ride the coattails of the massive conference. The thought behind such a strategy is that if so many industry people are going to be there, why not try to capitalize on that?  

So there have been investor events, women-focused events, etc. However, they mostly complemented the main event versus competing head-on. That has changed this year. Former MJ Biz executive George Jage, who is often credited with making the MJ Biz event so successful, is hosting his own conference called MJ Unpacked. During the same time and at the literal opposite side of Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay hotel. 

The biggest difference between the two is that Unpacked is narrowly targeted on retail and brands with a  vetted investor attendance, while MJBiz has something for everyone. Although it could be argued that the exhibitor floor tends to skew heavily towards cultivation and production. 

Also, if you’ve ever been to MJ Biz, you learn that a large portion of your budget goes to car services. The Las Vegas Convention Center, where MJ Biz is located,  isn’t the place to have a very private meeting and while MJ Biz did create a separate meeting area for companies at the last in-person event, many meetings often take place at hotels outside of the convention hall. Hence, the copious amount of time and money spent on car services – not to mention the grueling line waiting for a cab or car service. Now with a split focus, attendees will be forced to choose how much time to spend at each (if attempting to attend each event) and the expense of traveling back and forth. 

Scott Jordan the founder of Alternative Finance Network said, “I will be attending both shows in Vegas this month and see tremendous value in both opportunities. As someone who has attended MJBiz since 2012, my view is that it’s great to have a show that is as segmented as this show will be. I also look forward to seeing what George will put together for Unpacked, which will have a more intimate feel. Both shows will offer very different experiences but a ton of value in terms of education, networking opportunities, and connecting with peers in the industry.”

While Dhaval Shah said, “Competing events at the same time doesn’t benefit anyone or any side. Go to one and lose out on connections at the other and vice versa.” He went on to say, “Just doesn’t make sense if you ask me. If I could give advice to people going to Vegas, I would say skip both events and just network at the after parties and set up lunch meetings. That’s what most veterans do anyways.”

Shah is right. There are many people within the industry who don’t even go to the conference and instead set up camp at a hotel and have the meetings come to them. However, that still puts the onus on the attendees to make time management choices. We’re going to try to help attendees understand the differences between the two competing events so they can plan accordingly.

MJ Biz

MJ Biz President Chris Walsh said this year’s registration is in line with its expectations and ahead of its internal expectations. The event had planned to be hybrid in case people had COVID concerns but the organizers said that most people are opting for the in-person ticket. The huge exhibitor floor has traditionally leaned towards cultivators and processors, but there are booths from just about every aspect of the industry. Growing tables, hydroponic products from lights to soil, packaging companies, and extractor machines command many of the big booth setups which is why it sometimes feels like they are the majority of companies on the floor. Walsh said the event has expanded its floor to accommodate wider aisles to give attendees the option for better social distancing. It is currently boasting over 1,000 exhibitors and 250,000+ square feet of floor space. 

Not long ago, MJ Biz announced that it too would have a brand component to the show with the addition of a Hall of Flowers (HOF) event. No doubt an attempt to fend off the Unpacked competition. Typically Hall of Flowers events happen in California and are purely brands and most are there to secure dispensary business. However, HOF events are known for the copious amounts of products sold on-site at deep discounts, whereas the Vegas Convention Hall has specifically stated no THC product can be on site. Chris Walsh of MJ Biz described it more as a Hall of Flowers “experience.” The brands can’t have products or sell products so it is most likely going to be booths of companies with empty packages. So far it looks as if there are less than 20 brands planned for the HOF Experience.

MJ Biz is also not playing around with its celebrity keynote speaker Daymond John, who is the Founder/CEO of FUBU, Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, and Star of ABC’s Shark Tank and CEO of The Shark Group. Walsh believes that successful people from other industries can provide wisdom and insight that can be applied to cannabis. There are over 80 speakers scheduled and the sessions cover basically every aspect of the industry. There are four forums being held the day before the actual event begins covering investing, science, hemp and regional associations.  There is also a big focus on hemp with the Hemp Industry Daily Forum and the numerous sessions on hemp. 

With MJBiz being the main focus of the week, attendees are sure to see whomever they want if they go to the convention hall. There won’t be long lines at registration of previous in-person MJBiz events since pre-registration is required. 

Walsh said he certainly welcomes the parties and sanctioned side events for MJ Biz, but conceded that the competing event isn’t helpful to attendees who have to make a choice or try to split time. He believes MJ Biz does cover the retail side of the business and it is true that many sessions address retail issues. There are separate sanctioned events for MJ Biz but the women’s reception and the equity reception cost extra. If you want to use the podcast row, that costs extra too. The price to attend starts at $399 and goes up from there. 

MJ Unpacked

MJ Unpacked is a relatively new entrant to the cannabis conference stage. Jage had the unfortunate luck to launch the company right as the pandemic began. He pivoted to virtual events as did many event organizers, so this will be one of his first real in-person conferences. MJ Unpacked bills itself as a brand and retail-focused conference. The conference sessions feature brand and retail experts to discuss pitfalls and success strategies. Retail and brand pain points plus best practices are also a focus. 

Jage believes that his event will foster venture capital relationships. Cannabis retailers can get in for free, while others pay $349. There will be special private investor suites on-site at what he dubs the VC Central location. All investors must be accredited. Jage believes too much time is wasted for cannabis companies at MJBiz with newbie investors picking people’s brains. Unpacked says there are 12 hand-picked companies that will pitch to 500 investors. There will also be a special gong on the showroom floor where parties can ring the gong if a deal has been done. 

Unpacked has also created a casual game area to foster conversations between companies and investors. In addition, the event is going high-tech with brand towers and an app where interested parties can connect. The idea was to allow companies to be untethered from their booths, which also cost much less than a booth at MJBiz. 

There will be exclusive parties broken out with one for retailers and one for brands and a benefit concert featuring the Blues Brothers. Cannabis entrepreneur Jim Belushi will be joined by his late brother’s bandmate Dan Akroyd for the show. Proceeds from the show will go towards the Last Prisoner Project and Jage is hoping to raise $150,000-$200,000. 

Unpacked’s keynote also features Belushi, who owns a cannabis farm and has starred in a reality TV show based on running the farm. He is joined by Christie Hefner, who served as the Chairperson and CEO of Playboy Enterprises from 1988 to 2009. Like MJ Biz, Jage believes outside industry speakers can bring value to the audience. Unfortunately for Unpacked, the session speakers aren’t necessarily the company CEO’s as MJBiz has a non-compete agreement of sorts for its speakers. MJBiz says it wants fresh content for its sessions and got a much earlier start in locking down speakers. 

Ultimately, Jage believes the days of a conference where cannabis companies go shopping for a light bulb are over. With so much consolidation, big MSO’s are the main purchasers and he thinks they already know who they want to do business with. Instead, Jage believes the future for cannabis events lies with brands and that is why he is focused on that for Unpacked.

 

Next Up: Ten Things To Look For At MJ Biz & Ten Things To Look For MJ Unpacked


Debra BorchardtOctober 11, 2021
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7min15040

TILT Holdings Inc.  (NEO: TILT) (OTCQX: TLLTF) has formed a new partnership with the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a federally recognized Native American tribe living on their traditional lands on Long Island, N.Y., to establish vertical cannabis operations on their aboriginal tribal territory in the Hamptons.

“We are proud to help create an entry into the cannabis industry that will be impactful for the Shinnecock Nation,” said Gary Santo, CEO of TILT Holdings. “To date, Indigenous people have been largely excluded from the social equity conversation across the country. This partnership — which is a true partnership in every sense — is a step forward in creating social equity for the Nation. We believe our expertise in cannabis operations along with Shinnecock’s thought-leadership and cultural connection to plant medicine will deliver economic growth for the region, while cementing the Nation as a leader in cannabis operations among Indigenous communities.”

Through a joint venture with the Nation’s cannabis project development firm Conor Green, TILT said it will finance, build and provide management services for the vertical cannabis operations of the Shinnecock Nation’s wholly owned cannabis business, Little Beach Harvest. The combination of TILT’s cannabis industry expertise with Shinnecock’s long history of understanding and use of plant medicine for healing will serve as the foundation of a truly unique and socially equitable partnership in the cannabis industry.

“This is an exciting and momentous opportunity for our Nation,” said Chenae Bullock, member of the Shinnecock Nation and Managing Director of Little Beach Harvest. “As the wealth gap in the U.S. has grown wider and wider, it is economic development opportunities like this that will help our tribe bridge the gap. Through our partnership with TILT, we will not only create dozens of jobs and jump-start careers, but will also cultivate business relationships with other tribal business owners, generating growth for Indigenous communities.”

Shinnecock Nation Chairman Bryan Polite added, “Over the past few years, we have been working diligently to ensure that the Shinnecock Nation will be a responsible and positive addition to the New York cannabis market. We have been impressed by TILT’s commitment to building such an equitable partnership and believe that they bring the right kind of expertise at precisely the right time to help us become a leading operator in the emerging New York cannabis market.”

Tribes Jumping Into Cannabis

Many Native American tribes are taking a hard look at entering the cannabis space. The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah said it was exploring getting into the medical cannabis business. Currently in Las Vegas, the NuWu Cannabis dispensary is owned by the Paiute Tribe. NuWu means “the people” in Southern Paiute and it is located on the tribe’s “colony” one mile away from the neon-lit Fremont Street Experience. At the beginning of the pandemic, NuWu became the go-to dispensary because it was the only one with a drive-thru window.  NuWu also operated the first consumption lounge in Vegas.

The Native American Cannabis Alliance formed a joint venture with Tim Houseberg, the executive director of Cherokee Nation-based Native Health Matters Foundation, and Everscore, the first direct-to-consumer marketplace for THC and CBD products. They signed three memorandums of understanding with indigenous farmers from tribes including Mohawk Nation, and Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Nations. The ground-breaking agreements will oversee the transformation of over 500,000 acres of tribal farmland into cannabis farming that will include agricultural services, the creation of manufacturing campuses to process the cannabis, and workforce development, with products to be sold on the Everscore online marketplace.

Cannabis History Of Native Americans

While some historians claim that cannabis was likely included in sacramental pipes that Native Americans smoked, others believe that isn’t possible. That group says that cannabis hadn’t been introduced to America at that time and that it didn’t come over until the Vikings brought it or some believe that the explorers of the Columbus era introduced hemp to America. Still, there has been documented evidence of hemp fibers in Native American clothing giving support to the argument that it did exist.

Emerald Magazine has posted a list of indigenous-owned cannabis businesses contains more than 100 retailers and is updated regularly.


Debra BorchardtOctober 8, 2021
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4min11490

It was a massive “Oooops we Goofed” from Curaleaf (OTC: CURLF). the company accidentally sold CBD products that had THC in them. The third lawsuit against Curaleaf has now been filed by an elderly man named Michael Lopez. His case now joins Jason Crawforth and Kathleen Menard who have both filed lawsuits in September saying they also purchased and consumed “Select CBD Drops” in Oregon that affected them. Curaleaf said in a statement at the time, “After our preliminary investigation, we believe this mistake occurred due to unintentional human error.”

Lopez’s lawsuit claims that he was “taken by ambulance to the emergency room out of concerns he was having a stroke, and he experienced harm including unnecessary surgery, fear
of death, unwanted confusion, stress, anxiety, psychosis, discomfort, and distress lasting several hours, and interference with life activities.” Also included in the lawsuit is Lopez’s granddaughter Amy Cantu. She says she experienced harm including unwanted nausea, dizziness, tunnel vision, weakness, confusion, discomfort, and distress lasting several hours. His daughter Susan Lopez-Henri also claimed that she took the drops and experienced harm including feelings of being intoxicated despite being in recovery, possibly requiring her to start a new clean date, unwanted confusion, stress, anxiety, discomfort, and interference with her sobriety and life activities.

Oregon Recall

Oregon regulators have said that a Curaleaf manufacturing facility made a mistake that resulted in hundreds of mislabeled bottles, and that at least a dozen other consumers also took the THC-tainted drops. In September, The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission has issued a mandatory recall for a product labeled as a hemp tincture that can get consumers “high” because the product contains undisclosed levels of THC. Consumers using this mislabeled product may become unexpectedly impaired. The recall is for an item labeled as a hemp CBD tincture produced by Cura CS, LLC, and sold under its Select brand. The specific batch of this product Select CBD Drops “Broad Spectrum” Unflavored 1000 MG CBD was only available for purchase through OLCC licensed retailers. ThOLCC then expanded the recall to include Select Tincture 30mL THC Drops – 1000mg Unflavored which is only available for sale at OLCC licensed retailers. The OLCC has conducted preliminary tests of the Select Tincture 30mL THC Drops – 1000mg Unflavored and found that it does NOT contain any detectable THC.
The expanded recall affects Select Tincture 30mL THC Drops – 1000mg Unflavored that was produced on May 14, 2021. The OLCC estimates about 630 units were sold beginning June 29, 2021 and about 130 units are still on the shelves of OLCC retailers.

“We have worked with the [Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission] to recall the two batches in question, and the limited number of remaining units have been removed from sale,” Curaleaf said to Law360. “We sincerely apologize to all customers impacted by this mistake, and we will actively return responses from anyone who reaches out.”

Other Cases

Lopez’s case joins Crawfords who also went to the emergency room after taking the drops. He claimed he needed immediate medical treatment in the Emergency Room, and was unable to drive a car. He also said he had unwanted anxiety, acute psychosis, discomfort, and distress. Menard didn’t say she needed medical attention but did say she had experienced “unwanted hallucinations, confusion, stress, anxiety, psychosis, discomfort, and distress lasting over 24 hours.”

 

 


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