Staff, Author at Green Market Report - Page 2 of 52

StaffStaffOctober 3, 2019
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5min4230

Milan Patel leads the strategic vision, financial health and global growth of PathogenDx, a Scottsdale, AZ based company which provides disruptive DNA-based pathogen testing technology and solutions for the cannabis, botanical, food and agricultural industries. 

Previously, Mr. Patel spent over 25 years working with large public, small private and entrepreneurial companies in numerous fields from the life sciences, to biotechnology, to government services and the automotive industry. Milan served as COO/CFO of GMSbiotech. He also was CFO of 2020 Company, LLC, a leading premier professional services firm that delivered business and technology solutions to the government, in the areas of health, education and science. 

Mr. Patel also worked at Intel Corporation in Sales & Marketing, Finance and Manufacturing. He has extensive experience in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, business strategy and planning, infrastructure and organizational development, and controls, compliance and audit and has led several company exits. 

Milan earned his BS in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy; a MS in Biomedical/Medical Engineering, University of Michigan; and a MBA in Finance and Marketing, University of Detroit Mercy.

 

Title: CEO

Company: PathogenDx

Years at current company: since founding (Almost 5 years)

 

GMR Executive Spotlight Q&A:

 

Most successful professional accomplishment before cannabis: Milan spent over 25 years working with large public, small private and entrepreneurial companies in numerous fields, from the life sciences to biotechnology to government services and even the automotive industry. He previously served as COO/CFO of GMSbiotech and CFO of 2020 Company, LLC, a leading premier professional services firm that delivered business and technology solutions to the government in the areas of health, education and science.  Has exited to two companies in Federal Government and Healthcare IT. 

Company Mission: Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, PathogenDx’s mission is to become the new standard in DNA-based testing through widespread adoption of its advanced microarray testing platform for the cannabis, hemp, agriculture, food and beverage industries. PathogenDx’s technology can rapidly identify and detect up to 50 pathogens all in a single test, in 6 hours providing triplicate data per analyte for certainty in results with a simple and easy process. The company’s DNA-testing products – DetectX™, QuantX™, and EnviroX™– are disrupting the century-old practice of petri-dish testing to identify, detect and quantify pathogens like E. Coli, Salmonella and Aspergillus and a host of other bacterial and fungal microbial organisms in a fraction of the time, cost and labor to conventional methods that have been used by industries worldwide in microbial/pathogen testing. This technology will help growing businesses deliver safer products and healthier lives, while preventing millions of dollars in losses from contaminated or spoiled crops. 

Company’s most successful achievement: We’ve been successful in commercializing our disruptive, game-changing technology in the form of three separate products into cannabis to become the predominant microbial testing technology in the cannabis sector. 

Has the company raised any capital (yes or no): yes

If so, how much?: PathogenDx recently announced that they raised $7.5M in their Series B funding round, led by Cresco Capital Partners and joined by Altitude Investment Management, Arcadian Investment Partners, Panther Opportunity Fund, Salveo Capital, Halley Venture Partners and Flatiron Venture Partners.

Previously, PathogenDx raised $3.4M in a Convertible Note Round.

Any plans on raising capital in the future? Yes – we plan to raise more capital in order to scale and grow into other markets 

Most important company 5 year goal: PathogenDx aims to become the emerging microbial/pathogen technology of choice in Cannabis, Hemp, Food, Environmental, Agriculture and Healthcare – and ultimately become the gold-standard in microbial testing.

 


StaffStaffOctober 2, 2019
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6min2050

It’s time for your Daily Hit of cannabis financial news for October 2, 2019.

On The Site

Vape Recovery

Vape products, once considered the rising stars of the legal cannabis marketplace have struggled under the weight of the vaping crisis. Massachusetts banned all vape products for four months in order to err on the side of caution while the issue is investigated. Around the middle of August, vape product sales began dropping according to data from Headset, however, it seems the group may be slowly recovering.

Sales in Nevada and Washington both began to pick back up, while California seems to have stabilized. Most consumers are learning that the issues with vapes stemmed from products purchased outside the regulated channels. 

Canopy Growth

Canopy Growth Corporation  (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC)  has completed an all-cash transaction to purchase a majority stake in sports nutrition company BioSteel Sports Nutrition Inc. The amount of the acquisition was not disclosed. The deal gives Canopy a significant entry into the sports nutrition and hydration category and lays the groundwork for cannabidiol (CBD) products to be sold in the U.S.

Canopy Rivers

Venture capital firm Canopy Rivers Inc.  (TSX: RIV)(OTC: CNPOF) completed a $10 million investment ( in TerrAscend Canada Inc., a subsidiary of its portfolio company TerrAscend Corp. (CSE: TER)(OTCQX: TRSSF). The investment includes the purchase of 13,243 units, with each unit consisting of: (i) one unsecured convertible debenture of TerrAscend Canada with a principal amount of CA $1,000, and (ii) 25.2 common share purchase warrants of TerrAscend exercisable until October 2, 2024.

In Other News

TILT Holdings

TILT Holdings Inc.  (CSE: TILT) (OTCQB: TLLTF) has negotiated an agreement with six of its remaining founders regarding the immediate forfeiture of all 60,217,088 stock options granted at the time of the merger, as well as the final separation of most of these founders from the Company. During the second quarter of fiscal 2019, the company reported stock-based compensation expense of greater than $47 million associated with these now forfeited stock options. Adjusting for the subsequent forfeiture, TILT’s Q2 2019 net loss of $48.9 million would have been almost entirely reduced, bringing the Company close to break-even. The successful forfeiture of these stock options follows the recent announcement of an adjusted EBITDA positive month of July

HeavenlyRx

HeavenlyRx Ltd. Acquired CBD company PureKana. Under the agreement, HeavenlyRx will acquire a majority ownership stake from the Company’s founding members with the acquisition expected to close by the end of 2019. Standing alongside HeavenlyRx’s high ethos and quality standards, PureKana – located in Scottsdale, Arizona – is a rapidly growing CBD brand and company with a large consumer base that leans toward a young and active demographic.

Westleaf

Westleaf Inc. (TSX-V:WL) (OTCQB:WSLFF) signed amendment agreements to two of its existing credit facility commitment letters with ATB Financial resulting in an additional $5.7 million of capital available for use by the Company. Westleaf has increased its term loan on The Plant, its fully completed extraction, manufacturing and product formulation facility, by $2.7 million and has secured a $1.0 million revolving credit facility to assist with working capital provided that any draw downs in relation thereto can only be made after final receipt of a standard processing license for The Plant from Health Canada. In addition, the credit facility related to the construction of Westleaf’s cultivation facility in Battleford, Saskatchewan has been amended to reduce its restricted cash requirement by $2.0 million.


StaffStaffOctober 2, 2019
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6min3790

Tim Conder’s business emphasis has always been focused around delivery. His entrepreneurial journey began with the co-founding of Bootleg Courier Company, a bike messenger business in Reno. Tim found himself parlaying that expertise into a cannabis delivery business when the prohibition ended. 

Since founding Blackbird in 2015, Mr. Conder has overseen the rapid growth of his business in two of the most robust cannabis markets—California and Nevada. Under Tim’s leadership, Blackbird has efficiently navigated the complex regulatory structures of both states, and currently operates five fully licensed cannabis distribution facilities across the region with plans to expand into several additional markets in 2019.  

Tim’s success is founded is his philosophy that if you build good relationships, success will follow, “[Blackbird is] a great technology company. But the thing we do better than anyone else is build relationships. That’s why we are a customer service company first and foremost; the software and services are secondary.”  

Tim joined TILT Holdings as Senior Vice President of Software and Services following TILT’s acquisition of Blackbird Logistics, a company he founded. He was then promoted to COO of TILT Holdings in July of 2019 as Chief Operations Officer.

 

Title: Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer; also Chief Operating Officer at TILT Holdings

Company: Blackbird Logistics

Years at current company: Five

 

GMR Executive Spotlight Q&A:

Most successful professional accomplishment before cannabis: That would be founding and operating a highly successful courier company for 10 years in Reno, Nevada, at a time when the courier industry was in rapid decline. Bootleg Courier Company was an environmentally-friendly messenger business that promised fast deliveries via bike and fuel-efficient vehicles. Since its founding in 2008, Bootleg pedaled to completion over 50,000 deliveries.

The experience not only helped establish the logistics and delivery expertise that laid the foundation for Blackbird, we were able to continuously grow the business year after year, adding more and more employees along the way.

Company Mission: Be the best. Blackbird strives every day to service our clients and customers as efficiently and humanly as possible. People are everything. Blackbird’s value is derived directly from the happiness of our clients and fulfillment of our staff. We believe there is value in treating our employees with dignity and respect. That is why our mantra is to be good people and help good people.

Company’s most successful achievement: Gaining nearly 100% penetration in two of the largest and most robust cannabis markets in the world – California and Nevada. It has helped make us the largest software and logistics company in the cannabis industry.

Blackbird was the first to receive a license to distribute recreational cannabis to Nevada’s dispensaries, and now handles about 95% of all the state’s distribution.  We’ve since penetrated every retail market within California.

It wasn’t an easy achievement. We had to overcome a significant challenge from “Big Alcohol,” which

lobbied Nevada’s liquor lawmakers to pass a law allowing only liquor wholesalers to distribute products.  Instead of surrendering, we quickly secured our own liquor distribution license and used it to score the state’s first cannabis distribution license. Blackbird’s knowledge of medical cannabis distribution and logistics combined with our nimbleness gave us a first-mover advantage, enabling Blackbird to lock up most of the state’s distribution deals before the alcohol wholesalers could even start the process of filing for a license.

Has the company raised any capital (yes or no): Yes

If so, how much?: Blackbird was mostly bootstrapped from savings and personal investments from friends and family. As we grew, we ultimately raised around another $1.2 million before being acquired by TILT Holdings for approximately $5 million cash and $45 million in securities.

Any plans on raising capital in the future? Not at this time.

Most important company 5 year goal: Our long-term goal is to be in every possible legal cannabis market in some way, shape or form with our operations and software infrastructure. Having succeeded in Nevada and California, we plan to expand our business footprint into Massachusetts and Arizona next, and then to each and every other state that legalizes recreational and medical cannabis.

 

 


StaffStaffOctober 1, 2019
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4min1420

It’s time for your Daily Hit of cannabis financial news for October 1, 2019.

On The Site

Fire & Flower

Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. (TSX: FAF) its financial results for the second fiscal quarter ending August 3, 2019, with total revenue of $11.1 million versus $9.5 million for the same time period in 2018. The net loss for the quarter was $6.4 million versus last year’s net loss of $4.2 million for the same quarter. The net loss per share remained flat at ($0.06).

Fire & Flower‘s financial and operational results for the quarter demonstrate that the company is continuing to build the infrastructure required to support the rapid growth of our retail network and deliver on our objectives,” shared Trevor Fencott, Fire & Flower’s, Chief Executive Officer. “Our strategic partnership with Alimentation Couche-Tard is transformative for the Company and the Hifyre digital retail platform continues to showcase Fire & Flower as a leading data-driven, ‘retail 2.0’ company.”

New Video from the Green Market Summit

Some customers want the best bang for the buck, while others only want the best. This panel from the Green Market Summit on September 11 in Los Angeles demonstrates what defines a luxury brand and how a company can back up the premium description on the label. Moderating this panel is Alyssa Jank of the Brightfield Group. The panelists include Tracey Mason, CEO House of Saka, Eric Eslao, CEO Défoncé, Yvonne De La Rosa, Founder 99 High Tide, and Estella Perez of the Garden Society.

In Other News

Grown Rogue International Inc. (CSE:GRIN | OTC: GRUSF) has released its financial and operating results for its fiscal third quarter ended July 31, 2019. Third quarter 2019 revenue was $0.8 million, a 14% increase over the comparable quarter from 2018. Adjusted Gross Profit was $0.2 million for the third quarter (31%) and $1.0 million for the year-to-date (29%). The quarterly margin rate represents a 12% improvement over the prior quarter (Q2 2019). Adjusted EBITDA was ($1.2) million for the third quarter, representing a $0.2m improvement over the comparable quarter in 2018. The net loss was $931,000.

TriGrow

Washington-based TriGrow made some key hires. TriGrow Brands is headed up by two very different execs with diverse branding backgrounds – former Coca Cola COO Phil Humphries and DOPE Magazine co-founder Trek Manzoni. TriGrow brought in Phil Humphries as they aim to create a full-service agency allowing cannabis cultivators to grow into consistent and efficient operators that have the capability to expand as much as they like. Like the ingredients that go into making Coca Cola a worldwide-recognized brand, TriGrow argues that the backbone of a brand is its ability to recreate the same product over and over – despite weather conditions or bugs or mold, common destroyers of cannabis crops that can be avoided using TriGrow Systems.

StaffStaffSeptember 30, 2019
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4min1740

It’s time for your Daily Hit of cannabis financial news for September 30, 2019.

On The Site

iAnthus

Gotham Green Partners has invested an additional $20 million in iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc. (CSE: IAN)(OTCQX: ITHUF) through the purchase of senior secured convertible notes. Green Gotham said it was part of a broader $100 million financing plan to support the buildout of all existing markets in which iAnthus currently operates.

iAnthus has been building its market share at a rapid pace. Over the past 16 months, Chief Operating Officer Pat Tiernan said in a statement that the company currently has 27 open dispensaries, 11 of which have opened in the last ten months and the company is aggressively working to open another 12 in the next six months. Tiernan added, “We are growing in each of our markets and are one of the only MSOs that has meaningful revenue in multiple states, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massa

PathogenDX

Arizona-based DNA testing technology company PathogenDx, Inc. announced $7.5 million in Series B funding. This latest investment round was led by Cresco Capital Partners with participation from Altitude Investment Management, Arcadian Investment Partners, Panther Opportunity Fund LLC, Salveo Capital, Flatiron Venture Partners, and other investors. PathogenDx was able to close this round of funding in just under three months.

PathogenDx wants to become the new standard in DNA-based testing through widespread adoption of its advanced microarray testing platform for the cannabis, hemp, agriculture, food, and beverage industries. PathogenDx’s technology can rapidly identify and detect up to 50 pathogens all in a single test, in 6 hours providing triplicate data per analyte for certainty in results with a simple and easy process. This additional capital raise will allow PathogenDx to continue expanding its breakthrough technology into food and agriculture testing while continuing to build on its leadership position with a current portfolio of domestic and international clients in the cannabis industry.

In Other News

High Tide

High Tide Inc. (CSE:HITI) (OTCQB:HITIF) an Alberta-based, retail-focused cannabis corporation enhanced by the manufacturing and wholesale distribution of smoking accessories and cannabis lifestyle products, has filed its financial results for the third fiscal quarter of 2019 ending July 31.

Revenue in the third quarter increased by 281%, to C$8 million from C$2 million for the same period in the previous year. Gross margin increased by 160%, to $3 million from $1 million in the same period in 2018, primarily due to an increase in sales volume.

48North

48North Cannabis Corp. (TSXV: NRTH) released its financial and operating results for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019. The company delivered net revenue of $4,820,000, marking 48North’s first full year of revenue, but a net loss of $8.1 million. In fiscal 2019, the company raised over $48 million and at the end of the year had $52.7 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand. As a result, 48North believes it is well capitalized to execute on its business plan.


StaffStaffSeptember 30, 2019
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3min2610

Judy Yee is the co-CEO and co-founder of K-Zen Beverages, a new cannabis drinkables company committed to sharing the benefits of cannabis beverages by delivering consistent formulas, crave-able flavors, and rapid, predictable effects. A seasoned executive with 20+ years in healthy food & beverage, Judy’s expertise in new product innovation along with her passion for bringing fresh and healthier products to consumers are the driving forces behind her work to create great tasting cannabis beverages and brands people deeply enjoy and trust. Prior to K-Zen Beverages, Judy served as the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Innovation for Crystal Geyser Water Company, re-igniting company growth through new products, eCommerce and new market expansions. She was an early pioneer in expanding the consumer adoption and accessibility of organic food as Chief Marketing Officer at Earthbound Farm.. Judy has served on Boards of nonprofit organizations focusing on women leadership and development, environmental stewardship and advised various early-stage CPG Companies.

Title: Co-founder and Co-CEO

Company:K-Zen

Years at current company: Less than 1 Year

 

GMR Executive Spotlight Q&A:

Most successful professional accomplishment before cannabis: My most successful professional accomplishment before coming to cannabis was establishing organics food and beverage as an iconic category. 

Company Mission: K-Zen Beverages is committed to becoming a leader in the emerging cannabis beverage category. Its mission is to share the benefits of cannabis beverages by delivering consistent formulas, craveable flavors and rapid, predictable effects. 

Company’s most successful achievement: We launched our first brand, S-Shots, since the company’s founding within the last 6 months. 

Has the company raised any capital (yes or no): Yes. if so, how much?: In 2019, K-Zen announced $5 million in seed funding from global venture capital firm DCM. 

Any plans on raising capital in the future? Yes, likely in 2020 

Most important company 5 year goal: Our foremost goal is to establish K-Zen as the most preferred consumer brands for cannabis beverages over the next five years.


StaffStaffSeptember 27, 2019
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3min2410

Jeffrey Harris is Founder and CEO of springbig, a customer loyalty platform for the cannabis industry. springbig uses SMS, loyalty marketing, and other tools to encourage repeat business for cannabis retailers. Prior to spingbig, Harris founded a loyalty marketing company (Inte Q) which focused on developing and managing data driven programs for large retail and financial services firms.

Title: Co-Founder and CEO

Company: springbig

Years at current company: 7 years

 

GMR Executive Spotlight Q&A:

Most successful professional accomplishment before cannabis: Prior to spingbig, I founded a Loyalty Marketing Company (Inte Q) which focuses on developing and managing data driven loyalty and CRM programs for large retail and financial services firms.

Company Mission: Initially founded in 2012 and launched in the cannabis industry in 2017, springbig is the leading provider in customer-loyalty and digital communications solutions for dispensaries and cannabis retailers.  With customers across the United States, springbig is helping dispensaries & cannabis retailers keep their own customers connected and engaged while allowing the store owners to track their inevitable success and ROI of their loyalty program and marketing campaigns in real-time.

Company’s most successful achievement: In the emerging cannabis industry, springbig has reached a historic milestone. We have signed up over 8,000,000 consumers through our cannabis-focused customer loyalty program. Through partnerships with some of the leading POS providers in the cannabis space — including Flowhub, BioTrackTHC, MJ Freeway, Treez, Korona, LeafLogix, GreenBits, Blaze, and Cova — springbig has worked alongside retailers to send over 50,000 campaigns by way of over 225,000,000 text messages (130 million just in 2019) — and has seen close to over 740,000 rewards redeemed in return. Our dedication and expertise has allowed retailers to see immediate and significant ROIs on their marketing initiatives. 

Has the company raised any capital (yes or no): Yes

if so, how much?: 9.7 million

Any plans on raising capital in the future? Still undetermined but seriously considering raising a B round.

Most important company 5 year goal: Create a unique marketing ecosystem where retailers and brands can effectively communicate with cannabis consumers to drive brand awareness, omnichannel store traffic and sales growth that benefit both the industries brands and retailers.


StaffStaffSeptember 26, 2019
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4min1910

It’s time for your Daily Hit of cannabis financial news for September 26, 2019.

On The Site

House Takes First Step To Pass the SAFE Banking Act

In a showing of bipartisan support, the House of Congress voted 321 to 103 to pass the SAFE Banking Act.  Of those voting yes, 229 were Democrats and 91 were Republicans.  Unity amongst Democrats was particularly strong with only one Democrat vote being in opposition.  Going forward, this overwhelming amount of party support should help assuage any fears as to whether the Democrats will continue to back the bill as it moves to Senate.

Executive Spotlight

Andrea Brooks is a serial entrepreneur and lobbyist for social change with a passion for health, wellness and design. Following a disabling injury in which cannabis played a crucial role in her recovery, Ms. Brooks was inspired to enter the cannabis space. Building on previous experience working with NGOs around the world on program development, she applies her expertise in conducting needs assessments, developing strategic partnerships and creating new revenue sources to her latest venture – Sava. Sava is a digital platform providing e-commerce solutions for curated, high-quality cannabis goods that provides access to and education about cannabis medicine to patients throughout California.

In Other News

Medicine Man

Medicine Man, which operates four recreational dispensaries and one medical dispensary in Colorado, has halted sales of all vape products that contain the ingredients propylene glycol or vitamin E acetate. This action comes on the heels of recent reports that found that chemical additives, such as vitamin E acetate, were associated with dangerous and deadly vaping-related respiratory illnesses characterized by severe pneumonia symptoms, shortness of breath, coughing, fever, fatigue, and respiratory failure.

Medicine Man has removed all vape products containing propylene glycol or vitamin E acetate from its shelves effective immediately and will continue to take precautionary steps to protect its consumers through rigorous monitoring of products available at its stores. It is committed to carrying products only of the highest quality and free of any potential chemical additives that are even remotely or potentially harmful.

Green Peak Innovations

Green Peak Innovations, Michigan’s largest holder of vertical medical marijuana licenses, today announced the completion of a $10 million round of mezzanine financing.  Green Peak Innovations will use the capital to finance its planned expansion in Michigan and beyond.

With our fourth store opening this month and another 13 scheduled to open over the next six months, we are poised to significantly ramp our sales and operations in the coming months,” CEO Jeff Radway said.  “We are well on our way to becoming Michigan’s premier cannabis company as the recreational market opens up next year.”

“Green Peak has invested significant capital into our two state-of-the-art and fully operational indoor grow facilities,” said CFO Al Gever.  “This capital raise, in conjunction with our existing partnership with Innovative Industrial Properties and expected positive cash flow, will facilitate further expansion plans and strengthen our organizational capacity to fuel our rapid growth objectives.”


StaffStaffSeptember 26, 2019
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5min3160

House Takes First Step Toward Federal Validation of the Marijuana Industry: Votes 321 to 103 to Pass the SAFE Banking Act

In a showing of bipartisan support, the House of Congress voted 321 to 103 to pass the SAFE Banking Act.  Of those voting yes, 229 were Democrats and 91 were Republicans.  Unity amongst Democrats was particularly strong with only one Democrat vote being in opposition.  Going forward, this overwhelming amount of party support should help assuage any fears as to whether the Democrats will continue to back the bill as it moves to Senate.

What the SAFE Act Means for the Industry

Currently, banks that provide services to the cannabis industry are at risk of being prosecuted under federal law.  The risk is the same for insurance companies and landlords that operate in, or provide services to, the cannabis industry.  Consequently, cannabis companies are often forced to horde cash and jump through hoops to make payment for items as simple as a utility bill; proper insurance coverage is often difficult to obtain; and options are limited for cannabis companies seeking to rent facilities for their operations.  The lack of federal legalization has not only created several operational obstacles and inefficiencies for companies involved in the cannabis ecosystem, but by forcing cannabis companies to operate only in cash it has created safety issues for employees by making them, and their places of work, targets of robbery.

Although approval of the SAFE Banking Act would not fully legalize cannabis, it would prevent the federal government from taking action against banks, insurers and landlords that provide services to cannabis companies that are operating in compliance with applicable state laws.  Not only would such legislation go a long way towards normalizing the industry, moving from a cash-only environment would significantly enhance public safety.

It should be noted that the bill does not contain provisions relating to capital markets access for cannabis companies.  Accordingly, approval of the SAFE Banking Act would not provide cannabis companies with access to the U.S. capital markets or exchanges.

Next Steps

The next step is for the Senate to consider and vote on the SAFE Banking Act.  This process is expected to occur later this year.  While some are skeptical of the SAFE Banking Act’s chances of receiving approval from a Republican-controlled Senate, there are provisions in the bill that should appeal to Republicans.  One provision addresses Operation Choke Point, a program put in place by the Obama administration that investigated banks for doing business with payday lenders, firearms dealers and other companies at higher risk for fraud and anti-money laundering.  Another provision addresses access to banking services for the hemp industry, which should be of particular importance to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his home state of Kentucky.  If the bill is passed by Senate, it would then be submitted for Presidential approval.

Approval of the SAFE Banking Act will not fully legalize cannabis, but it would represent a significant milestone for the cannabis industry by providing access to banking services, and it could also lead to the approval of other cannabis-focused policies, and possibly, full federal legalization.

Jason Wilson
Global Cannabis Industry Expert with over 15 years of experience in the asset management, finance, and structured product space, Jason has a track record of bringing hard-to-access asset classes to market. Recently, Jason was Senior Vice President at INFOR Financial Inc., a boutique investment bank that acted as advisor to Canopy Growth Corporation in connection with entering into its strategic relationship with Constellation Brands.


StaffStaffSeptember 26, 2019
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23min3370

Editors Note: This article was reprinted with the approval of the writer Mai Perkins. 

It was late spring 2018 in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, not far from Biggie’s old stomping ground, when Emmanuel Baptist church hosted a free financial empowerment workshop called Exodus: Exiting Egypt. The all-day seminar was well attended by members of the congregation and featured panels on general topics like debt relief and estate planning.

What would set this event apart from others likely to be held at churches around the country with a vested interest in their community base were two unexpected workshops: Understanding Bitcoin, and The Business of Cannabis.

Being a member of EBC, I was amazed to discover that I could explore both topics of interest at my home church in a completely judgment-free zone, and decided to attend. I understood that these just were not your average subjects among Black churchgoers, and particularly not discussed at the house of the Lord. Or so I thought!

SOURCE: BREWERS ASSOCIATION, WINE INSTITUTE, FORTUNE, CANDYINDUSTRY.COM, STATISTA AND EUROMONITOR NOTE: UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, COMPARABLE INDUSTRY FIGURES ARE FOR 2014

I’ll be honest. Part of my motivation was to attend just to see who else would be in the room. And considering the handful of people who sat around the table listening to Gia Morón, Executive Vice President of Women Grow, it didn’t really dawn on me that eight months later her organization would collaborate with Emmanuel to create the first ever church-hosted Business of Cannabis Conference.

So how did all of this come about, anyway? Ten minutes into that first low-key workshop, Reverend Anthony L. Trufant, better known as Rev., sauntered into the room to all of our amazement, and sat down to join the discussion. With great joy, he and Gia recounted a chance meeting, one that both believed was orchestrated by the hand of God.

Months earlier, they both had arrived at Penn Station on the same train and decided to share an Uber back to Brooklyn. During that divine appointment, Rev. asked Ms. Morón what she’d been up to, completely unaware that her answer would lead to a destined partnership between his church and Women Grow.

“$105 million: The estimated annual sales tax revenue generated by medical marijuana dispensaries in California, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that supports legalization.”

Her countenance lit up as Gia explained her current role with the nationwide advocacy organization that supports women with connections to help them own and lead cannabis related businesses. Admittedly, she was a little apprehensive, sharing the details of a perceived controversial, if not taboo, choice of profession.

But Gia’s conviction for and commitment to dismantling what she felt were distorted, negative imaging and factually inaccurate beliefs related to cannabis, across the board, led her to share her testimony with Reverend Trufant.

It was the passion in her words, her keen fact-based knowledge, and her personal experience that convinced Rev. that Emmanuel would not only benefit from, but welcome her message as a cannabis evangelist. Taking a risk, to Gia’s surprise, he invited her to speak at the financial empowerment workshop months later.

From that chance meeting, and two small breakout sessions up on the second floor of the church, the vision for The Business of Cannabis Conference was established. And what has come to fruition nearly a year later is a cannabis event of great proportion, never before seen within the confines of a religious institution.

Certainly not the Black Baptist church. But unlike the meeting in June, this event emerged as a hot ticket item, selling out weeks in advance to attendees with varying levels of interest in cannabis from across the country.

“$134.6 million: The amount of estimated tax revenue Maryland would earn every year if it legalized and regulated marijuana, according to a 2014 estimate from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.”

Very little was announced beforehand of what to expect beyond the workshop titles to register for during the week leading into the conference. The panels included: Acquiring Cultivation or Dispensary Licenses; Ancillary Businesses/Careers in Cannabis; Integrative Cannabinoid Medicine by the Knox Family; Medical Benefits of Cannabis and Hemp; The Need for Equity Programs; Cannabis 101; Social Justice and Policy Reform; Destigmatizing Cannabis; Parenting and Cannabis: Learning Together; Healing with Hemp, CBD and Cannabis: topicals, vapes, edibles, and more; Types of Businesses in Cannabis; and, Networks and Industry Conferences in Cannabis.

In addition to these twelve breakouts, there were five Q&A rooms where attendees could pop in and speak with professionals from the industry, which included: What is Unaccredited Investing?, How to Enter the Cannabis Industry, Questions About Legalization of Cannabis, Ask the Medical and Science Professionals, and, Opportunities for Women in Cannabis.

Each panel included POC and women entrepreneurs, attorneys and advocates, dispensary owners and growers, medical doctors and researchers, business analysts, public relations professionals, and content creators. Several cannabis advocacy and media groups from coast to coast contributed to panels including Estrohaze, Cannaclusive, MJM Strategies, Cannagather, and the Minority Cannabis Business Association.

A common thread among the speakers was that each one managed to take their prior work experiences and parlay that expertise into the cannabis industry. Moving throughout the day you could truly feel the essence of the mantra: Whatever YOU do, do it in cannabis!

As if the outpouring and overwhelming amount of information were not enough, the conference also welcomed a riveting keynote address from the CEO of Women Grow, Dr. Chanda Macias  on dispelling the myths of cannabis. Dr. Macias, who earned her Ph.D. from Howard University with a concentration in Cell Biology, evoked the passion of civil rights leaders as she beseeched the packed audience with her searing words. She implored us to take our rightful ownership in this fight for equityfor people of color within the cannabis industry as legalization, from the state to the federal level, continues to take shape.

An overarching theme of the conference was the Social Justice component that points to why it has become an imperative to demand Equity Day One in cannabis legislation as the end of marijuana prohibition nears. Social Equity simply means reinvesting a portion of the newly generated capital from the legalized cannabis industry directly into Black and Latino communities.

These are the neighborhoods that were impacted by unprecedented marijuana arrests and convictions due to Nixon’s damaging War on Drugs campaign. Research studies and anecdotal knowledge have starkly proven how the War on Drugs targeted communities of color, grossly contributing to the United States having the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Because of this, advocates in the multibillion dollar industry are demanding that these very people are poised to stake their claim now that the same marijuana plant that locked up scores of men and women is being sold in their neighborhoods primarily by white-owned cannabis companies. “Do not miss this boat…,” Dr. Macias charged the audience, who responded in agreement.

Adding to the progressive conversation were remarks by New York State Attorney General, Letitia James; Congressman Hakeem Jeffries; Assistant Counsel to Governor Cuomo, Jason Starr; Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo; Senator Velmanette Montgomery; and, Brooklyn District Attorney, Eric Gonzalez.

Each representative acknowledged the need for deliberate goals and strategic policy planning on the part of advocates, lobbyists, constituents and elected officials to be on the right side of history by creating legislation with day one social equity as New York State approaches legalized recreational cannabis in 2019.

Lobbyists also distributed form letters urging attendees to be a part of the political process by contacting their Senators and Representatives in Albany so that they are fully aware of the demand for Equity Day One.

 

As the reverend, Anthony Trufant, thanked Gia Morón’s and his own staff for working so tirelessly around the clock to pull off this crowning achievement, particularly during Black History Month, you couldn’t help but feel how monumental and historic this day was.

Revolutionary in his own right, Trufant is a Morehouse College educated faith-based visionary with a commitment to moral and social justice, which is why he was entrusted with this mission to help bridge the gap between the cannabis community and the church, despite initial pushback from some of EBC’s established members.

When both he and Dr. Chanda prayed from the pulpit, there was a sincere and humbled thanksgiving each expressed to God for the many health and wellness benefits of the cannabis plant. “We thank you for reminding us that You have already placed on the planet resources that can help us to ease pain, resources that will enable us to move forward as a community, and to provide economic opportunities.

We pray, oh God, that you will enable us in the justice work, to join our Brooklyn DA and our Attorney General for the State of New York, as well as our legislature and governor as they deal with legislation that is pending. May we, the citizens, give them the support and the backing that they need to take this courageous step. And finally, God, we pray for men and women, boys and girls who are in great pain today.

We pray that they will experience some degree of relief, that they will have an opportunity to be able to partake of that which you’ve planted so that the pain will be eased for them. Oh God, as we go our respective ways, be with us. We ask this in the name of our God. Amen.”

– Contributed by Mai Perkins

Mai Perkins is Cali girl in a Bed Stuy world, with several blogs under her belt including Uberlicious.nyc and MaiOnTheMove.com. She is a contributing writer for the music publication Pop-Mag.com, and has written for Relevant and Bust Magazine.

With an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MA in International Affairs from The New School, she reps her beloved alma mater, Howard University, every chance she gets. As a poet and a non-fiction writer, she has just published her first manuscript, The Walking Nerve-Ending, available now on Amazon & Kindle.



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The Green Market Report focuses on the financial news of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Our target approach filters out the daily noise and does a deep dive into the financial, business and economic side of the cannabis industry. Our team is cultivating the industry’s critical news into one source and providing open source insights and data analysis


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