Merida Capital Archives - Green Market Report

StaffStaffNovember 19, 2019
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10min5460

Minority Cannabis Business Association and Merida Capital Partners announced the winning recipients of investment through the Inclusive Industry (“i2”) Accelerator, which will deploy $500K initially to fast-track the development of five minority-owned businesses. MCBA and Merida launched i2 earlier this year to accelerate the development of minority-owned businesses in the cannabis and hemp industry by creating a meaningful executive mentorship program for underserved communities that could increase diversity and inclusiveness in key networks within the cannabis ecosystem and develop an infrastructure for entrepreneurs seeking capital.

“Our i2 Accelerator with Merida is a historic step towards creating a diverse, representative cannabis and hemp industry,” said MCBA President Jason Ortiz. “People of color have suffered from disproportionate enforcement of cannabis laws and have high barriers to entry and success in the hemp and cannabis industries. i2 provides companies with rigorous executive mentorship and critical resources to place them in the best possible position to successfully scale their enterprises and remove those barriers.”

“We are so proud to support these meritorious businesses and begin a sustained effort to close the inclusion gap for aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs in disadvantaged communities. The quality and number of applicants gave us confidence that this program will create incredible value for minority operators, investors and the industry at large, motivating us to significantly increase our target investment amount, so not one, but five minority-owned businesses could participate in the i2 Accelerator in this first round,” said Merida Capital Partners Managing Partner Mitch Baruchowitz.

The recipients:

Vega Holdings; Meriden, CT; $150K Investment: Vega Holdings is the only Latino-owned holder of a Connecticut pilot hemp license, operating in Meriden, Connecticut, with indoor and outdoor facilities that produce high-quality CBD and biomass. Luis Vega, a seasoned farmer and grower with an MBA and experience in the hospitality industry, returned to his family’s roots in farming to found Vega Holdings and will use his investment to significantly scale his existing hemp farming operation and product manufacturing.

High Road; Washington, D.C.; $100K Investment: High Road is an app-driven delivery platform that provides patients and consumers with access to licensed cannabis products through safe, convenient and compliant delivery services. The integrated, on-demand software company was founded by Jennifer Snowden, a former real estate and interior design executive turned entrepreneur. In addition to advocating for expungement and smart policy reforms, High Road hires and trains those convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses. i2’s investment, business mentorship, networks and tools will help High Road expand its platform capabilities and propel its first mover advantage in East Coast markets.

Higher Learning Institutions; Pontiac, MI; $100K Investment: Higher Learning Institutions is a state-licensed vocational school with a cultivation and extraction lab and partnership with a major university that offers affordable, hands-on job training, educational certificates, career development, internships, free monthly seminars and job opportunities and placements in the cannabis industry. After researching the medicinal benefits of cannabis for his grandmother and taking a course at Oaksterdam University and consulting for cultivation facilities, Founder Sammie Rogers realized there were no institutions focused on assisting underserved communities with affordable career development, job training and placements in the cannabis industry. With Merida’s presence in the fast-growing Michigan market, the capital investment will help launch the school, broaden its inclusiveness efforts and close important educational and resource gaps in the cannabis sector.

James Henry; Oakland, CA; $100K Investment: In 2017, James Victor and John Alston cofounded James Henry, a minority- and veteran-owned lifestyle, health and wellness cannabis brand with licenses in manufacturing, distribution and retail delivery and a 1,700 sq. ft., green-zone facility in Oakland. With proprietary formulations developed by medical doctors, scientists and extraction experts to manage pain and other conditions, the company is committed to helping the U.S. address its opioids crisis through the promotion of responsible cannabis products for medicinal purposes, therapeutic assistance and lifestyle situations. James and John have incorporated original art and social equity as part of their brand ethos, infusing a balance of wellness and culture for consumers.

Canna Bistro; Atlanta, GA; $50K Investment: Canna Bistro offers CBD-infused foods out of a members café in Atlanta’s Historic West End. The company was founded in 2018 by Chef Swan Simpson, a self-trained vegan/vegetarian chef, who spent more than three decades perfecting plant-based, infused recipes and proprietary formulations. Initially, Chef Swan started selling $5 smoothies at pop-up retail locations across Atlanta, parlaying her loyal customer base into the first-all-CBD-infusion eatery in the southeastern U.S. In addition to incredible food Chef Simpson serves up, Canna Bistro promotes the hiring of individuals with non-violent, criminal records, along with business opportunities for previously incarcerated women and social good efforts in under-served areas.

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtAugust 5, 2019
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10min22500

California-based cannabis company Henry’s Original (Henry’s) closed on a Series B investment led by New York-based private equity firm Merida Capital Partners. Henry’s said it plans on using the money to expand its cultivation, processing, sales and marketing operations. 

“As a company that represents the legacy of Mendocino County family-farmers and original rebels in the cannabis revolution, we are excited to partner with some of the most strategic, thoughtful visionaries in the space,” said Henry’s Chief Executive Officer Jamie Warm. “Merida’s diverse team of experts understand and are extremely supportive of our vision to scale our hand-crafted consumer packaged goods with a regional identity in California as well as new markets around the country.” 

Henry’s has created a reputation for Clean Green-certified flower and pre-roll products that are cultivated entirely in Mendocino County, California. The company stated that it holds thirteen state licenses including a nursery, cultivation, processing, distribution and a retail dispensary license. The company said it has more than 100,000 square feet of cultivation in California. 

The products are available in more than 250 dispensaries across California, including at The ApothecariumHarborside, Harvest SF, MedMen, Blum and many others. 

“As one of the leading pre-roll and pre-packaged flower companies in California in overall sales, this investment positions us to scale our operations, continue to shore up the supply chain and drive growth,” said Henry’s President and COO Joshua Keats.

“Henry’s is well-positioned to gain significant market share in California, the biggest market in the country and the world, and Merida sees the potential to elevate the company as it crosses the fragmentation gap geographically in and outside of the Golden State,” said Mina Mishrikey, partner at Merida. “With a powerful legacy, brand identity and farm-direct, sun-grown, Clean Green Certified products, Henry’s is a perfect fit for our portfolio. We look forward to adding value to the company as it expands its operations and working closely with Jamie, Josh, and their team.”

This investment round also included investments from Big Rock Partners, Delta Emerald Ventures and funds managed by JW Asset Management. The majority of Series A investors also invested in this round as well.


Anne-Marie FischerAnne-Marie FischerJuly 23, 2019
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8min28210

If there is someone who exemplifies a smart investor in the cannabis industry, it’s Marion Mariathasan, currently the co-founder and CEO of Simplifya, the industry’s leading regulatory compliance tool for licensees and those who audit them.

Mariathasan is a serial investor and entrepreneur if there ever was one. More attracted to ancillary cannabis services and solutions, he has personally founded or invested in about 14 different cannabis companies, including Ceylon Solutions, providing high-quality development solutions for the cannabis industry. He is also the largest shareholder of Leafwire, a platform for companies and investors to create funding relationships, and continues to be on the Boards of several organizations.

Green Market Report caught up with Mariathasan to hear about his path to where he is now in the cannabis space. 

Name: Marion Mariathasan

Title: Co-Founder/CEO 

Company: Simplifya

Years at current company: “I wish I could take credit for this concept,” says Mariathasan, explaining that the renowned cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP is to be attributed to the idea surrounding compliance software. Mariathasan came on board in October 2016 as the company’s first investor, making his commitment in February 2106 in advance of the launch. 

Education profile: Mariathasan is certainly well-equipped to take on a role in the tech side of cannabis. A graduate from the University of Kansas and Emporia State University, studying Architecture, Computer Science, and Computer Information Systems, his career emerged at the forefront of technology. He began his work as a computer programmer for a leading medical software company and has since held positions in some of the world’s leading tech companies. 

Most successful professional accomplishment before cannabis: It’s difficult for Mariathasan to isolate just one successful professional accomplishment before making his foray into cannabis. Mariathasan is responsible for staring a handful of tech companies, so he sees his success as more cumulative. “What I’m most proud of is taking a concept that aims to solve a problem, and being able to build upon it, grow it, raise money, and sell it.”

Company Mission: Simplifya gives businesses the power to delegate, review, and proactively manage compliance tasks across all facilities and license types. With easy-to-use tools for scheduling, audit management, and tracking issues, Simplifya gives license holders a 360-degree view of their compliance. According to Mariathasan, their mission extends “to enable the cannabis industry and the movement to continue forward by helping license holders preserve their license. License is the most valuable asset that they have. If they’re not compliant from a regulatory and operational perspective, can get hundreds of dollar fines or lose their license.” 

Company’s most successful achievement: Through working with its partners and cannabis license holders, Simplifya has learned and understood the pain points of the license holder and create technology around it. To make this possible, Simplifya has created relationships all around the industry that puts compliance at the forefront and have the industry value it. “It takes a village”, says Mariathasan, “The investors coupled with the team has been our best achievement thus far, but as we bring on multi-license operators, mom and pop shops, government stores, is what makes this feel like we know we’re at the right place.” 

Has the company raised any capital? In December of last year, it was announced that Simplifya had raised $3 million in Series C funding from the private equity fund Merida Capital Partners. It was announced then that they would pursue additional funding, and this sure occurred to the tune of $7.3 million raised through a Founder’s round, and the series of funding rounds, including the last Series C round completed by Merida Capital. “The investors are second to none in this industry,” Mariathasan remarks. 

Any plans on raising capital in the future?: Simplifya plans to hold another raise of capital towards the end of this year to help with the company’s expansion. “We’re in 17 states right now,” explains Mariathasan, “Now we have opportunities to go into more states and international. Our initial focus was marijuana dispensaries, and now we’re bringing what Simplifya has to offer to governments, banks, and insurance companies.”

Most important company 5-year goal: “We exist to make cannabis easier to operate in,” says Mariathasan, “We serve medical marijuana dispensaries, and we’re helping governments, banks, and insurance companies with mitigating the risks that come with legal cannabis while streamlining projects.” 

Thus, Simplifya will continue to make relationships with companies within and external to the cannabis industry. “Government didn’t have the expertise to enforce the regulations they created,” says Mariathasan, “Now it’s easier to stay on top of the cumbersome regulations, as we can now help manage cannabis compliance from a government perspective.” 

What does Mariathasan attribute to the success of Simplifya? “A lot comes down to the team and their experience with cannabis. If they can put a strategic plan together, and execute it, while building a personal connection then we are successful together.”

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtJune 14, 2019
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4min26720

A forum called “Insights From The Front Lines Of The Cannabis Industry” was held on June 13 on a beautiful summer evening in New York City atop the Empire Hotel. New York was named the Empire state because it was considered to be the center of all business in America and it has become the center of cannabis investing even though the plant isn’t fully legal in the state. That could change soon.

The event was hosted by MGO, Ello, Wilson Elser, and Aon. The panelists included Kevin Murphy Chairman and CEO, Acreage Holdings (CSE: ACRG.U), Tiffany Liff Managing Director, Cresco Capital Partners, Evan Eneman CEO, MGO / ELLO Cannabis Alliance, Matt Markiewicz Managing Director, Innovation Shares, Eduardo Provencio General Counsel, Mary’s Brands, and Mitch Baruchowitz Managing Partner, Merida Capital.

New York’s legalization was discussed as Murphy said it is quickly changing. “Last week, I’d have said there was a 20% chance. Today I give it a 60/40 chance. I think on Wednesday it may happen,” he said. That sure sent a buzz through the crowd. He conceded that having former Speaker of the House John Boehner on the company’s board kept his company informed of political maneuverings. Murphy has also been actively working on the SAFE Banking Act. As a company with its roots in New York, he is keen to see changes at the state level.

Access To Capital

A key theme seemed to emerge among some of the panelists was the access to capital. “The industry has gone from basement growers who just wanted to have a bigger basement to getting a license. Now it is about the aggregation of licenses,” said Murphy. “Our biggest competition isn’t from each other but from the black market.”

Liff also noted that in the early days’ companies were forced to go public even if they weren’t really ready because there was no other way to access capital. “There are more options now,” she said. She also reiterated that she really focuses on backing the management team.

“Running a public company is not that awesome,” said Murphy. “There is an extra layer or two of accountability. Having said that, it gives us the opportunity to access capital.”

Baruchowitz pointed out that new companies often give themselves rich valuations based on angel investors and believe this should bring them more capital. “When your angel round is friends and family, that doesn’t justify certain valuations. They get shocked when they get asked the hard questions as they ask for more capital. A lot of the newcomers don’t know the grind.”

Illegal vs. Legal

Baruchowitz noted that since New York didn’t have the same ballot pressures that other states have, legalization could come easier. Having said that, the panelists noted that the quasi-illegal status has had some benefits. Baruchowitz said he believes the medicalization of cannabis is about to go on hyperdrive through legalization.

The illegality of cannabis has also caused some volatility in the cannabis company stocks. Markiewicz runs an ETF and noted that the volatility scares many advisors. He keeps an eye out for negative sentiment when reviewing his companies. The illegal nature attracts some less than savory players at times. Still, Murphy said that ETF’s provide liquidity for the stocks. “The more liquidity, the better for all of us,” he said.


William SumnerWilliam SumnerApril 4, 2019
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4min9250

It’s time for your Daily Hit of cannabis financial news for April 4, 2019.

On the Site

Merida Capital

Cannabis private equity fund Merida Capital Partners has launched its third fund for $200 million, which will focus on concentrated, high conviction investments in leading companies in the cannabis ecosystem. The company said that since launching its first fund in late 2016, it has deployed nearly $80 million across its first two funds and now has more than $125MM under management.

McConnell & Wyden Pen Letters To US Federal Banking Finance Regulators Over Financial Services For Hemp Producers

The letters were sent to the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Reserve System and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The letters read as follows.

Marijuana Stocks Look Frothy, But Aurora Stock Is Well-Prepared

Over the long run, I remain net bullish on legal marijuana. However, my optimism for the sector doesn’t cloud reality. I can see as plain as daylight that the honeymoon phase is over. Now, companies like Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) must provide the goods. If not, ACB stock could face serious trouble.

In Other News

Harvest Health & Recreation

Harvest Health & Recreation, Inc. (CSE: HARV) announced that it has entered into a brokered private sale of up to 500,000 convertible debentures of the company, at a price of $1,000 per debenture. The sale is expected to raise $500 million and will be closed in five tranches over a period of no more than 18 months. The first tranche is expected to close on May 1, 2019. Proceeds from the sale will go towards general corporate purposes and working capital.

Halo Labs

The cannabis extraction company Halo Labs Inc. (OTC: AGEEF) announced that it has raised $18,143,000 in a convertible note offering. The proceeds of the offering will go towards leasehold improvements, the purchase of extraction equipment, working capital and general corporate purposes.

Aurora Cannabis

Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE: ACB) announced that it has appointed Carey Squires as its Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy. Squires recently served as Managing Director and Co-Head of Equity-Linked Capital Markets for BMO Capital Markets. In his new role, Squires will focus on developing strategic partnerships, growth initiatives, and investor development.


StaffStaffApril 4, 2019
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9min13330

Cannabis private equity fund Merida Capital Partners has launched its third fund for $200 million, which will focus on concentrated, high conviction investments in leading companies in the cannabis ecosystem. The company said that since launching its first fund in late 2016, it has deployed nearly $80 million across its first two funds and now has more than $125MM under management.

The company counts a portfolio of 25 investments through public listings for GrowGeneration, Vireo Health, and CB2 Insights as well as leading investments in public companies KushCo Holdings and Freedom Leaf Health.

“As Merida transitions to our third fund, we continue to define our thesis through the depth of our information gathering and synthesis, our focus on ecosystem connectivity, portfolio company governance and identifying opportunities that offer asymmetric upside returns to our investors,” said Mitch Baruchowitz, Merida Capital Partners Managing Partner. “Through the knowledge gained from investments made in Funds I and II, our incredible team of investment professionals will continue to implement our strategy of risk-mitigated investments in leading companies throughout the cannabis industry.”

In addition to announcing the new fund, Merida said it was also expanding its international operations by opening an office in Toronto, Canada to go with its New York flagship office and satellite offices in San Francisco and Bethesda, Maryland.

“Having met the Merida team shortly after the launch of Fund I, I have been able to watch Merida thoughtfully navigate the challenges of the cannabis industry as both an investor and a member of Merida’s Investment Committee,” said Danny Moses, Merida Capital Partners Investment Committee Member. “The amount of research and diligence performed on both potential and current investments, including deal structure and corporate governance, is where Merida truly excels. I am excited to continue my work on the Investment Committee with the rapidly growing team as they launch Fund III.”

In addition, the firm announced the expansion of its team with three new key hires, which brings the firm’s total employee count to 19.

Dr. Deb Kimless, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Deb Kimless, an expert on cannabinoid research and cannabis-based medicines, has joined Merida as its Chief Scientific Officer, overseeing Merida’s research efforts as well as identifying opportunities in the life sciences and biotechnology verticals. Dr. Kimless is a board-certified anesthesiologist with a subspecialty in pain management and holds a B.S. in Natural Sciences and Biology from Muhlenberg College and an MD from Rutgers University.

Matthew Bartlett, West Coast Operating Partner

Matthew Bartlett recently joined Merida as its West Coast Operating Partner responsible for overseeing Merida’s portfolio of consumer products companies. Bartlett most recently founded Garden Society, a boutique Sonoma County-based cannabis operator. He previously managed global logistics and supply chain for Costco’s Kirkland Wine & Spirits, along with and several multi-nationally distributed Napa, Sonoma and California premium and luxury wine brands. Matt also established the Wine Division for Bank of Marin (NASDAQ: BMRC); was Vice President at American AgCredit, a part of the National Farm Credit System; and was a Vice President and Regional Manager in Capital Markets Finance for HSBC.

David Lubotta, Partner

David Lubotta has joined Merida as a Partner and will oversee Merida’s Canadian efforts from its new Toronto office. David brings 25 years of Canadian institutional finance experience to Merida, including participation in numerous financings and M&A transactions in cannabis companies such as: Green Therapeutics, Nutritional High, Green Rush, Emerald Family Farms, and Xanthic Biopharma Inc., which was recently purchased by Green Growth Brands.  David holds an MBA from Northwestern Kellogg School of Management.

 


StaffStaffMay 16, 2018
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6min9650

It’s time for your daily hit of cannabis financial news for May 16, 2018:

On The Site

NY Cannabis Taxes

On May 15, 2018, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer published a report estimating the potential size of the state’s legal cannabis market and how much tax revenue it would generate for both the city and the state. According to the report, the New York state cannabis market could see up to $3.1 billion in annual sales, with up to $1.1 billion being generated in New York City alone. In terms of tax revenue, legal cannabis could generate up to $436 million for New York state and $336 for New York City.

MariMed Inc.

The U.S.-based medical marijuana company MariMed Inc. (MRMD) stock jumped 13% after it reported its first-quarter financial results for 2018 with revenues increasing 81% to $2.08 million compared to $1.15 million first quarter of 2017.  The company attributed the increase to the expanding operations of MariMed’s medical marijuana clients from real estate revenue, management fees and licensing fees.

Unfortunately, the company delivered a net loss of $1.83 million in the quarter versus net income of $0.11 million for the quarter last year.  MariMed said that the loss was blamed on non-cash equity compensation and debt settlements in 2018 that it said would have no impact on operations/cash flow. MariMed happily reported $251,166 of operating income in first quarter of 2018, an increase from $228,552 for the same time period in 2017.

GrowGeneration Corp.

Denver-based hydroponic retailer GrowGeneration (GRWG) reported that its revenue for the first quarter of 2018 increased 70% to $4.4 million versus $2.6 million for the 1st quarter of 2017. Gross profits rose 75% to approximately $1.2 million compared to approximately $.68 million for the same time period. Still, the company delivered a net loss of $953,430 versus last year’s net loss of $283,309. The stock fell over 7% to $4.70 on the earnings announcement.

After a rocky start at the beginning of the year, the North American Marijuana Index is starting to show some signs of a recovery. In the month of April, the North American Index gained 3%, led primarily by the huge gains in the U.S. market. The U.S. Marijuana Index gained approximately 19% in April; six companies on the index gained 20% or more and another ten companies gained more than 10%. The average trading volume on the U.S. Index also increased by 77%, compared to the previous month.

In Other News

Merida Capital Partners 

Merida Capital Partners a private equity fund targeting fundamental growth drivers underpinning the rapid development of the cannabis industry announced it has crossed $50MM in assets under management (AUM) and closed transactions in nine companies in its second Fund. With the full deployment of Merida’s first tranche of Fund II and the opening of the firm’s second investment tranche, Merida Fund II will continue its focus on high-conviction investments in leading companies that have crossed the ‘fragmentation gap’ yet need strategic capital to profoundly accelerate their respective growth curves. Merida will also focus on businesses implementing capex-lite models in the traditionally capital-intensive verticals of cultivation, dispensing, and life sciences.

Invictus MD Strategies Corp.

Invictus MD Strategies Corp. announced that it has entered into a binding letter of intent for an option to acquire 100% of the outstanding shares of an applicant under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations from OptionCo current shareholders. OptionCo has two properties. One is located in Delta, British Columbia (“Delta Facility”) and is a state of the art, pharmaceutical grade, cannabis production and research facility, which has been submitted to Health Canada for final review and approval under the ACMPR. The Company expects to receive its cultivation license for the Delta Facility in Q2 of 2018.  The other property is located in Mission, British Columbia


William SumnerWilliam SumnerFebruary 13, 2018
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3min12980

Cannabis packaging company Kush Bottles today announced that the company has entered into a strategic partnership with Merida Capital, a private equity fund targeting the cannabis industry. Kush has received a $6 million equity investment from Merida, which the company will use to expand its product portfolio, build new distribution channels and penetrate new legalized markets.

The announcement comes in the wake of the company reporting a 285% rise in revenue for the first fiscal quarter of 2018, with a net income of $94,615 compared to the previous year’s loss of $161,000.

The strategic partnership will leverage Merida’s strong East Coast presence to help build Kush Bottles’ distribution platform and expand the company’s footprint in East Cost medicinal and recreational market; offering the opportunity for the company to develop and execute its acquisition pipeline with Merida’s help.

In a statement Nicholas Kovacevich, the Chairman and CEO of Kush Bottles said that Merida’s understanding of the unique dynamics of the cannabis industry, as well as its strong networks and willingness to finance Kush Bottles’ growth, would serve as an invaluable asset as the company moves to explore new markets and opportunities.

“We plan to use this capital investment to expand our range of proprietary products to meet the needs of the industry, advance our M&A strategy to take advantage of consolidation in the industry and grow market share,” Kovacevich said.

Echoing Kovacevich’s words, Merida’s Managing Partner, Mitchell Baruchowitz, expressed admiration for the team behind Kush Bottles and their work.

“Since we first started discussing a partnership and investment in Kush Bottles nearly seven months ago, we have been deeply impressed by the vision of Nick and his team and the progress they have made strategically positioning Kush Bottles as much more than simply a packaging company. Kush Bottles’ acquisitions and in-house development efforts have established the Company as a critical link in the supply chain for more than 5,000 cannabis growers, extractors, manufacturers, and retailers. The Merida team could not be more excited to put significant resources to work to build on this foundation to expand Kush Bottles’ leading position,” added Baruchowitz.



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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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