WeedWeek edition / November 29, 2020
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1 CANNABIZ: “STRONGER THAN EVER”

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(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Sean Stiefel, CEO of investment firm Navy Capital, posted a presentation on why the industry is "stronger than ever" before.

  • It notes, "although there are reports of increased cannabis use during the pandemic...the magnitude of volume increase far exceeds empirical evidence of increased use, suggesting other contributing factors such as accelerated conversion from the illicit market, and peripheral consumers and non-users.
  • Additionally, sales grew throughout the pandemic in Canada and almost all of the 13 states with high-quality data. The exceptions are tourist-dependent Nevada and Massachusetts where the REC market was not deemed essential.
  • It projects retail sales between $30B and $37B by 2024. By comparison, the total market cap for U.S. MSOs is currently $25B.
  • The presentation features updates on Navy portfolio companies CANN, Connected Cannabis, Ayr, Jushi, Trulieve, Green Thumb Industries and 4Front Ventures.

Quick Hit

  1. Business Insider put together lists of the 13 power players to watch in New Jersey, and 11 to watch in Arizona. (paywalled)
  2. The number of banks serving the industry continues to fall.
    Marijuana Moment
  3. Can low pricing and special offers bring consumers into the legal market?
    WeedWeek
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2 SPAC DEAL SHAKES UP CALIFORNIA MARKET

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COURTESY OF DELI BY CALIVA VIA HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp., which claims to be the largest cannabis-focused special purpose acquisition company, (SPAC), announced a deal to create a new vertically integrated California player. It unites big cannabis brands with high-profile artists, notably Jay-Z, who will serve as Chief Visionary Officer.
WeedWeek

  • The new parent company, TPCO Holding Corp. brings together California brand Caliva with Left Coast Ventures, whose brand portfolio includes Mirayo by Santana, and Marley Natural.
  • Jay-Z previously partnered with Caliva on his new Monogram brand. 
  • In his newsletter, Left Coast Ventures exec Dai Truong makes the case for the deal, which incorporates about a dozen additional brands. The arguments in favor include scale, market access and cultural influence.
  • The deal is set to close in January.

ICYMI, WeedWeek previously discussed the challenges celebrity brands face.

3 SCOOP: KUSHCO SUES IGNITE

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@danbilzerian

Multi-faceted ancillary player KushCo Holdings is suing Ignite, the cannabis company started by playboy Instagram personality Dan Bilzerian.  

  • The October suit, which appears not to have been previously reported, claims Ignite purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products from KushCo and didn't pay its bill. As of September 24, 2020, KushCo claims Ignite owes it $586,172.51 and has "failed and refused" to pay. Ignite didn't respond to requests for comment. KushCo declined to comment. Read the suit here.
  • Ignite has experienced tens of millions in losses and other difficulties. In a lawsuit earlier this year, a former Ignite executive says the company covered expenses associated with Bilzerian's lavish lifestyle, including the $200,000 rent on his Los Angeles home.
    WeedWeek
  • At Forbes, Chris Roberts has covered Ignite in-depth, calling it a "consumer-focused brand that doesn’t really seem to sell all that much."

4 HOUSE TO VOTE ON LEGALIZATION THIS WEEK

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The U.S. House of Representatives is set for a historic vote on the MORE Act, which would legalize cannabis federally and create various equity benefits, while allowing states to open markets at their own pace. 
Marijuana Moment

  • The Congressional Research Service notes that the law would "create a new divide between federal and state law—essentially the reverse of the current marijuana policy gap, since federal marijuana law would become less strict than some state laws.”
  • However, the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, especially if the upper chamber remains under Republican control following the two upcoming runoff elections in Georgia.
    Politico

In an open letter, the Weed for Warriors Project, an NGO supporting MED access for veterans, expressed opposition to the MORE Act.

  • According to CEO Sean T. Kiernan, taxes and regulations in the bill would make it harder for disabled veterans to afford MED, while giving a tax cut to cannabis executives.
    @theblacklistxyz

5 CONSERVATIVES GRAPPLE WITH DRUG REFORM

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Following Oregon's votes to legalize psilocybin therapy and decriminalize all drugs, a columnist for the conservative National Review contemplates this "Brave New World:"

I don’t pretend this is simple. Many of the same [damaging] claims can be made about alcohol, which no one sensible is looking to prohibit (that having worked out so well the last time). It’s reasonable to contend that using the criminal-justice system to address all this dysfunction and suffering only makes matters worse — with the added banes of gang crime, gun crime, ruined neighborhoods, and cycles of addiction and incarceration. Neither can we ignore, however, the stubborn facts that the law is the signal of what a society is prepared to tolerate, and that legalizing an addictive activity guarantees that there will be more of it, along with its inevitable train of damages.

Read the whole thing.

6 ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER BIG PSYCHEDELICS DEAL

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Mushroom Observer Alan Rockefeller https://mushroomobserver.org/image/show_image/6514

ATAI Life Sciences closed a $125M Series C funding round (paywall), the biggest round thus far for a medical psychedelics company.
Business Insider

  • The money will go to funding clinical trials, adding more companies and therapies and developing "digital therapeutics tools."
  • The company currently works with psilocybin, ibogaine and arketamine, among other compounds.
  • ATAI's backers include Silicon Valley tycoon Peter Thiel who also invested in Compass Pathways, another psychedelics company which went public on the Nasdaq several weeks ago.
    WeedWeek

Quick Hit

  1. Is mixing cannabis and psychedelic mushrooms a bad idea?
    Leafly

7 DETROIT TO TRY EQUITY LICENSING

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Detroit's city council voted to approve a REC licensing ordinance that guarantees 50% of new licenses for "legacy Detroiters."
Click on Detroit

  • The city plans to license up to 75 REC shops and will start accepting applications in April.
    Detroit News
  • At present only 4 of the 46 MED shops in Detroit are owned by city residents.
  • In addition, the city will award licenses to growers, processors and other state-approved categories.
  • Cities including Boston, Oakland and Los Angeles have tried similar programs. They've all encountered difficulties and experienced limited success.
    WeedWeek

Nearby in Illinois, a new state-sponsored program called New Leaf will help people with low-level cannabis convictions to clear their records.
ABC-Chicago

Quick Hit

  1. President Trump is widely expected to issue more pardons before he leaves office. He'll be hearing about numerous pot offenders.
    N.Y. Post

8 CALI JUDGE NIXES HIGHWAY BILLBOARDS

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The California Bureau of Cannabis Control overstepped its authority when it allowed PotCo's to put up highway billboards.
L.A. Times

  • The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by a San Luis Obispo father concerned about exposing his daughters to the ads.
  • One of his lawyers called it “a victory for all Californians over the desires of unelected Sacramento bureaucrats who illegally tried to put corporate profits ahead of children’s health.”
  • The bureau, where director Lori Ajax recently announced her retirement, hasn't determined whether it will appeal.

Quick Hit

  1. Lawsuits are challenging the recent ballot initiatives which legalized in Mississippi (MED), Montana (REC) and South Dakota (both).
    Marijuana Moment

9 MIKE TYSON: I SMOKED BEFORE JONES BOUT

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Mike Tyson, 54, said he smoked before his Saturday exhibition match with Roy Jones Jr.
USAToday

"Listen, I can’t stop smoking," he said during the post-fight press conference. "I smoked during fights. I just have to smoke, I’m sorry. I’m a smoker. … I smoke everyday. I never stopped smoking."

..."It’s just who I am,’’ he said. “It has no effect on me from a negative standpoint. It’s just what I do and how I am and how I’m going to die. There’s no explanation. There’s no beginning, there’s no end."

Did the marijuana help numb the pain Saturday night?

"No, it just numbs me," he said. "It doesn’t numb the pain"

It was Tyson's first fight in 15 years. The eight round exhibition match ended in a draw.

10 BLACKBERRY EXECS MAKE VAPING “MODULAR”

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Just in time for Christmas, a group of former BlackBerry executives have launched a new $229 vaporizer called The Furna.

  • The gimmick is modular "interchangeable ovens," which allow users to switch between concentrates and flower, without making a mess.
    Mashable

Quick Hit

  1. Ben Affleck opened up about a "dissociative panic attack," he had at 15, after smoking some pot.
    N.Y.Post