Cannabis legalization continued its relentless move forward as Illinois became the 11th U.S. state, including the District of Columbia, to fully legalize adult-use of cannabis. Illinois’ house approved the bill with a bipartisan vote of 66-47, which was passed by the Senate in late May. Illinois’ Governor J.B. Pritzker held a firm stance on legalizing cannabis when he campaigned for his position. Primarily, most of the states that have legalized cannabis entirely are located along the west coast or the northeast region of the U.S. Prior to Illinois, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize cannabis back in November 2018 during the U.S. midterm elections. The legalization of cannabis in the U.S. dates back to the 1990s when California first legalized medical use. Following California’s lead, other states such as Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Maine, and Colorado all legalized medicinal cannabis just a few years after. Moreover, all of these states have since legalized the recreational use of cannabis. However, the process to legalize adult-use did not come into effect for more than a decade later when Colorado and Washington completely reshaped the cannabis industry when they became the first states to legalize recreational use back in 2012. North of the border, Canada came into the spotlight when the nation completely legalized cannabis in October 2018, making it the second nation to ever do so, following Uruguay. It is also the only G7 country to have fully legalized the plant. However, the remaining G-7 nations, except for Japan, have all implemented a partial of full medical cannabis legislation, while some have decriminalized the plant for moderate personal use. Overall, numerous large nations have already moved to adopt a form of cannabis legislation. And as a result, more countries are expected to be influenced and explore opportunities within the marketspace. According to data compiled by ArcView Market Research and BDS Analytics, the worldwide consumer spending on legal cannabis was approximately USD 12.2 Billion. By 2022, consumer spending is projected to reach USD 31.3 Billion by 2022 while growing at a CAGR of 26.7% over a five-year frame from 2017. Canopy Rivers Inc. (OTC:CNPOF) (TSXV:RIV.VN), Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY), Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE:ACB) (TSX:ACB.TO), OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:OGI) (TSXV:OGI.VN), Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO)
Globally, there are many other nations that have also adopted a cannabis legislation. Predominantly, most countries are adopting cannabis specifically and exclusively for medical purposes as most governments are concerned over the use of recreational cannabis due to the psychoactive properties contained within the marijuana plant of the cannabis family. The marijuana plant is generally known to be rich with THC, which causes cerebral-altering effects. On the other hand, marijuana’s counterpart, hemp, is known to contain mainly CBD. Although THC and CBD are both found within a cannabis plant, they are completely different in their biological makeup. CBD is the non-psychoactive compound within the hemp plant and due to its properties, many countries and U.S. states have legalized its use. Within the U.S., consumers can easily find CBD products in their local convenience stores or pharmacies while on a global-scale, medical patients can obtain CBD-based products to treat a variety of conditions such as cancer, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Additionally, studies have shown that CBD doesn’t provide psychoactive traits, prodding more countries to legalize the plant as it can be used as an alternative to current traditional medicines. “We’re seeing it in everything from the taffies to gummies and caramels to coffee, pet treats, shampoos, bath balms,” said Bethany Gomez, Managing Director at Brightfield. “I have never seen an industry grow this quickly, and I’ve never seen an industry with so much headwind.”
Canopy Rivers Inc. (OTC:CNPOF) (TSXV:RIV.VN) is also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker (TSXV:RIV.VN). On May 28th the company announced breaking news that, “has received its final cultivation licence from Health Canada. All 700,000 sq. ft. of operating space at Vert Mirabel is now licensed for cannabis production. Vert Mirabel was established in December 2017 between Canopy Growth, Canopy Rivers, and Les Serres Stéphane Bertrand (“Bertrand”).
“We are thrilled that the operational infrastructure at Vert Mirabel is now fully online with over 500,000 sq. ft. already in production,” said Olivier Dufourmantelle, Chief Operating Officer, Canopy Rivers. “Vert Mirabel is a key asset for Canopy Rivers as it provides exposure to a commercially scaled source of locally grown, premium quality cannabis for distribution into Québec and across the country.”
The licence for Vert Mirabel increases the facility’s growing space by 190,000 sq. ft. It brings Canopy Growth’s total Canadian licensed production footprint to approximately 4.6 million sq. ft, another step towards its nearly 5.6 million sq. ft. national platform. The Vert Mirabel facility leverages Bertrand’s multi-generational greenhouse operational expertise to produce high-quality cannabis.
“The final licence for Vert Mirabel strengthens our operations and will allow us to increase supply to meet the recreational market demand,” said Mark Zekulin, President and co-CEO, Canopy Growth. “From everyone at Canopy Growth, we congratulate the Bertrand family and their team for achieving a fully licensed, large-scale cannabis operation in under 18 months.”
Bertrand is a large-scale greenhouse operator and, prior to converting to cannabis, it was the largest producer of pink tomatoes in Canada. “We are proud to announce that our venture with Canopy Growth and Canopy Rivers has reached this milestone,” said Stéphane Bertrand. “Obtaining this licence will allow us to pursue our production goals in order to expand our footprint to meet the needs of the Québec market.”
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Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY) is a global pioneer in the research, cultivation, production and distribution of cannabis and cannabinoids currently serving tens of thousands of patients and consumers in 12 countries spanning 5 continents. Tilray, Inc. recently announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Tilray Portugal Unipessoal Lda. had received a standard manufacturing license and a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification, in accordance with the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) standards, for its Biocant Park manufacturing facility in Cantanhede, Portugal. This license and certification allow Tilray Portugal to manufacture and export GMP-certified dried cannabis as an active substance for medicinal products. Tilray’s EU Campus in Portugal is a multi-faceted production facility that includes indoor, outdoor and greenhouse cultivation sites; research and quality control labs; as well as processing, packaging and distribution sites for medical cannabis and cannabinoid-containing medical products. To date, Tilray has invested approximately EUR 20 Million in the facility, which totals nearly 250,000 sq. ft. with additional room to expand. The site also serves as a hub supporting Tilray’s clinical research and product development efforts across Europe. The Tilray EU Campus currently employs over 100 people, and that number is expected to double by the end of 2019, with production ramping up and multiple harvests anticipated in the coming months. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the inauguration of Tilray’s EU Campus was hosted in April 2019. “This licensing and certification marks a critical milestone for our growth in Portugal and Europe. We’re proud to increase our international export capacity and are looking forward to exporting dried cannabis as active substances from our EU Campus to legal jurisdictions in the EU and other international markets,” said Sascha Mielcarek, Managing Director, Europe. “The next phase of GMP certification will allow us to utilize the full capacity of our multi-faceted facility and continue to serve more patients in-need.”
Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE:ACB) (TSX:ACB.TO), headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with funded capacity in excess of 500,000 kg per annum and sales and operations in 24 countries across five continents, is one of the world’s largest and leading cannabis companies. Aurora Cannabis Inc. recently announced that the Company has been selected by the German Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte BfArM (Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices) as one of three winners in the public tender to cultivate and distribute medical cannabis in Germany. The Company was awarded the maximum number of 5 of the 13 lots in the tender over a period of four years with a minimum supply of 4000kg total. The cannabis produced will be sold to the German government and supplied to wholesalers for distribution to pharmacies. “We are very proud to have been selected as one of only three companies by the German government, which is a great achievement by our team,” said Neil Belot, Chief Global Business Development Officer. “Having the highest rated concept is a strong validation of the Aurora Standard cultivation philosophy, as well as of our track record in the delivery of safe and high-quality medical cannabis products to the German system. We commenced delivering dried cannabis flower from Canada to the German market in 2017, and recently added cannabis extracts to our offerings for German patients. Winning the tender reflects a natural evolution for Aurora, establishing a more prominent local footprint in this important international market with over 82 million people.”
OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:OGI) (TSXV:OGI.VN) is a NASDAQ Global Select and TSX Venture Exchange-listed company whose wholly owned subsidiary, Organigram Inc., is a licensed producer of cannabis and cannabis-derived products in Canada. Organigram Holdings Inc. recently announced that it had been selected as one of the four Canadian launch partners of PAX Era, the premium oil vaporizer created by PAX Labs, Inc., a leading consumer technology brand in the design and development of premium vaporizers for dry flower and concentrates, when concentrates become legal in Canada later this year. Much like Organigram’s own Edison Cannabis Co. brand, the PAX portfolio features disruptive, industry-leading technology, on course to redefine the experience of vaping in Canada – and around the world. Organigram will produce and fill Edison Cannabis Company-branded pods specifically for the PAX Era platform. The pods will be filled onsite at Organigram’s Moncton facility at the Company’s Phase 5 refurbishment. “Cannabis 2.0 – the next generation of legal, adult use cannabis products – represents a world of opportunity,” says Greg Engel. “Innovative partnerships with exceptional companies like PAX mean our own product offering grows and our customers have access to cutting-edge technology and cannabis experiences.”
Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO) wholly-owned subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc. (PM USA), U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC (USSTC), John Middleton Co. (Middleton), Sherman Group Holdings, LLC. Altria Group, Inc. recently announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire newly issued shares in Cronos Group Inc., a leading global cannabinoid company, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The transaction represents a 45% equity stake in Cronos Group, at a price of CAD 16.25 per share, for an aggregate investment by Altria of approximately USD 1.8 Billion(approximately CAD 2.4 Billion). This investment positions Altria to participate in the emerging global cannabis sector, which it believes is poised for rapid growth over the next decade. It also creates a new growth opportunity in an adjacent category that is complementary to Altria’s core tobacco businesses. Altria expects its investment to help Cronos Group accelerate its growth strategies and its R&D and intellectual property development. Additionally, Altria will provide expertise to help Cronos Group thrive in the growing global cannabis market. These services may include regulatory affairs, regulatory science, compliance, government affairs and brand management. “Investing in Cronos Group as our exclusive partner in the emerging global cannabis category represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria,” said Howard Willard, Altria’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that Cronos Group’s excellent management team has built capabilities necessary to compete globally, and we look forward to helping Cronos Group realize its significant growth potential.”
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