Cannabis has become a major topic of conversation within the medical and healthcare industry, however, many tend to overlook the economic benefits associated with the plant. While cannabis can be used as an effective alternative to many traditional medicines such as opioids, it can also serve as an economic growth driver. For instance, Colorado was among one of the first regions to completely legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use and in fiscal 2016 to 2017, the state collected more than USD 210 Million in taxes and fees solely from cannabis sales. Furthermore, research conducted by Colorado State University Pueblo’s Institute of Cannabis Research uncovered that the legal cannabis industry has contributed more than USD 58 Million to certain local economies just off taxes and fees alone. Typically, cannabis tax revenues are used to contribute to communities in Colorado. For instance, Aurora, Colorado used a sum of its money to fight homelessness, while Pueblo, Colorado used the tax revenue to provide scholarships to students who are financially struggling. However, the cannabis tax revenue collected in Colorado makes up an insignificant amount compared to the entire state’s overall budget, as at the end of 2017, Colorado had approximately USD 27.1 Billion for its overall state budget and cannabis tax revenue amounted to only 0.78% of the total. It has to be taken into consideration, however, that the cannabis market remains federally illegal and this number may yet grow with country-wide legalization. According to data compiled by Mordor Intelligence, the global cannabis industry was valued at USD 14.5 Billion in 2018. Additionally, by 2024, the market is expected to reach USD 89.1 Billion while registering a CAGR of 37% during the forecast period from 2019 to 2024.
Canopy Rivers Inc. (OTC:CNPOF) (TSXV:RIV.VN), Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE:CGC) (TSX:WEED.TO), Akerna Corp. (NASDAQ:KERN), The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE:SMG), Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (OTC:CWBHF) (TSX:CWEB.TO)
In addition to having previously legalized medicinal cannabis, Canada had passed recreational legalization in late 2018 as well. In the first five months of legalization, Canada collected CAD 186 Million from taxes related to cannabis sales and services, according to Statistics Canada. The federal government took approximately USD 19 Million in excise taxes, while provincial governments collected USD 79 Million. Additionally, an estimated USD 36 Million came from the federal general taxes on goods and services while another USD 53 Million came from direct provincial general taxes on goods and services. Compared to Colorado, the number may seem trivial, considering Colorado drew in more tax revenue than an entire country. But, despite having legalized cannabis, the Canadian government maintains tight controls on the cannabis industry mainly because it was once an illicit product. For instance, the government has provided limited licenses to cultivators and has curtailed retailer’s hours, impacting their overall financials. However, the major tradeoff for the country is that more consumers purchase their cannabis from a legal supply rather than the black market. During the first quarter of 2019, Statistics Canada reported that an estimated 47% of cannabis users, or 2.5 million Canadians, purchased their supply from legal sources such as dispensaries and retailers, which has more than doubled year-over-year. Even though the Canadian marketplace remains within in its infancy stage, more and more people are expected to try cannabis, adding onto the overall user base as the years go by. And as a result, ArcView Market Research and BDS Analytics project the Canadian cannabis market to reach total adult-use sales of USD 5.2 Billion by 2024 compared to USD 569 Million in 2018. “Canada is the largest country in the world to legalize cannabis and because of this, it has dramatically reshaped the cannabis investment landscape,” said Troy Dayton, Chief Executive Officer of the Arcview Group.
Canopy Rivers Inc. (OTC:CNPOF) (TSXV:RIV.VN) is also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker (TSXV:RIV.VN). Earlier last week, the Company announced, “an investment and strategic collaboration between Canopy Rivers and ZeaKal, a California-based plant science innovator with proprietary technologies that sustainably increase photosynthesis, improve plant yield and enhance nutritional profiles for a variety of agricultural crops. The investment from Canopy Rivers marks another significant corporate milestone this calendar year for ZeaKal, following the February announcement of its R&D collaboration with Corteva Agriscience (NYSE:CTVA), the recently spun-out and NYSE-listed agricultural science division of DowDuPont.
ZeaKal’s proprietary technology, PhotoSeed(TM), increases a plant’s intrinsic photosynthetic capacity, meaning that PhotoSeed(TM) plants can convert more sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy for growth. This results in substantial improvement in seed and grain yield, as well as improved macronutrient profiles that drive an increase in both oil and protein content. For farmers, this means better productivity and profit margins; for consumers, this means higher nutritional profiles and an environmentally friendly way to meet growing global demand. With multi-year field trials across diverse plant species in the United States, Canada and New Zealand, the initial commercial focus has been on major row crops. Following Canopy Rivers’ investment, ZeaKal intends to expand its program to include cannabis and hemp.
‘Our investment in ZeaKal, the fifth consecutive international transaction for Canopy Rivers, builds on our thesis of selecting globally scalable and innovative processes, products, and technologies from complementary industries, and applying them to the cannabis and hemp economy,’ said Mary Dimou, Director of Business Development at Canopy Rivers. ‘Plant sciences is a mostly overlooked but absolutely critical segment of the cannabis and hemp value chain, and we are seeking to address this gap with this investment. ZeaKal’s technology has already realized success across a number of crops during field trials, and these are crops that have been commercialized for decades. The application of this innovative technology throughout the Canopy Rivers portfolio and the cannabis and hemp industry at large could be a game changer.’
Canopy Rivers believes that ZeaKal’s PhotoSeed(TM) technology has the potential to translate into significant benefits for the cannabis and hemp industry. Due to prohibition, the cultivation of cannabis and hemp has lacked the agricultural research and advancements that have significantly improved the cultivation of other crops. Canopy Rivers believes that applying ZeaKal’s PhotoSeed(TM) technology to cannabis and hemp represents a significant step forward – with increased crop yield, higher oil production, additional grow cycles, and enriched cannabinoid output numbering among the potential benefits of the technology. While trials on cannabis and hemp have yet to begin, the positive results already achieved give Canopy Rivers confidence in ZeaKal’s experienced team and its ability to successfully optimize and adapt its technology for expansion into this industry.
‘We are elated that Canopy Rivers, a cannabis and hemp industry authority, has selected ZeaKal as an agriculture partner,’ said Han Chen, Chief Executive Officer of ZeaKal. ‘Beyond the capital, it is further validation that PhotoSeed(TM) is a next-generation blockbuster trait that can be utilized across diverse industries. With its rich domain and technical expertise, Canopy Rivers is supporting our entry into the cannabis and hemp markets with a technology we expect to be transformative for the sector.’
As a result of its US$10,000,000 investment, Canopy Rivers owns approximately 8.7% of ZeaKal on a fully diluted basis and holds an observer seat on ZeaKal’s board of directors.
About Canopy Rivers: Canopy Rivers is a unique investment and operating platform structured to pursue investment opportunities in the emerging global cannabis sector. Canopy Rivers works collaboratively with Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX: WEED,NYSE: CGC) to identify strategic counterparties seeking financial and/or operating support. Canopy Rivers has developed an investment ecosystem of complementary cannabis operating companies that represent various segments of the value chain across the emerging cannabis sector. As the portfolio continues to develop, constituents will be provided with opportunities to work with Canopy Growth and collaborate among themselves, which Canopy Rivers believes will maximize value for its shareholders and foster an environment of innovation, synergy and value creation for the entire ecosystem.
About ZeaKal: ZeaKal is a plant science company developed from the incubation pipeline of Kapyon Ventures in partnership with AgResearch Ltd. The company is focused on developing, PhotoSeed(TM), a next-generation trait technology that has been proven to increase the photosynthetic capacity and yield of several major crops.”
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Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE:CGC) (TSX:WEED.TO) is a world-leading diversified cannabis, hemp and cannabis device company, offering distinct brands and curated cannabis varieties in dried, oil and Softgel capsule forms, as well as medical devices through the Company’s subsidiary, Storz & Bickel GMbH & Co. KG. Canopy Growth Corporation recently introduced Spectrum Therapeutics, a new global brand that will encompass all of the Company’s ongoing commercial medical and clinical research operations including Spectrum Cannabis, Canopy Health Innovations (CHI), and the most recent addition to Canopy Growth’s medical portfolio, Bionorica SE-founded C3 Cannabinoid Compound Company (“C3”), a European leader in cannabinoid-based medical therapies. Incorporating these entities into one unified ecosystem will integrate the Company’s medical efforts as one global healthcare enterpris e. Spectrum Therapeutics now encompasses the production and distribution of full-spectrum and single cannabinoid medical cannabis products; industry-leading education, resources and support for patients and healthcare practitioners; as well as pre-clinical and clinical research and the development of cannabinoid-based medicines. “We’ve always been a company that provides more than medical cannabis to our patients,” commented Dr. Mark Ware, Chief Medical Officer, Canopy Growth. “We also offer education for patients and healthcare professionals and are engaged in research to define the safety and efficacy of cannabinoid medicines and the development of new cannabinoid-based treatments. Integrating our commercial medical businesses and clinical research arm under a single entity better reflects our position as a healthcare company that’s driving further acceptance of cannabinoids as mainstream medicine and addressing the medical and wellness needs of our patients worldwide.”
Akerna Corp. (NASDAQ:KERN) was created by the merger of MTech Acquisition Corp. and MJ Freeway LLC. MTech Acquisition Corp., the first US-listed Special Purpose Acquisition Company focused on acquiring a business ancillary to the cannabis industry, and MJ Freeway LLC, a leading seed-to-sale regulatory compliance technology provider and developer of the cannabis industry’s first enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, announced they have completed their previously announced business combination, becoming the first compliance technology company in the cannabis space to be traded on Nasdaq. Akerna is a regulatory compliance technology company in the cannabis space. The cornerstones of Akerna’s service offerings are MJ Platform® and Leaf Data Systems®, which are highly-versatile platforms that provide clients and government entities with a central data management system for tracking regulated cannabis products, from seed to product to shelf to customer, through the complete supply chain. Since establishment in 2010, the Company has tracked more than USD 15 Billion in cannabis sales. As part of its business strategy, Akerna intends to grow through targeted, strategic acquisitions that are complementary to its current business and organically by accelerating its product development efforts. Akerna is based in Denver. MJ Freeway Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer Jessica Billingsley will lead Akerna and is the first Chief Executive Officer to bring a regulatory compliance technology company in the cannabis space to Nasdaq. She stated, “As legalization of cannabis expands across the world, we believe it is imperative that businesses, patients, consumers, and governments have the tracking and compliance technology they need to make informed decisions and comply with applicable regulations. We believe Akerna is well suited to meet these needs with the ability to scale rapidly across the world and offer a robust and innovative platform for growing industry demands.”
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE:SMG), with approximately USD 2.6 Billion in sales, is one of the world’s largest marketers of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care. Hawthorne Canada Limited, a subsidiary of Hawthorne Gardening Company which provides an array of tools for a multitude of gardening needs and is a subsidiary of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, and The Flowr Corporation (TSXV:FLWR.VN) recently celebrated the ground breaking for the construction of North America’s first research and development facility dedicated to advancing cannabis cultivation techniques and systems. The 50,000 sq. ft. facility is located on the cultivation campus Flowr is constructing in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. The facility will include laboratories, indoor and greenhouse grow suites, training areas and genetics breeding areas in a single building. Flowr expects to develop and test Hawthorne cultivation systems such as lights and fertilization and irrigation systems in the facility. Flowr also intends to research genetics and cultivation data analytic systems in the facility. Hawthorne is funding the construction of the facility which is expected to be completed in the summer of 2019. The facility is the centerpiece of an exclusive strategic R&D alliance Flowr and Hawthorne created in March 2018. Hawthorne selected Flowr for this alliance based on the technical expertise of Flowr’s design, build and cultivation team under the direction of Flowr Co-Founder Tom Flow. Flow is widely recognized for his cannabis thought leadership and expertise building and operating cannabis cultivation facilities. He also co-founded MedReleaf which recently was acquired by Aurora for CAD 3.2 Billion. “We chose work with Flowr due to their ability to grow quality, consistent plants,” said Chris Hagedorn, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Hawthorne Gardening Company.”Dedicated to innovation, this first-of-its kind research facility willhelp to optimize our entire array of products, from lighting to nutrients and environmental controls, andput us in the unique position tohelp our customers, no matter their size and scale, get the result they seek witheven more precision.”
Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX:CWBHF) (TSX:CWEB.TO) is the market leader in the production and distribution of innovative hemp-derived cannabidiol (“CBD”) wellness products. Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. recently unveiled its newest CBD product line, hemp extract-infused CBD Gummies, made with whole-plant extract from its prized hemp genetics and featuring synergistic functional ingredients to support specific health-related functions including everyday stress, sleep, and recovery from exercise or active lifestyles. The gummies feature Charlotte’s Web whole-plant hemp extract made from the Company’s proprietary hemp genetics that people know and trust. Charlotte’s Web extracts contain a full-spectrum of 80+ naturally occurring phytocannabinoids plus terpenes and flavonoids. In addition, the three varieties of gummies are uniquely formulated and enhanced with functional herbs and botanical supplements that work in synergy to further support a targeted wellness focus. “Gummies are a very popular edible format as a result of convenience and measurable consumption,” stated Kelsey Morrison, Associate Director of Product Development at Charlotte’s Web. “This new delivery format from Charlotte’s Web provides an easy bite-sized way to ingest full-spectrum hemp-extract CBD.”
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