2021’s CBE TOP TEN
On April 21, 2021 Governor Northam signed Virginia’s recreational cannabis bill and made it law. Legal possession of up to one ounce and four plants for home cultivation will go live on July 1. More importantly for businesses looking to establish themselves in the new market will be the standing up of the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority “the Authority” that will regulate and “control the possession, sale, transportation, distribution, and delivery of retail marijuana and retail marijuana products in the Commonwealth.” The Authority will stand up July 1 of this year but will not “adopt such regulations prior to July 1, 2022,” and will start accepting applications on July 1, 2023. That puts us just over two years away from what will surely be a cattle call of interested cannabis parties. For now, let’s start with a good baseline understanding of the licenses that will be available.
The USA Cannabis Opportunity is Significant: New entrants who know what they are doing and operate smartly will be successful
By Terry Booth
Compared to Canada, the American cannabis industry is a very different ballgame — and it’s still only in the first inning. The highly rated research team at Cowen & Company, led by Vivien Azer, estimates that the legal cannabis market in the U.S. will grow from an anticipated $20 billion in 2020 to $40 billion by 2025. For an idea of just how much potential there is, consider that the state of California’s recreational market alone is greater than Canada’s entire national market ($3.1B to $2.5B). There are currently 15 states plus Washington, D.C. that have legalized adult-use cannabis. In total, 36 states now have legalized medical cannabis. These totals include states that at the 2020 elections saw ballot initiatives approved. Arizona, Montana and New Jersey all voted for legalizing adult use. South Dakota’s ballot initiative saw voters approve both medical and adult use, while Mississippi’s voters endorsed the state’s ballot initiative for medical use.
Ayr Wellness (CSE: AYR.A, OTCQX: AYRWF) CEO Jon Sandelman had many reasons to be excited as he settled into a recent interview with CBE, which profiled him in 2018. To name but a few, he’s back
out on the road visiting cannabis businesses throughout the country; he’s doing podcasts and interviews (like this one) talking about the Ayr Way; and he remains in aggressive acquisition mode, picking up cannabis assets at a seemingly record pace in an increasing number of targeted states, including Arizona, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Florida, where Ayr arguably has its largest footprint. The company also recently announced plans to enter the Illinois market with its agreement to acquire Herbal Remedies Dispensaries’ two licensed retail locations by the end of 2021, and a similar deal was inked in March with New Jersey-based Garden State Dispensary that encompasses retail, cultivation, and production assets. Ayr, which is in the middle of moving its official HQ from New York to new offices in Miami, celebrated the opening of its 50th store in April, and since then has opened at least four more dispensaries.
by Joe Caltabiano
This past year has been game-changing for the industry. Cannabis was deemed essential, and regulators showed a willingness to quickly revise and roll out emergency rules allowing for online ordering and more flexible delivery options. These changes advanced the industry by several years in a short period of time and reassured investors who returned to the space in the second half of 2020.
by Tom Hymes
The way CEO Josh Genderson sees it, the company he founded eleven years ago, Washington, D.C.-based Holistic Industries, is on track to become the largest privately owned and operated cannabis multistate operator (MSO) in the country. Driven by a growth strategy that prioritizes a methodical
approach to decision making and a company culture with the mantra, “We want to be the best place to work, shop, and invest,” the manifest success of his strategy had the normally calm chief executive practically gushing during a recent interview, “We have so much organic growth in front of us, we’re opening so many stores and production facilities every quarter, there’s never a dull moment in this business.”
by Ryan Douglas
CapEx costs are the capital expenditures required to launch a cultivation business, while OpEx costs are the day-to-day operational expenses of running that business. These figures are substantial and vary widely between indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse operations. Understanding CapEx and OpEx costs are critical for determining the cash requirements needed to launch and operate a cultivation business until it’s profitable.
Founded in 2009, Colorado-based multistate operator LivWell Enlightened Health has over the years established itself as one of the industry’s more proficient players by utilizing the skills and grit that its Kiwi founder and longtime Colorado resident John Lord brought with him from other highly regulated industries into the nascent cannabis industry. As he explained in a 2016 CBE profile, when faced with equally embryonic state regulations that stymied anything but organic growth for LivWell and other Colorado cannabis companies, Lord and his team beat the odds by doggedly expanding the company’s footprint throughout Colorado before expanding into Michigan, building a reputation along the way as one of the industry’s leading vertical operators.
by Doug Poretz
It’s not much of a challenge to find cannabis companies that have crashed and burned since the business became legal and companies began to go public about five years ago. But one would be hard pressed to find a more dramatic shooting star than Zenabis Global Inc. In less than a year, starting in January 2019, when Andrew Grieve was named CEO, until December of that year, when he left the company, Zenabis evolved from an ingenious, but complex, three-way reverse merger that went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange, reaching an enterprise valuation of more than 35 times book value to almost eliminating shareholder value entirely.
by Susan Gunelias
As long as cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, brands will face cannabis marketing challenges. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to change in the near future. In the meantime, the key to success is understanding what those challenges are and finding ways to promote your products and services despite those obstacles. It can be done.
by Vince Sliwoski
I was born in Rogers Park, Chicago. When I abandoned college (one of the times), I moved back to work in a Greek and Albanian restaurant and live with my grandparents. I used to enjoy sitting at the breakfast table with them and reading the Tribune, which often carried stories of city and downstate corruption. My grandfather told stories of local aldermen spending $1mm to win $70k jobs (still happening), and recounted the sagas of the state’s jailed governors (there were four in his time). That sort of thing is endemic to Illinois, the most corrupt state in the nation by evidence and acclamation. It’s Chinatown.