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March 23, 2019, 2:36 p.m. EDT

The Week In Cannabis: SAFE Banking Act, Stocks In Red, IPOs, High Tech Agro Projects And Celebs In Marijuana

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By Benzinga.com

It was a big week for cannabis banking, as the SAFE Banking Act, which would provide protection to financial institutions that work with legal, compliant cannabis businesses, was scheduled for its first markup in the House Financial Services Committee Tuesday, March 26. This marks the first time a bill related to cannabis banking is receiving a markup in a congressional committee. You can catch the markup live at 2 p.m. ET at https://financialservices.house.gov/live/.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Warren Davidson (R-OH) and has 138 co-sponsors in the House.

“Allowing banks to work with the cannabis industry is vital for public safety, transparency and increasing access to capital for small businesses and marginalized communities,” said Morgan Fox, spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association, which is lobbying heavily for the bill. "We are confident the SAFE Banking Act will pass through this markup and continue to gain momentum in Congress.”

Follow Benzinga Cannabis (@BZCannabis) on Twitter for up-to-date news and stories on cannabis, hemp and CBD.

In capital markets, marijuana stocks had a tough Friday, as did the broader market.

“While cannabis stocks joined the broader market sell-off on Friday, the group has generally moved higher for the year,” Green Market Report CEO Debra Borchardt told Benzinga. “Tilray continues to have a $6-billion market cap even though the quarter’s revenues were just $15 million. Having said that, it did beat the average estimate for revenues from analysts. Still, it continues to be a pretty frothy valuation and the stock began trending downwards as the market began to fully digest the earnings announcement.”

The Cannabis Capital Conference is coming back to Toronto April 17-18!

Over the last five trading days, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF /zigman2/quotes/200444869/delayed HMLSF -2.56% /zigman2/quotes/208856346/delayed CA:HMMJ -2.80% lost 1.8 percent, while the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF /zigman2/quotes/204332491/composite MJ -2.54% tumbled roughly 1.4 percent. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust /zigman2/quotes/209901640/composite SPY -2.23% closed the period down 0.73 percent.

Top marijuana stocks with market caps above $400 million that trade on U.S. exchanges performed as follows over the last five trading days: 

• Acreage Holdings : up 15.8 percent

• Aphria Inc : down 0.7 percent

• Aurora Cannabis Inc /zigman2/quotes/210559470/composite ACB +0.15% : down 6.4 percent

• CannTrust Holdings Inc : up 8.4 percent

• Canopy Growth Corp /zigman2/quotes/200603886/composite CGC -1.52% : down 3.3 percent

• Cronos Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/206842762/composite CRON -2.91% : down 8.4 percent

• Curaleaf Holdings Inc /zigman2/quotes/205334348/delayed CURLF -0.40% : up 50.7 percent

• Green Growth Brands Inc /zigman2/quotes/204912440/delayed GGBXF +900.00% : down 1.7 percent

• Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd /zigman2/quotes/204266798/delayed TGODF -15.09% :up 4.7 percent

• Green Thumb Industries Inc /zigman2/quotes/200716694/delayed GTBIF +1.24% : up 15.2 percent

• GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR : down 0.3 percent

• Hexo Corp /zigman2/quotes/206508254/composite HEXO -0.83% : up 4.3 percent

• Harvest Health & Recreation Inc : up 18.8 percent

• iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc /zigman2/quotes/201709321/delayed ITHUF -1.12% : up 9 percent

• Marimed Inc /zigman2/quotes/209406908/delayed MRMD -4.26% : down 6.6 percent

• MedMen Enterprises Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201940908/delayed MMNFF -1.29% : up 11.2 percent

• OrganiGram Holdings Inc : up 1.6 percent

• Scotts Miracle-Gro Co /zigman2/quotes/200553749/composite SMG -1.82% : down 5.7 percent

• Tilray Inc /zigman2/quotes/209129655/composite TLRY -3.03% : down 7.4 percent

Item 9 Labs Corp. /zigman2/quotes/205967422/delayed INLB -4.17% announced it’s close to completing its 10,000-square-foot expansion project, which will more than double output capacity at its cultivation and processing facility in Arizona.

“Our cultivation manufacturing space will now total 20,000 square feet, giving us the opportunity to grow our staff and product suites,” said Item 9 Labs CEO Sara Gullickson. “This expansion is the second phase of a three-tiered plan that began in 2018.”

FLOWER CO., a California-based cannabis company, is now backed by Y Combinator, joining the ranks of successful startups like Airbnb, Dropbox Inc /zigman2/quotes/205896836/composite DBX -0.77% and DoorDash. FLOWER CO. launched at Y Combinator’s prestigious Winter 2019 Demo Day, introducing its Costco-based membership model for cannabis, which gives members access to savings of up to 50 percent versus traditional dispensaries. FLOWER CO. looks to bridge the gap after legalization and compete with the pricing of illegal marijuana, providing safe and fair access to all consumers.

Viceland’s show “BONG APPÉTIT: COOK OFF" will debut a new season on Tuesday, April 2. The show, a cooking competition featuring cannabis-infused plates, is hosted by B Real of Cypress Hill; Vanessa Lavorato, cannabis confectioner and founder of Marigold Sweets; and celebrated chef and restaurateur Miguel Trinidad. 

“Each episode follows three contestants as they face off in a series of cannabis cooking challenges, leaving one crowned the winner,” according to the producers. 

Mike Tyson has teamed-up with Planet 13 on an exclusive sales agreement for Tyson Ranch products in Nevada. Mike Tyson will be at Planet 13 April 13 to celebrate and meet fans at Planet 13 Las Vegas, the world’s largest cannabis dispensary superstore. 

“The Planet 13 Cannabis Entertainment Complex offers customers an ultra-premium cannabis experience that dovetails perfectly with Tyson Ranch’s belief that not all cannabis is created equally,” Tyson said in a statement. 

Cansortium Holdings Inc, a U.S.-based multistate operator and international player, started trading on the CSE under the ticker TIUM.U.

Sheldon Owen, founder of the first marketing intelligence platform for cannabis, Muncheez, was recognized with The Golden Jay Award.

FLOURISH, a global cannabis recruiting company, presents this monthly recognition to highlight workers who are pushing boundaries and building a better culture for cannabis industry professionals.

After 20 years of creating successful emerging technology companies such as the marketing analytics platform Unified, Owen said he noticed a lack of similar monetization for cannabis advertising.

“Cannabis was a one-sided marketplace. Cannabis advertisers would place ads and curate deals, knowing very little about how these strategies were resonating with consumers, leaving marketers in the dark," he said. 

“Marketers in the space already face plenty of difficulties with advertising. The driving force behind Muncheez is to provide the same level of data-driven insight non-cannabis marketers have at their disposal.”

Origin House subsidiary Trichome Financial Corp. entered into a CA$2 million ($1.5 million) two-year financing arrangement with licensed Ontario cannabis retailer C.G.S. Foods Inc. (dba Ganjika House). Ganjika House said it will open its Toronto retail location April 1.

“With the core of Trichome’s infrastructure in place and the ability to leverage Origin House’s significant U.S. market knowledge, we believe Trichome is uniquely positioned to capitalize on credit market opportunities in Canada and the U.S.,” said Trichome Financial CEO Michael Ruscetta.

Origin House also announced this week that its California subsidiaries Kaya and FloraCal have been awarded annual cannabis licenses.

The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. said it will also open a store in Toronto April 1.

“We are beyond excited, not just for April 1, but because this is such a critical moment for Canadian policy. This is a historic moment in time, and we think that The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. has the unique opportunity to set the precedent for future retailers by doing this the right way —producing responsibly, selling responsibly, consuming responsibly and regulating responsibly," a company representative told Benzinga.

CBDTOX, a CBD-infused hangover remedy, launched in the U.S. A mixture of hemp-derived CBD (cannabidiol), natural supplements, vitamins and electrolytes, CBDTOX targets the physical, mental and emotional lows associated with the dreaded hangover from alcohol. 

“Drinking is a large part of our culture in America, so many are often conflicted with the desire to excel professionally while also maintaining a social life,” said Kait LeDonne, head of operations. “CBDTOX Hangover Remedy aids in the dilemma of balancing major life moments in a way that promotes both health and enjoyment.”

True Leaf Medicine International Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202596755/delayed TRLFF +5.59% a global cannabis and hemp wellness brand for pets, announced its hemp-based supplements for pets are now sold in 3,500 stores worldwide with the addition of Pet Planet as a North American retail partner.

“As cannabis and hemp products continue to gain mainstream market momentum, our fully legal, hemp-based formulas have caught the attention of pet retailers in North America and Europe,” said Darcy Bomford, founder and CEO of True Leaf. “Today’s announcement is a testament to the quality and care we put into our products for pets. When you shop at Pet Planet, you know the products you are buying are nutritious and meet premium quality standards.”

Las Vegas-based GB Sciences, Inc /zigman2/quotes/206517120/delayed GBLX -5.26% launched GBS Global Biopharma Inc., a Canada-based cannabinoid medicine company, to expedite its research into 60 health conditions. GBS Global’s propriety R&D creates natural and synthetic cannabinoid-based “complex mixture” medicines. The company’s Parkinson’s, neuropathic pain and cardiac hypertrophy Rx programs are in the late preclinical stage of development. Over-the-counter programs for irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disorders and psoriasis are at the formulation stage.

“Basing our R&D In Canada lets us evaluate medications much faster than in the U.S. and freely collaborate with research partners globally to address conditions that impact many millions of people. This is an important day for our company, investors and patients," John Poss, GBS Global Biopharma board chair and GB Sciences CEO, told Benzinga.  

CBD Unlimited /zigman2/quotes/208751111/delayed EDXC -10.58% launched The Premium Blue Line X, an addition to its “controlled-dosing, targeted delivery and dual therapy” product suite.

“As we introduce our new Premium Blue Line X to the market, we are enthusiastic to reach an even greater customer base. We listen to what the consumer wants and are continuously innovating to meet customer standards. CBD Unlimited takes pride in its superior product line and we believe our Premium Blue Line X will be the perfect addition to our product family," CBD Unlimited CEO Todd Davis told Benzinga. 

Evalon, a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp /zigman2/quotes/206934678/composite USB -3.91% , decided to close all of its CBD merchant accounts.

Brian Baum, CEO of Cannovia, a company focused on federally legal CBD, said “the sudden decision of U.S. Bank to withdraw from the CBD industry is just one more speed bump on the road to a fully functioning CBD industry.”

The real loser is the consumer. CBD companies will find workarounds, but consumers face inconvenience and potentially higher transaction costs as they seek to purchase CBD-infused products.

"The emerging CBD industry requires leadership across all sectors ... in the banking industry, where U.S. Bank seemed to be taking a leadership role, there is now a void in leadership," Baum said. 

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