One Canadian cannabis producer is crediting the high-profile failings of a competitor for its recent patient count achievement.

Last week, Geoffrey Benic, CEO of Aleafia Health (TSX:ALEF,OTCQX:ALEAF), informed shareholders that the company has reached an active patient base of 10,000 users for its medical products.


The company saw a 42 percent increase in its patient count during August and September, he said. In July, Aleafia Health had 7,000 patients.

 

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“Growing our base of active, registered patients means increased sales of our high-margin, value-added product portfolio,” Benic said in a letter to investors.

Benjamin Ferdinand, CFO of Aleafia Health, told the Investing News Network (INN) that he attributes the company’s patient count growth to a variety of things, including the recent difficulties of some notable licensed producers (LPs) in the market.

“We’re able to very quickly take advantage of opportunities in the market,” he said.

When asked how significant the halt of medical product sales from CannTrust Holdings (NYSE:CTST,TSX:TRST) has been for his firm’s patient count growth, Ferdinand said the struggles of other producers have opened a prime spot for Aleafia Health.

“We’re extremely focused on our patients and making sure that they get the product that they deserve, so if another (LP) is not able to deliver that to them, we want to make sure that we give them the opportunity to continue their care, and we’re well positioned for that,” he said.

In July, CannTrust was found to have been growing cannabis in unlicensed rooms out of its Pelham, Ontario, facility. The scandal has followed the cannabis firm — and investors — since then.

Following the initial announcement, the firm halted all its sales to medical patients on July 10.

Before the unlicensed growing was flagged by Canadian regulators, CannTrust indicated its patient count amounted to 68,000 at the end of the firm’s Q1 2019.

Patients logging onto the CannTrust website today are faced with a warning message indicating the firm cannot sell any medical products.

Ferdinand told INN the company counts on its education platform to gain practitioner referrals for new patients. The executive said those referrals are really what are driving the patient uptick.

“The model is really built around education, referrals and high-quality service,” he said.

Ferdinand would not disclose an official guideline for the amount of patients the company expects to enroll by the end of the year; however, he added that Aleafia Health is forecasting more patient contact per month, serving as a chance to grow its count.

Nawan Butt, associate portfolio manager with Purpose Investments, told INN he agrees there are opportunities appearing from the failings of LPs such as CannTrust. But he reminded investors these advances don’t stand to make a significant impact at this stage.

“Even though there is room created because of a failing LP, that’s not where the majority of the low-hanging fruit is,” Butt said.

At this point of development in the Canadian cannabis marketplace — according to Butt — LPs are more aggressively competing with the black market options available to consumers, rather than seeking patient bases from each other.

“Yes, the failings of a single company will cause an opportunity for other companies, but I think it’s much more important to understand the context of the market as a whole,” he said.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Cannabis for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

 

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Multi-state cannabis leader highlights events, partnerships, and activities to coincide with Juneteenth holiday

Trulieve Cannabis Corp . (CSE: TRUL) (OTCQX: TCNNF), a leading and top-performing cannabis company in the United States and its dispensary group Solevo Wellness, today announced the sponsorship of expungement clinics in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well as additional initiatives celebrating the Juneteenth holiday.

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A summertime series of expungement events, employee volunteerism, documentary filmmaking, fundraising and more demonstrate the importance of commitment to reform and restorative justice to build an equitable, inclusive cannabis industry

Today, on the 50 th anniversary of when America started its longest war—the War on Drugs— Cresco Labs (CSE:CL) (OTCQX:CRLBF) (“Cresco” or “the Company”), a vertically integrated multistate operator and the number one U.S. wholesaler of branded cannabis products, announced the launch of a summer-long social justice campaign supported by its Sunnyside retail brand and flagship cannabis brand, Cresco . Through community expungement events, employee volunteerism, a film documenting the impact of unjust prosecution, and financial contributions from the Company and our third-party vendors, the “Summer of Social Justice” campaign aims to influence reform to help shape a future cannabis industry with limitless opportunities for everyone. The campaign will amplify the ongoing restorative justice, community business incubator and education and workforce development programming facilitated by the Company’s established SEED (Social Equity & Education Development) initiative.

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Florida’s legal cannabis program has gained plenty of investor attention as the potential for this segment of the US cannabis market continues to expand.

The US cannabis industry is largely fragmented because the plant remains illegal at the federal level. Despite that obstacle, several states across the country have implemented medical and recreational cannabis legislation allowing for cultivation, processing, commercial sale and consumer use.

While this legislation differs greatly from state to state, one state’s medical cannabis industry has seen unprecedented growth: Florida.

 

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The coastal state’s journey to cannabis legalization has been a challenging one. In 2016, over 70 percent of Floridians voted for a constitutional amendment to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

However, in the 2017 legislation that created the state’s legal medical cannabis framework, then-Governor Rick Scott banned smoking medical cannabis. It wasn’t until March 2019 that Ron DeSantis, the current governor of Florida, lifted the ban on smokable marijuana.

In the face of those challenges, the Sunshine State has developed one of the most attractive medical cannabis markets in the country. In fact, Florida’s medical marijuana space is one of the fastest growing in the country.

Read on to learn more about the investing opportunities in Florida’s legal cannabis space and the top marijuana stocks to look out for.

Florida medical cannabis: High-growth market

Florida’s large population — the third biggest in the US — is a factor in the attractiveness of its cannabis market. The state is also the fourth largest economy in the US with a gross domestic product of just over US$1 billion in 2020.

A 2020 report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics shows the US legal cannabis industry is expected to grow by 18.2 percent between 2019 and 2025 to reach US$33.9 billion. Florida ranks among the jurisdictions that will contribute the most to that growth.

“The Total Available Market, or TAM, is one of the most critical factors for any industry,” states Dustin Robinson, founding partner of Mr. Cannabis Law, in an article written for Green Entrepreneur. “Florida’s marijuana industry happens to have one of the strongest TAMs in the world.”

As of a June 2021 update from Florida Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), the state had 569,450 qualified medical marijuana patients and 2,542 qualified physicians.

Florida’s patient count is a small percentage of its population of 21 million, but it has been steadily growing since the drug was legalized in the state in 2016. In fact, the patient figure has more than doubled in the past two years.

According to Robinson, there are almost 300 retail locations in Florida, with another 500 locations expected by the end of 2022.

Beacon Securities analyst Russell Stanley has said Florida boasts a healthy list of addressable medical conditions that can be treated with cannabis, unlike the medical marijuana programs in other states.

“Some other states have had trouble expanding their programs, in part because it’s been very difficult for patients to get access to product,” Stanley told the Investing News Network. “Other states have had restrictions on which healthcare practitioners can recommend it and what they can recommend it for.”

 

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Florida cannabis market: High barriers to entry

The 2017 Florida medical marijuana law established a cap on the number of medical marijuana dispensaries and required that each center be vertically integrated — they all had to manage their own operations, from cannabis cultivation and processing to distribution and sales.

The cap on the number of dispensaries expired in April 2020. While the vertical integration requirement portion of the law underwent a three year court battle, the Supreme Court of Florida recently upheld the legislation, meaning this requirement will continue to shape the Florida cannabis market for years to come.

During a panel discussion, Steve Hawkins, CEO of Horizons ETFs Management (Canada), said he views vertical integration as one of the key benefits for US companies compared to the Canadian cannabis market. Only players that have been able to develop cannabis production, manufacturing and distribution capabilities can compete in the marketplace.

As of March 2021, the state had 22 licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) and five laboratories licensed for third party testing. The low number of licenses currently awarded creates high entry barriers, which is a big plus for the currently operating companies that have already established a strong foothold in the market.

Robinson believes that “the 22 Licensees are in a great position to build multi-billion-dollar companies in Florida’s growing marijuana industry.”

These 22 established licensees will also have an advantage if and when recreational cannabis becomes legal in the state. “In Florida, the medical marijuana license allows the current MMTCs to build out as big of a footprint as possible in preparation for adult use (recreational) legalization,” he said.

Florida cannabis market: Top Florida cannabis stocks

As the legal cannabis industry grows in Florida, some players have begun to stand out in the state.

Florida native Trulieve Cannabis (CSE:TRUL,OTC Pink:TCNNF) holds the lion’s share of the market and has continually been a top-performing stock in the state.

Trulieve opened Florida’s first medical marijuana dispensary back in 2016, and since then it’s grown into a force in the industry, with a current market capitalization of US$5.52 billion.

As of June 4, 2021, Trulieve had 82 dispensing locations in the state, according to data released by the OMMU. In one week’s time it sold more than 76.5 million milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products and 1.6 million milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD) products, in addition to 32,295 ounces of dried flower.

Shortly after smokable marijuana was legalized, Trulieve began selling flower and was the first in the state to do so. Trulieve has also benefited from a vertically integrated structure that includes cannabis cultivation, production and distribution, which is essential since cannabis cannot be moved across states lines just yet.

Surterra Wellness comes in at a distant second place with 39 dispensing locations and sales of over 22.2 million milligrams of THC products and 1.6 million milligrams of CBD products, in addition to 6,911 ounces of dried flower. Surterra is owned by Parallel, one of the largest privately held multi-state cannabis operators (MSOs) in the country.

 

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Parallel recently announced its intentions to go public through a definitive business combination agreement with Ceres Acquisition (NEO:CERE,OTCQX:CERAF), a special purpose acquisition company.

Another big player in the state is Massachusetts-based Curaleaf Holdings (CSE:CURA,OTCQX:CURLF). Though not native to Florida, Curaleaf’s presence in the state’s cannabis business is substantial. Of the MSO’s total 101 dispensaries, 37 are in Florida, putting it in third place behind Trulieve and Surterra.

The vertically integrated company also launched the state’s first medical cannabis tablets in September 2019, followed by the first sublingual tablets in July 2020.

Curaleaf put up impressive revenue numbers for 2020, reporting retail revenue of US$423.2 million compared to US$138.7 million in 2019. The company attributed the 205 percent increase to new store openings in its operating states, including five opened in Florida in 2020.

Liberty Health Sciences, which was acquired by Ayr Wellness (CSE:AYR.A,OTCQX:AYRWF) in February 2021 in all-stock transaction, also has a considerable stake in Florida. According to the OMMU, Liberty currently has 36 dispensing locations in the state.

Ayr Wellness plans to increase that footprint to 42 dispensaries by the end of 2021, and has a target of roughly US$4 million in annual retail revenues per store for 2022. In May 2021, the company announced the launch of its Origyn premium concentrate line in the state. The product line includes wax, crumble, Rick Simpson oil and shatter. Ayr has also begun construction of a 10 acre outdoor cultivation expected to be completed in Q3 2021.

Florida cannabis market: Investor takeaway

As its medical marijuana industry continues to grow, Florida has a lot to offer in terms of investment opportunities. BDS Analytics projects that Florida’s medical cannabis market will hit US$1.5 billion in sales in 2021, up 53 percent over 2020 sales.

The research firms predicts that recreational cannabis could be legal by 2023, which would set Florida on a path to become the third largest US legal cannabis market by 2026. Regardless of whether adult use gets the green light that soon, investors should still consider the Sunshine State as a premier cannabis jurisdiction.

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Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (CSE: TRUL) (OTCQX: TCNNF) (“Trulieve” or “the Company”), a leading and top-performing cannabis company based in the United States announced today the opening of a new Florida dispensary, the Company’s 90th nationwide.

The latest dispensary, located in the Florida Keys, supports Trulieve’s goal of ensuring medical cannabis patients across Florida have safe, reliable access to the medications they rely on. The Tavernier dispensary joins the nearby Key West dispensary, as well as several others throughout the Miami area.

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Company to Donate: $30,000 to Assist with Elk Grove Village’s Community Events and Outreach Programs; Additional $15,000 to Go Towards Supporting Alexian Brothers Medical Center’s Foundation, Elk Grove Village Police Drug Education Program and Kenneth Young Youth Center

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