As investors get ready to evaluate what the public cannabis market will gravitate towards in 2019, experts offer some names most intriguing to them for the year ahead.

While Canada dominated in 2018 with legalization, 2019 is poised for multi-state operators (MSOs) in the US cannabis industry to raise capital on the promise of expansion.

Here, the Investing News Network (INN) offers a closer look into what appears poised to be the investing trend for top cannabis stocks this year: MSOs in the US marijuana market.

 

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MSOs conduct their businesses in legal US markets and participate by operating anything from dispensary networks to brands of products to cultivation facilities. A majority of these ventures seek vertical integration as part of their operations.

According to a report from New Frontier Data, 23 states currently hold some form of policy for medical marijuana, with 10 states allowing for recreational sales as well.

The study indicates more than half of the total US population is now in a legalized cannabis industry.

Shift in focus from Canadian plays to popular US MSOs

Following the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada on October 17, 2018, the marijuana stock market lagged as a sell off from investors took place in the public space.

Despite the sell off, investors have found the next growth stage section of the cannabis market and have now been attracted to MSOs raising capital in Canada.

The demand for these MSOs has led multiple observers in the industry to recognize their value and expansion potential in the market.

These plays in the US market are found on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE), an exchange that decided to allow US operators of marijuana assets despite the federal illegality of marijuana in the country.

Richard Carleton, CEO of the CSE, told INN last November that the stock exchange was eyeing over 140 applications to list, with 60 percent of those coming from the cannabis space.

“I think that the US companies have the confidence of investors and they’re going to be able to raise more capital,” Alan Brochstein, cannabis researcher with 420 Investor, told INN.

He foresees more public listings coming from the US rather than from Canada, representing a shift in the perception of leadership in the public space during the year.

“Investors should definitely be open minded to the US trade,” Brochstein said.

Nawan Butt, portfolio manager with Purpose Investments, identified a tactic from the cannabis investment industry that has taken ahold of the investor community.

“What we’ve done is become more aggressive on the US cannabis names, just over the past five to six months, rather than focus on the Canadian licensed producers (LPs),” he said.

Brochstein cautioned that this shift doesn’t represent a gloomy outlook for Canada, but rather that the Canadian markets will face the effects of consolidation.

“I’m not saying to sell Canadians,” he warned. “I just think it’s going to be tough for a lot of the Canadian LPs and you should expect consolidation, both from within Canada and from even US companies looking to enter Canada.”

 

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Which MSOs are getting attention from analysts?

When asked what stocks in the US market he is watching closely as 2019 unfolds, Brochstein offered a list of MSOs he’s monitoring, including:

  • Acreage Holdings (CSE:ACRG,OTCQX:ACRGF)
  • Harvest Enterprises (CSE:HARV,OTCQX:HTHHF)
  • MJardin Group (CSE:MJAR,OTCQX:MJARF)
  • MedMen Enterprises (CSE:MMEN,OTCQX:MMNFF)
  • Green Thumb Industries (GTI) (CSE:GTII,OTCQX:GTBIF)
  • Cresco Labs (CSE:CL,OTC Pink:CRLBF)
  • Trulieve (CSE:TRUL,OTC Pink:TCNNF)

The share prices for this mix of companies vary from growth-stage ventures to established firms with revenue and valuations showing trust from the market.

As part of a survey on the Financial Post, Greg Taylor, portfolio manager with Purpose Investments and active manager of the Purpose Marijuana Opportunity Fund, said the stock he sees as having the best options for market dominance in the US is Acreage Holdings.

Butt, also with Purpose Investments, said at the moment his firm “loves” names like Harvest and Green Thumb Industries.

MSOs have gained so much attention from the market that Matt Bottomley, director of equity research and cannabis researcher with Canaccord Genuity Group (TSX:CF,OTC PINK:CCORF), awarded Curaleaf (CSE:CURA,OTC Pink:CURLF) the firm’s top stock recommendation for the new year.

Kevin Murphy, CEO of the Acreage Holdings, indicated that investing from Canadian shareholders is leading the capital market race as they have welcomed the MSO play.

Bruce Campbell, founder of Stonecastle Investment and manager of StoneCastle Cannabis Growth Fund, views Origin House (CSE:OH,OTCQX:ORHOF) as potentially one of the only stocks with revenue and says it will be “cashflow positive by early part of second half of 2019.”

How to evaluate these fractured markets?

Unlike Canadian LPs, MSOs need to build up businesses from scratch or seek acquisitions as they enter a new state. Cannabis can’t be transferred from state to state, and the regulations for each market vary in restrictions and ease of access.

Butt said his priority is to look at which states a company operates in and “how quickly they are able to grow into those states.”

When it comes evaluating MSOs, Brochstein said he’s noticed two philosophies clash for the strategy of expansion on these companies.

 

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“You have some companies that are kind of like the Canadian LPs and they’re very aggressive, build it in any cost, get out in front first-mover advantage, these type of things … and then at the other extreme you have companies that are seeing a fiscally prudent tune.”

As these companies enter new markets or solidify positions in existing legal markets, Butt said it’s going to be very important for investors to remain aware of the status of legalization in different states.

The portfolio manager expressed interest in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania as attractive markets within the US.

Butt cautioned that investors must know what licensing looks like in the states of operation. Due to the differences in each jurisdiction, some states have opened more restrictive markets.

Investor takeaway

The eyes of investors have moved to the US, according to experts. Investors are committed to bypassing the illegal status of marijuana at a federal level in the country and focusing on confirmation of the larger market and the possibilities of rapid expansion.

Butt said while federal legalization in the US seems like a pretty safe bet, timing is crucial. Unless there is some clarity given, money from institutional investors is not going to enter the rapidly growing MSO space.

In the investing market for cannabis firms, investors have used different tools to evaluate companies, such as production capacity. As the market evolves and matures, elements like brands, international expansion and management teams are beginning to take ahold of evaluation metrics for these ventures.

In Canada, marijuana ventures have been catalogued with similar standards. However, a crucial element for comparing companies is the status of supply agreements with provinces in Canada, proving the demand for the company’s products.

For the US market, these supply agreements will take the form of licenses to cultivate product either for medical cannabis products or recreational ones.

Companies can also gain licenses for the establishment of retail dispensaries to sell medical or recreational weed products.

At the start of 2019, the public sentiment from investors in the marijuana stock market seems to be tipping towards an appreciation and dominance from these emerging US MSOs.


INNdepth

Want more details? Check out these articles for more INNdepth coverage.

Want an overview of investing in cannabis stocks? Check Investing in the Cannabis Industry


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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Zelira TherapeuticsLtd (ASX:ZLD,OTCQB:ZLDAF), a global leader in the research and development of clinically validated cannabinoid medicines, is pleased to announce that it has raised a total of US$5 million from Quincy Street Capital LLC (Quincy Street), a US-based family office fund, comprising:

  • US$3.5 million (A$4.79 million) via a placement of 79,908,676 Zelira fully paid ordinary shares at A$0.06 per share (Placement), a 54% premium to the stock’s last closing price
  • 1 unlisted option for every 2 ordinary shares issued, expiring 2 years from the date of issue with an exercise price of A$0.09 per option, with 39,954,338 total unlisted options to be issued
  • US$1.5 million (A$2.05 million) via an equity investment in Ilera Derm LLC (ZeliraDermatology) for a 3% shareholding in that company, valuing Zelira Dermatology at US$50 million.
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NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICES OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES. ANY FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS RESTRICTION MAY CONSTITUTE A VIOLATION OF UNITED STATES SECURITIES LAWS

Avicanna Inc. (” Avicanna ” or the ” Company “) (TSX: AVCN) (OTCQX: AVCNF) (FSE: 0NN), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development, manufacturing and commercialization of organic and sustainable plant-derived cannabinoid-based products, is pleased to announce that it has closed a non-brokered private placement (the ” Offering “). Under the Offering, the Company has issued an aggregate of 4,587,022 units (the ” Units “) at a price of CAD$0.85 per Unit for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately CAD$3.9 million.

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Nextleaf Solutions Ltd. (CSE: OILS) (OTCQB: OILFF) (FSE: L0MA) (“Nextleaf”, “OILS”, or the “Company”), a federally regulated producer of cannabis oil that owns one of the largest portfolios of U.S. patents for the extraction and distillation of cannabinoids, is pleased to announce the Company has entered into a supply agreement with Quebec-based licensed producer Medicibis (“Mendo”) to supply its medical platform www.Mendocannabis.ca with Glacial Gold™ branded products.

Mendo operates an online portal for medical patients that ships nationwide through www.Mendocannabis.ca. Glacial Gold™ CBD and THC vapes and distilled oils will be distributed by Mendo to their medical cannabis clients in Quebec and across Canada.

Quebec is the third-largest cannabis market in Canada, representing approximately 15%[1] of Canadian cannabis retail sales in the country, and approximately 22% of the Canadian population[2].

Cannot view this image? Visit: https://orders.newsfilecorp.com/files/5347/100149_54a84d0cc4d15940_001.jpg
Figure 1: Glacial Gold CBD and THC Vapes and Distilled Oils

To view an enhanced version of Figure 1, please visit:
https://orders.newsfilecorp.com/files/5347/100149_54a84d0cc4d15940_001full.jpg

Canadian spending on medical cannabis totaled $587 million in 2020[3]. Medical cannabis has become an important component of Canadian healthcare, with $119 million of medical cannabis purchases reimbursed by the Federal Government through Veterans Affairs Canada in 2020[4]. Despite Canada’s progressive cannabis regulation, price is still a major barrier for many medical patients.

Nextleaf leverages its patented high-efficiency ingredient processing technology to gain a competitive advantage and improve cannabis oil economics through the low-cost production of cannabis distillate standardized for potency and purity.

“Launching accessibly priced Glacial Gold™ vapes and distilled oils in Canada’s medical market and in Quebec have been important milestones for Nextleaf. We believe Mendo and their Quebec-based medical platform is positioned to become one of the leading suppliers of medical cannabis to patients and veterans in this country,” said Paul Pedersen, co-founder and CEO of Nextleaf Solutions. “Our innovative technology enables us to produce high purity ingredients at a low cost per molecule to offer patients quality CBD and THC products.”

“We are delighted to work with Nextleaf to offer Glacial Gold™ products through our recently expanded national portal, accessible by medical patients Canada-wide,” said Jay Schwartz, Director of Mendo Medical. “We are excited to feature the seven Glacial Gold™ SKUs that launched last month in British Columbia and to help them launch two new CBD SKUs that we think patients will be eager to experience.”

Nextleaf launched its award-winning, prohibition-era brand Glacial Gold™ in British Columbia last month, receiving national attention for quality products at disruptive price points. Included in the initial launch of Glacial Gold™ were seven total SKUs, consisting of four 1-gram vape SKUs and three distilled oil SKUs.

Glacial GoldDistilled CBD 50 Oil, Distilled THC 30 Oil, and Distilled 30:30 Blend feature high-purity distillate in a base of organic coconut MCT oil for a premium consumption experience, without premium pricing. A clean tasting and neutral oil allows for the greatest flexibility in use and consumption occasions.

The initial vape lineup from Glacial Gold is offered in two potency levels to match the consumer’s tolerance level or consumption occasion. The Session THC Vape features a full potency THC profile for cannabis enthusiasts who seek a more elevated experience and connection. The Anytime 1:1 Vape is formulated with a balanced THC and CBD profile for consumers looking for a more moderate, go-to vape.

About Medicibis

Medicibis is a federally licensed producer of dried cannabis and distributes its products under the brand name ENDO. Medicibis operates out of its 20,000 sq.ft. facility located 15 minutes from downtown Montreal in St Jean Sur Richelieu. Medicibis operates an online portal for medical patients that ships nationwide through their website mendocannabis.ca. Mendo’s menu has been carefully curated to offer a variety of products from licensed producers from all over Canada. Mendo is positioned to become one of the leading suppliers of medical cannabis to patients and veterans in the country.

About Nextleaf®

Nextleaf is a federally regulated producer of cannabis oil that owns one of the largest portfolios of U.S. patents for the extraction and distillation of cannabinoids. Nextleaf distributes cannabis vapes and distilled oils under its award-winning prohibition-era brand, Glacial Gold™, and supplies cannabis distillate to its wholesale customers. Nextleaf’s proprietary closed-loop automated extraction plant in Metro Vancouver efficiently transforms cannabis and hemp grown in B.C. and throughout Canada into high-purity cannabis distillate at an industrial scale. Nextleaf is developing delivery technology and differentiated cannabinoid-based formulations through its Health Canada Research Licence with sensory evaluation of cannabis via human testing. The Company owns 17 U.S. patents and has been issued 95 patents globally.

Nextleaf Solutions trades as OILS on the Canadian Securities Exchange, OILFF on the OTCQB Market in the United States, and L0MA on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Follow the Company across social platforms: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
www.nextleafsolutions.com

Follow Glacial Gold™ across social platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. www.Glacial.Gold

For more information please contact:
Jason McBride, Corporate Development
604-283-2301 (ext. 219)
jason@nextleafsolutions.com

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Company,
Paul Pedersen, CEO

Certain statements contained in this press release constitute “forward-looking statements”. All statements other than statements of historical fact contained in this press release, including, without limitation, those regarding the Company’s ability to capitalize on its IP portfolio, the Company’s strategy, plans, objectives, goals and targets, and any statements preceded by, followed by or that include the words “believe”, “expect”, “aim”, “intend”, “plan”, “continue”, “will”, “may”, “would”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “forecast”, “predict”, “project”, “seek”, “should” or similar expressions or the negative thereof, are forward-looking statements. These statements are not historical facts but instead represent only the Company’s expectations, estimates and projections regarding future events. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve assumptions, risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual results may differ materially from what is expressed, implied or forecasted in such forward-looking statements. Additional factors that could cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially include, but are not limited to the risk factors discussed in the Company’s MD&A for the most recent fiscal period. Management provides forward-looking statements because it believes they provide useful information to investors when considering their investment objectives and cautions investors not to place undue reliance on forward-looking information. Consequently, all of the forward-looking statements made in this press release are qualified by these cautionary statements and other cautionary statements or factors contained herein, and there can be no assurance that the actual results or developments will be realized or, even if substantially realized, that they will have the expected consequences to, or effects on, the Company. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this press release and the Company assumes no obligation to update or revise them to reflect subsequent information, events or circumstances or otherwise, except as required by law. The CSE has not reviewed or approved the contents of this press release.

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