Amazon lobbying on legalization

marijuana, california
Welcome to Insider Cannabis.

Welcome to Insider Cannabis, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.

Happy Friday everyone:

What’s going on this week? Turning Points Brands, a NYSE-listed company, turned a few heads in the industry this week by announcing an $8 million investment into Old Pal, a California cannabis brand.

Companies that want to maintain their listings on marquee exchanges like the NYSE usually won’t touch US cannabis with a 10,000-foot pole. But Turning Points Brands got around that with some clever moves, as Marc Hauser, who co-leads Reed Smith‘s cannabis practice, noted in his Cannabis Musings newsletter (which you should read).

First, the investment is a convertible note – a form of debt that converts to equity at a later date – and that Old Pal, while nominally a “plant-touching” company, actually operates on a licensing model. So, as Hauser said, TPB is merely lending to a licensing business – not directly investing in a company that traffics in a Schedule I controlled substance.

It’ll be interesting to see if other companies follow this model.

What else is happening?

Cannabis was first domesticated in neolithic China, making it one of the oldest domesticated crops known to humanity. New York airports won’t seize cannabis found at TSA checkpoints anymore. New Jersey is dismissing 88,000 marijuana possession cases.

Sen. Cory Booker clarified his stance on the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would let cannabis companies access the banking system in an interview with Yahoo. He called the bill – which has bipartisan support, unlike the broader, social justice-focused legalization bill he, Sen. Schumer, and Sen. Wyden proposed last week – a good “sweetener” to sway moderates to a more progressive vision of full-scale legalization.

He previously said he would try and stop SAFE Banking from advancing ahead of his broader legalization bill at all costs, as you may remember from last week’s newsletter.

– Jeremy Berke (@jfberke) & Yeji Jesse Lee (@jesse_yeji)

If you like what you read, share this newsletter with your colleagues, friends, boss, spouse, strangers on the internet, or whomever else would like a weekly dose of cannabis news.

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

Check out the pitch decks that hot cannabis startups used to raise millions from top investors

Cannabis startups have raised millions in the last few years, targeting everything from tech, to distribution, to branded products. We’ve published over a dozen pitch decks from startups like Cann, Dutchie, and Eaze, and gone deep with the founders about their best tips for raising money in an emerging sector like cannabis.

‘A generational wealth opportunity’: 4 top Wall Street analysts share the cannabis stocks to buy now

Four top Wall Street analysts named their top cannabis stock picks. Here’s a look at which companies analysts from Cowen, Jefferies, and others say you should place your bets.

Huge consumer companies from Nestle to Altria are vying for a slice of the exploding CBD market

CBD is already a $2 billion industry in the US, but the cannabis compound’s legal status is murky. Still, that hasn’t stopped large consumer companies from striking up deals and partnerships to jump into the industry.

See the pitch deck that Compass Pathways used to raise $80 million and fuel its rise into one of the world’s biggest psychedelics companies

Compass Pathways is the second-largest psychedelics company in the world by market cap. But in 2019, the company was just getting started. Insider got a hold of a leaked pitch deck the company used to raise $80 million from investors like Otsuka and Founders Fund.

Amazon, investment banks, and even big tobacco are spending millions of dollars to try to get favorable marijuana laws

A record 167 special interests lobbied on cannabis in the second quarter of 2021, an Insider analysis of new lobbying disclosures found. Amazon, Altria, and Morgan Stanley were among the companies lobbying on cannabis banking or legalization.

The CEO of the biggest psychedelics company lays out the 3 challenges he has to address before treatments hit the market

Florian Brand is now the CEO of the biggest psychedelics company in the world. In an interview after Atai’s IPO, Brand laid out the three challenges he has to address before treatments hit the market

Top VCs in psychedelics say Big Pharma is knocking at the door – and it could fuel a wave of deals

Insider talked to 11 top VCs in the psychedelics space and asked for their predictions. Three of them said that pharmaceutical companies are eyeing the space and looking for a way in. This article is the first of three that will detail VCs’ predictions for the psychedelics industry.

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Employees tend to medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel.

Executive moves

  • California-based cannabis company Harborside announced on Monday that chairman Matt Hawkins would be stepping in as interim CEO. Hawkins runs the cannabis investment firm Entourage Effect Partners. Former CEO of Sublime Ahmer Iqbal has been appointed to COO.
  • Psychedelics company Compass Pathways said on Wednesday that it had appointed Danielle Schlosser to senior vice president of clinical innovation.
  • Cannabis edibles startup Hervé has appointed a pair of marketing execs in California, including Cheyne Nadeau who joins from Canndescent, and Emily Ryan, from Plus Products. Read our story on Hervé’s Series A here.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Multistate operator Ayr Wellness announced on Tuesday that it would acquire Illinois-based Herbal Remedies Dispensaries in a $30 million cash and stock deal.
  • Cannabis-focused hydroponics company GrowGeneration said on Tuesday that it had acquired Oregon-based Aqua Serene. The investment bank Stifel estimated the deal amounts to $7 million in a note.
  • Turning Points Brands, an NYSE-listed company that owns Zig-Zag rolling papers and other smokeless tobacco brands, is investing $8 million into cannabis brand Old Pal through a convertible note.
  • Silver Spike Investment Corp. said on Tuesday that it had plans to make an initial public offering on the Nasdaq until the symbol “SSIC.”
  • Psychedelics company Field Trip Health announced on Friday that it had obtained conditional approval to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol “FTRP.”

Research and data

  • A new study from the Cannabis Research Center at UC Berkeley found that cannabis grows in California often tap unregulated groundwater sources which may have negative effects on streamflow and wildlife.
  • A new study published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society did not find a link between adolescent cannabis use and reduced motivation, but the authors said that greater cannabis use was associated with a devaluing of school.
  • A new study published in the journal Science Advances found that cannabis was first domesticated in Neolithic China.

Policy moves

  • New York State Senator Jeremy Cooney proposed a new bill that would let cannabis growers harvest and sell cannabis ahead of the final rules and appointments for the state’s Office of Cannabis Management. The bill would let growers start next year.

Chart of the week

Thirty-five to 44-year-olds in the US make up the largest portion of medical cannabis patients in the country, according to New Frontier Data. Twenty-five to 34-year-olds trail closely behind, making up 21% of all medical patients in the US.

cannabis weekly newsletter chart about the medical cannabis patients by age
medical cannabis patients by age

What we’re reading

What truck drivers really think about new federal regulations to crack down on drug use (Insider)

‘It’s going to be a bloodbath’: Why some Toronto pot store owners are giving up (BNN Bloomberg)

Your shopping mall’s latest tenant? A pot dispensary (NBC News)

Thieves are stealing California’s scarce water. Where’s it going? Illegal marijuana farms (CalMatters)

A man failed workplace drug test days after N.J. legalized weed and was fired. Now he’s suing. (NJ Advance Media)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Schumer’s legalization plan

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As the legal cannabis market grows in the US, there are many ways for investors to gain exposure to the industry.

Welcome to Insider Cannabis, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.

Most of our time this week was spent covering a sweeping, long-shot bid to legalize cannabis from Sens. Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Ron Wyden.

The trio introduced a draft version of the bill, The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), on Wednesday. If you need the key takeaways, we’ve got you covered here.

In short, and I said this on NBC LX on Thursday, the bill goes after the ‘whole enchilada’ (yes, terrible metaphor) for marijuana legalization: It would fully remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances, expunge some criminal records, tax and regulate the industry, create funds that help minority entrepreneurs, and eventually allow for interstate commerce.

This is the first time the senate majority leader has outlined cannabis reform as a top priority, and he’s joined by Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee – arguably the most powerful committee – as well as a former presidential candidate in Booker.

Though the bill will likely change significantly over the next few months, the chances it gets over the 60-vote filibuster threshold are almost nonexistent. It’s even unlikely they’ll get all 50 Democratic Senators onboard, as we’ve reported.

There’s a broader fight brewing within the industry as well as the popular activist movements that view legalization as the tip of the spear of broader police reform.

The industry’s investors and executives want access to banking. Senate Democrats and their progressive base want criminal justice reform first.

Booker drew a bright red line in a Wednesday press conference, indicating that we would stop bills like SAFE Banking, which would allow cannabis companies to access the financial system without broader legalization, from advancing ahead of criminal justice reform.

– Jeremy Berke (@jfberke)

If you like what you read, share this newsletter with your colleagues, friends, boss, spouse, strangers on the internet, or whomever else would like a weekly dose of cannabis news. update: Newsletters are now coming from our new domain, Also, a friendly reminder to add to your address book.

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

Top Senate Democrats just released a 30-page draft that lays out their vision for legalizing cannabis. Here are the 8 things you need to know.

The discussion draft for the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) was released on Wednesday. The bill isn’t expected to garner enough votes to pass the Senate – and the White House has not signaled support for the legislation – but Insider looked through the 30-page document to highlight eight key points in the draft.

A top Wall Street analyst lays out why Schumer’s legalization bill isn’t a slam dunk for US cannabis companies

In a Thursday note, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic said that while de-scheduling – a key aspect of the CAOA – would be a big win for the industry, a hefty federal tax would pose a “new burden” to consumers who already have to pay high state and local taxes. Zuanic broke down the draft into 7 points and noted how each one would affect current cannabis companies.

A top Wall Street analyst lays out 4 cannabis stock picks after Schumer’s sweeping marijuana legalization proposal

Analysts say that the recent pullback in US cannabis stocks the day Democrats released their bill draft has created a prime buying opportunity and laid out his top four picks. “Make use of yesterday’s weakness,” the analysts said in a Thursday note, adding that investors should avoid financially stretched companies that lack “state-level depth.”

Meet the top 11 VCs who’ve bet the most cash on turning MDMA and magic mushrooms into medical treatments

The psychedelics space has burgeoned over the past year and VCs are largely responsible for all the capital that’s flowing into the space. Insider put together a list of the top investors that have bet the most cash on psychedelics companies.

Executive moves

  • Curaleaf announced that Ranjan Kalia, former executive vice president and CFO of tech firm Virtusa Corp, would be joining the company as CFO.
  • MedMen announced that Tom Lynch, who had been serving as interim CEO, would be stepping into the role on a permanent basis.
  • President Joe Biden tapped Dr. Rahul Gupta as the new director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Gupta is the former chair of the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.
  • Cannabis retail company Zoned Properties named Berekk Blackwell as its new COO.
  • Psychedelics wellness retreat company Dimensions Health Centres said that Dr. Douglas Cook, head of neurosurgery at Queen’s University, will be joining the company as chief medical officer. Hospitality veteran Linda Griffin will be joining as managing director of hospitality.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Michigan cannabis company C3 Industries closed a $25 million funding round led by Welcan Capital and Navy Capital, bringing the company’s total capital raised to $65 million.
  • Psychedelics company Wesana Health announced that it acquired therapeutic software company PsyTech in a C$21 million all-stock deal.

Policy moves

Research and data

Chart of the week

Florida dominates the US medical cannabis market, selling $1.2 billion worth of products in 2020, according to New Frontier Data. Trailing closely behind are Arizona and California, at $1.1 billion and $857 million in sales respectively:

A bar chart about the top 10 medical cannabis market by revenue in 2020
Top 10 medical cannabis market by revenue in 2020

What we’re reading (and listening too)

The trucking industry is doubling down on booting marijuana smokers, and it’s getting a little ridiculous (Insider)

Lab-grown weed designed to give you the munchies without feeling high could be a life-saving cancer treatment (Insider)

The lawyers making money behind the scenes of emerging fields like crypto, cannabis, and the influencer economy (Insider)

Can Marijuana Make You a Better Athlete? (New York Times)

Illegal pot invades California’s deserts, bringing violence, fear, ecological destruction (LA Times)

One of the biggest names in craft beer is hopping over to the cannabis business (CNN)

Opinion: How should we do drugs now? (New York Times)

Mr. Marijuana and the Drug Czar (Slate)

Read the original article on Business Insider

From Tesla to Workhorse, here are the 50 most popular stocks among retail investors on Robinhood

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Robinhood is hugely popular among day traders, putting it at the center of the GameStop frenzy

Robinhood has been the poster child of the commission-free trading movement that has drawn a new generation of investors into the stock market, and its user base skews heavily to Millennial and Gen Z investors. From iconic companies like Apple, to upstarts looking to disrupt whole industries, here are the top 50 stock picks among Robinhood users.

50. Workhorse

Workhorse Truck

Workhorse, the Loveland, Ohio-based electric-vehicle maker, has become a retail favorite among other auto manufacturers, like Lordstown Motors and Canoo.

49. Boeing

Inside the cockpit of Boeing 757 testbed aircraft - Honeywell Aerospace Boeing 757 testbed aircraft
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Shares of the plane-maker have rallied more than 12% so far this year.

48. Zynga

Zynga Peak
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The mobile-gaming company sees more than $1 billion in sales opportunity if it expands beyond mobile games to consoles and computers, Bloomberg reported.

47. Uber

Photo by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Shares of the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company have been barely changed so far this year.

46. United Airlines

Flying United Airlines during pandemic
Thomas Pallini/Insider

The airline slumped amid the COVID-19 pandemic but has turned around as air travel picks back up.

45. SPDR S&P 500 ETF

A number of value stocks have been surging on the S&P 500 in 2021.
Kena Betancur/VIEWpress

The ETF tracking the benchmark index has risen about 15% so far this year.


nvidia impressive ceos 2x1
Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia. Nvidia; Skye Gould/Insider

The chip and graphics card producer has rallied more than 50% year-to-date.

43. General Motors

General Motors headquarters Detroit
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The automaker is among a slew of others in the industry that retail traders have rallied behind.

42. Coca-Cola

Coca-cola billboard
Peter Macdiarmid/Reuters

Shares of the Atlanta-based beverage company have rebounded from a slump earlier this year.

41. Vanguard S&P 500 ETF

Vanguard vs Fidelity
MoMo Productions

The exchange-traded fund has rallied 14% so far this year.

40. Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Prima cruise ship
Norwegian Cruise Line

The cruise industry was hit hard amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but shares of cruise operators are on the rebound as the world reopens.

39. Ideanomics

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P. Steeger/Getty Images

Ideanomics, a small company focused on sustainability, has rallied alongside other meme stocks like GameStop this year.

38. Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic

The space tourism company has been a focus among Reddit retail traders for months. Shares soared in May after the company announced its successful test flight.

37. FuelCell Energy

fuel cell
REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

The Danbury, Connecticut-based company creates “clean, efficient and affordable fuel cell solutions,” according to its website.

36. AT&T

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

The media and telecommunications company based in Dallas is among retail-trader favorites on Robinhood.

35. Moderna

woman getting vaccine
A physician injects someone with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Moderna shares have rallied in recent days since the pharmaceutical company announced its COVID-19 vaccine should work against the Delta variant.

34. Starbucks

A Starbucks barista makes coffee in Florida.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The popular Seattle-based coffee maker recently added oat milk-based drinks to its menu.

33. Twitter

Twitter logo over computer
NurPhoto/Getty Images

The social-media site has been a hub for retail traders exchanging ideas this year.

32. Advanced Micro Devices

austin amd
Jack Plunkett/AP

Advanced Micro Devices, a semiconductor company, is frequently mentioned on Reddit investing threads like Wall Street Bets.

31. Canopy Growth

canopy growth
REUTERS/Chris Wattie

The Canadian cannabis company is one of a handful of its kind that are among retail-trader favorites.

30. Facebook

facebook logo

The social media behemoth is now worth more than $1 trillion after a federal judge dismissed antitrust lawsuits against the company.

29. Tilray

Tilray marijuana

The Canadian cannabis company has seen a lot of Reddit hype as retail investors look to position themselves for the possibility of legalization in the US.

28. Coinbase Global

The photo shows physical imitations of cryptocurrency

Coinbase was the first major cryptocurrency exchange to go public on April 14.

27. Bank of America

BofA logo
Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Shares of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank have rallied about 36% so far this year.

26. OrganiGram

weed thc marijuana cbd cannabis
Olena Ruban/Getty Images

The Canadian cannabis company is one of several retail traders have hyped up.

25. Alibaba

alibaba jack ma NYSE
Alibaba went public on the NYSE in 2014. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Shares of the Chinese e-commerce company have fallen about 2.6% this year.

24. Netflix

Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images

The streaming site recently launched an e-commerce store to sell items from popular shows like “The Witcher.”

23. Snap Inc.

Snapchat messaging application.JPG
REUTERS/Thomas White

Shares of the social site have rallied about 35% so far this year.

22. Delta Airlines

Delta Air Lines Airbus A320
A Delta Air Lines Airbus A320. Philip Pilosian/

The airline is among several others that struggled during the pandemic but has begun to rebound.

21. Churchill Capital Corp IV

Boonchai Wedmakawand/Getty Images

Shares of the special-purpose acquisition company have nearly tripled in price since going public earlier this year.

20. Palantir

Alex Karp - CEO of Palantir Alex Karp speaks to the press as he leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, on May 23, 2018 after the "Tech for Good" summit, in Paris, France, on May 23, 2018.
Palantir CEO Alex Karp. Photo by Julien Mattia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Palantir CEO Alex Karp said the surveillance company is a favorite stock pick because the company respects the intelligence of the retail-trading community.

19. GoPro

GoPro Inc's founder and CEO Nick Woodman holds a GoPro camera in his mouth as he celebrates GoPro Inc's IPO at the Nasdaq Market Site in New York City, June 26, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Segar
GoPro Inc’s founder and CEO Woodman holds a GoPro camera in his mouth as he celebrates GoPro Inc’s IPO at the Nasdaq Market Site in New York City. Thomson Reuters

The maker of wearable cameras has rallied 38% so far this year.

18. Zomedica

Westend61/Getty Images

The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company is focused on helping meet the needs of veterinarians, according to its website.

17. GameStop

gamestop store
John Minchillo/AP

GameStop was recently added to the Russell 1000 Index, a list of the largest companies based on market capitalization, thanks to its epic rally pushed by retail investors.

16. Carnival

carnival cruise
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The cruise line industry shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but operators like Carnival are making a comeback as the pandemic recedes.

15. Aurora Cannabis

Aurora Cannabis
Alberta Cannabis Inc/Handout via REUTERS

Aurora is another Canadia cannabis company that retail traders have flocked to amid excitement over potential legalization in the US.

14. Pfizer

pfizer vaccine us
Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The pharmaceutical company has surged in popularity, largely thanks to the production of its COVID-19 vaccine.

13. Nokia

FILE PHOTO: Visitors gather outside the Nokia booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

Nokia has been looped into the basket of meme-stocks, like GameStop and AMC, that have gripped retail-traders attention this year.

12. Plug Power

Saudi Aramco hydrogen fueling station
Photo by Wang Haizhou/Xinhua via Getty Images

Plug Power, based in Latham, New York, is focused on creating hydrogen fuel cells to power vehicles.

11. American Airlines

American Airlines tails
American Airlines’ planes parked at a gate in Washington. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline has rallied about 35% year-to-date.

10. Amazon

amazon warehouse truck shipping
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

The e-commerce giant is among the biggest companies in the world with a $1.7 trillion market capitalization.

9. Microsoft

Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella is the CEO of Microsoft. Sean Gallup: Getty Images

Microsoft is among the largest companies in the world with a $2 trillion market capitalization.

8. Disney

Disney World
The Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World, Florida. Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images

Shares of the media and entertainment conglomerate have dropped about 3% so far this year.

7. NIO

STR/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese electric-vehicle maker has rallied more than 600% in the past year.

6. General Electric

General Electric reports strong earnings. Hussein Faleh/Getty Images

Shares of the long-time company have been on the rise this year, rallying about 25%.

5. Ford

Biden Ford
President Joe Biden drives the new electric Ford F-150 lightning at the Ford Dearborn Development Center in Dearborn, Michigan on May 18, 2021. Nicholas Kamm/Associated Press

The legacy automaker garnered attention earlier this year when President Joe Biden floored one of its electric trucks.

4. Sundial Growers

Marijuana Cannabis
AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Sundial, among other Canadian cannabis companies, is a favorite among retail traders.

3. AMC Entertainment

AMC stock
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AMC Entertainment became a retail-trader favorite earlier this year, and led a rally in memes last month amid renewed interest in meme stocks.

2. Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook. Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

The iPhone maker is the most valuable company in the world with a market cap of more than $2 trillion.

1. Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California on March 14, 2019.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla’s Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has captured retail-trader attention in both his company and in the realm of cryptocurrencies.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The Cost of Inequity: How and why inequity persists in the institutions that govern daily life in America

A receipt with the words "The Cost of Inequity" written on it on on a blue background.

Inequity, not to be confused with inequality, is the result of injustice and cultural exclusion. Cost of Inequity explores how and why inequity persists in the institutions that govern daily life in America while illustrating the real economic cost to society.

From education to the workplace, banks, healthcare and more, this series examines the historical causes, current policies and societal norms that perpetuate unfair, avoidable differences for marginalized groups.

Insider also conducted a survey of over 1100 American workers to examine the challenges businesses face in fulfilling DEI programs. Detailed results of the survey will be published in the coming weeks.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What GTI and Trulieve told Wall Street

An employee holds a display of dried marijuana at the Fire and Flower store as the first legal cannabis stores open in the province of Ontario, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 1, 2019.

Welcome to Insider Cannabis, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.

If you follow cannabis news closely, this week was a good reminder of the strange world we live in where marijuana use is completely legal and normalized in some states and a criminal act in others.

Late-night host Conan O’Brien lit up a joint with cannabis evangelist and comedian Seth Rogen on live TV, for O’Brien’s second-to-last ever TBS show. O’Brien said he’s not a regular marijuana user, but joked that he needed to do something with all his newfound free time.

Elsewhere in the late-night world, Jimmy Kimmel helped “Freddie the Stoner,” an Indiana man who was interviewed by the show while waiting in line at a dispensary opening in Michigan, land his dream job writing product reviews for Emjay, a Los Angeles-based cannabis delivery startup.

Lots of Americans of all political stripes watch Kimmel and O’Brien. You might think that late-night hosts being so brazen about using marijuana on live television is a clear sign that the era of marijuana prohibition is over. You’d be wrong.

LA Lakers guard Alex Caruso was arrested in Texas for having a grinder with a small amount of marijuana on him at the airport. He was released, but not before his mugshot was shared with the world. He’ll be fine, and I’m sure he has the money and resources to cover bail and fight whatever charges crop up, but he’s an example of what’s still happening to thousands of people across the country.

And on a semi-related note, two former consultants to Eaze were sentenced to prison for disguising credit card payments on the marijuana delivery service’s platform. At the hearing, US District Judge Jed Rakoff criticized the sentencing guidelines which called for life in prison for one, and 24 years for the other, Reuters reports.

The consultants broke the law. But life in prison for what amounts to fraud is quite a harsh sentence – the defendant ultimately got two-and-a-half years.

What else?

The Ontario Securities Commission gave out “quasi-criminal” charges to CannTrust‘s former CEO, Peter Aceto, as well as another executive and a board member for growing unlicensed cannabis.

And I got a fun scoop on what the CEOs of US cannabis companies Trulieve and Green Thumb Industries told an audience of some of the world’s most powerful investors at last week’s Robin Hood Investors Conference. You can read that here.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic said in a note this week the US cannabis sector has been suffering from a ‘Schumer overhang’ while the industry waits for the Senate Majority Leader’s legalization bill.

Let’s get to it.

– Jeremy Berke (@jfberke) & Yeji (@jesse_yeji)

If you like what you read, share this newsletter with your colleagues, friends, boss, spouse, strangers on the internet, or whomever else would like a weekly dose of cannabis news.

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

Psychedelics giant Atai is targeting a $2.3 billion valuation in its IPO. We pored over its 446-page filing to find 7 key takeaways.

The largest private psychedelics company in the world made its long-anticipated public debut last Friday. We dug through Atai’s public filings to narrow down the main takeaways investors should know about the company.

4 top cannabis-tech startups share how they’re gearing up to win a slice of New York’s $7 billion marijuana market

Tech companies that work in cannabis are preparing for New York’s adult-use marijuana market. Insider spoke to four cannabis-tech companies – Fyllo, Dutchie, LeafLink, and SpringBig – and all said they’re hiring aggressively to meet the demand of the New York market.

Capitol Hill staffers say they use marijuana freely even though it’s still illegal for federal workers

Using marijuana is a fireable offense in President Joe Biden’s White House, but many power players who work a couple of miles away on Capitol Hill can and do get away with it.

Most congressional staffers never get asked about their cannabis use, so they can light up or take edibles without too much concern about losing their jobs.

Meme stock shareholders are causing issues by not voting on things like exec pay and M&A deals. Here’s how startups are trying to improve the process.

Companies with large retail-investor bases face difficulties reaching a quorum in shareholder votes. “It’s hard to get those shareholders to show up and vote,” Tilray CEO Irwin Simon told Insider.

The CEOs of two of the biggest US cannabis companies break down the future of the industry to an exclusive audience of Wall Street’s most powerful investors

Green Thumb Industries and Trulieve CEOs spoke at the exclusive Robin Hood Investors Conference last week. The talk was closed to the press, but Insider learned the executives discussed the generational opportunity of investing in cannabis and made predictions about the industry.

Israel cannabis
An employee holds a leaf of a medical cannabis plant at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel June 24, 2020.

Executive moves

  • Amy Larson is joining TILT as the VP of operations and communications next week. She was previously a VP at Simplifya.
  • Psychedelics company Awakn announced on Thursday that David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College London, has joined as chief research officer.
  • In more psychedelic people moves, Novamind has appointed Dr. Paul Thielking as chief science officer.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Hydroponics company Hydrofarm Holdings will acquire Aurora Innovations, an Oregon hydroponics company, for $161 million in cash and $26 million in Hydrofarm stock.
  • Precision Extraction Solutions and Cascade Sciences are merging to form Sinclair Scientific. The merger will create what the company says is the largest cannabis and hemp extraction company, with combined annual revenue of over $100 million.
  • PharmaCann announced on Friday that it had completed a senior secured note offering. The net proceeds are worth around $79.9 million.
  • Awakn Life Sciences went public on the NEO Exchange on Wednesday under the symbol “AWKN” through a reverse takeover.

Policy moves

Marijuana Cannabis
In this March 25, 2018 file photo, a convention visitor examines a marijuana sample at the New England Cannabis Convention in Boston.

Research and data

  • Adolescent marijuana and alcohol use remained steady during the pandemic, despite decreases in both substance’s availability, according to a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Dr. Nora Volkow. The study also showed that past-month nicotine vaping among high schoolers decreased during the pandemic. The authors say the study shows that reducing teen use of substances cannot be achieved solely by limiting supply.
  • A new study published in the journal Sleep found that Zelira Therapeutics cannabinoid drug, Zenivol, is effective for treating insomnia and showed few adverse effects.
  • Alabama could add $600 million to its GDP in its first three years of medical cannabis sales, according to a report from cannabis software firm Akerna. Alabama legalized medical cannabis in May.
  • Cannabis information site Leafly published a report ranking states with legal cannabis on their social equity programs. California and Colorado topped the list, while Montana and South Dakota came in last. The report states that only 1 in 50 cannabis companies is black-owned, compared to the US average of 1 in 20 for other industries.
  • A new report from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation (CPEAR) looked at the challenges of establishing a framework for small, minority-owned businesses in the cannabis industry.
  • Cannabis use may be associated with suicidal ideation in young adults, according to a National Institutes of Health analysis of survey data from 280,000 young adults between the ages of 18-35.

What we’re reading

Amazon ditched cannabis testing, and more employers will likely follow (CNN Business)

CannTrust’s former CEO and two directors charged with fraud over unlicensed pot growing scandal (Financial Post)

Opinion: Cannabis is the great social experiment that wasn’t (CTV News)

Maine’s mom and pop weed scene sweats corporate ‘gentrification’ (Politico)

The Future Of Psychedelic Medicine Might Skip The Trip (Forbes)

How Conn. Learned From Its Neighbors On Pot Legalization (Law 360)

Political ‘infighting’ could mean more delay for New York’s legal marijuana business (New York Upstate)

I ate a 4-course meal at a weed pizza parlor and got stoned to the bone (Insider)

Eric Adams on weed, Beyonce, and the housing-sleuth haters (Vanity Fair)

Cannabis firms Tilt, Ayr pay nearly $300,000 each in MA settlements (MJ Biz Daily)

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Canadian cannabis giant Cronos is making moves to enter the US. Its $110 million deal with PharmaCann would give Cronos access to New York’s $7 billion market.

marijuana cannabis
Employees tend to medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel.

  • New York is shaping up to be the next hot spot for cannabis M&A.
  • Canadian cannabis giant Cronos recently struck a deal with private US company PharmaCann.
  • PharmaCann is one of the few cannabis companies operating in New York.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As New York’s recreational cannabis industry shapes up, companies are making deals to take full advantage of the emerging market.

On Monday, Cronos Group, a Canadian cannabis company backed by Altria, said it agreed to make a “strategic investment” in US cannabis company PharmaCann, which has operations in New York. Cronos paid $110.4 million for an option to acquire a 10.5% ownership stake in PharmaCann, once cannabis is federally legal in the US.

PharmaCann is privately owned and operates in six states: New York, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

Canadian companies have been vocal about their intentions to enter the US market as soon as they’re able to do so. Cannabis, though legal for medical use in 36 states and adult use in 16 states, is still considered a Schedule I drug by the US federal government.

Canopy Growth, the largest cannabis company in Canada, has deals with two US cannabis companies – Acreage Holdings and TerrAscend – that would let it target US cannabis consumers once the market opens up to it. Alcoholic-beverages giant Constellation Brands owns a large stake in Canopy.

Once New York’s cannabis market ramps up, annual sales could reach $5 billion to $7 billion, according to estimates from analysts at Stifel and Cantor Fitzgerald, respectively.

The Cronos-PharmaCann deal comes a few months after US cannabis company Ascend Wellness said it would take a majority stake in MedMen’s New York operations for $73 million.

Several other cannabis companies are also likely targets in the lucrative New York market.

Click here to read more about the deals you can expect in New York as the state legalizes cannabis. This article is available exclusively to Insider subscribers.

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A rotation into cannabis stocks by retail investors has a lot more room to run as the latest meme-stock rally fades, research firm says

Tilray cannabis marijuana
A worker smiles as she shows cannabis plants at the Tilray factory.

  • Cannabis stocks may be the next area of attention for retail investors as a recent rally in meme stocks fizzles, says Vanda Research.
  • Inflows for Tilray and Sundial Growers have picked up this week.
  • “Retail purchases of meme stocks probably peaked on Wednesday,” said Vanda.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The meme-stocks rally that’s propelled AMC Entertainment up more than 2,200% so far this year is showing signs of exhaustion, but a recent pickup in buying of cannabis stocks including Tilray suggests that space could be the next center of attention for retail investors, according to a research firm.

“Retail purchases of meme stocks probably peaked on Wednesday,” said Vanda Research on Friday, noting a slowdown in net inflows into shares of AMC, the top recipient of retail investment money in recent weeks. Its rally has carried through to GameStop, BlackBerry and other stocks favored by retail investors active on social media such as Reddit’s Wall Street Bets platform. Vanda monitors retail trading activity in more than 9,000 US stocks and ETFs.

Meanwhile, inflows of $28.6 million into shares of cannabis companies Tilray and Sundial Growers on Thursday were the strongest since earlier rallies in the first quarter of the year. That marked the first clear signs of a rotation out of meme stocks, said Vanda. There was also a significant pick-up in retail flow on Friday for Tilray, Sundial and Cronos, three of the largest cannabis stocks traded in the US.

Meme stocks bounced back into the spotlight for retail investors in late May as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were crashing. AMC shares began to surge after major shareholder Dalian Wanda Group sold almost all of its remaining stake in the company. Redditors cheered the newly available shares and flexed their newfound weight in the market.

While meme stocks are still heftier in value than weeks before, the rally was starting to fizzle with AMC shares pulling back. AMC on Wednesday had $66 million in new inflows, less than half of the $136 million mln it had averaged in the previous two sessions, said Vanda. BlackBerry picked up some of the slack by drawing in $110 million for its largest day of retail buying in 2021.

However, “as opposed to BlackBerry, we think the rotation into cannabis stocks has a lot more room to run,” said Vanda, adding that Sundial and Tilray were the fourth and seventh-most active tickers on WallStreetBets forums on Thursday.

Tilray and Sundial jumped during the week after Amazon said its public policy team will back the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021. The MORE act would, among other actions, end criminal penalties for anyone who sells cannabis in states where it’s legal.

“Despite the low chances that the Act is passed in the Senate (due to the filibuster), increasing media coverage is likely to attract the attention of the average retail investor,” said Ben Onatibia, a senior strategist at Vanda.

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Amazon says it will no longer include marijuana in its drug screenings for some workers

Amazon stops marijuana screenings
Matty Merritt.

Hello! This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, an awesome daily email read by 2.9 million next-generation leaders like you. Sign up here to get it!

In an attempt to overthrow the DQ that doesn’t limit how many brownie blizzards you can eat as your town’s best employer, Amazon announced it would no longer include marijuana in its drug screenings for some workers. So unless your position is regulated by the Department of Transportation, Amazon said it will treat marijuana like alcohol (should make for an interesting office holiday party).

  • Other employers like Hospitality Ventures, a management group that runs Marriott and Hilton hotels, have also dropped marijuana testing to attract already hard-to-find staff.

Everyone’s doing it. Last year, of the seven million drug tests conducted for employers by Quest Diagnostics, around 2.7% came back positive for marijuana. The number has been rising slowly, from 2% in 2016, as more states legalize recreational use.

Speaking of legalization, Dave Clark, Amazon’s consumer boss, said the company supports legislation to decriminalize cannabis and encouraged other companies to get with it.

Big picture: Amazon hopes its cool weed aunt energy, recent wage increases, and the introduction of a (poorly received) cry box will neutralize the slew of criticism it’s gotten around unsafe working conditions.

This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, a daily email. Sign up here to get it!

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Tilray and Sundial embark on 2-day rally after Amazon says it stands behind federal marijuana legalization

Tilray marijuana
A Tilray worker tends to cannabis plants.

  • Tilray and Sundial are rallying for a second day after Amazon endorsed a federal marijuana legalization bill earlier this week.
  • The two Canadian cannabis stocks are beloved by retail traders on Reddit investing threads.
  • Tilray and Sundial were part of the meme stock rally earlier this year amid the GameStop frenzy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Canadian cannabis companies Tilray and Sundial are on a two-day rally after Amazon announced it would support a federal bill to legalize marijuana – and retail traders are celebrating.

Shares of Tilray jumped 12% to $19 Wednesday and rose 9% in early morning trading Thursday. Last month, Tilray completed its acquisition of Aphria, making the combined business the largest cannabis company in the world by revenue.

As for Sundial, the stock closed 13% higher at $1.13 Wednesday and jumped another 17% Thursday morning.

Earlier this week, Amazon said its public policy team will back the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021, also called the MORE act, which would end criminal penalties for anyone who sells cannabis in states where its legal, decriminalize the use of cannabis in the US, and allow states to establish commercial marijuana sales.

Retail traders bullish on cannabis stocks have been hyping up the companies on Reddit’s top investing threads, and the sentiment is very positive. According to HypeEquity data, they were two of the top talked-about companies Wednesday among a group of 18 meme stocks, including AMC, Bed Bath & Beyond, and GameStop.

The stocks have seen a “significant pickup” of retail flows in recent days – the most since the meme stock frenzy began earlier this year, Vanda Research said in a recent report, noting the MORE Act as a catalyst for the uptick. The bill, which passed the House of Representatives in December, has “low chances” of being passed in the Senate, Vanda Research analysts said, but “increasing media coverage is likely to attract the attention of the average retail investor.”

In January, an army of retail traders poured into GameStop, starting a new trend of meme stocks. Amid a broad rally in meme stocks, Tilray and Sundial also surged but declined in the following months. Meme stocks have picked up again in recent weeks, though, led by an unprecedented rally in movie theater chain AMC Entertainment.

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Legal cannabis sales shot up to $17.5 billion during the pandemic as dispensaries helped Americans stock up on marijuana

In this March 22, 2019, file photo, Heather Randazzo, a grow employee at Compassionate Care Foundation’s medical marijuana dispensary, trims leaves off marijuana plants in the company’s grow house in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

  • The pandemic initially disrupted the legal cannabis industry, but 2020 saw record sales of $17.5 billion.
  • Dispensaries navigated changing regulations and markets to find new ways to reach customers.
  • A cannabis producer in Las Vegas told The New York Times sales in Nevada could top $1 billion in 2021.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shortly after Nevada officials announced that licensed cannabis stores and medical dispensaries could reopen after lockdown, Nicolas MacLean said cars were lined up for five blocks waiting for curbside pickup.

Like many industries in Las Vegas, the cannabis industry used to rely on tourists for sales, but that changed when the pandemic hit, MacLean, who serves as the CEO of Las Vegas-based cannabis producer Aether Gardens, told The New York Times.

“Locals are very discerning – they want something they aren’t going to find on the black market,” MacLean said. “Especially when you are stuck at home.”

The year of 2020 saw extraordinarily strong sales of legal cannabis in the US, up 46% from 2019 to a record $17.5 billion, according to cannabinoid market research firm BDSA.

“I expect this will be the first year Nevada does over a billion in cannabis sales,” MacLean said. “And it happened on the back of what I think no one expected.”

In western Massachusetts, where recreational cannabis use is legal, Meg Sanders, CEO of Canna Provisions, said government restrictions and later social-distancing requirements forced her to radically change her sales strategy.

At first, only medical dispensaries were allowed to remain open, while recreational-use retailers were forced to close.

“To have liquor stores deemed essential and not adult-use cannabis – especially when the law passed in Massachusetts was about regulating cannabis like alcohol – was surprising and unfortunate,” Sanders told The Times.

As Canna Provisions was allowed to re-open, the shop’s particular boutique-style in-person shopping experience had to change in favor of over-the-phone preorders.

“Our county is an internet desert,” she explained.

Now when customers call, they speak with a salesperson who can answer their questions and walk them through the available topicals, edibles, and smokables – a method, she said, is “working” for business.

“In our Lee store, preorders have become almost 100 percent of our business, so we bought more handsets and hired more people to answer the phones, and our revenue is up,” she said.

In Florida, Oswaldo Graziani Lemoine, the creative director at Fluent Cannabis Care, said his company’s 19 locations were able to remain open for the roughly half million state residents with medical cannabis cards. (Recreational use is illegal in the state of Florida.)

“For us, it became less about the in-store experience and more about offering our customers deals and the ease of pickup,” he told The Times.

In addition to offering special discounts, Graziani said future locations will be designed with pre-orders and drive through sales in mind – no counter, no lobby, just green.

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