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.
Happy Friday readers,
The cannabis news machine was cranking on all cylinders this week.
First, the SAFE Banking Act was reintroduced in the House by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The Senate version will be introduced next week. We read through the bill and pulled out all the most important details.
The SAFE Banking Act, a relatively narrow cannabis reform bill, has a really good chance of becoming law. The same cannot be said for more widespread decriminalization bills, at least in this Congress, as we reported with our colleague Kimberly Leonard in DC.
President Biden, for his part, will not likely be a friend to cannabis reform efforts – recent reporting from The Daily Beast shows that the White House fired staffers who admitted to past cannabis use. Bob Dylan may have said it best: The times are a-changing, but not quite as quickly as some may have hoped.
It’s important to keep in mind the more pernicious impact of punitive cannabis policies, though: It’s on people of color. Ninety-four percent of marijuana-related arrests by the NYPD last year were people of color.
In other news, check out my panel on cannabis reporting for SXSW online with some of the other folks on the beat. You can watch it anytime before Saturday.
Here’s what we wrote about this week:
The CEO of a $1.7 billion cannabis-tech startup shares how he convinced Tiger Global and DFJ to bet on the spread of marijuana legalization
Dutchie closed a $200 million Series C funding round led by Tiger Global. The monster round gives Dutchie a valuation of $1.7 billion.
Cannabis tech is one of the few areas that mainstream investors are allowed to bet on – and cannabis is hot.
A top Wall Street analyst lays out 5 cannabis stocks to buy now that could pop if New York races ahead to legalize marijuana
New York Gov. Cuomo said he expects to strike a deal to legalize cannabis ahead of the April 1 budget. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic picked five companies to bet on that are set to benefit.
Cannabis companies that survived a tumultuous 2019 and 2020 are seeing their fortunes improve. Insider looked through data from CreditRiskMonitor to see the risk of bankruptcy for major cannabis companies.
The good news is that cannabis companies have generally seen their financial situations improve over the past year. The bad news is that many still remain at risk and in the “red flag” zone.
Several Democratic senators say they’re against cannabis legalization, busting claims that the filibuster is the only obstacle in the way of reform
Democratic leaders want to federally legalize weed, an exciting prospect for the industry. But six Democratic senators on Capitol Hill told Insider they had reservations about doing so.
Insider’s interviews with several senators on Capitol Hill show Democrats aren’t united on the issue, and the prospect of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level this Congress isn’t as high as the industry envisions. Republicans tend to oppose the matter, but some would like legislation to support cannabis shops.
A House bill would help cannabis companies work with big banks and let you use your credit card when shopping for marijuana. Here are 7 things to know about the bipartisan plan.
House lawmakers introduced a modest cannabis reform bill this week that has a good chance of becoming law, because it has bipartisan support. Insider read through the SAFE Banking Act and chose the top takeaways from the legislation.
- Curaleaf announced that investment banking veteran Carlos Madrazo is joining the company as senior VP of investor relations and capital markets
- Former Nike senior brand director Craig Lyon is joining Connected Cannabis as head of marketing, the company announced on Tuesday.
- Grassroots cannabis cofounder Mitch Kahn is joining cannabis sale-leaseback fund Koach Capital as a partner.
Deals, launches, and IPOs
- California cannabis company MWG Holdings Group announced it closed a $10.8 Million Series B preferred private placement.
- Psychedelics company Field Trip announced it closed a $78 million bought deal financing.
- Cannabis real estate firms NewLake Capital Partners and GreenAcreage Real Estate Corp are merging, to create what the companies say would be the largest cannabis real estate firm with a combined portfolio of $325 million across 9 states.
- Publicly traded cannabis tech company Akerna will acquire Viridian Sciences, a business management platform geared toward dispensaries in an all-stock transaction. The company did not disclose the size of the deal.
Policy moves and politics
- Dozens of White House staff have been sidelined for their past cannabis use, according to The Daily Beast. Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said that only five people who started working at the White House are no longer employed.
- Sens. Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden held a discussion on Facebook Live to underscore their support for the SAFE Banking Act and federal marijuana decriminalization.
- A deal to legalize recreational cannabis in New York is “very close” according to state lawmakers and Gov. Cuomo. Senator Liz Krueger, a co-sponsor of the MRTA, said in a radio interview this week that she is “extremely pleased” with the agreement that Gov. Cuomo and other lawmakers have reached in regards to growing pot at home and social equity funding.
- The New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee passed HB12, a bill that would legalize cannabis in the state, on Thursday. The bill could become law as soon as this weekend.
- A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would allow cannabis companies to access banking services. Read our story here.
- Sen. Bob Menendez reintroduced the CLAIM Act, a bill that would allow cannabis companies to access insurance.
Research and data
- A report from the nonprofit Tax Foundation found that the value of marijuana sales – if projections hold – may be twice that of firearms and ammunition and three times bigger than McDonald’s sales revenue by 2023.
- Between 2010 and 2019, there were eight times as many marijuana-related arrests of Black and Latinx people as there were of white people in New York City, according to a report from the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance and the City University of New York’s Public Science Project.
- People of color made up 94% of arrests by the NYPD last year, according to the department’s data.
- Columbia Care released its Q4 and full-year results, reporting a combined revenue of $76 million and a $73.7 million net loss for the quarter.
- Green Thumb Industries released its Q4 and full-year results, reporting net revenue of $177.2 million and $22.5 million in net income.
- Sundial released its Q4 and full-year results, reporting net revenue of C$13.9 million and a net loss of C$64.1 million.
- Hexo Corp released its Q2 results, reporting net revenue of $32.8 million and a net loss of $20.8 million.
Chart of the week
Cannabis jobs have been growing rapidly across the US in recent years. The industry has averaged 27.5% growth each year, according to Leafly’s 2021 Jobs Report. In 2021, there are now 321,000 legal cannabis jobs in the country:
What we’re reading
Biden White House Sandbags Staffers, Sidelines Dozens for Pot Use (The Daily Beast)
Does smoking marijuana cause cancer? (Discover Magazine)
No One Knows Where President Biden is on Marijuana (The News Station)