Legal Cannabis Market Sales are Projected to Increase at a Strong Rate

Friday, April 20, 2018 Drug News
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NEW YORK, April 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

According to a report by

Energias Market Research, the global medical cannabis market is anticipated to grow significantly from USD 8.28 billion in 2017 to USD 28.07 billion in 2024, at a CAGR of 19.1% from 2018 to
2024. Factors driving the advances of the medical cannabis market include increasing recognition of medical benefits, stronger demand for cannabis in the treatment of various diseases, and rising number of research and development activities. Sales of cannabis products for recreational use are also expected to increase, as California's new recreational cannabis laws went into effect on January 1st, 2018. While California is the largest market, Canada is projected to show strong sales as well. Deloitte's report projects the Canadian market will be worth at least $5B in sales in 2018. WeedMD Inc. (OTC: WDDMF), Canopy Growth Corporation (OTC: TWMJF), Aphria Inc. (OTC: APHQF), Aurora Cannabis Inc. (OTC: ACBFF), Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON)

Tom Adams, Editor-in-Chief at Arcview Market Research and Principal Analyst at BDS Analytics explained, "Our data shows positive indicators across the board for the legal cannabis industry, in North America and around the globe. The passage of the 2016 ballot initiatives and continued maturation of the existing Adult-use markets are the primary drivers of the growth this year. That's nothing compared to what we can expect in 2018 and beyond from Nevada's tourism, and California and Canada planning to launch Adult-Use sales in 2018."

WeedMD Inc. (OTC: WDDMF) is also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker symbol (TSX-V: WMD). Yesterday the company announced breaking news together with Hiku Brands Company Ltd. (CSE: HIKU) that, "they have entered into a definitive agreement (the "Arrangement Agreement") to merge both companies, creating an industry leader (the "Transaction"). The Transaction combines two highly-complementary businesses and creates a unique and market differentiating vertically integrated company. Upon completion of the Transaction, existing Hiku and WeedMD shareholders will own approximately 51.75% and 48.25% of the combined company, respectively, on a fully-diluted basis. Upon closing of the Transaction, it is anticipated that the common shares of the pro forma resulting entity will be listed on the TSX Venture Exchange ("TSX-V"), subject to regulatory approvals. Joint management will be hosting a conference call on Friday, April 20, 2018 beginning at 10:00AM EST. See end of the press release for details.

The combination of Hiku and WeedMD creates a premium cannabis brand house with fully vertically integrated operations, an expanding network of retail stores, a growing medical business and four scalable cannabis production facilities, two of which are currently licensed. As a result of the Transaction, Hiku will operate a diverse cannabis supply chain that includes a large portfolio of unique genetics for its growing brand portfolio and emerging nationwide retail sales channels. The entity combines Hiku's strength in retail and branding - ensuring a high quality, consistent and educational consumer experience in the adult-use cannabis market - with WeedMD's existing service and quality in the medical market.

"Our vision at Hiku has always been that cannabis is a consumer product - in which brands, retail and customer experience will ultimately win," said Alan Gertner, Chief Executive Officer of Hiku. "The combination of Hiku and WeedMD creates a cannabis company capable of fulfilling the vision of delivering the best in class experiences from in-store to product, from medical to adult-use, but also capturing full retail and wholesale margins. Our combined offerings create a company that is insulated from potential wholesale margin compression and is ready to scale its offering globally."

Bruce Dawson-Scully, Chief Executive Officer of WeedMD, said, "WeedMD was founded on the principles of product and patients first. Our goal since inception has been on procuring world class genetics, cultivating premium medical cannabis, and delivering it with best-in-class service to our valued patient base. We look forward to the next step in WeedMD's journey by merging with Hiku, a complimentary group that furthers our mission by bringing our focus and passion into a more robust platform. Having access to iconic brands and a growing retail footprint to execute on our growth plan together with our cultivation and existing medical expertise is intended to ensure significant benefits to our shareholders and expected to present significant upside as Canada marches towards legalization."

Hiku has built a portfolio of iconic, engaging cannabis brands, immersive retail experiences and handcrafted cannabis production. Hiku is recognized as an early leader in Canada's emerging adult-use market, with the Tokyo Smoke retail banner awarded Brand of the Year at the 2017 Lift Cannabis Awards. In February 2018, Tokyo Smoke, Hiku's wholly owned subsidiary, was awarded one of only four conditional master licenses for cannabis retail in Manitoba, an important milestone in Hiku's Canada-wide cannabis retail expansion plans.

With a retail footprint led by Tokyo Smoke, cannabis production through DOJA's ACMPR licensed facility, and Van der Pop's female-focused educational platforms, Hiku houses an industry-leading portfolio for cannabis in Canada's adult-use market. WeedMD operates a 26,000 square foot indoor facility with over 1,500 kg of current production capacity and is fully funded for a large-scale production expansion of a 14-acre greenhouse on a 98-acre property representing an increase to more than 50,000 kg of capacity. The combined companies create a brand-focused retail business with the ability to provide product quality and selection on par with the retail experience itself.

Highlights of the Transaction:

  • Vertically Integrated Operations Secure Control Over Entire Cannabis Value Chain: The combined entity will leverage Hiku's growing retail operations as sales channels for premium cannabis supply, allowing for the realization of superior wholesale and retail margins. The Transaction ensures Hiku's control over both upstream and downstream components of the cannabis value chain
  • Highly Complementary Strengths: The Transaction combines Hiku's portfolio of iconic brands, visionary marketing and experiential retail stores with WeedMD's scalable cannabis production capabilities, deep genetics library, and innovative research and development initiatives
  • Visionary Leadership with Significant Experience: Experienced management team with leading capabilities in branding, marketing, retail and cannabis production
  • Dynamic Retail Growth Across Canada: The combined company plans to aggressively pursue the expansion of its existing retail store network, including the addition of legal retail cannabis stores and online cannabis sales channels where permitted in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba where Tokyo Smoke was conditionally awarded one of four master licenses for retail cannabis sales
  • Superior and Diversified Cannabis Cultivation: This combination brings together four indoor and greenhouse growing facilities in Ontario and British Columbia, with the option for future expansion on more than 100 acres of property at the existing sites. Current planned capacity will exceed 56,000 kg by mid-2019
  • Extensive and Unique Genetics: Deep library of unique cannabis genetics is the basis for premium cannabis products in both the adult-use and medical markets
  • Enhanced Capital Markets Profile: Increased scale of the combined company will enhance its capital markets profile and trading liquidity, in addition, the combined entity will be listed on TSX-V, subject to regulatory approvals
  • Expanded Platform for Future Growth: Together, the combined company will have substantial and burgeoning infrastructure to support the acceleration of future product development and expansion
  • Synergies from being Vertically Integrated: Having branded stores, cannabis dispensing stores, and owned production facilities ensures a vertically integrated company that can best drive greater margins in the wholesale and retail markets of the new cannabis sector…"

Canopy Growth Corporation (OTC: TWMJF) is a world-leading diversified cannabis and hemp company, offering distinct brands and curated cannabis varieties in dried, oil and Softgel capsule forms. Recently, the company announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to create new experience-based learning opportunities for college students and graduates. This valuable partnership will also support the increased workforce demand at Canopy Growth facilities across Canada and generate joint research and community engagement opportunities for the Niagara region, an area the Company has proudly called home since June 2014. Canopy Growth and Niagara College will work together to foster learning in this rapidly growing industry while also supporting graduates searching for job opportunities. This partnership opens the door to applied research projects in business operations, plant sciences and greenhouse technology that will further the mission of both organizations. Canopy Growth and the College will also seek joint opportunities to educate the Niagara community on the emerging cannabis industry through participation in community events and consultations.

Aphria Inc. (OTCQB: APHQF), one of Canada's lowest cost producers, produces, supplies and sells medical cannabis. Recently, the company introduced its first brand designed for Canada's new adult-use market, Solei Sungrown Cannabis. Solei has been designed to demystify cannabis and will enable current and novice users alike to control and enrich their cannabis journey, pairing an assortment of carefully curated products and strains with different experiences. Solei was created specifically for what will be one of the largest segments in the Canadian cannabis landscape, defined not by age, gender or geography, but rather by a shared mindset and attitude. Their motivations are not driven by a desire to alter their state of mind, but rather by a desire to open themselves up to new experiences. Once adult-use cannabis is legalized in Canada and as regulations allow, the Solei brand will be available in a wide variety of product consumption alternatives to consumers. All Solei products will follow easy-to-use instructions designed specifically to demystify and simplify cannabis use.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. (OTCQB: ACBFF) recently announced it is acquiring approximately 71 acres of land in Medicine Hat, Alberta, where the Company intends shortly to commence construction on a new high-technology hybrid greenhouse cannabis production facility. To this end, the Company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Medicine Hat, concerning terms and a general understanding of potential transactions, including a prospective 10-year, 42 MW energy supply agreement. The new facility, to be designed and engineered by the Company's wholly owned Aurora Larssen Projects Inc. division, will be named "Aurora Sun" in recognition of Medicine Hat's status as the sunniest city in Canada, with more than 2,500 hours of sunshine per year. To date, Aurora has approximately 280,000 kg per year of funded capacity. With the addition of Aurora Sun, total capacity will increase to over 430,000 kg per year. In addition to the domestic medical cannabis market, in which the Company already services approximately 45,000 patients, the new facility is intended to serve both the pending legal Canadian adult consumer market, and the quickly expanding international market.

Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON) is a globally diversified and vertically integrated cannabis company with a presence across four continents. The Company operates two wholly-owned Canadian Licensed Producers regulated under Health Canada's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations: Peace Naturals Project Inc. (Ontario), which was the first non-incumbent medical cannabis license granted by Health Canada, and Original BC Ltd. (British Columbia), which is based in the Okanagan Valley. In February, the company announced the launch of Cronos Australia Pty Ltd. and the grant of medicinal cannabis cultivation and research licenses. Cronos Australia is a 50/50 joint venture between the Group and NewSouthern Capital Pty Ltd, led by Mr. Rodney Cocks and Mr. Peter Righetti. Cronos Australia will serve as the Group's hub for Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia, bolstering the Group's import/export supply capabilities and distribution network. Cronos Australia will leverage the Group's intellectual property and iconic brands to deliver premium cannabinoid based products to Australasia.

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