Support for Cannabis Legalization is Spilling Over Into New Territories

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 General News
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NEW YORK, May 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- As cannabis use continues to become increasingly mainstream, consumers are beginning to wonder where the industry is headed. While it still remains an illicit drug under the Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs, there is a clear distinction between cannabis for recreational, medical, and

scientific research purposes. While recreational use is strictly prohibited around the globe, many countries are largely only permitting cannabis use for medical and scientific purposes. Nevertheless, Canada and Uruguay have already legalized cannabis entirely, with Canada becoming the first G-7 nation to do so. Additionally, most of the other G-7 nations have since adopted cannabis legislation of some sort since, as, among the other G-7 nations, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., and the U.S. have all implemented partial or complete medicinal cannabis programs. In particular, the U.S. has seen political tides shift over recent years as the consumer perspective on cannabis continues to change. In 2018, over 62% of Americans supported the legalization of cannabis, which has more than doubled in the past two decades, according to Pew Research Center. The overwhelming support has also recently led to the legalization of cannabis in Missouri, Michigan, and Utah during the U.S. midterm elections in late 2018. The addition of these three states now brings the total to 33 states, including the District of Columbia, which have legalized cannabis on a certain level. The U.S. alone is expected to be the primary growth driver for the global cannabis market because of states such as California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington, which are expected to deliver billions of dollars in revenue, collectively. According to data compiled by Mordor Intelligence, the global cannabis market was valued at USD 7.7 Billion and is expected to reach USD 65 Billion by 2023. Additionally, the market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 37% throughout the forecast period from 2018 to 2023. WeedMD Inc. (OTC: WDDMF) (TSX-V: WMD), Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZYNE), Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (OTC: CURLF) (CSE: CURA), New Age Beverages Corporation (NASDAQ: NBEV), CannTrust Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CTST) (TSX: TRST)

In the near future, states such as New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Mexico are all likely candidates to legalize cannabis. Additionally, some states like Rhode Island, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are also exploring opportunities within the industry. And, on a more global scale, Mexico's newly elected President is pushing for the country's legalization of cannabis while European nations Switzerland and the United Kingdom are seeing growing support for complete legalization as well. Predominantly, the global cannabis market revenue is driven by the medical segment, however, data suggests that there could be a shift in the market share in the coming years. Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics' research suggests that legal cannabis sales are expected to reach USD 57 Billion by 2027. Furthermore, the research suggests that adult-use sales are expected to account for USD 38.3 Billion of the legal spending, while medical sales account for USD 19.1 Billion. In particular, the North American region's recreational cannabis industry is expected to dominate, as the maturing markets are seeing growing spending numbers from consumers. Additionally, the region's growth is also set to entice other countries, eventually leading to a more robust, global growth of the market. "The industry is at about 5 percent of what it will be someday," concurs Tyler Stratford, Director of Client Operations for cannabis consulting firm Canna Advisors. "Even if the path forward isn't straight, we're certainly on a path forward. The tide has changed, and there's no turning it back now."

WeedMD Inc. (OTCQX: WDDMF) (TSX-V: WMD) is also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker (TSX-V: WMD). Earlier last month, the Company announced that, "Pioneer Cannabis Corp. ("Pioneer Cannabis"), a national cannabis retail service provider, is pleased to announce it has signed a Master Cannabis Retail and Licensing Agreement ("Licensing Agreement") with Ontario cannabis retail lottery winner Guruveer Sangha who will be the owner and operator of the first Pioneer Cannabis retail store located at 1200 Brant Street in Burlington, Ontario. Pioneer Cannabis is a collaboration between WeedMD Inc. (TSX-V:WMD) (OTCQX:WDDMF) (FSE:4WE) ("WeedMD"), a federally-licensed producer and distributor of medical-grade cannabis, and Pita Pit Canada ("Pita Pit"), a privately-owned Canadian fast casual franchise eatery with over 225 stores in Canada.

Mr. Sangha, an entrepreneur and lawyer from the Greater Toronto Area, recently secured a Retail Operator Licence ("ROL") from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario ("AGCO"). The 4,000 square foot Pioneer Cannabis Co. store is expected to open in late spring following final AGCO inspection and subsequent receipt of its Retail Store Authorization ("RSA"). Located next to the main arterial highways that border Oakville and Hamilton, the high-capacity area of Burlington and its surrounding areas has a combined population of over 1.7M.

'As a keen observer of the cannabis industry and a strong proponent of local economic growth through small business, I am delighted to be working with Pioneer Cannabis. Together we look forward to setting the standard for Canadians seeking safe stewardship of cannabis in a quality retail setting,' said Mr. Sangha.

'It is an important milestone for us to be able to support Guruveer's establishment of Canada's first Pioneer Cannabis store,' said Kristie Smith, President of Pioneer Cannabis. 'He will be a driving force behind what we expect to be a true retail success as we launch a leading Canadian cannabis retail store that combines product, education and experience. We look forward to helping Guruveer realize his plan of opening additional Pioneer Cannabis stores across the GTA as soon as regulatory rules permit.'

'We are all stewards of cannabis and our pioneering spirit welcomes this retail endeavour between Pioneer and Guruveer," said Keith Merker, CEO of WeedMD.

'Congratulations to Guruveer and Pioneer Cannabis. We're pleased to see that the Burlington community and its surrounding area is in responsible hands,' said Chris Fountain, CEO of Pita Pit.

Pioneer Cannabis continues to pursue retail opportunities within Ontario and other provinces in accordance with prevailing cannabis retail regulations. For additional information and updates on store openings, visit the Pioneer website www.pioneercannabis.com

About Pioneer Cannabis Corp: Pioneer Cannabis Corp. is a cannabis retail services provider resulting from the collaboration of two industry-leading Canadian companies, WeedMD Inc., a trusted licensed cannabis producer, and Pita Pit Canada, a franchising and brand expert, to develop opportunities for everyday Canadians interested in owning and operating their own cannabis retail store. The values of Pioneer are deeply rooted in community and providing small business owners with the opportunity to thrive and contribute to their local economy. We are the pioneers of cannabis retail, supporting businesses from the ground up and setting the standard for Canadian cannabis retail.

About WeedMD Inc: WeedMD Inc. is the publicly-traded parent company of WeedMD Rx Inc., a federally-licensed producer and distributor of cannabis products for both the medical and adult-use markets. The Company owns and operates two facilities: a 26,000 sq. ft. indoor facility in Aylmer, Ontario and a 158-acre state-of-the-art greenhouse and outdoor facility located in Strathroy, Ontario. The Company currently has 136,000 square feet of licensed production space across its facilities and is expected to have a total footprint of more than 550,000 square feet of indoor and greenhouse production in addition to more than 25 acres of outdoor cultivation space online in the first half of 2019. WeedMD has a multi-channeled distribution strategy that includes selling directly to medical patients, strategic relationships across the seniors' market and supply agreements with Shoppers Drug Mart as well as six provincial distribution agencies.

For more information, access WeedMD's investor presentation here (https://www.weedmd.com/investing-in-weedmd/) and recently updated corporate video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktgJ_BQtBCs&feature=youtu.be).

About Pita Pit: Founded in 1995 in Kingston, Ontario near Queen's University, Pita Pit® is an innovative fast-casual restaurant with a unique mindset that challenges consumers to Refuse to Settle™ for anything less than quality, healthy, freshly grilled food. After rapidly earning a loyal following in its home market, franchising began across Canada in 1997 and, in 1999, the brand expanded to the United States. Now boasting more than 600 stores across North America and internationally across 13 countries, Pita Pit offers its customers millions of ridiculously delicious, customizable flavour combinations of grilled meats, fresh vegetables, and zesty sauces all rolled into a unique and convenient pita package. For more information about Pita Pit, visit www.pitapit.ca/consumer or www.facebook.com/pitapitcanada."

For our latest "Buzz on the Street" Show featuring WeedMD Inc. recent corporate news, please head over to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4vOilnkTfY  

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZYNE) is the leader in pharmaceutically-produced transdermal cannabinoid therapies for rare and near-rare neuropsychiatric disorders. Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recently announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had granted Fast Track Designation for the Company's lead development candidate Zygel™ (ZYN002 CBD gel) for treatment of behavioral symptoms associated with Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). FDA's Fast Track program is designed to facilitate the development of drugs intended to treat serious conditions and fill unmet medical needs and can lead to expedited review by FDA in order to get new important drugs to the patient earlier. Zygel (CBD gel) is the first and only pharmaceutically-manufactured CBD formulated as a patent-protected permeation-enhanced clear gel, designed to provide controlled drug delivery into the bloodstream transdermally (i.e. through the skin). Recent studies suggest that FXS and other neuropsychiatric conditions may be associated with a disruption in the endocannabinoid (EC) system. "The FDA's decision to grant Fast Track Designation for Zygel underscores the significance and severity of the unmet medical need that exists for patients living with Fragile X Syndrome and their caregivers," said Armando Anido, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Zynerba. "We believe that Zygel has the potential to be the first treatment indicated to directly address the core behavioral symptoms of this syndrome, and we look forward to working closely with the FDA to obtain approval to market Zygel as soon as possible."

Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: CURLF) (CSE: CURA) is the leading vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operator in the United States. Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. recently announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire the state-regulated cannabis business of Cura Partners, Inc., owners of the Select brand, in an all-stock transaction valued at CAD 1.27 Billion or USD 948.8 Million. The acquisition includes Select's manufacturing, processing, distribution, marketing and retailing operations and all adult-use cannabis products marketed under the Select brand name, including all intellectual property. Based in Portland, Oregon, Select is the most well-known cannabis wholesale brand in the country. With its THC products sold in more than 900 retailers, it is the leading cannabis brand in key Western states, including California, Arizona, Oregon and Nevada. The highly complementary acquisition brings together two of the strongest cannabis brands, Curaleaf and Select, to offer a full-range of products across the U.S. The combination will provide immediate geographic diversification with Curaleaf's footprint on the East Coast and Select's brand strength on the West Coast. "The transformational acquisition of Cura and the Select brand is another step in our journey to create the most accessible cannabis brands in the U.S.," said Joseph Lusardi, Chief Executive Officer of Curaleaf. "The combination of Curaleaf and Select is a perfect fit. With our industry leading capacity, expansive retail distribution network and Select's impressive sales and marketing capabilities, we intend to meaningfully accelerate our topline growth trajectory with the addition of the Select Oil product range. In addition, we intend to create significant operational synergies from the integration of Select's wholesale business with our vertically-integrated cultivating, processing and retail platform. We look forward to welcoming the talented Select team who will bring superior brand marketing expertise and a culture of innovation in technology and product development."

New Age Beverages Corporation (NASDAQ: NBEV) is a Colorado and Utah-based healthy beverage company dedicated to inspiring, educating consumers to live healthily. New Age Beverages Corporation recently announced the signing of an agreement to develop and distribute Marley branded cannabis-infused beverages. The first product to roll out in the Marley+CBD portfolio will be Marley+CBD Mellow Mood, relaxation drinks in 15.5 oz cans with 25 mg of pharmaceutical grade CBD per serving. Initial market rollout to customers will be in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Michigan where cannabis is legal for responsible adult consumption. This rollout gives New Age a significant first-mover advantage in the CBD space with a globally-recognized brand platform, and positions the venture well for further expansion as regulations permit. Michael Cunningham, Senior Vice President of Sales for New Age commented, "It makes my job a lot easier when I have retailers and distributors reaching out to me asking for specific products. From the moment the CBD movement began, I've been receiving calls nonstop asking when we'd be going to market with a Marley+CBDproduct. Retailers and distributors realize that it will be a long road for smaller CBD brands to gain traction and brand equity. Under the Marley brand platform, we are able to leverage a massive global brand with ties to healthy cannabis use, to ultimately grow a beverage brand beyond anything we have seen to-date."

CannTrust Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CTST) (TSX: TRST) is a federally regulated licensed producer of medical and recreational cannabis in Canada. CannTrust Holdings Inc. recently announced that its cultivation and processing permit under Health Canada Cannabis Regulations was amended to include the final 20% of its Phase 2 expansion. The entire 450,000 sq. ft. of its perpetual harvest greenhouse in Pelham, Ontario, is now fully licensed. CannTrust's expected production ramp is as follows: The last 20% of the Phase 2 expansion is expected to be operating at full capacity by the end of Q2 2019; Pending Health Canada approval, the Company anticipates planting on its previously announced outdoor land acquisition of 81 acres in Q2 2019 and expects to realize a yield of approximately 1,000kg per acre in 2019. Total 2019 production from this harvest is expected to be approximately 75,000kg; With additional land under a letter of intent anticipated to be secured in the near term, the Company's outdoor cultivation operation is expected to total 100,000kg to 200,000kg of production in the second half of 2020. Production from outdoor cultivation will primarily be used for extraction purposes for products that we anticipate will be permitted based on proposed regulations for additional cannabis products, which include edibles and inhaled extract products; The Company's Phase 3 expansion of its perpetual harvest greenhouse is expected to add a further 50,000kg of capacity beginning in the second half of 2020. Phase 3 includes productivity and automation enhancements over Phases 1 and 2. Production from the Phase 3 expansion is also subject to Health Canada approval; CannTrust's combined cultivation operations are expected to reach a total annualized capacity of 200,000kg to 300,000kg in the second half of 2020. "We have always been confident that our processes meet and exceed regulatory standards, and we now have further validation of this from our regulators," said Peter Aceto, Chief Executive Officer. "With this approval, CannTrust is set to meet its plan to reach 50,000kg of annualized capacity at the perpetual harvest greenhouse and continue providing award-winning products in a cost-effective manner."

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