New Cannabis Markets: Show Us the Money!

A bevy of new territories began selling legal cannabis in 2018, including Canada, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio, and Oklahoma. How well these new markets are faring gives us a sense of the strength of the cannabis market and how closely actual results are meeting expectations.

Great Expectations for Canada  

As CNBC reported, when the country’s first recreational cannabis dispensaries opened on October 17, 2018, Canada became “the world’s largest legal marijuana marketplace.”

No official government tally is available for Canada’s first three months of legal cannabis sales, so it is not clear how well Canada has performed so far.

Statistics Canada projected sales would hit $1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018 for the entire country. However, the only results provided by Statistics Canada so far are for the sales in the first two weeks after legalization, which totaled $43 million.

Vice, meanwhile, reported that Canadians spent $1.6 billion on legal cannabis in 2018, based on a report by Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.

Going forward, Arcview projects that Canada’s legal cannabis market will hit $7.8 billion in 2022. Recreational cannabis is expected to make up the lion’s share, with medical cannabis generating $1.4 billion of the total.

Deloitte projects that the total cannabis market in Canada, including medical and illegal as well as legal recreational products, will generate up to $7.17 billion in total sales in 2019. Legal sales are expected to contribute more than half of this total—up to $4.34 billion—in the first year.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians spent $5.7 billion on cannabis in 2017, the vast majority of which came from the black market. This shows a strong demand for cannabis that will translate into large figures as consumers transition to the legal market.

Massachusetts Strong Out of the Gate

Massachusetts generated $23.8 million in recreational cannabis sales since its first dispensaries opened in November 2018, according to state officials. The number of dispensaries has increased from two to eight since sales began.

With only two dispensaries operating, the outlets totaled $9.3 million in recreational marijuana sales during the first four weeks of operation. The two dispensaries took in more than $440,000 on the first day of sales, and the state averaged $2.3 million in sales per week.

These are strong numbers compared with first month sales in other states that had many more dispensaries operating, such as Oregon ($14 million, 320 dispensaries), Colorado ($14.7 million, 59 dispensaries), and Nevada ($27.1 million, 53 dispensaries).

Maryland Med Market Soars

In its first year of operation, Maryland’s medical marijuana sales mushroomed to $96.3 million, according to state officials.

Medical cannabis sales in Maryland began in December 2017 with the opening of 10 dispensaries, and demand was so strong that supplies ran out within days. Since that time, the number of dispensaries has grown to 71.

Maryland’s first-year medical cannabis sales topped those of Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York combined. With about 52,000 registered patients at year’s end, Maryland also outpaced Illinois and New York, which each had fewer than 13,000 patients after one year of sales.

Oklahoma Posts Strong Med Sales  

Oklahoma, which legalized medical cannabis in June 2018, began selling plants in October and dried flower in December. In the first full month of operation, Oklahoma’s four dispensaries sold nearly $1 million worth of medical cannabis.

The Oklahoma market is projected to generate $400 million in annual sales over time, according to Marijuana Business Daily estimates.

Domino Effect

Legalization of recreational cannabis in Massachusetts seems to be spurring other New England states into action, including New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. 

“Now that there’s cannabis stores in Massachusetts, we are really starting to see the dominoes fall,” said Matt Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project.

As mjbizdaily notes, recreational marijuana seems poised to sweep across the Northeast, which could mean billions of dollars of new business opportunities in the densely populated region.

Legalization Sweeping Across Europe

As ICBC reports, there are “fresh signs that wide-spread cannabis reform is afoot across the European Union.”  As the new year began, several European countries moved forward with their legal cannabis programs, including Poland, Portugal, and Luxembourg.

In Poland, medical marijuana supplied by Canada’s Aurora Cannabis went on sale in Polish pharmacies on January 17.

Luxembourg last year announced that it planned to legalize recreational cannabis, which would make it the first EU country to do so. Luxembourg currently is moving ahead with its medical cannabis program.

In Portugal, two bills have been introduced in the Parliament to legalize recreational cannabis.  As of January 15, the medical use law in Portugal, as well as the right to export the drug, was formalized by the Republic Journal, the official publication of the government documenting the passage of new laws.

Cultivation Craze

Another sign of the burgeoning cannabis market in new territories is the number of companies applying for cultivation licenses. In Germany, 79 bidders have applied for the 13 cultivation licenses that will be granted.

Only medical cannabis is legal in Germany, and until the first internal harvest occurs, which is expected in the last quarter of 2020, all medical cannabis flower and oil sold in Germany will continue to be imported.

In Canada, more than 800 new applications were in the pipeline, according to Health Canada.  There currently are 145 licensed cultivators, processors, and sellers in Canada. Beacon Securities analyst Russell Stanley says the Canadian market cannot support so many cannabis producers, which means “a reckoning is coming.”

Altacorp Capital predicts that cannabis cultivation companies will experience “margin compression” as the market matures. To combat this threat, cannabis producers must take measures to minimize their cost of operations. One of the best ways to control costs and maximize efficiency is through a highly integrated and automated cannabis management system.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 

 


Cannabis Hits a Tipping Point and Crosses the Chasm

The cannabis market has reached a tipping point and is showing all the signs of an unstoppable juggernaut.

The signs are many, including:

  • Legalization is spreading at an accelerating pace.
  • The number of dispensaries is increasing exponentially.
  • Deals and investments are multiplying.
  • Big Alcohol, Big Tobacco, Big Finance, and Big Pharma have entered the market.
  • Big brand names like Coca Cola, Heineken, and Coors are entering the fray.
  • A vast new legal hemp market has sprung open.
  • A new generation of cannabis consumers is emerging.

Deals, Deals, Deals

As mjbizdaily reports, based on the number and size of the deals that were done, the year 2018 will go down as “a massive milestone for cannabis companies.” According to Viridian Capital Advisors, 557 deals raised over $13.5 billion in 2018, compared with 378 deals that raised $2.7 billion in 2017. 

Constellation Brands made waves with its $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth Corp. But Altria topped that deal with a $13 billion investment in vape company Juul, a deal that followed two weeks after Atria’s $1.8 billion investment in Cronos Group.

A key trend in the U.S. is the rapid expansion of large publicly traded cannabis companies through the establishment of multistate operations. This is the modus operandi of Acreage Holdings, Curaleaf, Green Thumb Industries, MedMen, and Trulieve—which are the five largest multistate cannabis operators with the greatest market capitalization.

Domino Effect

The big news in 2018 was the legalization of cannabis in Canada. In the U.S., Maine, Michigan, and Vermont legalized recreational cannabis. Medical cannabis is now legal in 33 states and Washington D.C., and recreational cannabis is legal in 10 states and Washington D.C.

As increasing numbers of territories legalize cannabis, resistance to legalizing cannabis is crumbling. At least seven U.S. states are leaning towards joining the recreational ranks as government leaders in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and New Hampshire push for legalization.  

Around the world, bans are being lifted to legalize cannabis and allow trade. Most recently, Bermuda announced that was lifting a regulatory ban on marijuana investment funds, while Israel’s parliament approved a law to permit exports of medical marijuana.

At year’s end, Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly voted to legalize medical marijuana and allow cannabis research. This follows on the heels of South Korea, Argentina, and Australia legalizing medical cannabis.

As Forbes notes, U.S. drug policies influence those of foreign nations, and the legalization of cannabis in the U.S. is having a contagious effect worldwide.  

Doubling Down on Dispensaries

The rapid expansion of the cannabis market is reflected in the exponentially multiplying number of dispensaries. Connecticut officials approved nine new medical cannabis dispensaries, which doubles the state’s existing number. New Jersey also doubled its number of medical cannabis dispensaries from 6 to 12.

Pennsylvania issued 23 new medical cannabis dispensary licenses, raising the state’s total to 79. Nevada issued 61 new recreational marijuana retail licenses, which nearly doubles that state’s number. Missouri plans to have 192 medical cannabis dispensaries open by 2020.

Michigan, which legalized recreational cannabis in 2018, approved 91 new medical cannabis licenses, including 45 dispensaries. Massachusetts opened its first recreational cannabis dispensaries, while the first medical cannabis dispensaries were licensed to open in Arkansas, Ohio, and Virginia.

Hemp Is Back

After an 81-year ban, the legalization of hemp in the U.S. became official when President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill on December 20. The ability to grow, process, and sell hemp products will unlock a wealth of new opportunities.

As Vox reported, not only will farmers coast to coast benefit from a new cash crop, but the CBD industry, which sold about $350 million worth of products last year, is projected to hit $1 billion in sales by 2020.  

Hemp becomes legal at a time when the demand for CBD oil is exploding. As Jason Williams of Wealth Daily notes, “CBD sales are growing faster than anyone could have predicted — faster than pretty much any other part of the cannabis market.”

And as Hemp Industry Daily reports, “CBD-rich hempseed is legal now, but it’s also rare, giving plant breeders a huge new market as barriers to national hempseed distribution are removed.”

Research Boom

Cannabis research is flourishing as biotech companies discover new medical uses and legal cannabis-based drugs are made available to patients. A historic landmark was reached in 2018 when Epidiolex was approved by the FDA, a move that caused cannabis to be reclassified by the DEA.

After five decades of barren neglect, the U.S. Congress is moving to fund and facilitate medical cannabis research. Besides a new Medical Cannabis Research Act bill, the U.S. federal government plans to award $1.5 million in grants during the 2019 fiscal year to researchers who study how components of marijuana other than THC affect pain.

Cannabis Crosses the Consumer Chasm

As the surging sales and supply shortages in the U.S. and Canada show, the demand for legal cannabis is strong. Consumers are taking advantage of the diverse medical and recreational cannabis products coming to market, including smokables, edibles, beverages, ointments, lotions, and suppositories.

Not only are veteran cannabis users taking advantage of legalized cannabis products, but a new generation of “canna-curious” people are becoming cannabis consumers.

As headynj.com notes, as legalization takes hold, “the doors have opened up to a whole new tribe of people” who are experimenting with cannabis and making informed decisions.  

This includes senior citizens, a group that tended to be anti-cannabis in the past, but who are now embracing cannabis chiefly for medical reasons.  An example is Rossmoor’s Medical Marijuana Education and Support Club in California, where scores of seniors are experiencing the benefits of medical cannabis. These seniors are not only becoming consumers, but pro-cannabis activists as well.

Helping consumers cross the cannabis chasm is Francis Ford Coppola, who has complemented his wine products by launching a cannabis line called The Grower’s Series. The first product is a kit that sells for $99, which is aimed at “individuals who are wine drinkers who may be intimidated by cannabis by leveraging some of the same language.”

Mainstream commercialization is causing the cannabis market to become more sophisticated, refined, and upscale. As Leafly notes, legalization has brought maturity, innovation, professionalism, and credibility to cannabis.

For cannabis producers, the expanding market represents an immense opportunity, and competitive advantages can be gained by deploying the right cannabis management and analytics solutions. 

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Power BI Gives Curio Wellness a Big Competitive Edge

In the highly competitive world of cannabis manufacturing, Curio Wellness has gained advantages by deploying a MaxQ Cannabis management solution that includes Power BI analytics. 

Brad Friedlander, CIO of Curio Wellness, described how his company is deriving a wealth of benefits from Power BI.

End-to-End BI Value

“Our executive team uses it for sales and key metrics, sales by customer, what products are trending, how things are selling within categories, in both quantity and dollars,” he explained. “We can view data in real time, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly.”

Power BI is used to monitor and manage the entire business, including operations, sales, and marketing, said Friedlander, adding that this has resulted in better planning, decision making, and performance.

Overall, Power BI has given his company a huge competitive advantage, said Friedlander. “Most of our competitors are on QuickBooks,” he explained, “so they don’t have the ability to do what we do with Power BI.”

Using Power BI also has resulted in better customer satisfaction, he said. “It enables us to meet demand and keep customers happy, which is our number one priority.”

Expanded Use

Curio Wellness obtained Power BI as a standard component of the MaxQ Cannabis solution that is used to manage the company’s seed-to-sale cannabis operations.

However, as users worked with Power BI and discovered its potential, they desired to expand the range of analyses they were able to perform. MaxQ provided additional consulting and customization to enable Power BI to meet the users’ expanding needs.

Friedlander said he is continuously adding pages to Power BI to add functionality that enables the management team to view data in new ways.

Real-Time Advantages

The ability to continually monitor and analyze data in real time is a big part of the advantages the company is deriving from Power BI, Friedlander said. “We can refresh minute by minute and can see data coming from the field for sales and operations.”

Daily monitoring and analyzing of key metrics have enabled the operations and sales teams to make better decisions and change business outcomes, Friedlander said. “It’s allowed us to quickly see problem areas and address them immediately rather than at month’s end,” he explained.

For example, same-day analyses of sales data enable the company to adjust its product processing and packaging to meet market demand. “We can meet demand within a day,” said Friedlander. “When we harvest plants, we have strains that are cured and in the final stages of being packaged, so we can modify the rotation of strains to meet demand on any given day.”

Leveraging Key Metrics

Curio Wellness’s operations and sales teams use Power BI to track a variety of key metrics on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, Friedlander said. “We track many metrics,” he explained, “including sales by customer, sales by strain, dollars and weight sold, inventory on hand, and manufactured products. We also can see margins and selling price over any given period of time.”

Power BI helps the operations side keep in step with sales and marketing. “We can see the best-selling products in any given week, and modify our trimming and production schedules to meet the current demand,” Friedlander explained.

Power BI data also enables the sales and marketing teams to take steps to boost the sales of underperforming products. “We can see what’s selling and what isn’t, and we can put something on special or do special promotions for weaker selling products,” Friedlander added.

Power BI has proven to be fast, flexible, and easy to use, Friedlander said. “You can make changes on the fly, and you can look at the data in so many different ways.”

Production Optimization

On the operations side, Power BI enables the operations team to monitor production and gauge its efficiency. “We can see what yields are out of the garden and the gross weights and class of product that results from a crop,” Friedlander explained.

Power BI also enables the operations team to see how the crops that are harvested measure up to the planned production. “We can set the results we aim to hit for a crop, and we can see how well we have performed to hit that metric—for example, the percentage of flower that falls into upper tier, middle tier, and lower tier,” Friedlander explained.

The financial team uses the forecasting power of Power BI in the planning and budgeting process. “We can forecast relatively easily based on historical trends, including growth rates by customer, in quantity and dollars,” Friedlander explained. “We can see trends and apply those trends to our forecast for the next year.”

Limitless Potential

Friedlander said he could ever see a time when he could say the potential uses of Power BI had reached an end.“There are endless uses for this,”  he said. “It will continue to evolve to serve the business.”

The company currently is in the process of automating its Flash report, he said, which aggregates key metrics of entire business. “This will let users access data from a single source rather than dragging in data from multiple data sources, and the Flash report will be formatted for the purpose of visualizing the metrics,” he explained.

Going forward, Friedlander said the company plans to expand the use of Power BI in a number of ways, including creating customized dashboards for each team—executive, operations, sales, and marketing. “We also want to add the ability to analyze cost of sales, particularly on the cultivation side,” he said.

Better Than Expected

After using Power BI for a year, Friedlander said the tool had exceeded his expectations. “I love it,” he said, adding that, “I probably use it more than anybody on the team.”

Having never used Power BI before, Friedlander said he was surprised by the tools’ ease of use, ability to format data in many ways, and generally visualize data. “There’s a lot to like about Power BI,” he said. “It’s easy to create charts and visualize data in an appealing way. We use the mapping, which lets us see where the hotbed of activities is coming from.”

Is the company pleased with the return on investment in Power BI? “Absolutely,” said Friedlander. “The ability to get data in real time, and the amount of time you save in aggregating and reporting on data, you can’t put a value on that.”

Power BI has made life easier and benefited the business in numerous ways, said Friedlander, including better performance and decision making. “It also has given us a huge competitive advantage,” he added.

MaxQ Technologies provides state-of-the-art Power BI solutions and incorporates Power BI within advanced business solution suites. Contact us to learn more about Power BI and how your business could benefit from a Power BI solution.

 


MaxQ Cannabis Management Automation Works Wonders for Curio Wellness

In the complex world of cannabis manufacturing, the ability to manage operations efficiently and minimize costs can mean the difference between success and failure. Brad Friedlander, Curio Wellness CIO, described how his company has gained a major competitive advantage by employing MaxQ Cannabis to manage its cannabis operations. Growing high-grade cannabis and producing premium products requires careful management in all stages of the operation—including planning, cultivating, harvesting, testing, curing, extraction, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, inventory management, and sales. The MaxQ Cannabis management system has yielded benefits across all these areas by enabling Curio to operate with greater efficiency while minimizing costs, Friedlander said. Automated Product Data Management Automated product data management has yielded significant time and cost savings, said Friedlander. “We’ve created some standardization that enables us to create new parts and strains with ease from other data we have in the system,” he explained. When a new strain is entered into the system, all the associated parts are created automatically, including SKUs (stock keeping units), bills of materials, kits, and bundles for each of the products. Automated product data management creates all product data in a consistent, standard, and correct manner, greatly reducing errors caused by manual entry. “Just click a button and it creates the inventory items, kits, BOMs, and bundles automatically,” Friedlander explained. “The setup that would take hours manually, we do in 30 seconds.” Integrated Accounting Most competitors are running their business on QuickBooks and jumping between different accounting systems, said Friedlander. His observation agrees with that of cannabis accounting expert Andrew Hunzicker, who relates that many cannabis companies operating in this manner find themselves plagued with financial struggles stemming from the complexity of cannabis accounting, including cost controls within the growth, manufacturing, and retail phases, as well as compliance and tax issues. Best practices for controlling costs in the manufacturing and distribution of cannabis, Hunzicker explains, are stringent and integrated accounting, coupled with the use of advanced analytics to track costs, perform forecasts, and maximize efficiency. The integrated accounting of MaxQ Cannabis, coupled with Power BI analytics, provides all these advantages, including easy data entry and data handling, with changes that ripple through the system automatically, said Friedlander. This saves time and labor and eliminates error, he explained. “The integrated accounting, data handling, cost tracking, and auditing are huge advantages,” Friedlander said. Cost Tracking The ability to produce cannabis products at the lowest possible cost is critical. Automated cost tracking within MaxQ Cannabis enables Curio Wellness to track its costs across all phases of its operation. “The ability to track costs is a huge one,” said Friedlander. The system enables the company to track the cost of inventory by automating the process of accumulating cost into inventory, he explained. “We can see historical data that we can’t see in the regular tracking system,” said Friedlander. “It helps us to understand costs and control them.” Product Traceability Automated product tracking is another key feature that helps Curio Wellness increase efficiency while reducing costs. The MaxQ Cannabis management system enables Curio Wellness to trace any product back to its origin with ease, said Friedlander. “It gives us full traceability,” he explained. “If there is an issue with a product, we can trace it back to the batch in which it was created and who we sold it to with ease.” Comprehensive product tracking and traceability enable Curio Wellness to stay fully compliant and auditable for any government agency that requires compliance information, Friedlander said. Quality Control The MaxQ Cannabis system automation also streamlines the lab testing process, including automated uploading of lab results and printing of labels for each of Curio Wellness’s products. The system will store the Certificate of Analysis (COA) and automatically generate labels from lab results. When products are shipped to customers, the lab results certificate will be mailed automatically with the invoice. “The system automates the processing of the lab reports for each product for each customer for every order,” said Friedlander. “The handling of lab results and label printing is completely automated, a process that was very time consuming in the past.” Analytics Advance Business Curio Wellness acquired Power BI analytics as a standard component of the MaxQ Cannabis system. Friedlander said Power BI is used to monitor and manage the entire business, including operations, sales, and marketing. “Our whole executive team uses it for sales and key metrics, sales by customer, what products are trending, how things are selling within categories, in both quantity and dollars,” he explained. “We can view data in real time, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly.” Using Power BI in conjunction with MaxQ Cannabis has resulted in better planning, decision making, performance, and customer satisfaction, he said. The executive team uses Power BI to monitor key metrics, including sales by customer, which products are trending, how things are selling within categories, in both quantity and dollars, Friedlander explained. The ability to monitor and analyze key metrics in real time have enabled the operations and sales teams to make better decisions and change business outcomes, Friedlander said. “It’s allowed us to quickly see problem areas and address them immediately rather than at month’s end,” he explained. “Most of our competitors are on QuickBooks,” Friedlander explained, “so they don’t have the ability to do what we do with Power BI. It’s a big competitive advantage.” Ongoing Improvement Curio Wellness works with MaxQ to extend the system’s capabilities and refine processes in ways that will yield even greater efficiency, Friedlander said. Plans include automating the harvesting of crops with integrated RFID readers, as well as adding a host of new Power BI features. Has MaxQ Cannabis delivered the efficiency and cost control benefits he had hoped it would? “Absolutely,” said Friedlander. “The system not only enables us to operate more efficiently, it gives us a huge advantage over our competitors.” As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry.   

As Legalization Looms, Canadian Cannabis Players Make Moves

With recreational cannabis on the brink of becoming legal in Canada, major Canadian cannabis companies are making strategic moves to strengthen their positions.

While the Canadian market for recreational cannabis will be sizable, big Canadian cannabis producers like Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth Corp., Tilray, and Aphria are positioning to become leading suppliers of cannabis products worldwide.

Cannabis being illegal on the federal level has hampered the industry’s growth in the U.S., whereas Canadian cannabis ventures have benefited from the support of the Canadian government.

“Our government embraces us, and we are seeing a boom in entrepreneurism in this industry,” said Rob Anderson, the former CEO of The Green Organic Dutchman (TGOD).

The cannabis-friendly environment has led to Canada become an international cannabis hub and a hotbed of cannabis cultivation and investment. “Weed is to Canada what Silicon Valley is to the U.S. We will see a lot more money flowing in,” said Jason Spatafora, co-founder of Marijuanastocks.com.

The New York Times echoed this view, asserting that “a financial boom not seen since the dot-com mania of the late 1990s has overtaken Canada.”

TGOD Wheeling and Dealing

Among the Canadian cannabis ventures making waves, The Green Organic Dutchman (TGOD) has received kudos from analysts for “executing flawlessly.” An organic-only business strategy and series of shrewd deals has helped catapult TGOD to the top tier of cannabis ventures in a short span of time.

In June 2018, TGOD announced that it had created a new global division to focus on the beverage industry. To execute this plan, TGOD is building a 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art research and development facility and a 287,245-square foot cultivation facility capable of producing 40,000 kilograms of premium organic cannabis for its beverages.

To create cannabis-infused beverages, TGOD entered into an exclusive agreement with Stillwater Brands to license its RIPPLE SC (Soluble Cannabinoids) and other food and beverage technologies. RIPPLE SC makes it easier to infuse CBD oils into beverages and edibles.

TGOD also acquired HemPoland, a leading European manufacturer and marketer of premium organic CBD oils. Technical 420 called this acquisition “a game changer,” noting that HemPoland provides TGOD with a European gateway with distribution channels to over 750 million people and sales in more than 700 locations across 13 countries.

Power Cost Gambit

In a previous post, we discussed the critical importance of minimizing cannabis production costs as cannabis prices continue to decline. TGOD has devised a clever strategy to minimize power costs, which is, as US News relates, a major cost factor in growing cannabis.

To reduce its power costs to a fraction of what its competitors pay, TGOD has entered into partnerships with provincial power suppliers. A partnership with Hamilton Utility Corp. has enabled TGOD to reduce its power cost from 13 cents per kilowatt hour to less than 5 cents at its Hamilton, Ontario, facility. A partnership with Eaton Corp. is enabling TGOD to obtain power at 75% less than its competitors. At its Quebec plant, TGOD is paying less than 4 cents per kilowatt hour.

All of these moves have enabled TGOD to position itself as a platform to launch cannabinoid-infused food and beverage products globally as new markets legalize. As equities.com notes, this puts TGOD in a prime spot as more large-scale beverage and alcohol companies enter the market.

Aurora Roars

Another Canadian player making big moves is Aurora Cannabis, which in January took a 17.6% stake in TGOD with an option to increase its share to 51%. Aurora made news earlier this year by acquiring MedRelief for $2.5 billion in what Reuters called “the biggest deal yet to unify major Canadian cannabis growers.” The MedRelief acquisition followed on the heels of Aurora’s acquisition of CanniMed for $890 million, which made Aurora “the biggest pot producer, by market value, in the world.”

Aurora also expanded its cannabis production capability with the opening of two new state-of-the-art cannabis production facilities–Aurora Sky, capable of producing 8,000 kilograms of cannabis per month, and Aurora Vie in Montreal, capable of producing 4,000 kilograms per year.

To optimize its customer experience, Aurora inked a deal with Shopify to revamp its e-commerce platform, a move that will help Aurora sell its cannabis wares globally as legalization continues to spread. Canopy Growth and Hydropothecary also have employed Shopify e-commerce platforms to sell to medical patients.

Acting Locally and Globally

As Technical 420 notes, while the Canadian recreational market is a big opportunity for the cannabis producers, the global market represents an even more significant opportunity. This is why the major Canadian cannabis producers are taking a two-pronged approach by establishing production plants and retail outlets within Canada while expanding their reach beyond Canada into worldwide markets.

In an August post, we described how Canadian cannabis producers and alcohol distributers were making deals to establish cannabis retail outlets for the recreational market. Cronos Group has taken a similar route by forging an agreement with MedMen to establish retail stores for the recreational market in Canada.

To beef up its retail presence, Canopy Growth Corp. acquired Hiku Brands, which sells a number of leading cannabis brands and operates retail outlets in provinces throughout Canada.  Canopy Growth also extended its footprint in South America beyond Brazil and Chile by forging a deal with Spectrum Cannabis Columbia.

Aphria also made a move to expand into Latin America and the Caribbean by acquiring Scythian Biosciences Corp.’s  Latin American and Caribbean assets. The deal gives Aphria exposure to more than 300 million people in Colombia, Argentina, and Jamaica.

Aurora Cannabis obtained a 51% stake in Aurora Nordic that will help extend its reach into Scandinavian and broader European markets. Aurora Nordic has a license to produce cannabis in Denmark, which Aurora said will give the company a major advantage as one of few companies with a license to cultivate in Europe. Aurora has forged a number of international deals, including agreements to supply medical cannabis to Germany, Italy, and Australia.

Getting Listed

This past February, Cronos Group became the first cannabis company to be listed on Nasdaq in the United States. In May, Canopy Growth became the first cannabis company to list on the New York Stock Exchange. At the same time, liquor giant Constellation Brands invested $4 billion in Canopy Growth.

Tilray became the third cannabis stock to be listed on a U.S. stock exchange when it joined Nasdaq in July. Tilray went even further by being the first pure-play marijuana company to go public on a major U.S. exchange. Tilray grows Cannabis in Canada and Portugal and distributes medical cannabis products in 10 countries, including Australia, Canada, and Germany.

If Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy is correct, the cannabis companies focusing on creating cannabis-infused beverages are on the right path. Kennedy said he sees a future in which only 10% of cannabis will be smoked, with the 90% lion’s share being consumed as cannabis beverages. “Instead of alcohol, they’ll have cannabis,” said Kennedy. “And they’ll have a low, or no-calorie product with no hangover.”

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 


Hemp Makes Legal Comeback as CBD Oil Demand Surges

“Reversal of fortune” is the perfect way to describe the legal and economic comeback of the hemp plant in the United States. Banned and abandoned by farmers for decades in the U.S., the legal resurgence of hemp coincides with an exploding demand for CBD oil, which is fueling what is being called a hemp gold rush.

The ability to grow and sell hemp legally also promises a reversal of fortune for farmers across the United States, including cannabis growers in states in which oversupply is squeezing margins and driving growers out of business.

Hemp also represents new revenue opportunities for marijuana manufacturers, which already have the know-how and infrastructure in place to extract CBD oil from hemp. Marijuana manufacturers could easily add hemp to their product lines, either growing hemp themselves or serving as the processing plants for the many hemp farms sprouting up across the country, or both.

Hemp Rebound

Hemp has a long history as a versatile plant with a great many uses. In the U.S., hemp was a lucrative and widely cultivated plant before it was declared illegal by the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937. Hemp made a brief legal comeback during World War II before being banned again. Even though it has been illegal to grow hemp in the U.S., it has been legal to import it.

Hemp’s current comeback stems from the 2014 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp growing in the U.S. in the form of state supervised research programs. The 2014 Farm Bill gave each state the power to set the parameters for their hemp programs.

Today, 39 states allow industrial hemp cultivation, meaning hemp with less than 0.3% THC content by weight. Some states only allow academic research, while others allow growing, marketing, and selling hemp and hemp-extracted CBD oil.

Hemp’s full legal comeback is on the verge of becoming a reality with the U.S. Senate passing the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. The bill removes hemp from being designated as a controlled substance, legalizes the plant under federal law, and allows CBD to be sold legally in all 50 states.

As Canagreed reports, the legalization of hemp would open the floodgates for investment and market development. With the medical benefits of CBD fueling the demand, a host of industries are launching efforts to bring CBD drugs, beverages, edibles, and lotions to market.

Hemp Image Rehab

Hemp, which has for decades been lumped together with marijuana and stigmatized, is now being hailed as a “supercrop” and a savior for farmers across America. Republican leadership, which has been among the staunchest opponents of legalizing cannabis, has become a major hemp industry booster, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

As High Country News notes, conservative politicians from Oregon to Alaska are increasingly championing hemp “as a potential lifeline for struggling rural communities.”

States Embrace Hemp

The hemp movement is gaining momentum in states from coast to coast. Bob Crumley, president of Founder’s Hemp, expects hemp to be a $1 billion industry in North Carolina, surpassing the state’s $800 million tobacco crop. Nevada, Vermont, and Wisconsin also are hotbeds of hemp growing activity.

The Buffalo News describes how hemp is taking off in New York State, where more than 60 farms and businesses have received hemp research permits as part of a state pilot program. The Des Moines Standard describes how Iowa farmers are itching to grow hemp, a plant that was once widely farmed in the state. Oklahoma farmers also are bullish on growing hemp.

Hemp is seen as the salvation of cannabis farmers who have been suffering from declining cannabis prices. Reports describe how cannabis growers in Oregon are turning to hemp as cannabis prices continue to plummet and the demand for CBD oil explodes.

Hemp CBD Market Trajectory

Many industry observers believe the hemp CBD market will be huge. Among them is the Brightfield Group, which believes “the hemp CBD market is going to skyrocket and is here to stay.”

The Brightfield Group says its forecast of a $22 billion hemp CBD market by 2022 is conservative and is based on interviews with hundreds of people in the industry, surveys of thousands of consumers, and analysis of millions of data points.

According to U.S. News, CBD oil commands thousands of dollars per kilogram, and farmers can make more than $100,000 an acre growing hemp plants to produce CBD oil.

“Word on the street is everybody thinks hemp’s the new gold rush,” said said Jerrad McCord, a farmer who grows marijuana in Oregon.

The promise that people see in hemp is reflected in the many new hemp ventures, commissions, and societies that are sprouting as fast as the plant itself. Among those leading the charge is Shane Davis, an evangelist for hempenomics, the idea that hemp “can create massive streams of revenue, liberate communities, and create economies.”

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 

 


Cannabis Price Crash Puts Manufacturers in Peril

The price of legal cannabis has been dropping at a steady rate, and the outlook is for a continuing decline before the market levels off. Small cannabis manufacturers and dispensaries are being driven out of business, and large manufacturers that fail to take measures to minimize production costs are at risk of meeting the same fate.

As marijuanaventure.com warns, “When the market shakes out in five years and people stop selling at a loss, companies capable of producing high-quality cannabis at an industrial scale and with low production costs will be the only players left in the game.”

Revenues Up, Prices Down

Although cannabis revenues have been rising rapidly in states in which cannabis is legal, cannabis prices have been declining because of overproduction. In Colorado, for example, the Department of Revenue reported cannabis sales of $1.49 billion in 2017, an increase of almost 15% from the previous year and more than double the revenues reported in 2014. Over the same time period, however, cannabis prices in Colorado declined from around $200 an ounce in 2014 to less than $100 (including tax) in 2018.

The average wholesale price of cannabis per pound has declined from $2,000 per pound in 2015 to about $1,000 in 2018, with producers in some states having to sell for less than $500 per pound. One grower in Oregon was forced to sell his excess cannabis at a mere $100 per pound at auction.

The Guardian describes a bleak scene in Oregon in which overproduction has pushed consumer prices down to $6 an ounce.  Unable to remain profitable, mom-and-pop farms are selling out to out-of-state investors as the market becomes increasingly owned by a few big players. Many non-growing dispensaries also are losing money and selling out to large cannabis chains.

It appears that the cannabis industry is following the same consolidation path as the grocery industry in which small grocery stores were put out of business by big grocery chains.

Control Production Costs or Perish

As more and more large cannabis ventures enter the market and expand their businesses, only manufacturers that can keep production costs low will be able to survive.

As marijuanaventure.com warns, “by 2025, or maybe even as soon as 2020, this industry will be based around per-pound production costs in the $100 range, or potentially lower, and companies that can’t compete at that level will be swiftly left in the dust.”

As cannabis management consultant Rich Cardinal points out, the only way to create facilities capable of producing low-cost, high-quality cannabis is through the implementation of efficient growing methods and investments in advanced production models that employ state-of-the-art automation.

Accounting Practices Are Key

Critical to controlling costs in the manufacturing and distribution of cannabis are stringent and integrated accounting practices, coupled with the use of advanced analytics to track costs, perform forecasts, and maximize efficiency.

As cannabis accounting specialist Andrew Hunzicker observes, many cannabis companies find themselves plagued with financial struggles stemming from the complexity of cannabis accounting, including cost controls within the growth, manufacturing, and retail phases, as well as compliance and tax issues.

Besides establishing solid accounting practices and procedures, says Hunzicker, cannabis businesses must recognize the importance of deploying cannabis management software tailored to the needs of their industry.

The crucial need to control costs is why cannabis ventures like Liberty Health Sciences, Acreage Holdings, and Medmen are investing in facilities that incorporate the most modern, state-of-the-art growing and production methods, including manufacturing management software capable of streamlining and maximizing accounting operations.

As Hunzicker and other experts point out, these and other forward-looking operators are making the investments in systems that enable them to achieve the low production costs that will be required to survive into the future.

This is exactly what advanced management software like MaxQ Cannabis was designed to do—enable large-scale cannabis manufacturers to minimize production costs, streamline operations, and maximize profitability, including integrated and automated accounting with cost controls and compliance throughout all phases of cannabis growth, manufacturing, and distribution.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 


Cannabis and Alcohol Industries Cozy Up Through Cash

As the saying goes, money talks—and the large amount of money being invested by alcohol and cannabis companies in joint ventures speaks volumes about the direction the cannabis industry is taking.

This trend was underscored by the recent announcement that liquor giant Constellation Brands was investing $4 billion in Canada’s Canopy Growth Corp. This massive cash infusion follows a $190 million investment by Constellation Brands in Canopy Growth Corp. in 2017.

Such a major investment by Constellation Brands is a solid vote of confidence in the cannabis industry, and no doubt is driven by the cannabis market’s expanding legalization and explosive growth worldwide.

We should expect to see the alcohol and cannabis industries become increasingly more integrated to create a large recreational cannabis and alcohol conglomerate.

Neutralizing the Cannabis Threat

As the legal cannabis market continues to expand, consumption of cannabis is taking a large bite out of alcoholic beverages sales. Studies show that alcohol consumption has declined by an average 15% in states in which cannabis has become legal.

As Money reported, recent studies show that U.S. consumers now spend as much on legal marijuana as they do on alcohol. In Aspen Colorado, cannabis sales surpassed those of alcohol in 2017, with licensed cannabis vendors taking in $11.3 million, topping the $10.5 million rung up by liquor sales.

To counter the threat to their revenues, major alcoholic beverage distributors like Constellation Brands are investing in cannabis ventures and developing cannabis beverages. At the same time, cannabis companies are investing in alcohol companies as a ready-made path to acquire retail outlets.

Beer Brands Field Cannabis Beverages

One way in which alcohol companies are combatting the cannabis threat, while at the same time capitalizing on the cannabis opportunity, is to produce non-alcoholic cannabis beverages. Beer maker Heineken introduced a non-alcoholic cannabis beverage called Hi-Fi Hops in California under its Lagunitas brand in July.

Molson Coors Canada, meanwhile, announced a joint venture with The Hydropothecary Corp., a leading Canadian producer of medical cannabis, to develop a line of non-alcoholic cannabis beverages.

Molson Coors is among the beer makers that have cited cannabis consumption as a risk factor to their business in 10-K filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Blue Moon Brewing founder Keith Villa also has formed a new company called Ceria to produce THC-infused non-alcoholic craft beers. Villa has been working with cannabinoid research firm Ebbu to develop cannabis-infused beverages.

Province Brands in Toronto claims to have developed the first cannabis beer made exclusively using the marijuana plant, a beverage brewed without barley and using the stalks, roots, and stems of marijuana plants. Province also announced it was developing a new beer brewed from barley and infused with premium cannabis oil.

Liquor Stores Become Cannabis Outlets

With recreational cannabis becoming legal in Canada beginning October 17, Canadian cannabis producers are forging deals with alcohol distributors to acquire retail outlets. Aurora Cannabis in Alberta recently increased its previous $103.5 million investment in Alcanna, Canada’s largest liquor retailer, by another $34.5 million, upping its share of Alcanna from 19.9% to 25%, with an option to go to 40%. The agreement calls for Alcanna to open retail cannabis stores under the Aurora brand in provinces in which private retail is permitted.

Alcanna will build, own, and operate the new cannabis stores, which will carry a suite of brands from Licensed Producers, including Aurora’s MedReleaf and CanniMed products. According to Alcanna CEO James Burns, Alcanna will convert a number of its existing 230 liquor stores into cannabis retail outlets, as well as build new outlets, as it gains permission to operate cannabis outlets within Canadian provinces.

In a similar deal, Canadian cannabis producer Aphria signed an agreement with Great North Distributors, a Canadian subsidiary of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, to serve as the exclusive distributor for Aphria’s adult-use cannabis products throughout Canada. Aphria says the deal will give it 100% coverage of the cannabis retail market across Canada from the first day of legal adult-use marijuana sales.

Big Finance Enters Cannabis Fray

While Constellation Brands’ $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth is a huge event, of equal significance is the involvement of Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the deal, Marijuana Business Daily reports.

As the report notes, the transaction appears to be the first mega cannabis investment to involve major U.S. financial institutions and is a move that represents a “transformational moment” for the cannabis industry.

“Wall Street can no longer ignore the pace, the amount of money being raised and the growth underway in this industry,” said Scott Greiper, vice president at Viridian Capital Advisors in New York.

A dark cloud hovering over the cannabis industry is the illegality of cannabis in the U.S. on the federal level, which is preventing financiers from investing in U.S. cannabis ventures. But there are signs of change, including bills introduced to legalize cannabis nationally.

Constellation Brands CEO Rob Sands told The Wall Street Journal that legalization of marijuana at a national level in the United States was “highly likely, given what’s happened at the state level.”

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 


Cannabis Miracle Drug Breaks Through Legal Barriers

In what is being hailed as a landmark decision and historic first, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first drug with an active ingredient derived naturally from the cannabis plant. The FDA approved the drug, called Epidiolex, because it was proven to be effective in treating patients aged two and older who suffer from some rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

Developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex is derived from cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana that does not cause intoxication. The ruling is historic because it removes a longstanding stigma associated with marijuana and opens the door for other cannabis drugs to gain approval.

Cannabis Gaining Respect

Besides spurring further research, the approval of Epidiolex should engender a more relaxed and open-minded attitude towards cannabis drugs. We recently discussed the shifting attitudes towards cannabis by politicians and the general public as seen in the warm welcome being received by new cannabis manufacturing plants being built.

“This approval is historic in that it allows us, as a pharmaceutical company, to talk about this product in the way that pharmaceutical companies normally talk about their drugs,” said GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover.

Despite a wealth of evidence that cannabis has significant medical benefits, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug that has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Thus, Epidiolex must be approved not only by the FDA, but by the DEA as well before it can be legally dispensed.

GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover sees no problem in the DEA reclassifying cannabis, pointing out that because the FDA’s approval is a determination of an accepted medical use, the DEA must recognize this, and Epidiolex will not remain classified as a Schedule 1 drug.

Hurdles Remain

The recognition that untapped curative powers reside in the cannabis plant is a big step forward in the mainstreaming of cannabis. However, there are still a considerable number of legal hurdles and institutionalized anti-cannabis sentiment that cannabis researchers must deal with.

As researcher Jacci Bainbridge reveals, she and other cannabis researchers are frustrated by the requirements imposed on them, including extra paperwork, committees, planning, and inspections—hurdles, she says, that researchers studying heroin don’t even have to face.

Even as the pendulum swings towards the acceptance of cannabis, the debate about the risks and benefits of cannabis is still being waged. There also are politicians and pundits who continue to demonize cannabis. Although Canada’s Senate voted to legalize cannabis, the bill was passed “over the objections of Conservative senators who remained resolutely opposed,” the Montreal Gazette reported.

Opponents will have an increasingly uphill battle as the medical benefits of cannabis continue to mount. As The Week reported, “The evidence suggests cannabis is a relatively safe drug that provides a host of medical benefits.”

Drug Source Should Not Be an Impediment

As GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover observed, the focus should be on the effectiveness of a drug rather than its origins, pointing out that there are very few medicines prescribed because of their origin as opposed to what they can do for a patient.

Although the FDA’a approval of Epidiolex is a historic milestone, said Gover, when it comes to physicians prescribing the drug, it’s about the efficacy and safety profile. Besides the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex, physicians will recognize the importance of positive studies that were published in The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, he noted.

What’s Next?

While cannabis has been found to provide relief for a good number of ailments, researchers have only scratched the surface in uncovering its potential uses. “It’s actually quite amazing how little we really know about something that has been used for thousands of years,” said Sachin Patel, a cannabis researcher at Vanderbilt University.

The FDA’s approval of Epidiolex has observers speculating as to what will be the next cannabis drug to win approval. GW Pharma says it is developing a number of potential new cannabis-derived drugs for epilepsy, glioblastoma, and schizophrenia.

Interestingly, Epidiolex is not the world’s first plant-derived cannabinoid prescription drug. That honor goes to another GW Pharma drug called Sativex, which has been approved for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis in numerous countries outside the United States.

According to outsiderclub.com, a former GW Pharma medical director has left the company and is now chief medical officer at a new cannabis drug company that is developing a drug that kills cancer cells.

As the cannabis barriers continue to fall, it seems as if it will only be a matter of time the full spectrum of medical benefits are able to be discovered. As the Outsider Club reported:

“Marijuana is the real deal. It’s here to stay. Legalization timelines are being compressed and expedited. And it’s created hundreds of billions in new wealth.”

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry.