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How 2 Future Marijuana Stocks Engineered Reverse Takeovers

By Laura Kuhl
May 24, 2018

With all of the hype surrounding Canopy Growth Corp.’s (TSX:WEED) (NYSE:CGC) move to the New York Stock Exchange, marijuana stock investors would do well to look at smaller players finding a backdoor into the cannabis stock market. Here are two future pot stocks that engineered reverse takeovers:

MedMen Inc.

California-based MedMen Inc. announced their partnership with Cronos Group (NASDAQ.CRON) back in March, and the retail firm plans to go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange as early as summer. In preparation, MedMen signed a letter of intent with Vancouver’s Ladera Ventures Corp. (TSXV:LV.H) on April 30 for a reverse takeover. According to Marijuana Business Daily, Ladera Ventures – which was formerly known as T.M.T. Resources until 2017 – previously operated in the business of oil and gas. As of the publication of this article, the company is a “shell company” without a current operation to its name.

But it is not strange to see Canadian companies like Ladera coming forward with financial support for cannabis, both locally and abroad. Canopy Rivers Corp., a new investment company, partly owned by Canopy Growth Corp., is putting $780,000 on the table for any new cannabis entrepreneurs looking for assistance.

As the regulations in Canada currently stand, all cannabis companies must be vertically integrated and responsible for producing, processing, and shipping all of their supply. This leaves little room for specialty or even research and development. Canopy Rivers intends to offer this investment as a means to give entrepreneurs a leg-up in an industry bogged down by bureaucracy.

MedMen is not the only American cannabis retail chain finding luck on Canadian soil. Chicago’s own Green Thumb Industries is also using a reverse takeover to eke out space for themselves in the Canadian market.

Green Thumb Industries

On May 14, Green Thumb Industries announced their reverse takeover of Vancouver’s Bayswater Uranium (TSXV:BYU.H). For the takeover to be effective, Green Thumb must meet certain terms, including finishing their financing. According to the press release, the takeover also rests on the “conditional approval of the Canadian Securities Exchange for the listing.” Green Thumb Industries cultivates marijuana with licenses in six states, and the company operates a chain of dispensaries called RISE in the United States. Their twelfth dispensary just opened in Amherst, Massachusetts on Monday, with an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony a week earlier on May 16. This kind of ceremonial debut reflects growing support for the cannabis industry.

Green Thumb intends to have twenty dispensaries open and operational in the United States alone by the end of the year. These dispensaries will be equipped to service medical and recreational customers in states where it is legal, including Massachusetts, which will officially legalize recreational marijuana this summer.

It is not surprising that dispensaries directly influence the sales of medical marijuana. In Massachusetts alone, patients bought over 260,000 ounces of pot last year due to ease and availability. That is 150,000 ounces more than last year. Even amid the legal to-and-fro and licensing bottlenecks, Massachusetts at least is working toward creating a community that supports cannabis businesses.

But one state is not enough. American cannabis cannot grow like its Canadian counterparts without support from the federal level, both legally and financially. “We need access to markets,” Green Thumb CEO Pete Kadens said in an interview with Crain’s Chicago Business. “The market that works best for us right now is Canada.”

Green Thumb Industries’ other co-founder, Jim Beam bourbon heir Ben Kovler, sees Canada as the direction the company needs to take in order to raise capital for more facilities. Kovler told Bloomberg earlier this month that he believes the cost of raising capital will be cheaper on Canadian soil. With this kind of attitude, it should come as no surprise to marijuana investors when Green Thumb starts to trade publicly as early as next month.

“I’m excited for all of us at GTI as we experience a huge milestone and transition from a private company to a publicly traded one,” Kadens said on May 14. "In addition to giving back to the communities in which we operate, our priority remains bringing a disciplined and strategic approach to our expansion efforts as we move GTI to the next level. GTI is well-positioned to thrive as the cannabis industry matures and we look forward to being among the publicly traded cannabis companies on the Canadian exchanges.”

Photo credit: Bob Doran

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