We have all read the headlines and press releases touting an acquisition with a fit so seemingly perfect it feels predestined. It may be true in some cases that two businesses just “found” each other. However, it is more likely that a solid acquisition is the result of a calculated process on both sides of the deal. To put it bluntly: Good acquisitions do not materialize out of thin air. 

Do not depend upon your amazing product or service offering, no matter how revolutionary, to reel in the deals alone. Do not believe that your own hype will raise the interest of potential buyers. Do not feel that you will be one of the rare companies that just “finds” its perfect match. If you are pursuing an exit strategy of acquisition, you had better be thinking with an acquisition mindset and planning to make it occur.  

Developing a roadmap to acquisition may seem a little daunting, but the process can actually be fairly simple—if not easy. It can be summed up in four critical steps which, when followed, will dramatically increase your chances of success. These are the signs that say you are serious about being acquired.

Step one: Create a strategy

It might seem like an obvious first step, but you would be surprised by the number of business leaders who do not follow, or even possess, a clear, articulated strategy. I am convinced that without one, any success a company meets is purely by chance. The power of a great idea or an incredible product can only take you so far. You need a North Star to guide you.

But creating a strong strategy that accurately reflects what your business offers and how it can be leveraged for acquisition is not always easy. The temptation to exaggerate strengths and downplay weaknesses can be strong. Your strategy must address what makes your business attractive while honestly acknowledging where it falls short, and how the business can make up for these perceived shortcomings. When developing a strategy that will take you to acquisition, pie-in-the-sky thinking must be tossed aside in place of stone-cold reality. 

Christopher Jensen, cofounder and treasurer of the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR), says the work the trade association has done on the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is just one example of the behind-the-scenes efforts the industry group does on a regular basis to push cannabis reform.

“It’s not just a trade association that monitors what’s happening on the Hill and reports back to their members. We’re doing a lot of the work,” says Jensen, who is also co-founder and CEO of Mana Supply Co., a medical cannabis company based in Maryland with locations in Missouri and Colorado. “And that was really attractive to me, to be able to sit down and not only spend the time explaining, educating, doing tours, doing things to help legislators understand what the issues were, but I really liked the notion that we were going to be so involved in policy itself.”

Now that the SAFE Banking Act is on its way to the Senate, where there is hope it will finally pass after making its way through the House multiple times, Jensen explains what NCR is focusing on next.

Michelle Simakis: What has been the National Cannabis Roundtable’s (NCR) priority most recently?

Christopher Jensen: We’ve done a lot of work on the SAFE Banking Act over the past couple of years. It’s come out of the House and we’re looking for a place for a place for that bill in the Senate.

[NCR helped] legislators with all the background information, and we got an alliance with the American Bankers Association … getting them all the information they needed to get to the place [the bill] is now, which is a banking bill that with bipartisan support very easily made it out of the House, and we do expect bipartisan support out of the Senate side.

More and more, colleges and universities are jumping into the cannabis space and offering some sort of pathway to a new career. This past week, we covered the news out Syracuse University that Green Flower is helping to power a certification program for students interested in the industry.

It’s a sign of normalization, that key word that means so much.

As the wave of cannabis legalization continues, so too will the number of job opportunities continue to rise. And that translates to more businesses helping to propel the cannabis market to a better, more inclusive arena.

We’ve rounded up some of the major cannabis headlines from the week right here.

Assistant Editor Andriana Ruscitto reports on how “University College at Syracuse University, the academic college of continuing education and professional studies, has partnered with Green Flower, a cannabis education association, to offer four programs where individuals can receive non-credit certificates in Cannabis Education.” Read more “Founded by co-CEOs Michael Horner and Chris Leonard in 2019, Cannavia is vertically integrated and fully owned by its farmer and producer members. It’s pillared to help smaller farms own their brands, build equity and retain the legacy culture that helped create the cannabis space in the first place,” Associate Editor Tony Lange writes in his feature on Cannavia’s recent work. Read more CULTA, in Maryland, launched its tissue culture program this week. “Plant tissue culture is not a hard process to do, but it takes a lot of knowledge and skill to master,” CULTA Tissue Culture Lab Supervisor Isaac Fisher said. Read more “Rural New Mexico will soon be the home to one of the nation’s largest cannabis manufacturing and research facilities, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Bright Green Corp. announced Monday.” Read more Keef Brands announced that Travis Tharp will be taking over as CEO, so we talked with him about where he sees the beverage market segment going. Read more 

And elsewhere on the web, here are the stories we’ve been reading this week:

Santa Ynez Valley News: “Arguments a community organization has used to challenge Santa Barbara County cannabis cultivation permits suffered a minor blow Tuesday when a Superior Court judge rejected them in a petition for a writ of mandate focused on a Buellton area operation.” Read more GreenState: “Thanks to the legalization of medical marijuana, cannabis-related arrests in Missouri’s state parks have dropped by 60% last year.” Read more Syracuse.com: The recent NY Cannabis Insider Live event featured a number of speakers from New York. “If there was one recurring theme to the entire presentation, it was the importance of the law’s social equity provisions.” Read more WSBT: “Green Stem in Niles, Mich., is aiming to help small businesses by working with them and getting the community involved. It's an initiative to help other businesses and also defeat the stigma surrounding cannabis.” Read more Denver Post: “Workers at two Longmont, Colo., cannabis companies unionized this week, a move the labor organization hopes sets a precedent as the first-ever national union contract for CBD workers.” Read more ]]>
The competition just got stiffer among leading licensed producers vying for a top spot in the adult-use cannabis market in Canada.

HEXO Corp., an Ottawa, Ontario-headquartered consumer packaging goods cannabis company, announced May 28 its definitive agreement to acquire Redecan, Canada’s largest privately owned licensed producer. HEXO promoted the C$925-million deal as one that will help propel the company to its goal of being the No. 1 licensed producer by market share in Canada.

The acquisition comes on the heels of two other major deals by HEXO this year, including all-share acquisitions of Zenabis Global Inc. to the tune of $235 million in February and 48North Cannabis Corp. for $50 million earlier this month.

Courtesy of HEXO | hexocorp.com
Sébastien St-Louis, HEXO Corp. CEO

Founded in 2013, HEXO’s $925-million acquisition of Redecan will be its largest deal yet, CEO Sébastien St-Louis told Cannabis Business Times. 

“Well, I’ve never been afraid of price tags,” he said. “What I look for is what’s the fundamental value. [Redecan] had the best growth in the whole industry. So, 169 percent growth year-over-year. They’re the most profitable licensed producer in the industry. And there was a beautiful product overlap. So, from that perspective, it was a hard opportunity to say no to.”

When the transaction closes—expected in the third quarter of 2021—HEXO will hold approximately 17% of the adult-use market share in Canada, according to St-Louis. That percentage, he believes, would provide HEXO a bigger piece of the Canadian market than the Tilray-Aphria combo, which closed a megadeal earlier this month, he said.

Today House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to the U.S. House, legislation that would federally legalize cannabis and encourage social equity in the industry.

The measure would "decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, to provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, to provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses and for other purposes."

Nadler introduced the first version of the MORE Act in July 2019, and the House passed it in a 228-164 vote on Dec. 4, 2020; however, the measure did not make it through the Republican-controlled Senate.

Since Nadler last introduced the MORE Act to Congress, numerous additional states across the U.S., including New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois, Montana, Arizona and more, bringing the total number of U.S. states that have legalized cannabis to 17.

And Americans have also recently shown support of federal legalization, as 70% of voters favor federal legalization, according to a recent poll from the U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC).

"I'm proud to reintroduce the MORE Act to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, remove the needless burden of marijuana convictions on so many Americans, and invest in communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs," said Nadler in a press release.

Cannabis beverages are becoming a more visible product category, particularly as dispensaries begin adding adequate cooler space for brands entering the space. For Keef Brands, which has been around for years, the evolution has been steady—moving through medical markets, allowing patients to become acquainted with the product, and then getting familiar with the burgeoning adult-use landscape in the U.S.

Keef Cola originated in Boulder, Colo., in 2010, with a keen eye to the many adaptive shifts that were coming in the cannabis market. Eventually, just based on how humans interact with one another, the market would embrace cannabinoid-infused beverages. With $2.9 million in U.S. sales in Q1, according to Headset, Keef Brands makes up a large part of what remains a small (but growing) market segment.

Travis Tharp was named CEO after serving as president and COO. Here, we spoke with Tharp about the state of the cannabis beverage segment and what we can expect next.

Eric Sandy: What’s the current scope of Keef Brands in the U.S.?


Travis Tharp: We're currently in seven states, plus Puerto Rico, and those are Colorado, California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Maine and Ohio. We launched our three latest markets of Ohio, Maine and Missouri in the first quarter of 2021, and we've been very pleased with the acceptance that those people have welcomed us to in all of these states. We've had really great partners in all of these, because we have to work with a manufacturer in each area. You have to set up your entire ecosystem in each state, and we've been very fortunate to have some wonderful partners over the years. This latest group is no exception.

ES: How does Keef Brands navigates the differences between medical and adult-use markets?

John Fetterman, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, launched his U.S. Senate campaign earlier this year with cannabis legalization on the forefront of his political agenda. With more than a dozen states across the country having legalized adult-use and/or medicinal cannabis in recent years and months, Fetterman is pushing for legalization not just in his home state, but at the federal level, too. Cannabis Business Times caught up with Fetterman as he ramps up his Senate campaign and his push for cannabis adult-use legalization.
© credit | governor.pa.gov

Zach Mentz: As someone who is running for U.S. Senate in 2022, what are your priorities as a lawmaker and how does cannabis legalization fit into that?

John Fetterman: [Cannabis legalization] is a no brainer. I would challenge anybody to come up with a public policy decision that would generate more revenue, jobs, freedom and justice than just simply saying yes to a plant. It's not about re-making health care. It's not about some complicated infrastructure. It's just saying, ‘Okay, we're not going to arrest anybody anymore for weed. We're going to make it a legitimate business and reap billions and billions and billions in free money that's already being given to the cartels in places where it's illegal, and we're going to expunge the criminal records of anyone that's ever had their lives damaged by this ridiculous prohibition.’ All it means is saying yes to a plant. It's pretty simple.

ZM: You mentioned plenty of people that have had their lives negatively affected by this prohibition and have been in jail for years. And that’s largely a minority communities.

JF: It disproportionately impacts people from those communities. And there's literally no good reason for it. None. I don't know how you can compartmentalize your brain and say you'd be adamantly opposed to the prohibition of alcohol but you're you support prohibition of marijuana, given that alcohol kills close to 90,000 people every year and creates all kinds of extra finalities on society, yet marijuana with no overdose deaths … it doesn't make any sense to me.

ZM: From your perspective, are there any state models that you'd like Pennsylvania to follow? Any states you think are doing a great job?

SANTA FE, N.M., May 24, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Rural New Mexico will soon be the home to one of the nation’s largest cannabis manufacturing and research facilities, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Bright Green Corp. announced Monday. A $300-million investment in a state-of-the-art agricultural ecosystem on company-owned property in Grants—about 70 miles west of Albuquerque—will use the latest technology and automation, delivering consistency and purity to the production of high-quality cannabis for the advancement of medical research.

The project is expected to create more than 170 construction jobs and an initial 200 research and agricultural jobs.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the development of another world-class research facility right here in New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said. “New Mexico as a state has a legacy of leading in research and science. And Bright Green is an exciting partner that I’m glad has chosen to make an impact here in our state. We have the talent, workforce and innovative spirit to make this forthcoming new industry a complete success. Investments like this one make me even more optimistic.”

Bright Green Chairman Terry Rafih said, “Gov. Lujan Grisham, New Mexico’s federal delegation and the local and tribal communities in Cibola County have worked with us from the beginning to create the right environment for innovation and research and we are excited to finally share news of this investment with the rest of New Mexico.”

“With the cooperative spirit of federal, state and business we found in New Mexico, we will see New Mexico and Bright Green Corp. become leaders in this emerging field of medical research,” said Lynn Stockwell, the majority owner and controlling stockholder of Bright Green.

Based in Grants, Bright Green (BGC) was approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to facilitate the production, storage, packaging and distribution of medical research cannabis under the new regulations, as well as other applicable legal standards and relevant laws. BGC executed a memorandum of agreement with the DEA last week.

CHICAGO, May 27, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Global insurance brokerage HUB International (HUB) continues to strengthen its cannabis capabilities with the appointment of Bradley Rutt as U.S. cannabis specialty leader. Rutt will work alongside Jay Virdi, HUB chief sales officer of cannabis specialty, in supporting the practice strategy nationally.
Bradley Rutt

Rutt will play a leading role in continuing the growth of HUB’s U.S. presence in the cannabis industry. As more states continue to legalize cannabis and with the continued rapid innovation of the industry, his focus will be on enhancing cannabis insurance solutions and risk services, further developing cutting-edge resources for clients to support their needs, and attracting and retaining talent to deepen knowledge and expertise to help cannabis clients thrive.

As senior vice president at HUB, Rutt specializes in cannabis executive liability. He has worked with several large public and private management services organizations in designing tailored insurance programs and risk management programs. Before joining HUB, he was vice president and partner at Elkins Jones Insurance Agency in Los Angeles. Elkins Jones was acquired by HUB in 2017. Rutt is a licensed attorney and admitted in California.

“Brad is an industry leader, and his diverse experience and deep understanding of the cannabis industry to insure its unique risks will play a critical role in continuing to strengthen our practice,” Virdi said. “More importantly, we continue our commitment as trusted advisers to our clients to provide them with relevant support and solutions to help them continue to grow.”

DENVER, May 27, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – GrowGeneration Corp., the nation’s largest chain of specialty hydroponic and organic garden centers, today announced the appointment of Paul Rutenis as chief merchant officer (CMO), effective June 21, 2021.

Rutenis’ two-decade career in retail spans management positions at several large public companies, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, West Marine, JC Penney and RadioShack. Rutenis received his bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and holds an Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of St. Louis.

“We’re pleased to bring a seasoned merchandising executive of Paul’s caliber to the GrowGeneration team,” GrowGen CEO Darren Lampert said. “Paul has years of experience leading retail and merchandising strategy for some of the nation’s largest retail chains. His insights will be invaluable as GrowGen continues to scale and build a national chain of hydroponic garden centers and best-in-class private-label brands.”

Rutenis served as executive vice president at West Marine from 2015-2018, where he helped grow the top and bottom line by successfully moving the company to an omnichannel format that enhanced the company’s brick-and-mortar format. At Dick’s Sporting Goods, from 2006 to 2011, he helped drive sales and gross margin expansion in private label and branded products.

“I'm honored to join GrowGeneration’s leadership team at this time of record growth and expansion,” Rutenis said. “GrowGen is uniquely positioned in one of the most exciting and dynamic emerging industries in the country, and I look forward to helping build GrowGen’s national brand and portfolio of private-label products.”]]>
Following New York legalizing adult-use cannabis in March, one university is already working to meet the growing demand for qualified and educated professionals in the emerging industry.

University College at Syracuse University, the academic college of continuing education and professional studies, has partnered with Green Flower, a cannabis education association, to offer four programs where individuals can receive non-credit certificates in Cannabis Education.

The four programs are: Healthcare and Medicine, Cannabis Law and Policy, The Business of Cannabis, and Cannabis Agriculture and Horticulture. Each course is six months and includes three eight-week online classes.

Individuals do not have to be a student at Syracuse to enroll in the course. University College Dean Michael Frasciello said the university expects the primary student population to be individuals already in the industry looking to upskill and further educate themselves or people looking to enter the industry. However, he suspects that more university students will show interest in the programs over time as the cannabis industry continues to expand.

Frasciello gives a general overview of each program:

The Cannabis Law and Policy program will cover business practices, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, future opportunities in related career fields, intellectual property, social equity, labor law, environmental law and consumer law, including advertising, labeling and packaging, he said.

LAS VEGAS, May 25, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Hervé, maker of luxury French-inspired and cannabis-infused desserts, announced the successful close of its oversubscribed $3 million Series A round of funding. This raise will accelerate Hervé’s growth and support new opportunities across the rapidly growing cannabis industry. 

Since its launch in February 2020, Hervé has created an entirely new category of edibles for the discerning cannabis consumer. In Nevada, dispensaries welcomed Hervé as a refreshing new category in the market that addressed the growing demand for higher quality cannabis products. The company’s portfolio launch included three exquisitely flavored gluten-free French macarons, which outsold all premium edibles in the market and commanded retail prices on average two to three times higher than competing products. Strong demand for additional flavors resulted in Hervé expanding the portfolio with two new flavors in mid-2020.

Courtesy of Hervé | hervedibles.com
Cherry is one of four flavors Hervé launched in its Le Mirage collection of hard candies. 

Following its macarons, Hervé launched its Le Mirage collection of four gluten-free and vegan hard candies. Le Mirage candies are completely free of processed sugar, feature all-natural ingredients, offer sublingual faster-onset and boast fewer than two calories per serving. Flavors include menthe (peppermint), pêche (sour peach), pomme verte (sour green apple) and cerise (cherry). The Le Mirage collection features a patent-pending dispensing system that enables discrete consumption for any occasion.

Having established itself as a leader in luxury cannabis products, Hervé is now focused on expanding its winning formula to other markets. With the additional capital, Hervé will launch in two new cannabis markets before the end of 2021 and expand into three additional markets in 2022. The funding will also be used to add both new flavors of existing products and new products altogether to Hervé's product portfolio. 

"While we originally set out to create a new category of cannabis edibles, we never expected that we would already be introducing new products and planning our expansion within a year of launch," said Sebastien Centner, founder and president of Hervé. "We are thrilled about where the next two years will take us as Hervé becomes a household name available in markets across the U.S. and recognized as the benchmark for luxury cannabis products."

The Series A round was completed with existing and new investors participating, along with a new investment by SOL Global Investments Corp. In addition to its investment, SOL Global will be providing Hervé with strategic support through its vast network to help bring the Hervé brand to more markets and more outlets.

Courtesy of Papa & Barkley | papaandbarkley.com
Papa & Barkley is a cannabis and CBD wellness products company based in Eureka, Calif. 

When Evelyn Wang was named the CEO of California-based cannabis and CBD wellness company Papa & Barkley in January, she joined the space after 15-plus years of senior management experience in the beauty sector and a lifetime of cultural heritage.

Courtesy of Papa & Barkley | papaandbarkley.com
Evelyn Wang was named the CEO of Papa & Barkley in late January, following 15-plus years in the beauty space. 

Born in the subtropical Taiwan capital city of Taipei, Wang emigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, when she was 18 months old. She earned her Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California and became a U.S. citizen nearly two decades ago.

Wang’s senior management experience came while leading premier beauty brands at L’Oréal and Estée Lauder. Most recently, she served as chief marketing officer for Milani Cosmetics, a leading international color cosmetics brand. Her crossover from beauty to cannabis is pillared by her expertise in building brands as well as her fundamental principles.

With a personal commitment to plant-based medicine, wellness and sustainability, Wang aligns with Papa & Barkley’s core values, said Adam Grossman, who founded the company five years ago after he formulated a homemade cannabis balm with a crockpot in his kitchen that eased his father’s back pain that had left him bedridden. That balm, in conjunction with other therapies, got “Papa” off hospice and able to return home, he said. “Barkley” is the family’s loyal pit bull.

“The board and I are confident that Evelyn is the right leader to build on our momentum and brand, adding depth to our stellar executive team,” Grossman said in a press release announcing Wang’s appointment to CEO, a position Grossman previously held. Papa & Barkley offers THC products in California and ships CBD products to all 50 states.

Massachusetts hemp producers and processors may finally be getting some relief, as the state's Cannabis Control Commission (the Commission) recently released guidance on selling hemp products to licensed cannabis retailers in the state.

Hemp growers and processors have been anticipating the guidance since the December passage of the MA Hemp Industry Survive and Thrive amendment included in the state's 2021 fiscal budget.

The new guidance permits the sale of industrial hemp products to licensed cannabis retailers, opening up a new market for the state’s struggling industry.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), products such as hempseed, hempseed oil, building materials, clothes, and other products and materials derived from hemp fiber are eligible for wholesale to cannabis retailers under the new guidance. However, the sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products—aside from topicals and non-food CBD products that do not make any therapeutic claims and are not marketed as a dietary supplement—remains illegal (unless approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the guidance says).

The sale of unprocessed or raw hemp, including flower, for consumer use also remains illegal (though the sale of these products from licensed grower to grower or grower to processor is allowed).

Hemp products sold at licensed cannabis retailers must be sold to consumers 21 or older, according to the guidance.

NEWYORK, May 24, 2021 –PRESS RELEASE – MATTIOCommunications, one of the longest-running and largest cannabis marketingservices firms, announced that it has launched a full-service influencermarketing agency, Confluence Agency.In addition to supporting cannabis clients, this subsidiary will also focus onsectors including fashion, beauty, food, home, tech, lifestyle and travel asinfluencer marketing becomes an integral aspect of building brand value acrossall industries.

Over the past 10 years,influencer marketing has become a preferred strategy for brands to engage withtarget audiences. Increased social media usage throughout 2020 further enabledcompanies to drive sales and brand awareness through curated content generatedby micro and macro influencers. According to Insider Intelligence, the value of the influencer marketing industry isprojected to reach $15billion by 2022 as more brands invest in building authenticlong-term consumer relationships.

“Since our inception, MATTIOhas developed strategic solutions that exceed our clients’ business goals,”said RosieMattio, founder and CEO of MATTIO. “We’ve seen firsthand howinfluencer marketing drives growth among our own cannabis clients and is thefuture of brand marketing. Launching an agency dedicated to executingbest-in-class influencer campaigns aligns with our core mission of providingnovel and effective media services to high-growth industries.”

Victoria Baek, who was head of influencer marketing at MATTIO, will lead ConfluenceAgency as CEO. Baek has worked with legacy consumer brands including Coca-Cola,Taco Bell, Disney and Forever 21. Prior to working at MATTIO, Baek was head ofinfluencer marketing and brand partnerships at HARMAN International where shespearheaded the JBL Master Class series, a monthly program featuring electronicproducers and hip-hop artists that not only brought the HARMAN portfolio tomillions of new deals but also generated new brand deals.

“The influencer industry hasevolved from one-off transactions to valuable, long-term partnerships. Onlinecommunities allow brands to connect authentically with audiences in a way thatdrives measured performance,” Baek said. “We’reso excited to launch this new agency to help brands understand emergingchannels and leverage these relationships to strengthen overall brand loyalty andimprove conversion.”

Confluence Agency managesinfluencer marketing strategies for brands from start to end. From identifyingcelebrity and/or niche influencers, to creating content guidelines, to handlingthe logistics of gifting programs, the Confluence team takes a goal-orientedapproach to every campaign in order to track progress. For more information onConfluence’s full range of services, please visit https://www.confluenceagency.co.

OLD BETHPAGE, New York, May 24, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Millennium Investment & Acquisition Co. Inc. (MILC) announced that it has agreed to invest in a newly formed cannabis operator Walsenburg Cannabis LLC (WC). As part of the transaction, MILC has agreed to lend capital to WC for its business operations and MILC is in the process of obtaining regulatory approvals for holding cannabis licenses in Colorado. Upon receiving regulatory approval, it is contemplated that the company would become the majority owner of WC in the form of a preferred equity ownership stake.

Simultaneous with MILC’s investment, WC entered into a long-term lease for real estate purchased by Power REIT. David H. Lesser, MILC’s chairman and CEO is also chairman and CEO of Power REIT. The approximately 22.2-acre site includes existing greenhouse and processing space (the “property”). As part of the lease, Power REIT has agreed to fund the rehabilitation and upgrading of the existing improvements and the construction of additional greenhouse space. Upon completion of this work, the property will have a total of approximately 102,800 square feet of greenhouse and related space. Millennium Investment’s total capital commitment for the project is $750,000.

“This transaction represents a new area of focus for MILC as MILC seeks to transition from an investment company under Securities and Exchange Act of 1940,” Lesser said. “As previously disclosed, MILC is actively selling its sole investment in securities and is converting to an operating business with two areas of focus: sustainable cannabis cultivation in greenhouses and production of activated carbon. MILC is enthusiastic about the prospects for these two focus areas, and I look forward to announcing additional exciting developments in the near future.”

WC is led by President Jared Schrader, an experienced cannabis cultivation operator with a solid track record. Schrader grew revenue at a Colorado cannabis cultivation facility from annual revenue of $150,000 to weekly revenue of over $150,000 (i.e., more than $8 million annually) over the span of two years.

“The property is subdivided into five parcels that each have local approval for the cultivation of cannabis. This allows the property to pursue a rapid growth plan given the nature of Colorado cannabis licensing which is based on a limited plant count initially per property,” Schrader said. “Once performance is demonstrated to the regulators, each property will have the potential to ‘tier-up’ and add more plants. Based on the initial property configuration, WC intends to quickly establish approximately 11,000 cannabis plants which can be harvested approximately five times per year. Based on recent prices for cannabis in Colorado, this would result an annual run rate of revenue in excess of $10 million. Colorado was the first state to legalize cannabis and is currently the second largest cannabis market in the United States which continues to generate significant demand growth.”

Schrader added, “I believe this property can quickly become a large-scale producer of cannabis and cannabis-related products to serve the Colorado market which is the second largest cannabis market in the United States. I am excited to team up with both MILC and Power REIT to get this project growing.”

Courtesy of Sol 7 Farms
Amber Speckman, who starting growing cannabis in 2013 in Northern California, owns Sol 7 Farms. 

When Amber Speckman started cultivating cannabis nearly a decade ago in Northern California, it was consistent with her passion to help people.

Speckman’s background includes a master’s degree in marketing and business, but spending two years helping to nurse her mother, who died of cancer, motivated her to go back to school and earn degrees in holistic health and nutrition. Speckman then moved out of the country and opened a holistic health and wellness center, which she ran for seven years.

But when her father’s health began to decline, she moved back home to take care of him and had a son at the time. To meet the financial needs of her family, Speckman put 25 cannabis plants in the ground, which she said was the legal number she could cultivate in 2013 with her medical license. 

“It was consistent with my passion to help people,” she said. “I’ve always loved natural medicine. And it was a way that I could work from home, take care of my family and then also provide natural health and medicine to people who needed it. So, that’s how I started cultivation about a decade ago.”

Courtesy of Sol 7 Farms

The owner of Sol 7 Farms, Speckman’s family operation now has seven team members who cultivate 14,000 square feet of cannabis and produce high-end flower from the Emerald Triangle.

Jill Jasuta/Courtesy of CULTA

Maryland medical cannabis cultivator CULTA has launched the state program’s first tissue culture lab in an effort to further hone its approach to craft cannabis and extracts. Chief Cannabis Officer and co-founder Mackie Barch said that it’s a natural next step in the company’s growth plans and cultivation goals.

The team took their first tissue culture clones on April 8. (The news comes just a few months after CULTA moved its headquarters to a new office in Bethesda to accommodate a long-term growth strategy, which includes plans to add 100 more employees across its farm in Cambridge, retail dispensary in Baltimore and new HQ.) 

CULTA’s current collection of 26 cultured strains includes: Dosido 22-22, Poochie Love and Scooby Snacks #2. New mothers are expected in the coming months. The plan is to bank all of CULTA’s genetics in the lab by the end of the year.

The prime motivation was “to ensure redundancy of our genetics, the ability to create clean new moms and to be able to store genetics for long periods of time,” Barch said. “The long-term implications are to ensure we don’t lose prized genetics to disease and age. Additionally, we can store more genetics in a safer manner and bring them back as needed.”

Cannabis strains can be moved in and out of production without a lot of additional cost. This flexibility translates to a greater engagement with sales trends in Maryland.

This week, we were very pleased to announce a new partnership with the Minority Cannabis Business Alliance: the diversity scholarship, which will provide selected MCBA members with 20 complimentary Cannabis Conference 2021 All-Access passes, and 10 complimentary Hemp Grower Conference 2021 All-Access passes.

It was heartening to see this news come together, and we’re just excited to be able to extend this offer to a broad audience through the MCBA.

I mention it here because, too often, the industry is pushed backward by outside forces. In Mississippi, the state’s Supreme Court knocked down a voter-approved medical cannabis initiative. Progress: thwarted.

This industry is still very much emerging from an illicit market/gray market background. Pieces of the puzzle are being set in place, and now is the time to be as inclusive as possible—to keep the door open and examine new ways of working together. You can read Associate Editor Tony Lange’s report on Mississippi in the list below, and here’s what he wrote in our Friday newsletter (subscribe here!). 

“If Mississippians want to instill their own system of checks and balances, they have the power to vote out Supreme Court justices at the polls when their eight-year terms expire. Then, their voices surely will be heard.”

We’ve rounded up some of the key cannabis headlines from the week right here.

Adult-use cannabis is making its way to Montana after Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a cannabis legalization implementation bill into law on May 18.

The legislation, House Bill 701, will implement and regulate an adult-use cannabis program in the state; however, the legislation makes several changes to the initial measure, Initiative 90 (I-90), which voters approved by a considerable amount in the 2020 election, as previously reported by Cannabis Business Times.

Under H.B. 701, recreational sales are set to begin Jan. 1 2022, for adults 21 years and older, but only existing cannabis providers can opt into the market for the first 18 months, as Cannabis Business Times previously reported.

Some of the modifications H.B. 701 makes to I-90 include pushing back the deadline for recreational sales to begin from Oct 1. 2021 to Jan. 1 2022, imposing new restrictions on the quantity of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content permitted in retail products, and reducing the number of cannabis plants adults can cultivate for personal use from four to two plants; however, householders with more than one adult can grow double that amount without penalty, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) reported.

Under H.B. 701, the THC content in cannabis flower is limited to 35%, edibles are restricted to 100mg per package, and all other concentrated products are capped at 800mg, NORML reported.

Cannabis retailers are not permitted to operate in Montana counties or cities where most voters voted against I-90 unless the county or city holds an additional election is held to opt into the market. And counties or cities that can participate in recreational sales have the option to either "opt-in" or "opt-out" of allowing cannabis businesses through a vote, the reform organization reported.