Cultivated week of September 13 – Business Insider

CannabisA marijuana leaf on a plant at a cannabis grow in Gardena, California.AP Photo/Richard Vogel

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Happy Friday the 13th everyone (spooky):

As with last week, the cannabis sector was dominated by the unfortunate news of vaping-related illnesses. As a refresher, I put together a timeline of what state and federal officials knew about the illnesses and when. You can read that here, and we’ll keep updating it as we learn more.

But there was some other news apart from the vape scare that I’d like to highlight. First, Aurora Cannabis, one of the largest cannabis companies, reported earnings. While the company didn’t have a bad quarter revenue-wise, it missed on its guidance by around 1% and the stock was hammered as a result.

I spoke with Aurora Chief Corporate Officer Cam Battley yesterday by phone. He said a few interesting things. One, he felt like the market has a „follow-the-leader” approach where, after companies like Canopy Growth and Cronos Group did deals with large alcohol and tobacco companies, investors expected Aurora to do the same.

„There’s pressure there,” said Battley. „We don’t want to give up control and enter partnerships that don’t work for us.”

Second, Battley reiterated that Aurora is actively looking at US CBD acquisitions, which we have reported on in the past. He also said that Aurora is looking closely at the landmark Canopy Growth-Acreage deal, and may consider pursuing a similar acquisition under that framework. We previously reported that the deal’s unique (if vague) structure would provide a pathway for other Canadian cannabis companies to do the same. 

On the policy front, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the Democratic caucus that a bill to protect banks that serve cannabis companies will get a full House floor vote by the end of the month. The news follows Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo’s statement to Politico that his committee will hold a vote on similar legislation.

In other news, I sat down with Bradley Tusk, the CEO of Tusk Ventures and author of „The Fixer” in his Manhattan offices on Wednesday to tape an episode of The Firewall podcast. We had a wide-ranging discussion that went from cannabis tech startups to psychedelic drugs, and Mexico’s incipient cannabis legalization — all in a snackable 20 minutes. The episode will drop on Wednesday, and you can listen to it wherever you get your podcasts.

And last, here’s a tidbit I thought you all might like. I spoke with Marc Hauser, who leads the law firm Reed Smith LLP’s cannabis practice earlier today.

He had a great quote around the regulatory complexity of cannabis and the challenges of putting together deals. „It’s both legal and highly regulated at the state level, and highly illegal at the federal level,” Hauser told me. „It’s like a quantum physics problem.”


More stories from around the BI newsroom:

Here’s the pitch deck that cannabis-beverage startup K-Zen used to raise $5 million from seasoned Silicon Valley VC firm DCM Ventures

The cannabis-infused-beverage startup K-Zen raised $5 million from the venerable Silicon Valley venture firm DCM Ventures in May.

K-Zen co-CEO Judy Yee told Business Insider that the startup tailored its fundraising approach to investors who would be willing to invest in cannabis, as most mainstream venture funds are still reticent about the space.

Yee walked me through K-Zen’s pitch deck and talked about the genesis of K-Zen in a recent interview. 

Here are the 3 top pot stocks to bet on in the US and one to avoid, according to Wall Street’s leading cannabis analyst

Wall Street’s star cannabis-industry analyst Vivien Azer initiated coverage on some of the splashiest US cannabis names — known as multistate operators or MSOs in industry parlance — including CuraleafGreen Thumb IndustriesCresco LabsAcreage Holdings, and MedMen.

Azer’s top US cannabis pick: Green Thumb Industries. She also likes Curaleaf and Cresco Labs, particularly as these companies balance wholesale and retail revenues.

She put a harsh price target on MedMen — $1.50. While she said the brand has strong equity in the lucrative California market, the company’s constant need for cash and rampant spending will hurt it in the longterm. 

Top investors from a cannabis-focused fund and early Juul investor share their 3 best tips for making a successful pitch

Brother-and-sister-duo Morgan and Emily Paxhia know what turns a pitch into funding for a startup.

As the managing partners of Poseidon Asset Management, a cannabis-focused investment firm, the pair have seen — and sat through — tons of pitches of varying quality. The two shared their best pieces of advice for startup founders looking to make a successful pitch in a recent webinar moderated by Business Insider.

Check out their three best tips here

Capital raises, M&A activity, partnerships, and launches

Executive moves

  • Canopy Rivers, the VC arm of Canopy Growth, formed a new strategic advisory board. The board includes John Ruffolo, formerly the founder of OMERS Ventures, Meg Lovell, formerly M&A head at Imperial Brands PLC, and Philip Donne, formerly the CEO of Kellogg Canada.
  • Brad Kotansky, a former banker and entrepreneur, joins 4Front as CFO.
  • 48North Cannabis names Alison Gordon as the sole CEO. The company accepted the resignation of Gordon’s co-chief executive, Jeannette VanderMarel this week. VanderMarel will stay on as board director.
  • Green Flower Media adds Gil Christie as EVP of Enterprise Solutions & Investor Education. Christie previously founded Fitch Learning. 
  • California cannabis chain Caliva adds Jeffry Allen to its board. The company also adds Joseph Sequenzia as chief marketing officer, Leann Taylor as chief strategy officer, and Drew Kornreich as chief M&A officer.  

Chart of the week

Here’s a list of the cannabis companies that are hiring the most this year, from the job recruiting site Indeed. As a reminder, we published a recruiter’s guide to landing a job in the cannabis industry last week:

The top cannabis employers in the US in 2019Yutong Yuan/Business Insider

Stories from around the web

Did I miss anything? Have a tip? Just want to chat? Send me a note at or find me on twitter @jfberke

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