Positive U.S. Pot News Spurs Rush to Raise Cash: Cannabis Weekly
(Bloomberg) -- A double dose of good news this past week sparked a rapid response from the marijuana industry, with multi-state operators moving to ramp up their businesses, and fast.
On the morning of Jan. 6, when the results of Georgia’s Senate race were turning in favor of Democrats and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed to legalize marijuana in his state, Curaleaf Holdings Inc. executives suddenly realized the company could benefit from some extra cash. They went to bankers and lawyers around 11 a.m., and in less than 24 hours, the company had raised more than $200 million by offering more stock on the Canadian Securities Exchange.
“It was very unexpected in Georgia. That’s why we pulled the trigger as fast as we did, to prepare for what we think will be a very dynamic 2021,” Chairman Boris Jordan said in a phone interview.
He anticipates Curaleaf will want cash for acquisitions as the industry consolidates faster than expected. He also sees states under more pressure to allow medical and adult use following the nation’s shift toward the Democratic party. In New York alone, Jordan said Curaleaf needs to quadruple in size to meet demand.
While the industry had been expected to gain momentum this year, developments have moved faster than expected. For now, the STATES Act, which would give states more legal authority to determine their own marijuana rules, is seen as the most likely federal regulation to pass soon -- as opposed to the MORE Act, which would fully decriminalize cannabis. The STATES Act could be approved in either the second half of 2021 or the first half of 2022, according to Cowen analyst Vivien Azer.
Jordan, meanwhile, said he previously didn’t expect the MORE Act to be passed until the next administration, but he now thinks it could happen by the end of President-Elect Joe Biden’s four-year term.
Cannabis stocks have surged on the brighter prospects. An industry index rose 16% last week.
Green Thumb Industries Inc., one of the largest U.S. multi-state operators, also sees expansion accelerating as a result of the recent news, Chief Executive Officer Ben Kovler said in a phone interview. With potential access to capital markets coming sooner than expected, Kovler said the company is thinking about refinancing its current $100 million in debt, which carries a 12% interest rate.
“We could create an extra $100 million out of thin air by refinancing at 6%,” he said. This could then be invested back into the business and potentially boost the share price. Staffing up is also on the agenda. “We hired over 1,300 people in 2020, and we’d expect that to be bigger in 2021,” Kovler said.
Green Thumb is also intensifying efforts to register on U.S. exchanges, Kovler said. Companies have largely tapped markets in Canada rather the U.S., where they have been shunned for concerns about legal risks due to federal prohibition. But Kovler said views are changing on this.
“I don’t believe there’s a legal issue that prevents this,” he said. “I think the NYSE and the Nasdaq should list cannabis companies. Otherwise it’s a massive wealth transfer to Canada.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I think that now, post-Covid, and with this Democratic dominance in the U.S. government, we will start to see positive movement in the approach to U.S. legalization -- and that is something that will support global legalization,” Oren Shuster, CEO and co-founder of IM Cannabis Corp., said in a phone interview. IM Cannabis operates in Germany, Israel and Canada.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
- $300 Million: The amount of annualized tax revenue that New York is expected to generate from recreational cannabis use, according to Cowen’s Azer.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Amsterdam wants to restrict tourists from its coffee shops that sell cannabis as part of a plan to tackle the flow of hard drugs and organized crime linked to the marijuana trade.
- Cuomo will announce his plan for legalizing marijuana as part of the 2021 State of the State.
- A Democratic Senate is seen as lifting the prospects for legal cannabis and speeding banking approval for the industry.
- Kushco Holdings Inc. reports first-quarter earnings after the market closes.
- Organigram Holdings Inc. reports first-quarter earnings before the market opens.
- Aphria Inc. reports second-quarter earnings before the market opens.
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