Tag Archives: cannabis

iAnthus Capital bordering on big things

The movement to legalise cannabis in a majority of US states is drawing interest from an expanding list of companies, as entrepreneurs sense opportunity in a market where growth is virtually guaranteed.

Currently, 29 US states have legalised the use of full-strength medical cannabis, with eight of those states allowing recreational use of the drug as well.

In all, 43 states allow some degree of cannabis use, meaning 93% of Americans live in a state that allows consumption.

According to the latest industry data, direct legal cannabis sales totalled US$7bln in the US in 2016 and by 2020 will reach around US$22bln.

However, although this looks like a good opportunity for businesses, the fact that cannabis is still illegal on a federal basis in the US makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to finance their operations.

This is where Canadian Securities Exchange-listed iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc (CNE:IAN, OTCQB:ITHUF) has stepped in.

“You have a strange anomaly in the US where cannabis is legal at the state level and illegal at the federal level,” says Hadley Ford, chief executive of iAnthus Capital.

“Citibank and Bank of America aren’t making any loans to cannabis operators, and the Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanleys of the world aren’t taking anyone public.”

iAnthus, however, raises capital in Canada, where cannabis is legal for medical use at both the federal and provincial levels, and puts the cash to work in the US market.

That market is growing at a compound annual rate of over 30% so the returns on investment have the potential to be significant.

iAnthus, which has raised over C$50mln since its founding, has been putting money to work in Colorado, Vermont, New Mexico and Massachusetts, and is also in discussions pertaining to other high-growth markets.

TGS deal

In early February, iAnthus announced a strategic partnership with The Green Solution (TGS), a big player in the US cannabis industry.

TGS operates 12 dispensaries and integrated cultivation and processing facilities in the state of Colorado and has generated over US$150mln of cumulative revenue since its inception in 2010.

“The chance for us to work with TGS on strategic opportunities is very exciting,” said Ford. “TGS is a leader in cannabis and we look forward to seeing what we are able to do by working closely together.”

As part of the strategic relationship, TGS will provide iAnthus with retail expertise and advice on investments in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Mexico and Colorado.

iAnthus is providing a US$7.5mln credit facility to TGS which will be used to fund the build out of additional store locations. The facility runs for one year and carries an interest rate of 14% during the first four months, escalating to 23% thereafter.

To finance the credit facility, and also to provide cash for general corporate and working capital purposes, iAnthus closed a bought deal private placement at the end of February which raised gross proceeds of C$20mln. The deal was structured as a convertible debenture with an 8% coupon and convertible into common shares at a price of C$3.10 per share.

The stock, which also started trading on the OTCQB in early April, is currently changing hands for around US$2.00.

“If you are an investor, there are very few industries where you can pretty much have guaranteed top-line growth of 30% for the foreseeable future,” Ford points out. “There are not many ways for the public to play that opportunity. We believe iAnthus provides an easy way for investors to invest in multiple operators across high-growth states in the US.”

Ford says the group has put over US$19.1mln to work to date, and he thinks the opportunities for investors “look outstanding.”

Massachusetts interest

Aside from being excited about working with TGS in Colorado, Massachusetts is also high on Ford’s radar.

At the start of March, iAnthus said construction had begun on a state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation and processing facility for affiliate Mayflower Medicinals, Inc., a Massachusetts non-profit and cannabis dispensary licence holder.

The 36,000 square foot facility in Holliston is expected to have annual production capacity of 8,700 pounds, with the ability to supply over US$35mln of medical and retail sales. The company has spent US$2.1mln of the approximately US$10mln it will need to build out the cultivation, processing and store locations. “We have the necessary cash on our balance sheet today to complete the project,” notes Ford.

Ford calls Massachusetts the “Colorado of the East, but with less competition.” Mayflower has been awarded two of its three licences by the state, including one of the three dispensaries currently approved to open in Boston. A Boston ordinance provides that no other dispensaries can be opened within a half-mile of any dispensary currently approved by the City.

Ford believes that operations in Massachusetts should start generating revenue in the fourth quarter of this year.

Political risk limited

The election in November last year which made Donald Trump US President included referendums in a number of states on legalising cannabis in one form or another.

Even so, some people question the heightened political risks to the US cannabis industry caused by Trump’s presence in the White House.

Ford, however, plays down such fears, seeing no material change with Trump in power from the environment under President Barack Obama. “Obama could have decriminalized cannabis. He didn’t,” notes Ford.

Ford says the real issue is not one of politics, but of economics, with states like Colorado seeing a big tax boost and the cannabis industry serving as an important jobs provider.

“Nothing is going to stop the forward motion of the industry at this point,” Ford explains. “It doesn’t make sense politically, doesn’t make sense economically, and there just aren’t the federal resources available to roll back the progress that has been made in 29 states.”

iAnthus reported a small loss last year, but as it puts its capital to work it should ultimately see the business turn very cash generative. “When I look at some of the opportunities we have in the pipeline, the future looks very rosy from our perspective,” Ford concludes.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on May 11, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about iAnthus Capital at http://www.ianthuscapital.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/life-sciences/ianthus-capital-holdings-inc.

Maricann looks to replicate Canada success in newly legal German cannabis market

Anyone looking for a model company in the medical cannabis sector would be well advised to consider Maricann Group Inc (CSE:MARI), as thus far it seems to have done everything right.

With a green ethos that drives both product development and corporate efficiency efforts, Maricann succeeded in becoming one of the first companies in Canada approved to cultivate and sell medical cannabis.

Not content with being an early mover in just its home market, Maricann was quick to stake its claim in another jurisdiction largely overlooked by its peers: Germany.

On the verge of turning a profit

The combination has the company predicting profitability by the second quarter of 2018. Its top line is off to a good start, with sales currently running at $450,000 per month. And having just announced a $42.5mln non-dilutive stream financing that will fully fund its German plans, Maricann is positioned to really put its foot on the accelerator.

The strategic mix of Canadian and European markets notwithstanding, Maricann chief executive officer Ben Ward sees the company’s key point of differentiation being technology for extraction and product formulation.

“We have locked up two groups with preparative chromatography expertise in cannabis and this means we have the only ability in the industry to get all the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids,” says Ward. “To formulate the plant, you first have to be able to deconstruct it to make sure you get the active pharmaceutical ingredients.”

Ward explains that there are 500 terpenes – an organic compound found in numerous plant-based products – specific to the cannabis plant, and that companies looking only at cannabinoids or THC are missing much of what cannabis has to offer. “We are focusing on whole-plant medicine, which is done by extracting all of the different isolates.”

This approach to the industry reflects the direction set for the company early on by founder Dr Eric Silver. An assistant professor and clinical teacher in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, Dr Silver knew first-hand the benefits that alternative medicine employing cannabis could have on patients. The next step was to gather colleagues from the industry with capital and know-how and begin the search for a facility to purchase.

Eventually, the team settled on the Langton facility, which had been operating under the MMAR (Marihuana Medical Access Regulations) regime established in 2001.

The facility was approved under the more robust MMPR (Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) in March 2014, with a license to sell product grown at the facility arriving in December of the same year.

A green ethos going hand-in-hand with the commercial imperative

A brief analysis of the facility indicates Maricann is committed both to being a custodian of its environment and running its business with an eye on costs. Langton has its own co-generation plant to help with electricity needs and there is even a natural gas well on the property to provide some of the fuel. Other efforts include equipment to capture rainwater for use in the fertigation process.

These and other efforts lead the company to believe that it is among the most competitive producers on the Canadian landscape, with per-gram costs estimated at just $1.37. That should translate into healthy margins that really make their presence known as sales continue to ramp up.

“Our revenue generating capacity right now is restricted only by our footprint of 34,000 square feet,” says Ward. “We are building a 216,000 square foot facility and that will be able to produce another 20,000 kg of dry flower starting in the first quarter of 2018.”

As far as near-term trends are concerned, Ward is in the camp of industry executives who believe smoking cannabis will give way to ingestion in other forms over time. “We think users will come to prefer extract-based products, which is the experience in more mature markets such as Colorado and California,” Ward notes. “Once people can access a product with a consistent extract in a dose they are used to, they will opt for that. We think that is when the real adoption will take place.”

Maricann is ready with its own line of gel caps, which it developed in partnership with another company, to help that trend along.

First we conquer Canada, then we take Berlin

The Canadian operations are clearly well on their way to developing serious momentum, and the plan is to create the same success in the German market.

It was only in January of this year that Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, voted to legalize medical cannabis. The drug will be available from pharmacies to patients with a prescription, and importantly for companies serving the market it looks like it will be covered by German health insurance.

“I think we will see almost a carbon copy of the Health Canada program as far as cultivation and regulations are concerned. The difference will be in distribution,” posits Ward. “It won’t be supplied directly to patients but through major pharmaceutical companies or wholesalers, or distribution through pharmacies. Germany’s market will likely remain medical for a long time, but from an ease of access standpoint I think it will move ahead of Canada because of the German population’s propensity to seek alternative therapies.”

Ward explains that companies hoping to grow cannabis in Germany need to possess over three years of cultivation experience, a benchmark that the team at Maricann is able to meet. The company is currently preparing an initial 150,000 square feet of space in a facility that it has the option to purchase. “All we have to do is install the tables, the fertigation system and the lights and we will be operational,” says Ward. “We are moving through the licensing process there right now.”

Ward comments that the team is happy working in jurisdictions where legalization is uniform on a federal level, contrasting the environments in Canada and Germany to that in the United States, where cannabis is illegal federally but many states have passed laws to make it legal.

“Much of the rest of the world, and especially western Europe, is moving forward with legalization in some way,” observes Ward. “There is a much larger population that Canadian companies can export our experience to, and in doing so create best in class companies that compete globally. We might only be talking five or six years, but that is a lifetime of experience in the cannabis sector. I see Canadian companies moving into other markets and helping governments with regulatory issues so that their citizens can look forward to safe, reliable access to high-quality cannabis.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on May 10, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Maricann Group Inc. at https://www.maricann.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/life-sciences/maricann-group-inc.