Record-setting acquisition hits US marijuana industry and more of the week’s top news

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A record-setting acquisition shakes up the U.S. cannabis space, two notable investors and a beverage industry veteran sign on with marijuana businesses, New Jersey politicians strike a deal to establish the state as an adult-use trailblazer on the East Coast - and more of this week's important headlines from around the MJ industry.
Harvest Health boasts an industry standard

Multistate operator Harvest Health set a record through a deal that’s considered the largest acquisition in the U.S. marijuana industry to date.

The Arizona-based company agreed to buy Chicago-based Verano Holdings for $850 million, just a few months after MedMen touted its $682 million purchase of PharmaCann.

MJBizDaily takeaway:
 Blockbuster mergers and acquisitions will likely become even more common as larger companies begin to dominate market share.

In the United States, however, the M&A gates probably won't fully open until cannabis is legalized at the federal level and barriers to interstate commerce are removed.
Big execs join Big Cannabis

Three executives from the more traditional business community entered cannabis this week, with two Canadian companies and one Israeli firm bringing on heavy-hitters:

  • Canadian MJ company Aurora Cannabis brought on billionaire Nelson Peltz as a strategic adviser to help it expand internationally.
  • SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum was appointed to the board of directors of Israeli MJ company Seedo. PepsiCo acquired his company last year for $3.2 billion
  • Canadian MJ cultivator Tilray hired Goldman Sachs veteran Andrew Pucher as its new chief corporate development officer.

    MJBizDaily takeaway:
     Executives from more established industries are increasingly attracted to the burgeoning marijuana business, and this latest crop of recruits is a further sign of things to come. Cannabis is moving away from its counterculture roots and into boardrooms staffed by professionals wearing suits.
Sunshine State and smokable cannabis

Florida lawmakers, responding to a request by Gov. Ron DeSantis, lifted a ban on smokable marijuana. MMJ businesses believe flower will be on the shelves by summer, if not sooner.

MJBizDaily takeaway: In other markets, smokable products accounted for as much as 40%-60% of sales. So, Florida MMJ businesses should experience a surge in sales in what already is a fast-growing market.
Is NJ's cannabis industry born to run?

New Jersey’s governor and key legislative leaders announced a deal on legalizing adult-use marijuana. New York, by contrast, is still grappling with key issues that could cause delays.

MJBizDaily takeaway: New Jersey appears to have reclaimed its spot as the front-runner to become the first state to legalize adult-use through its legislature. That would give the Garden State a head start in a populous region that is expected to generate billions of dollars in sales a year.
Alaska's on-site consumption move

Alaska’s lieutenant governor signed into law rules to allow on-site consumption of marijuana at some licensed retailers, becoming the first state to legalize social cannabis consumption.

MJBizDaily takeaway: This is a win for Alaska’s marijuana industry, but there are barriers to entry for retailers that means it’s not likely businesses will be licensed immediately.

Consumption areas must be “isolated from other areas of the retail marijuana store,” and there are ventilation and odor abatement requirements. Additionally, local governments can ban on-site consumption through an ordinance or a ballot initiative, so we could see a patchwork of rules in the state.
Arkansas moves forward on MMJ

Arkansas regulators approved a second cultivation facility and said they expect to start final inspections of dispensaries by early April as the launch of the state’s medical marijuana program nears.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Despite licensing delays and legal challenges, it seems Arkansas’ medical marijuana program is on track for sales to begin next month. One licensed cultivator began growing in early January, but it’s unclear if the single cultivator will have enough medical marijuana to supply to the licensed retailers – and the 7,640 patients who have been waiting for the market to launch.

Ohio greenlights first MMJ processor

Ohio announced the first certificate of operation for a medical marijuana processor, putting in motion the manufacturing of edibles, tinctures and other cannabis-infused products.

Now, MMJ dispensaries can sell only flower. The certificate went to Grow Ohio in Muskingum County. Another 37 processors are working on receiving their certificates of operation.

MJBizDaily takeaway:
Although high licensing fees - processors pay $90,000 initially, plus $100,000 annually - make turning a profit challenging, this is a big step for Ohio’s slow-to-develop medical marijuana program.
Zimbabwe says yes to first license for private cannabis company

Nearly a year after becoming the second country in Africa to legalize cannabis cultivation for medicinal and scientific purposes, a Zimbabwe company says it received approval for its cannabis business license.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Expect a rush of companies to announce new licenses in the coming weeks in Zimbabwe, demonstrating strong domestic interest in the legal medical cannabis industry.

The new licensees also will present business opportunities for international companies looking for partnerships. After Lesotho licensed its first cannabis companies last year, millions of dollars were invested in the industry, mostly from Canadian companies.

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