Weedmaps CEO isn’t afraid of Amazon


Welcome to Insider Cannabis, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

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We’re off tomorrow for the Juneteenth holiday, so you’re getting your weekly dose of cannabis industry news on Thursday afternoon.

There’s a rumor floating around the heavily engaged cannabis Twitter and Reddit-verse that the Toronto Stock Exchange is going to update its rules to allow listed companies to invest in the US cannabis industry. If true, that could be a watershed moment: US cannabis companies like Curaleaf, Trulieve, and Green Thumb Industries, would likely move from the CSE and over-the-counter exchanges to access deeper-pocketed investors plying the TSX.

And it’s possible that Canadian cannabis companies like Tilray, Canopy Growth, and Cronos Group would decamp from the Nasdaq to the TSX so they could invest in the US.

But, a spokesperson for the TMX Group, which owns the TSX, told me, basically, not so fast:

“We continue to monitor the evolution of the industry. Our position has not changed with respect to U.S. cannabis law. Nothing more I can add beyond that,” TMX Group spokesperson Catherine Kee said in an email.

We’ll keep monitoring this story. If you have any info to share, please reach out to jberke@insider.com. Signal number for encrypted communication available on request. 

Last, it’s great to see so many pitches in my inbox of cannabis companies putting their money where their mouth is ahead of the Juneteenth holiday, in terms of backing organizations, nonprofits, and companies dedicated to advancing social justice goals in cannabis. More of that, please. 

– Jeremy Berke (@jfberke

If you like what you read, share this newsletter with your colleagues, friends, boss, spouse, strangers on the internet, or whomever else would like a weekly dose of cannabis news. 

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

The CEO of $3 billion cannabis-tech company Weedmaps explains why he’s not afraid of Amazon

The CEO of Weedmaps is ready to take on Amazon — if the tech and retail giant wants to get into cannabis. 

Amazon recently said it supports federal cannabis legalization. Some industry experts say it’s only a matter of time before tech giants start to compete with incumbents like Weedmaps.

“What we’ve seen traditionally is the Googles, the Amazons, the others of the world have had difficulty dealing with areas where there are really complex products,” Weedmaps CEO Chris Beals told me in an interview. “I watch and observe, but I don’t really worry about those companies coming in because what we do is incredibly complex.” 

A cannabis-chemistry upstart just raised $25 million for a new approach to one of the hottest parts of the industry

Cannabis beverages are a hot topic in the industry, and a bevy of startups are working on technology to make it easier to infuse chemicals like THC and CBD into drinks. 

One of those startups, Trait Biosciences, on Wednesday closed a CA$31 million ($25 million) Series A funding round led by Btomorrow Ventures and Gotham Green Partners, the company told Insider. Btomorrow is the VC arm of British American Tobacco, which invested in a Canadian cannabis producer in March.

Meme stock shareholders may have diamond hands, but they’re not voting on things like exec pay and M&A deals. And that’s creating a big headache.

Companies with large retail-investor bases face difficulties reaching a quorum in shareholder votes. 

“It’s hard to get those shareholders to show up and vote,” Tilray CEO Irwin Simon told me. “You know, nobody has home phones anymore. No one answers their cellphone to an unknown number. When you mail a proxy to someone’s house or apartment, it goes in the garbage.”

The issue has led to the launch of several startups looking to redefine how public companies interact with their shareholders.

We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck luxury-edibles startup Hervé used to raise $3 million in a bid to become the ‘Dom Perignon’ of cannabis

Cannabis-infused edibles are having a moment. Edibles sales grew by more than 60% across seven state markets in 2020, according to data provider Headset.

To capitalize on that trend, Hervé, a Toronto-based maker of what CEO and founder Sebastien Centner calls “luxury” infused edibles, closed a $3 million Series A funding round in May. Take an exclusive look at the deck Centner used to close the round. 

2 Democrats are pushing for decriminalizing possession of all drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and meth

Two House Democrats have for the first time unveiled legislation that would decriminalize possession of all drugs including heroin, cannabis, cocaine, and LSD, and ensure that past drug use wouldn’t get in the way of jobs or voting prospects.

Democratic Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey and Cori Bush of Missouri introduced the legislation, the Drug Policy Reform Act, on Tuesday.

Canadian cannabis giant Cronos is making moves to enter the US. Its $110 million deal with PharmaCann would give Cronos access to New York’s $7 billion market.

New York is shaping up to be the next hot spot for cannabis M&A. Canadian cannabis giant Cronos recently struck a deal with private US company PharmaCann. PharmaCann is one of the few cannabis companies operating in New York.

The potential for cannabis delivery in New York as the market comes online — and where to keep an eye out

New York is expected to see substantial sales when its cannabis market eventually comes online. A huge part of that growth could be delivery, but regulations still need to take shape.

Experts warn activity will be mainly in urban centers and rely on fast, quality delivery service.

marijuana cannabis

Employees tend to medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel.

Amir Cohen/Reuters

Executive moves

  • Cannabis software firm TruTrace has a new CFO: Robert Lelovic.
  • Travis Goad is joining cannabis real estate fund Pelorus Equity Group as managing director.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Cronos Group is paying $110 million for an option to buy a 10.5% stake in US cannabis company PharmaCann. The option can be exercised only when a change in cannabis’ federal status in the US makes the deal permissible, similar to Canopy Growth’s Acreage deal
  • Berlin-based CBD and medical cannabis startup Sanity Group closed a $44 million Series A funding round, led by Swiss venture fund Redalpine, and including Navy Capital and SOJE Capital, among other investors. We got an exclusive look at Sanity Group’s seed deck in January.
  • US cannabis company Columbia Care is expanding in Colorado, acquiring Medicine Man Denver, which has four retail locations, for $42 million in cash and stock. 
  • Cannabis tech company LeafLink raised $40 million from investors Nosara Capital, L2 Ventures, Founders Fund, Thrive Capital, and others. LeafLink said the new funding doubles its valuation, without providing a figure.
  • Brains Bioeceutical Corp., a…


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