NEW YORK, April 18, 2019 /CNW/ -- The tremendous growth of the cannabis market is causing the marketspace to become an emerging global industry. In 2017, U.S. cannabis legal sales were between USD 5.8 Billion and USD 6.6 Billion, according to Marijuana Business Factbook. Perhaps surprisingly, the industry's market value is already comparable to major worldwide corporations such as Netflix and McDonald's. However, the market is still heavily hindered by regulatory restrictions imposed by federal governments around the world. Under international regulations, cannabis is one of the most heavily enforced drugs, primarily due to the psychoactive effects of marijuana. The marijuana plant is comprised primarily of THC, which causes the psychoactive effects. However, the cannabis plant is split into marijuana and hemp, with hemp being the non-psychoactive derivative of the cannabis plant. While the two differ in their makeup, they both offer therapeutic benefits, causing a surge in adoption for medical applications. Despite the global use for medical purposes, the cannabis industry is propelled by the North American region. In particular, the U.S. remains the biggest global market driver because of states such as California, Colorado, Washington, and Nevada, as these four states deliver more than billions of dollars in revenue annually from legal cannabis sales. Moreover, Canada recently legalized cannabis entirely, allowing consumers to obtain cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. However, the Canadian market is still much smaller than the U.S. market due to the federal regulations that limited it previously. Regardless, the market is continually maturing each year. According to data compiled by BCC Research, the North American legal cannabis market was valued at USD 10.7 Billion in 2018. By 2023, the market is expected to reach USD 25.5 Billion, registering a CAGR of 18.9% from 2018 to 2023. WeedMD Inc. (OTC:WDDMF - News) (TSX-V:WMD.V - News), Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO - News), Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBA - News), Acreage Holdings Inc. (OTC:ACRGF - News) (CSE:ACRG), Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:RKDA - News)
The momentum that the cannabis industry is exhibiting is now on pace to potentially takeover sales of firearms and ammunition within the U.S. To put that in perspective, the firearms and ammunition market recorded approximately USD 11.9 Billion in sales in 2017. Furthermore, the cannabis market could now potentially surpass the alcohol and tobacco industry as well. The two sectors are witnessing declining users throughout the recent years, which is negatively impacting companies within their respective industries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently that 14% of adults smoke cigarettes, which is an all-time low since the CDC began collecting data in 1965. Furthermore, data compiled by The Wall Street Journal showed that alcohol volumes dropped by 0.8% in 2018 due to emerging consumer trend shifts. In order to offset some of the losses, major companies from these industries have now approached the cannabis market. Some companies have taken stakes within cannabis companies, while others have planned to integrate cannabis operations into their business model. "Looking towards the future, this consolidation makes sense. On an operational level, companies are able to build economies of scale with more licenses in more states, and are largely rewarded by investors and the public markets for doing so. But these companies are also well positioned to be acquired by much larger companies from other sectors once federal cannabis prohibition ends and these companies feel comfortable entering the multi-billion dollar American cannabis market," said Kris Krane, Co-Founder and President of 4Front, an investment and operations firm in the legal cannabis industry.
WeedMD Inc. (OTCQX:WDDMF - News) (TSX-V:WMD.V - News) is also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker (TSX-V:WMD.V - News). Yesterday, the Company announced breaking news that, "Pioneer Cannabis Corp. ("Pioneer Cannabis"), a national cannabis retail service provider, is pleased to announce it has signed a Master Cannabis Retail and Licensing Agreement ("Licensing Agreement") with Ontario cannabis retail lottery winner Guruveer Sangha who will be the owner and operator of the first Pioneer Cannabis retail store located at 1200 Brant Street in Burlington, Ontario. Pioneer Cannabis is a collaboration between WeedMD Inc. (TSX-V:WMD.V - News) (OTCQX:WDDMF - News) (FSE:4WE.F - News) ("WeedMD"), a federally-licensed producer and distributor of medical-grade cannabis, and Pita Pit Canada ("Pita Pit"), a privately-owned Canadian fast casual franchise eatery with over 225 stores in Canada.
Mr. Sangha, an entrepreneur and lawyer from the Greater Toronto Area, recently secured a Retail Operator Licence ("ROL") from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario ("AGCO"). The 4,000 square foot Pioneer Cannabis Co. store is expected to open in late spring following final AGCO inspection and subsequent receipt of its Retail Store Authorization ("RSA"). Located next to the main arterial highways that border Oakville and Hamilton, the high-capacity area of Burlington and its surrounding areas has a combined population of over 1.7M.
'As a keen observer of the cannabis industry and a strong proponent of local economic growth through small business, I am delighted to be working with Pioneer Cannabis. Together we look forward to setting the standard for Canadians seeking safe stewardship of cannabis in a quality retail setting,' said Mr. Sangha.
'It is an important milestone for us to be able to support Guruveer's establishment of Canada's first Pioneer Cannabis store,' said Kristie Smith, President of Pioneer Cannabis. 'He will be a driving force behind what we expect to be a true retail success as we launch a leading Canadian cannabis retail store that combines product, education and experience. We look forward to helping Guruveer realize his plan of opening additional Pioneer Cannabis stores across the GTA as soon as regulatory rules permit.'
'We are all stewards of cannabis and our pioneering spirit welcomes this retail endeavour between Pioneer and Guruveer," said Keith Merker, CEO of WeedMD.
'Congratulations to Guruveer and Pioneer Cannabis. We're pleased to see that the Burlington community and its surrounding area is in responsible hands,' said Chris Fountain, CEO of Pita Pit.
Pioneer Cannabis continues to pursue retail opportunities within Ontario and other provinces in accordance with prevailing cannabis retail regulations. For additional information and updates on store openings, visit the Pioneer website www.pioneercannabis.com
About Pioneer Cannabis Corp: Pioneer Cannabis Corp. is a cannabis retail services provider resulting from the collaboration of two industry-leading Canadian companies, WeedMD Inc., a trusted licensed cannabis producer, and Pita Pit Canada, a franchising and brand expert, to develop opportunities for everyday Canadians interested in owning and operating their own cannabis retail store. The values of Pioneer are deeply rooted in community and providing small business owners with the opportunity to thrive and contribute to their local economy. We are the pioneers of cannabis retail, supporting businesses from the ground up and setting the standard for Canadian cannabis retail.
About WeedMD Inc: WeedMD Inc. is the publicly-traded parent company of WeedMD Rx Inc., a federally-licensed producer and distributor of cannabis products for both the medical and adult-use markets. The Company owns and operates two facilities: a 26,000 sq. ft. indoor facility in Aylmer, Ontario and a 158-acre state-of-the-art greenhouse and outdoor facility located in Strathroy, Ontario. The Company currently has 136,000 square feet of licensed production space across its facilities and is expected to have a total footprint of more than 550,000 square feet of indoor and greenhouse production in addition to more than 25 acres of outdoor cultivation space online in the first half of 2019. WeedMD has a multi-channeled distribution strategy that includes selling directly to medical patients, strategic relationships across the seniors' market and supply agreements with Shoppers Drug Mart as well as six provincial distribution agencies.
For more information, access WeedMD's investor presentation here (https://www.weedmd.com/investing-in-weedmd/) and recently updated corporate video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktgJ_BQtBCs&feature=youtu.be).
About Pita Pit: Founded in 1995 in Kingston, Ontario near Queen's University, Pita Pit® is an innovative fast-casual restaurant with a unique mindset that challenges consumers to Refuse to Settle™ for anything less than quality, healthy, freshly grilled food. After rapidly earning a loyal following in its home market, franchising began across Canada in 1997 and, in 1999, the brand expanded to the United States. Now boasting more than 600 stores across North America and internationally across 13 countries, Pita Pit offers its customers millions of ridiculously delicious, customizable flavour combinations of grilled meats, fresh vegetables, and zesty sauces all rolled into a unique and convenient pita package. For more information about Pita Pit, visit www.pitapit.ca/consumer or www.facebook.com/pitapitcanada."
For our latest "Buzz on the Street" Show featuring WeedMD Inc. recent corporate news, please head over to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4vOilnkTfY
Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO - News), whose wholly-owned subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc. (PM USA), U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC (USSTC), John Middleton Co. (Middleton), Sherman Group Holdings, LLC. Altria Group, Inc. recently announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire newly issued shares in Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ:CRON - News), a leading global cannabinoid company, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The transaction represents a 45% equity stake in Cronos Group, at a price of CAD 16.25 per share, for an aggregate investment by Altria of approximately USD 1.8 Billion (approximately CAD 2.4 Billion). This investment positions Altria to participate in the emerging global cannabis sector, which it believes is poised for rapid growth over the next decade. It also creates a new growth opportunity in an adjacent category that is complementary to Altria's core tobacco businesses. Altria expects its investment to help Cronos Group accelerate its growth strategies and its R&D and intellectual property development. Additionally, Altria will provide expertise to help Cronos Group thrive in the growing global cannabis market. These services may include regulatory affairs, regulatory science, compliance, government affairs and brand management. "Investing in Cronos Group as our exclusive partner in the emerging global cannabis category represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria," said Howard Willard, Altria's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We believe that Cronos Group's excellent management team has built capabilities necessary to compete globally, and we look forward to helping Cronos Group realize its significant growth potential."
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBA - News) is the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. Approximately 8 million customers interact with Walgreens in stores and online each day, using the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice. Recently, after a thorough review and analysis, Walgreens will be offering certain products containing Cannabidiol (CBD) in nearly 1,500 Walgreens stores in select states (OR, CO, NM, KY, TN, VT, SC, IL and IN). The CBD-related items we are planning to carry are non-THC containing topical creams, patches and sprays. This product offering is in line with the Company's efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and wellbeing products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of its customers.
Acreage Holdings Inc. (OTCQX:ACRGF - News) (CSE:ACRG), headquartered in New York City, is the largest vertically integrated, multi-state owner of cannabis licenses and assets in the U.S. with respect to the number of states with cannabis related licenses, according to publicly available information. Acreage Holdings, Inc. recently announced it entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of California-based Kanna, Inc., which holds a license to operate a cannabis dispensary in Oakland, CA. This marks the first dispensary operating license for Acreage in California. Located at 2019 MacArthur Blvd., in Oakland, the dispensary is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2019, under Acreage's dispensary brand The Botanist. Oakland is a limited competition market allowing just 16 adult use dispensaries to serve a population of more than 400,000. Acreage will be fully integrated in a state that is estimated to generate USD 6.3 Billion in legal cannabis sales by 2022, according to Arcview Market Research. "I could not be more excited about our first dispensary operation in California, especially one in a limited competitive market. While this is our first, it is nowhere near our last, as we expect to significantly expand our dispensary footprint in the state over the coming months," said Kevin Murphy, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Acreage Holdings, Inc.
Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:RKDA - News) develops and markets high-value food ingredients and nutritional oils that help meet consumer demand for a healthier diet. Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. recently announced the company will apply its expertise to a new crop: cannabis. With the establishment of Arcadia Specialty Genomics™, the company is dedicating a first-of-its-kind strategic business unit to the optimization and standardization of cannabis plant content, quality, climate resiliency and yield. Arcadia Specialty Genomics intends to conduct its business only in federal and state markets in which its activities are legal. With a fifteen-year track record of agricultural innovation, Arcadia Biosciences has brought new and beneficial crop traits to market through its advanced, proprietary approach to plant breeding and gene editing. With products such as GoodWheat™ flour and SONOVA® GLA safflower, the company is an industry leader in the development of high-value food ingredients and nutritional oils that meet consumer demands and improve crop outcomes for farmers. Now, the company will apply its expertise to the burgeoning cannabis industry, with an initial focus on the hemp market. Chief Financial Officer Matt Plavan has been appointed president of Arcadia Specialty Genomics. "Within the rapidly growing legal cannabis industry, we see enormous opportunity in – and demand for – improved plant quality, productivity, consistency and resilience, said Raj Ketkar, president and Chief Executive Officer of Arcadia Biosciences. "With this new operating unit, Arcadia Specialty Genomics, we are uniquely qualified as a proven crop improvement company equipped to address the legacy challenges facing a plant that until recently was largely grown unlawfully." Ketkar added, "I can think of no one better than Matt Plavan, an industry veteran with a track record of leading transformational market pivots, to lead our new strategic business unit."
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