Husch Blackwell is proud to support @TheNCIA Northern California #CannabisCaucus on Tuesday, October 9 in Santa Rosa, CA. NCIA’s Cannabis Caucus event series has quickly become the gold standard event for professionals serving the cannabis industry! Join the industry’s most influential leaders for an evening of hors d’oeurves, cocktails (cash bar) and the latest organizational and federal policy updates. A registration link can be found here. Please use promo code HUSCH75 for 75% off tickets to this event.

“U.S.-listed shares of Canada-based Canopy Growth Corp. soared almost 30% Wednesday, after liquor seller Constellation Brands Inc. said it will invest another CAD $5 billion, or about $4 billion, in the diversified cannabis company.”

What does this mean?

Investment continues to be poured into Canadian marijuana companies listed on US stock exchanges (See Tilray listing on NASDAQ).  This most recent investment is likely do to the already $700 million return that Constellation has earned from its previous investment into Canopy of $100 million.  Obviously the alcohol industry views the marijuana industry as a threat and Constellation is taking big steps to ensure it is diversifying in an effort to create further shareholder value.  This investment further emphasizes the missed opportunities for many cannabis companies operating here in the US due to the fact that cannabis is still federally illegal.

On Friday, August 10, Husch Blackwell Partner Chris Ottele will speak on the topic of Coats v DISH at the Marijuana and Banking Conference held at the Grand Hyatt Denver in downtown Denver, CO. This program is designed to provide critical information to bankers interested in serving the burgeoning marijuana industry and those who want to avoid banking it – as well as to public officials and others who want to understand the issue. The full conference brochure can be found here.

Tilray became the first US IPO on Nasdaq on July 19th by a marijuana company.  The company priced 9 million shares at $17 apiece and by the end of the day, closing at $22.39, a jump of slightly more than 32 percent on day one. As the date of posting this blog and the second day of trading, the price has hit a high of over $31, another jump of approximately 38 percent.

What does this mean?

Clearly the national securities exchanges (i.e. NYSE and Nasdaq) in the United States are getting increasingly comfortable with the listing of plant-touching businesses operating in Canada.  What they are not comfortable with, are plant-touching businesses operating in the United States.  As a result, plant-touching businesses operating in the United States – except for Colorado – are only able to list on either a Canadian exchange (i.e. the CSE) or on the over-the-counter-bulletin (i.e. OTCQB or OTCQX).

Tilray’s total revenue in 2017 was only $20.5 million but its resulting valuation on the public market is a multi-billion dollar valuation.  Thus this company has taken advantage of the United States robust public markets that NO plant-touching operating business in the United States can even list with because of the fact that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

I wonder what the valuation of these Canadian companies would look like if our much stronger United States’ companies were afforded the same opportunities and there was a change in federal law in the United States?  There are companies in Colorado that have operated for almost 10 years and have annual revenues in excess of $100 million…I have a feeling there would be a substantial market adjustment for many of these public companies.

Husch Blackwell is a lead sponsor of the Northern California Quarterly Cannabis Caucuses – next of which is to be held on Tuesday, July 10 in San Francisco, CA at the Hilton Financial District. The 3rd Quarter Cannabis Caucus will bring together executive level industry professionals, policymakers, regulators, and movement leaders to network, learn about emerging topics in the industry, and plug into NCIA’s efforts to advance the industry nationally. A registration link can be found here. Please use promo code HUSCH75 for 75% off tickets to this event.

 

 

The bill, known as the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, would legalize hemp, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances and allowing it to be sold as an agricultural commodity.  “By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the country,” McConnell said in a statement last week introducing the bill. The bill has bipartisan support.

This bill also seeks to end the grey area surrounding hemp-derived CBD extracts: “The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

What does this mean?

As I have previously stated, my hope was that this bill would not only deschedule industrial hemp as a controlled substance but provide clarity regarding hemp-derived CBD. This bill has done exactly that and now what remains to be seen is can Sen. McConnell get this over the finish line in its current form?

 

Attorney General Sessions rescinded, effective January 4, 2018, previous enforcement priorities of the DOJ related to marijuana – including the Cole Memo. The Sessions Memo dictates that federal prosecutors should follow the “Principles of Federal Prosecution” originally set forth in 1980 and subsequently refined over time in chapter 9-27.000 of the U.S. Attorney’s Manual. Sessions goes on to state in his memo that “These principles require federal prosecutors deciding which cases to prosecute to weigh all relevant considerations, including federal law enforcement priorities set by the Attorney General, the seriousness of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community.” It is important to note that Sessions has not previously set any specific enforcement priorities with respect to marijuana, nor has this memo created any new enforcement priorities of the DOJ. Rather Sessions has removed the foundational guidance that states have relied on to regulate the production and distribution of marijuana pursuant to state law and the will of each states’ citizens. The Cole Memo actually set 8 enforcement priorities for the DOJ with respect to marijuana, which Sessions has now unilaterally rescinded.

Continue Reading The Sessions Memo

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado wants to attach an amendment to the GOP-led tax reform bill that would allow state-legal marijuana growers, processors and sellers to deduct normal businesses expenses from their taxes.”  Section 280E of the tax code, forbids businesses from deducting otherwise ordinary business expenses (advertising expenses, insurance, employee wages, etc.) from gross income associated with the “trafficking” of Schedule I or II substances. The IRS has subsequently applied Section 280E to state-legal cannabis businesses, since cannabis is still a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.  Gardner’s amendment will include a 280E fix so that the provision no longer applies to marijuana businesses that operate in accordance with state or local laws.

What does this mean?

A 280E fix would be monumental for the cannabis industry.  The inability for state-legal cannabis businesses to take deductions for normal business expenses has the potential to cripple the industry if not addressed in the near future.  While I believe that getting this amendment in on the tax bill is a moon shot, I hold out hope that it is still a possibility.  At a minimum, the GOP is finally listening to the plights of our industry and is attempting to be part of the solution.