This is Cannabis Professional’s daily recap of industry news. View archive here.
This Tuesday morning in marijuana brings us holy news from the Church of England’s investment arm that the centre of the international Anglican community will soon own shares in cannabis companies. Italy is looking to acquire 400kg of medical cannabis on an “accelerated” timeline, extract producer Valens GroWorks is moving a step closer to a TSX Venture Exchange listing and Marcy Nicholson caps off today’s roundup with a look at two companies merging to form the first cannabis tech firm to trade on the Nasdaq.
– Jameson Berkow
Church of England to invest in cannabis
So-called “sin” stocks are already included in the US$16-billion Church Commissioners of England fund, which invests on behalf of the Church of England. The fund includes holdings in tobacco producers, gambling operators and even high-interest money lenders, but as the Financial Times reports, cannabis will soon be added to the list. A spokesperson for the fund told ABC News they will “hold medicinal cannabis to the same standards” as other traditional pharmaceuticals, only investing in “properly licensed” companies with products “regulated for medicinal use.” However, companies involved in legal recreational cannabis sales can still qualify to be blessed with the Church’s cash, but the fund says companies cannot generate more than 10 per cent of their revenue from that part of the business in order to be considered.
Italy launches “accelerated” tender for 400kg of medical cannabis
The home of pasta and pecorino is not quite sure whether it is pro-pot. Just as Italy’s top court moves to crack down on the country’s rapidly proliferating “cannabis light” shops (so named because they can only sell cannabis with less than 0.5% THC), the country is launching an “accelerated” tender for 400kg of medical cannabis to be delivered over a two-year period. Currently, the Italian military is the only licensed domestic cultivator of cannabis, via the Military Pharmaceutical Chemical Plant in Tuscany. Production at that facility tops out at just 250kg annually, however, and a recent government report found medical cannabis demand in Italy surpasses 2,000kg per year. For comparison’s sake, Germany’s recent (and much ballyhooed in Canada) medical cannabis tender was for 10,400kg over four years and, according to Statistics Canada, this country had nearly 31,000kg of finished cannabis just sitting around as inventory as of late March.
Valens moves closer to TSX-V listing, moves up Q2 release date
Kelowna, British Columbia-based cannabis processor Valens GroWorks has received conditional approval from the TSX Venture Exchange to list its shares under the ticker “VGW” but is still waiting on the exact date of its debut. The company has had an impressive ride on the Canadian Securities Exchange over the past year under the same ticker symbol, growing by nearly 160 per cent over the past 12 months from $1.33 per share to $3.45 as of Monday’s closing bell. The company also announced it will release the results of its second quarter of fiscal 2019 after markets close on July 15, after reporting first quarter results in late April. Everett Knight, the company’s executive vice president, told Cannabis Professional shortly after Health Canada published the final version of regulations governing the production of cannabis-infused foods, drinks and vape products that the rules specifically advantage the company’s white label production business.
MTech and MJ Freeway merge to form Akerna, set to trade on Nasdaq
MTech Acquisition Corp. and MJ Freeway have merged to form a cannabis regulatory compliance technology company called Akerna Corp., which was set to start trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on June 18, the companies said. This marks the first time a compliance technology company in the cannabis industry has traded on the exchange, according to Akerna, which will use two platforms to provide a central data management system to track regulated cannabis products throughout the supply chain. MJ Freeway has offered this service since 2010.
Jessica Billingsley, co-founder and chief executive officer of MJ Freeway, is now Akerna’s CEO. With the acquisition, MJ Freeway equity holders exchanged their securities to own 62.7 per cent of Akerna’s outstanding shares of common stock while former MTech stockholders own 27.7 per cent of Akerna’s outstanding common stock. Investors in MTech’s previously announced private placement own 9.6 per cent.- Marcy Nicholson