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Report on Business Cannabis Professional Wednesday, July 17: Supreme buys Truverra, Aurora wins in Italy, Ontario retail “frenzy heating up again”

Cannabis Professional’s daily roundup of industry news. View archive here.

Major happenings in the early hours of this Wednesday in weed: Supreme Cannabis spending $20-million on Truverra and hinting at more deals coming soon, Aurora winning Italy’s medical cannabis tender and Ontario’s cannabis retail “frenzy” already “heating up again” ahead of a second lottery

– Jameson Berkow

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Supreme Cannabis buys Truverra; $20M deal will speed up extract plans

Supreme Cannabis is starting its summer shopping season with a deal to acquire Toronto-area licensed producer Truverra, the company announced early Wednesday, and it is hinting at more acquisitions to come.

The all-stock deal will see the owners of privately-held Truverra receive 14.7 million shares of Supreme. Based on the stock’s Tuesday closing price of $1.38 per share, the transaction is worth slightly more than $20-million and is expected to close by the end of August.

Truverra operates a 5,000 square-foot facility in Scarborough, Ontario. According to Health Canada data, the site became licensed for cannabis cultivation and medical sales four months ago on March 15.

In its announcement of the deal, Supreme said to planned “to repurpose [the Truverra facility] to produce high-quality cannabis extracts, including concentrates and vaping liquids.”

Supreme spokesperson Scott Davidson told Cannabis Professional those extracts will include “smokeable and dabbable” extracts such as wax and shatter, which are expected to become authorized for sale in late 2019 along with infused foods, drinks and vape products.

The company also intends to use its new asset to speed up production of vape cartridges specifically, Mr. Davidson said. Last month, Supreme was among four major cannabis growers to strike a deal with California-based Pax Labs - the company that invented the Juul tobacco vaping device - to produce pods for the Era: a vaporizer designed specifically for cannabis extracts.

“Our goal is to have this facility producing next-generation products by December 2019,” Mr. Davidson said.

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While he declined to say when Supreme was hoping to actually get those products on store shelves, he did make it clear the company has moretransactions in the works.

“We are not done on the M&A front, we are working on [completing] further deals throughout the summer,” Mr. Davidson said. "“Our recent transactions have transformed our Company from a strong foundation in cultivation and brand building to a diverse entity ready to attack the markets for social, wellness and medical through different distribution channels.”

Aurora wins Italian medical cannabis tender

Edmonton-based Aurora Cannabis was the sole winner of a tender process to provide 400kg of medical cannabis to Italy over the next two years.

As MJBiz first reported on Tuesday, Aurora was among five bidders for the relatively small contract, four of them being Canadian. However, only Aurora was able to submit the proper documentation, meaning the other four bidders (Canopy Growth, Tilray, Wayland and an Australian company) were disqualified and Aurora won the process essentially by default.

The victory will also not be especially lucrative for Aurora. At an average price of 1.73 Euros per gram (roughly C$2.54), Aurora will barely make 50 cents per gram or about $200,000 from the entire contract, given its most recently reported production costs were roughly C$2.05 per gram.

Italy launched its “accelerated” tender process just last month, though a recent Italian government report found the country’s medical cannabis demand was above 2,000kg per year or about ten times the amount Aurora will supply.

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For comparison’s sake, Germany’s recent (and much ballyhooed in Canada) medical cannabis tender was for 10,400 kg over four years and, according to Statistics Canada, this country had nearly 31,000 kg of finished cannabis just sitting around as inventory as of late March.

Ontario retail cannabis “frenzy heating up again"

The definition of insanity, it it often said, is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Just some food for thought as Ontario prepares to hold its second retail cannabis lottery to distribute another 42 store permits in Canada’s most populous province. The first attempt led to the first 25 licences to go almost exclusively to first-time business owners with no experience in retail or heavily regulated industries such as cannabis (i.e. one was a family therapist and another was a tow truck driver).

The fallout was marked by established retailers scrambling to strike deals with the winners, and those winners often demanded multimillion-dollar payments from those retailers for the right to help them open their stores. That process was complicated further by dozens of Ontario municipalities opting out of cannabis retail as lottery winners rushed to secure leases.

While the province has added some pre-qualifying conditions such as signing leases in advance in order to participate in the second lottery (set for next month with the next round of stores expected to open in October), the scramble appears to be ramping up much as it did the first time around.

“Would-be cannabis retailers in Ontario, I hope you are working hard on your bank letters and offer to lease!" Trina Fraser, leader of the cannabis practice at Brazeau Seller Law in Ottawa and one of the country’s foremost experts on cannabis law said via Twitter late Tuesday evening.

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"Get your structure in place before submitting your [expression of interest]. The frenzy is heating up again! Already being contacted by brand owners, lenders [and] service providers.”

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