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Canadian biotech firm forms JV with Australis Capital to expand capabilities in U.S.

An expanding tissue-culture laboratory with locations in Washington and Canada has entered into a joint venture with Australis Capital, a U.S. spinoff of Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis. 3 Rivers Biotech Inc., an agricultural technology company that specializes in commercial-scale micropropagation for marijuana, hemp and traditional crops including vegetables and fruit, will own 85% of the joint venture focused on marketing plant tissue culture offerings, to Australis Capital’s 15% ownership. Under terms of the agreement, 3 Rivers will provide access to its “intellectual property and services, products and solutions” for Australis Capital clients, including future offerings such as tissue culture-based autoflower genetics and pest control, pathogen testing and genetic fingerprinting innovations. In turn, Australis will contribute sales and marketing capabilities, and new opportunities through its industry network, according to a company statement. Through its partnership with JRT Nurseries, a greenhouse operation and tissue culture lab in Mount Vernon, Washington, 3 Rivers can ship plants globally, and it is in the process of expanding its capacity in Washington, California and “other jurisdictions.” “By teaming up with AUSA, we believe we will be able to access new sales and marketing channels and rapidly expand our global footprint for (plant tissue culture) of cannabis, hemp and traditional crops,” said Robert Allen, CEO of 3 Rivers. With this joint venture and other U.S. investments, Australis Capital is building a foothold in the market. The company is working to close a transaction to acquire 51% of ALPS, a horticultural crops consultancy, with the option to acquire the rest if completed, along with the acquisition of Green Therapeutics LLC, a multi-state marijuana producer with operations in Nevada, Missouri and Oklahoma. Australis Capital trades on the Canadian Securities Exchange as AUSA and on the over the counter QB market as AUSAF.

MJBizCon announces return to Las Vegas Oct. 20-22

MJBizCon will return as a live, in-person event in Las Vegas this October, barring any unforeseen developments related to the coronavirus pandemic, Marijuana Business Daily announced Monday. The 10th annual cannabis trade show, the largest in the industry, is scheduled to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center and will include an online component starting the week of Oct. 18. The live expo will be held Oct. 20-22, 2021. “We’re gearing up for a triumphant return to a live MJBizCon in Las Vegas this fall,” said Chris Walsh, CEO and president of Marijuana Business Daily and Hemp Industry Daily. “After a year of uncertainty, turmoil and isolation, the need for the industry to get together is perhaps stronger than ever,” he added. “One thing we’ve all learned through the pandemic is that cannabis businesses thrive on face-to-face connections.” Walsh went on to say the industry is poised to come “roaring out of the pandemic.” “We can’t wait to bring the entire cannabis ecosystem together so we can propel the industry forward.” MJBizCon organizers will take all necessary and appropriate COVID-related precautions to ensure the health and safety of attendees. “We are eager to get back to Vegas as soon as it is safe to convene again – and we believe that will be this October,” said Jess Tyler, senior vice president of events and strategic development for MJBizDaily and Hemp Industry Daily. Tyler said her team has been researching health and safety practices and is working closely with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, state and county officials “so we can welcome you to the show with confidence and provide you with peace of mind.” “The safety of the entire MJBizCon community is our top priority while we prepare for us all to get together once again.” Prospective attendees are invited to sign up at mjbizcon.com to get regular alerts as registration opens and speakers are announced. The application form to be an MJBizCon speaker also is available. The application deadline is June 1. The 2020 MJBizCon was an entirely virtual event in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Registration will begin in April. Watch MJBizDailthis space for more details about keynote speakers, session topics and more.

MJBizCon announces return to Las Vegas Oct. 20-22

MJBizCon will return as a live, in-person event in Las Vegas this October, barring any unforeseen developments related to the coronavirus pandemic, Marijuana Business Daily announced Monday. The 10th annual cannabis trade show, the largest in the industry, is scheduled to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center and will include an online component starting the week of Oct. 18. The live expo will be held Oct. 20-22, 2021. “We’re gearing up for a triumphant return to a live MJBizCon in Las Vegas this fall,” said Chris Walsh, CEO and president of Marijuana Business Daily and Hemp Industry Daily. “After a year of uncertainty, turmoil and isolation, the need for the industry to get together is perhaps stronger than ever,” he added. “One thing we’ve all learned through the pandemic is that cannabis businesses thrive on face-to-face connections.” Walsh went on to say the industry is poised to come “roaring out of the pandemic.” “We can’t wait to bring the entire cannabis ecosystem together so we can propel the industry forward.” MJBizCon organizers will take all necessary and appropriate COVID-related precautions to ensure the health and safety of attendees. “We are eager to get back to Vegas as soon as it is safe to convene again – and we believe that will be this October,” said Jess Tyler, senior vice president of events and strategic development for MJBizDaily and Hemp Industry Daily. Tyler said her team has been researching health and safety practices and is working closely with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, state and county officials “so we can welcome you to the show with confidence and provide you with peace of mind.” “The safety of the entire MJBizCon community is our top priority while we prepare for us all to get together once again.” Prospective attendees are invited to sign up at mjbizcon.com to get regular alerts as registration opens and speakers are announced. The application form to be an MJBizCon speaker also is available. The application deadline is June 1. The 2020 MJBizCon was an entirely virtual event in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Registration will begin in April. Watch MJBizDailthis space for more details about keynote speakers, session topics and more.

Coming to America: Seth Rogen's weed brand Houseplant

If you know anything about Seth Rogen, it's probably that he really loves weed. He admits as much himself in a video he posted to Twitter earlier today. But what you might now know is that he's been working on a weed brand, Houseplant, and that it's now debuting in the US.  In the minute-long video announcement, Rogen reveals that he's been developing his weed company for nearly a decade and that flower, ashtrays, lighters, and ceramics will be available in the U.S. (cannabis flower in California only for the time being).  Almost ten years I go, I envisioned having my own weed company. And today I can say that my company Houseplant's weed will be available in California next week! Also, Houseplant is making lovely Housegoods like ashtrays, lighters, and YES, even ceramics. https://t.co/TNjpWFhbWB pic.twitter.com/00xR8QKNH3 — Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) March 1, 2021 Rogen also tweeted a photo of one of his strains, Pancake Ice sativa, which is loaded with 33% THC, that Rogen claims to smoke every day. “All our strains are named after weather systems like we did with Pineapple Express,” he wrote in the thread.  Rogen also revealed that the company produced vinyl records for all three of the strain types (Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid) with a mix of songs for each.  While this may be a pleasant surprise to Americans, news broke of Rogen and creative partner Evan Goldberg's cannabis company joining Canopy Growth back in 2019. At the time, Houseplant products were only available in Canada. But, to the delight of many, that's all about to change. As of this writing, the Houseplant website is down due to a surge of traffic, according to Uproxx.  Rogen's history in weed culture is as cemented as anyone else's at this point in his career. The 2008 film Pineapple Express revitalized the “stoner movie” for the modern age and became an instant classic alongside Friday, Half Baked, and the Big Lebowski. It was also the basis for the Pineapple Express strain, one of the most popular weed strains today. Since, Rogen's public image and career has included weed in one way or another.  [embedded content] “This is honestly my life's work,” Rogen said to wrap up the video. “And I've never been more excited about anything.”  Featured image by nisargmediaproductions/Shutterstock

Genetic editing offers hemp and marijuana companies a way to improve plant strains

This story first appeared at Marijuana Business Daily. The development of new genetic-editing technology offers cannabis companies a cost-effective way to make specific changes to marijuana and hemp plants – such as more disease resistance – without creating a genetically modified organism. The technology, known as Crispr-Cas9, will allow the cannabis industry to build new, improved plants that promise to introduce hardiness and efficiencies into cultivation. That, in turn, could boost profits. Developed by Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna, the Crispr-Cas9 gene-editing technique revolutionizes genetic engineering in many fields, including medicine and agriculture. They were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work. In the case of cannabis, Crispr gene editing can produce new testable strains within a matter of weeks – unlike previous, more manual techniques. Some possible changes to the cannabis genome include: Disease resistance: Large-scale agriculture is susceptible to various pests and diseases. The technique should provide a way to quickly create resistant plants. Climate tolerance: Climate change will alter how cannabis is grown in the coming decades. Plants that can withstand a wider range of temperature and daylight will be valuable as that occurs. Increased trichomes: Researchers are trying to increase the trichome density on the plants as a way to boost the production of terpenes and cannabinoids. Terpene manipulation: Changing the terpene makeup of a plant could provide a way to create distinctive and brandable cannabis products. CBD-to-THC ratio: Hemp producers use the gene-editing technique to inhibit or eliminate the production of THC in the plants. It can also be used to manipulate the creation of CBD. Biomass improvements: The ability to create specific traits and improvements to non-THC and CBD producing biomass of plants could help increase cultivator profits by minimizing plant waste. Plant-wide THC production: In the vein of biomass improvements, work has already begun on the development of marijuana plants that produce THC in more parts of the plant. Novel cannabinoid production: As the industry begins to understand cannabinoids other than THC and CBD, look for gene editing to be at the forefront of manipulating plants to produce them. The Crispr-Cas9 process creates new DNA but technically does not create a genetically modified organism (GMO) because it does not introduce foreign DNA to the plant. The process works by removing the section of the DNA the cultivator is hoping to change. In addition, a guide piece of RNA is created and attached to an enzyme called Cas9. Together, these two elements make up the Crispr tool. The tool finds the targeted section of DNA while the enzyme cuts out the section as scissors would. New genetic material is introduced and attaches to the missing segment. Companies are already using the technique to manipulate hemp and marijuana plants. Evergreen, Colorado-based Ebbu, which was acquired by Canada-based Canopy Growth Corp. in 2018, was an early adopter of gene-editing techniques to try to produce single-cannabinoid strains, among other traits. CanBreed, an Israeli company focused on developing genetically stable seeds, licensed the Crispr technology to enhance the traits of those seeds. In late 2020, CanBreed announced the purchase of a 3.5-acre farm in San Diego.

4 weed products pro boxer Karim Mayfield can't live without

Professional boxer Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield is Bay Area to the core. You can hear it in the way he talks, you can see it in the way he walks, and The Bay is most definitely in the way he fights. “I was born and raised in the Western Addition known as the Fillmore [District]. What we call the Moe. It is known as a historically Black community, and I pretty much came up there all my adolescent years, and today, I'm still there doing what I can do for the youngsters,” he told Weedmaps during a recent phone interview. Mayfield has a record of 21 Wins (11 knockouts, 10 decisions), 5 Losses (0 knockouts, 5 decisions). He's the 2006 Golden Gloves champion, a former NABO junior welterweight champion, and emphasizes that he has never been beaten, battered, or bruised. His hardest opponent ever? Himself. “Not to sound all cocky, my hardest opponent was myself, to be honest. I can tell you I fought a guy named Thomas Delorme, that was a little more difficult than others. No excuse, but it wasn't the full me in there.” Currently, Mayfield is inactive as a professional boxer, but is training for a comeback and wants Danny Garcia to stop running. “I've been chasing this guy for a long time. I've got a documentary on WorldStar called Run Danny. They are still ducking me to this day. People will say I want a big pay day, but I'm so passionate, I'll fight him for the low.” Past boxing, Mayfield's passions extend to community restoration and social equity in California cannabis. “It's very important, very essential for me to give back to where I came from. I got everything from there.” For several years, he's had a boxing program in San Francisco named SOULCHAMP, aimed at giving kids with tough circumstances a more positive outlook. It provides a full body boxing routine, meditation, and life skills to help navigate through the difficulties of growing up in lower income neighborhoods that are more dangerous than the San Francisco we've seen on Full House. “Mental health is definitely a serious issue in these times.” In the last year, the former welterweight champ has expanded into cannabis business ownership. Hard Hitta is now the Chief Executive Officer and owner — in partnership with the Shryne Group — of Authentic 415 in San Francisco. Like with SOULCHAMP, Taylor's mission with Authentic 415 is all about giving back to the authentic San Francisco community. “Before gentrification came and moved a lot of our folks in the Bay Area, the city wasn't that expensive at all. How we're going to keep it authentic is we're going to keep those price points down. We certainly look to be true to the culture and have accessible price points. We're hiring people from the neighborhood and area.” Karim Mayfield's favorite weed In addition to selling cannabis, Mayfield also loves to use cannabis, though never when he's fighting, as THC violates the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA)'s rules, but CBD is allowed. On its benefits, he told us, “I think the benefits [are] it won't solve your problems, but at the time you feel like things are okay. When I consume cannabis, if I do have a problem, my mind fades out and finds out a way to help that problem. I can think a little deeper at times. It also makes movies funnier.”  Here are four weed products Karim Mayfield can't live without. Papa & Barkley Releaf Balm Mayfield isn't a big smoker at all. Instead, he's more of a CBD user. He loves topicals, and the one that he chooses above everything else is the well-known, highly-requested, Papa & Barkley Releaf Balm. “Anytime I had a fight coming up, I would stay away from any type of psychoactive, and just make sure I was on CBD only. No edibles, no smoke, no anything.” Papa & Barkley's Releaf Balm is a great hemp-derived topical marketed for post-workout soreness, cramps, stretching, and muscle aches. STIIIZY vape pens In the very rare times that Mayfield does use cannabis recreationally, he prefers STIIIZY's vape pens to flower and dabs. “I like the resin ones because they taste good, they're super incognito; they're just lowkey.” STIIIZY's pens and pods are known all throughout California. Mayfield loves the flavors, and price points. Currently, its website lists over 21 strains in half and full gram pods. STIIIZY also grows flower under a brand called LIIIT. Mayfield loves their Circa strain. Circa is a sativa, which Mayfield loves for creativity. Cookies strains Every now and then Mayfield may smoke a little tree. He's not a connoisseur by any means, but he knows what tastes and feels good. In addition to STIIIZY's Circa, some of his favorite strains have been Gary Payton and Cake Mix from Cookies. Ball Family Farms “Ball Family Farms definitely has some good products.” Ball Family Farms is a Black-owned-and-operate cannabis company in California. They specialize in high quality-flower, namely their famous Daniel LaRusso strain. Daniel LaRusso is a potent hybrid with spicy and minty aromas. It provides a satisfying high that's perfect for a day out. Featured graphic by David Lozada. Dante Jordan Danté Jordan is a freelance writer, video producer, and media consultant specializing in cannabis culture, strains, products, education, and everything else related to that lil’ green flower. Contact him at dantenetworks(at)gmail(dotcom), or dante_jordan on Instagram. His website is www.dantejordan.com.

Choosing the best location for your retail CBD business

(A version of this story appears in the February issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.) From mom-and-pop shops to corporate chains, everyone in the retail business knows that a carefully chosen location is key to success. The cannabis industry is no exception. Although regulatory requirements, license availability and market demand will vary from place to place, marijuana and hemp retailers on the hunt for a killer location might benefit from: Understanding both immediate local markets and regional trends. Creative thinking to find underserved locations—particularly for smaller players. Carefully considering the potential benefits and drawbacks of buying versus leasing. Identifying future markets before local officials start writing ordinances, then engaging early. Think local, but also regional Prospective cannabis store operators need to get intimately familiar with the area where they want to open, advises Michael Lord, chief operating officer at Colorado cannabis firm LivWell Enlightened Health, which operates 22 dispensaries across the state. “Google Earth does not articulate a true representation of boots on the ground,” Lord said. “I think a lot of people are siting (stores) in areas that perhaps they’ve never visited, putting locations (based on) just what looks good on a map. “It can vary in a neighborhood from street to street. … And I think that businesses, at the end of the day, still have to have a finger on the pulse of the communities that they operate in.” Stephanie Goodman, CEO of Michigan cannabis real estate brokerage Bricks and Mortar Group, also recommends doing regional market research in surrounding areas. “You might think you’ve got this great spot and they’re only going to issue two licenses in the city, but immediately next door, it’s unlimited (licenses),” she said. “Knowing those types of things helps you forecast for future sales.” That means doing your homework. “Know your market — population, demographics, regulations, etc.,” said Franny Tacy, CEO of Franny’s Farmacy, which has eight franchises in four states. “We have made choices to postpone development of Franny’s Farmacy CBD Dispensaries in certain states that do not allow smokable hemp flower because it is a top quantity sold product, revenue generator and driver to brick-and-mortar locations.” Carving out your own niche Elev8 Cannabis founder and CEO Seun Adedeji, who opened a single dispensary location in Oregon before expanding into Massachusetts, believes smaller, less-capitalized businesses can benefit from opening in smaller towns. Adedeji focused Elev8’s Massachusetts expansion on border towns near New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, where acquiring real estate is cheaper than in bigger cities. “The beauty is, because of the limitations of licenses, each of those small towns are only giving out two recreational licenses,” Adedeji said. “So your value still increases.” Smaller towns might have their charms, but a border strategy such as Adedeji’s can also work within cities. Erbn Green Cannabis Co., a small Canadian retailer that opened its first location in the competitive Toronto market in October, found a location in the uptown area of that city. It might not be a hot address compared to the city’s downtown core, but Chief Compliance Officer Farrell Miller said the location meets demand in an underserved market near two suburbs that opted out of allowing cannabis stores. Erbn Green’s second location is in Picton, Ontario, a small community with less competition for cannabis store licenses than in big cities such as Toronto or Ottawa. “This town is getting really known for wineries and tourism,” Miller said. “We eventually see cannabis aligning with those things.” To buy or to lease? Elev8’s Adedeji got burned when the landlord for his first Oregon store declined to renew the lease and he had to find a new location. As a result, Adedeji is a strong proponent of retail operators buying real estate instead of leasing. “For anybody looking to get into a leasing option, have a 10-year lease with an option of an additional 10 years,” he said. In Michigan, real estate broker Goodman said marijuana’s federal prohibition contributes to landlords’ hesitancy to lease to cannabis businesses. “We’re seeing more private funding on the purchasing side, and they’ll lease back to the operator,” Goodman said. For well-capitalized players, buying and then executing a leaseback deal can bring advantages. LivWell’s Lord said the company acquires some properties, then sells them to partners who will lease the locations back to the dispensary operator. “That allows us to go and execute and use that capital for continued expansion rather than having it tied up in the real estate itself,” he said. Tacy at Franny’s Farmacy, however, favors leasing. “Keep your capital and use your money to make money,” she said. “Landlords are more willing to negotiate leases now especially with the commercial real estate climate of COVID. I strongly encourage a short-term 3-5 year lease option with the ability to extend. “Even though hemp is federally legal, it is not business as usual for banking, advertising, credit card processing or for finding a great retail space. COVID has proven that cannabis is a more than just recession proof, it’s pandemic proof.” Get a head start Smaller players might score an advantage by identifying potential markets before regulators start offering licenses, then engaging local officials early, Goodman said. “In that scenario, I’d recommend that you start working with the city before they’ve written any ordinances and then work with them to get the ordinance written for what you want to do,” she said. “We’ve seen quite a few of those work out. They do like local businesses, but it’s a longer play. It might take six to 12 months to get that done.” Goodman also recommends spending time engaging with the local community. “We’ve worked in a lot of cities where the residents are completely terrified of cannabis businesses,” she said. “But once they start to get to know you, and there’s actually a face associated with the business that wants to come in, it’s different.” Ivan Moreno contributed to this report.

Canadian hemp, marijuana producer Tilray reports $271 million loss for year

Canadian hemp and marijuana producer Tilray cut its annual loss to $271 million for 2020 — an improvement from the Nanaimo, British Columbia company’s $321 million loss in 2019, according to the full-year and fourth-quarter results released Wednesday. Tilray, which is on the verge of being merged with Canadian peer Aphria, lost only $3 million in its fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was $2.2 million. Tilray reports its financials in U.S. dollars. Overall revenue rose to $56.6 million in the quarter, up from $51.4 million for the July-September period. Revenue attributed to cannabis was $41.2 million, up from the previous quarter’s $31.4 million. Hemp revenue, on the other hand, fell 23% quarter-over-quarter to $15.3 million. Tilray shares trade as TLRY on the Nasdaq exchange, and Aphria shares trade as APHA on the Nasdaq and Toronto Stock Exchange. Read more about Tilray’s financials at and the merger at Marijuana Business Daily.

How to head off partnership disputes before they happen

(This story appears in the February issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.) Partnership disputes — whether between business partners or owners and investors — continue to...

Maryland Senate President Backs New Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Bill

After a failed attempt to legalize adult-use cannabis last year, the New Mexico Legislature is once again taking up the issue, this time placing a greater emphasis on social equity. RELATED: New Mexico Lawmakers Introduce Competing Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Proposals Four legalization bills have been introduced in the legislature to date—two in the Senate and two in the House. Lawmakers are essentially considering three different versions of legalization proposals, as one of the Senate bills is identical to the House version.

5 weed products Kika Keith can’t live without

For Kika Keith, tackling the beast of reforming cannabis social equity in Los Angeles has been a long journey, one she never expected would last for as long as it has.  Keith is a single mother to three girls, serial entrepreneur, cannabis advocate, founder of Life Development Group, co-founder of the Social Equity Owners and Workers Association (SEOWA), and now a Social Equity cannabis retail license owner. As a South-Central Los Angeles native, she was raised in a household and community where there wasn't much of a stigma around cannabis.

10 cannabis strains to buy from Black-owned brands

Buy Black weed. Period. Here are 10 Black-owned cannabis farms, and the flagship strains they want you to try. Since there are so very few Black owners in each state, sometimes only one or none at all, this list mostly spans across West Coast states — California, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington — with slim picks from Colorado and Washington DC that have an established recreational cannabis market. 
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