Key Takeaways; Cannabis Sector
• The Cannabist Company celebrated approval for adult-use cannabis sales in New York.
• Curaleaf gained conditional approval for uplisting to the Toronto Stock Exchange.
• MedMen prevailed in legal battle against Whitestar Solutions allegations.
Key Takeaways; Psychedelic Sector
• Awakn received regulatory and ethical approval for Phase III clinical trial of AWKN-P001.
• Filament Health secured $4.3 million financing, as they advance Nasdaq uplisting efforts.
In a dynamic week for the cannabis sector, New York state regulators granted approval to six Cannabis multistate operators with medical marijuana licenses to enter the adult-use market on December 29, marking a pivotal moment one year after the launch of recreational sales. This widely anticipated decision signified a significant milestone in the state’s recreational marijuana market rollout, and it follows the New York State Supreme Court’s recent decision to lift an injunction on December 1, enabling the issuance of new adult-use business licenses.
The six operators that got the green light from the state’s Cannabis Control Board include: Curaleaf NY, part of New York-headquartered MSO Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (OTC: CURLF), Valley Agriceuticals LLC, which is owned by Cresco Labs Inc. (OTC: CRLBF), NYCanna, part of New York-headquartered MSO Acreage Holdings, Inc. (OTC: ACRHF), Columbia Care NY, whose parent is New York-based MSO The Cannabist Company Holdings Inc. (OTC: CBSTF), Etain Health, owned by RIV Capital Inc. (OTC: CNPOF), a Toronto-based investment firm, and PharmaCann, whose parent is Chicago-based private MSO PharmaCann.
Below is a weekly roundup on the cannabis and psychedelic sectors. In this ever-evolving landscape, we explore the major developments and groundbreaking initiatives happening among companies operating in these industries; from advancements in medical research, therapeutic applications to shifts in legal frameworks and current market trends.
Top Marijuana Companies for Week
#1: The Cannabist Company
The Cannabist Company Holdings Inc. (OTC: CBSTF), formerly known as Columbia Care, celebrated a significant milestone as it received approval from the New York Office of Cannabis Management for adult-use wholesale distribution and retail sales. As a result, the company stated that they will immediately commence adult-use wholesale deliveries in New York, offering products from its Riverhead and Rochester cultivation facilities to active retail locations across the state.
The Cannabist Company, which is a prominent cultivator, manufacturer, and retailer of cannabis products in the U.S., said that they plan to make their popular brands, including Seed & Strain and Hedy edibles, available to both existing and newly approved adult-use dispensaries. According to the company, the first sale is set to take place with Herbal IQ, a retailer with five locations near Buffalo and Rochester. The company also anticipates launching additional brands in the coming months, subject to regulatory approval.
Nicholas Vita, CEO of The Cannabist Company, expressed excitement about the approval to enter the adult-use market in New York, citing the state as the “cannabis capital of the East Coast.” Vita emphasized the company’s readiness to meet the growing demand by leveraging its scaled cultivation and manufacturing facilities in Long Island and Rochester.
“After more than a decade of serving the New York medical market, the day has finally arrived for us to capitalize on the tremendous assets we have built and to begin bringing trusted, tested products to the growing adult-use market. New York is the cannabis capital of the East Coast, and we are thrilled to be supplying our partners with high-quality products as the industry reaches a new milestone with the further implementation of adult-use sales,” said Nicholas Vita.
New York-based cannabis multistate operator Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (OTC: CURLF) achieved a significant milestone in its strategic plan of securing “conditional approval” from Canadian securities regulators to uplist its shares to the prestigious Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), which is the third-largest stock exchange in North America. The move, which was announced on December 7, 2023, reflects Curaleaf’s ongoing efforts to broaden its investor base and enhance its financial standing.
The uplisting, which will involve the trading of subordinate voting shares, is not yet finalized, as Curaleaf must fulfill certain conditions set by the TSX before its shares can officially begin trading on the exchange. The company affirmed that it would issue another statement once this process is complete, providing clarity on the timeline for its shares becoming active on the TSX.
As part of the transition, Curaleaf will cease trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE), where it is currently listed under the symbol CURA. The company intends to be delisted from the CSE as soon as its shares are officially listed on the TSX.
The decision to uplist follows the application made by Curaleaf in October, a strategic move that mirrors the trajectory of other multistate operators like TerrAscend Corp. (OTC: TSNDF), which successfully transitioned to the TSX in July. Uplistings such as these are part of a broader industry trend aimed at accessing a wider pool of investors and capitalizing on the increased liquidity associated with major stock exchanges.
MedMen Enterprises Inc. (OTC: MMNFF) secured a legal victory in a case filed by Whitestar Solutions LLC, where Whitestar accused MedMen of fraudulent inducement in a breach-of-contract lawsuit. The dispute originated in 2020 when Whitestar alleged that MedMen had misrepresented stocks used in the acquisition of EBA Holdings Inc., a cannabis cultivation and dispensary business in Arizona.
Whitestar claimed that it agreed to an all-stock deal, expecting unrestricted stock, but later discovered that the stocks were encumbered as they were foreign-issued shares subject to restrictive legends. Despite this revelation, Whitestar proceeded with the deal, leading to complications later.
The Arizona Court of Appeals recently upheld the initial decision in favor of MedMen, rejecting Whitestar’s arguments. The court determined that Whitestar failed to provide evidence of harm or damage caused by the alleged misrepresentation.
This legal victory is significant for MedMen, a cannabis multistate operator based in Los Angeles, as it reinforces the company’s position against allegations of fraudulent practices and breaches of contract.
Top Psychedelic Companies for Week
Awakn Life Sciences Corp. (OTC: AWKNF), a pioneering clinical-stage biotechnology company, recently achieved a significant milestone in the development of its lead program, AWKN-P001, designed to revolutionize the treatment of Severe Alcohol Use Disorder (SAUD). The company announced the receipt of clinical trial authorization from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and ethical approval from the Health Research Authority in the UK for a phase III clinical trial.
SAUD, the most acute form of alcohol use disorder, affects approximately 12.5 million individuals in the US and key European markets, including Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and Spain.
AWKN-P001 represents a novel therapeutic approach, combining a N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-modulating drug (ketamine) with psycho-social support to address SAUD. The results from the phase II study were highly promising, demonstrating an 86% abstinence rate in the six months post-treatment, a stark contrast to the mere 2% abstinence rate pre-trial. Additionally, AWKN-P001 showed a 25% abstinence rate, surpassing the current standard of care.
The phase III trial, funded by Awakn, The University of Exeter, and a partnership between the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), will involve 280 participants in a two-armed randomized placebo-controlled trial.
Anthony Tennyson, Awakn CEO, highlighted the significance of the regulatory and ethical approval: “This regulatory and ethical approval is not only a testament to our commitment to scientific rigor and patient well-being, but also a pivotal step in our commercial journey. It opens new horizons for Awakn, as we move one step closer to delivering a potentially transformative therapy to the market.”
#2: Filament Health
Vancouver-based psychedelic drug development company, Filament Health Corp. (OTC: FLHLF), successfully secured $4.3 million in financing, with an option to obtain an additional $11.1 million, through a securities purchase agreement with Helena Global Investment Opportunities 1 Ltd. The funding comes in the form of secured convertible notes, with a 10% annual interest rate and a 12-month term. Filament said that they plan to use the funds to support its ongoing operations and drug development programs.
The financing is tied to Filament’s merger with Jupiter Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: JAQC), a special purpose acquisition company(SPAC), which received regulatory approval in mid-November. Upon closing of the SPAC merger, the combined entity will be rebranded as TopCo. According to Filament, they aim to use the new financing to propel themself towards a listing on the Nasdaq, marking a significant milestone in its business strategy.
In addition to the financing from Helena, Filament announced that they had also completed a separate fundraising round, raising C$900,000 through the issuance of unsecured convertible notes to certain investors affiliated with Jupiter and Filament. The company said it plans to raise an additional $900,000 through this method.
Filament CEO Ben Lightburn expressed confidence in the financings, emphasizing their role in de-risking milestones and supporting the execution of the proposed business combination. Despite reporting a C$1.3 million net loss in the most recent quarter, Filament sees the financing as crucial for advancing internal operational and drug development initiatives.