M&A Activity In Cannabis Industry Picking Up Steam as Cannabis Market Projected to Reach $70 Billion by 2028

Palm Beach, FL –May 25, 2022 – FinancialNewsMedia.com News Commentary  – A maturing cannabis industry has the potential for enormous growth — but only if growers, processors and retailers can minimize threats to their profitability and stability. The cannabis industry is poised for another year of huge growth in 2022, and the enterprises that will benefit the most are those best-positioned to manage risk. Additional threats and higher premiums won’t inhibit industry growth, but cannabis businesses that prioritize risk management will benefit most. With legalization becoming more common, the cannabis industry has been on a roll. A recent article in HUB International projects that the U.S. cannabis industry hit a record $24 billion in sales in 2021, with expected annual sales of $70 billion by 2028.  The article said: “Cannabis risks have always outpaced the availability of insurance, in large part because of its status as a federally outlawed substance and the dangers in extraction and production. But it now shares many of the same risks as other industries — catastrophic crop damage, cyber risk and a shortage of skilled workers.  Some relief for the industry’s financial issues may be ahead: The SAFE and CLAIM Acts, if passed, carry with them the potential to bring traditional financial resources to cannabis operations.  Insurance for cannabis businesses remains expensive.  Cannabis Property-Casualty coverage is also expected to rise 10% to 20. These factors of additional risks and higher insurance premiums won’t inhibit industry growth, but those cannabis businesses that invest in risk management will be the ones to benefit the most.” Active Companies active today in the cannabis related markets include:  Item 9 Labs Corp. (OTCQX: INLB), Trulieve Cannabis Corp.  (OTCQX: TCNNF) (CSE: TRUL), Verano Holdings Corp. (OTCQX: VRNOF) (CSE: VRNO), Green Thumb Industries Inc. (OTCQX: GTBIF) (CSE: GTII), Cresco Labs Inc. (OTCQX: CRLBF) (CSE: CL).


“Perhaps the biggest obstacle to cannabis industry growth is a lack of access to capital. The industry awaits passage of the SAFE and CLAIM Acts, which would allow cannabis businesses to accept loans from federally regulated institutions. Lending to the industry has been restricted because regulators have considered it a form of money laundering; the pending legislation would remove that criminal designation for banking and lending.”  The article continued: “… large cannabis enterprises with non-cannabis subsidiaries have more access to capital than small companies. Similarly, large cannabis organizations typically have an easier time obtaining private equity investments.  As a result, M&A activity will increase in 2022, as large cannabis businesses will have the means to acquire smaller competitors. What’s more, expect Canadian cannabis companies — unburdened by federal restrictions — to increase their cross-border mergers and acquisitions.”


Item 9 Labs Corp. (OTCQX: INLB) BREAKING NEWS:  Item 9 Labs Corp. Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire Sessions Cannabis, One of Canada’s Largest Cannabis Retail FranchisorsItem 9 Labs Corp. (OTCQX: INLB) (the “Company”) — a vertically integrated cannabis dispensary franchisor and operator that produces premium, award-winning products — announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Sessions Cannabis (“Sessions”), one of Canada’s largest cannabis retail franchisors.


“This is a transformative acquisition that fast-tracks our entry into the Canadian market and brings tremendous value to our shareholders,” said Item 9 Labs Corp. CEO Andrew Bowden. “With an exponential increase in store count across North America, this acquisition would transition us from being a multi-state operator to an international cannabis company and the largest global cannabis franchisor. The potential to accelerate growth through both franchising and additional opportunistic acquisitions is immense. This is simply the first step to much deeper market penetration, both in Ontario and other provinces.”


Founded in 2019, Sessions currently has 43 stores throughout the Province of Ontario, the majority of which are located in prime retail shopping centers, typically anchored by national tenants such as Costco, Walmart, well-known grocers, quick service restaurants and more. The Ontario-based business has a franchise system comprised of 18 franchisees, the majority of which are multi-unit owners, and plans to continue its growth across Canada with multiple openings already planned for this year. Sessions also anticipates it will continue its consistently strong performance.


Item 9 Labs Corp. acquired ONE Cannabis Group (“OCG Inc.”) in March 2021, the parent company to U.S. cannabis dispensary franchise, Unity Rd. – marking the Company the first national vertically integrated cannabis dispensary franchisor. The combination of the Unity Rd. franchise system—which currently has 20-plus partners developing more than three dozen stores across 10-plus U.S. states—with Sessions makes Item 9 Labs Corp. the largest global and publicly traded cannabis franchise company.


Canada, the world’s second-largest cannabis market, brought in CA$3.9 billion in cannabis sales in 2021, a 50 percent year-over-year growth, according to federal data agency Statistics Canada. Ontario is the country’s largest cannabis market with CA$1.47 billion in 2021 sales. According to BDSA, the Canadian market is expected to climb to CA$4.7 billion in 2022 and nearly CA$6.3 billion by 2026.


“The Canadian cannabis market has grown tremendously over the past few years, and we have certainly felt that impact and benefitted from first-mover advantage in several markets,” said Steven Fry, CEO and co-founder of Sessions, noting that Sessions’ locations that have been open for more than a year see an average annual revenue of CA$2.46 million. “We have amazing multi-unit franchisees and a solid franchise system that is dedicated to their success, but to further innovate within the industry and expand our reach, we need the right partner. We believe we have found that with Item 9 Labs Corp. and their franchise brand, Unity Rd.”


The Company’s Chief Franchise Officer Mike Weinberger agrees with Fry that this is the perfect synergy. He added, “From the brand values and education-first approach with customers to the rock-solid franchise program Steven and his team have built, there are several similarities across Sessions and our Unity Rd. franchise brand. This is a huge opportunity for Item 9 Labs Corp. and further solidifies our mark as leaders in cannabis franchising.”


The Company’s merger and acquisition activities for the 2022 calendar year have ramped up quickly. Item 9 Labs Corp. acquired a dispensary license and storefront in North Denver, Colorado and recently signed an Asset Purchase Agreement (“APA”) for a medicinal and recreational dispensary and cultivator, The Herbal Cure, also located in Denver. Colorado is among the top markets where Item 9 Labs Corp. is actively seeking acquisitions of cannabis dispensaries.  CONTINUED… Read the full Press Release for INLB at:  https://www.financialnewsmedia.com/news-inlb


In other active company news in the markets this week: 


Verano Holdings Corp. (OTCQX: VRNOF) (CSE: VRNO), a leading multi-state cannabis company, recently announced the opening of MÜV Ocala on Friday, May 20, the Company’s 47th Florida dispensary and 98th nationwide. MÜV Ocala, located at 3701 SW College Road, is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., local time.


MÜV Ocala is located in Marion County, a rapidly growing area that experienced a population increase of 13.5% from 2010 to 2021. Ocala was also recently named the sixth fastest-growing city in the United States.


Green Thumb Industries Inc. (OTCQX: GTBIF) (CSE: GTII), a leading national cannabis consumer packaged goods company and owner of RISE dispensaries, recently reported its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022. Financial results are reported in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) and all currency is in U.S. dollars.


“Our team delivered solid first quarter results with revenue increasing 25% over the prior year quarter. We generated our seventh consecutive quarter of positive net income of $29 million, or $0.12 per share, and Adjusted Operating EBITDA of $67 million. For the ninth consecutive quarter, we delivered positive cash flow from operations, which was $55 million in the first quarter,” said Green Thumb Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ben Kovler. “We continue to have strong conviction in our core thesis and given the opportunity ahead, we will invest in markets where we know demand is coming. As I have said before, growth is not linear and there will be quarter-to-quarter fluctuations depending on when new markets open to adult-use sales as well as the timing of our infrastructure investments. Our preparations in New Jersey positioned us well for demand on Day One, and we feel confident in our playbook for future adult-use transitions.”


Cresco Labs Inc. (OTCQX: CRLBF) (CSE: CL), a vertically integrated, multi-state operator and the number one U.S. wholesaler of branded cannabis products, recently released its financial results for the three months ended March 31, 2022. All financial information presented in this release is reported in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“U.S. GAAP”) and in U.S. dollars.


“Q1 was a solid quarter for the Cresco Labs team in a challenging environment for all consumer product categories. While our 10-state footprint saw a cumulative sequential contraction of 4.5%, we held or took market share in most of our states and outperformed the markets with our 2% decline. We understand that an emerging industry’s growth trajectory is rarely linear, especially a highly regulated industry with a fragmented state-by-state structure, conflicting federal and state laws, and the addition of general macro pressures. Notwithstanding, we continue to execute with a clear and focused strategy to obtain market leadership with a portfolio of cannabis brands consumers love and a plan to get them on as many shelves as possible. The strategy remains constant, and the Columbia Care acquisition announced in the quarter simply fits these stated priorities hand-in-glove. We are pairing the best consumer brands with a broad, deep and strategic footprint,” said Charles Bachtell, Co-Founder and CEO of Cresco Labs.


Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (OTCQX: TCNNF) (CSE: TRUL), a leading and top-performing cannabis company in the United States, recently announced the grand opening of its third and fourth medical dispensaries in West Virginia. Located at 4701 MacCorkle Ave. SW in South Charleston and 152 Park Shopping Center in Parkersburg, both dispensaries opened on Saturday, May 21, 2022.


Trulieve is marking the occasion with the launch of two new strains available only at these two dispensaries: Chocolope Newberry Live Budder and Pineapple Upside Down Cake Flower. The first patient served in South Charleston will be cancer survivor Rusty Williams and the first patient served at the Parkersburg location will be military veteran Jason Lowe.


Grand opening festivities throughout the day at both new dispensaries will include numerous partner giveaways, music, food trucks, deals and specials, and all registered patients will receive a 25% discount.  On-site medical care specialists will be available to assist with medical card registration and certification for West Virginia patients.


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