Merger & Acquisition Activity In Cannabis Industry Could Reach $2 Billion This Year

Palm Beach, FL – March 23, 2021 – 2019 was not an especially good year for M&A activity in the cannabis market, however 2020 went out with a bang, with more than $600 million in deals announced immediately following the November elections. Industry observers say that prospects for the New Year are expected to continue the explosive year-end trend with a backlog of nearly $2 billion in deals heading into 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic boosted sales of cannabis products, and election results opening up five new states to legal cannabis use and possible federal regulatory reform are further boosting prospects. According to the Cannabis Industry Journal, analysts now predict the U.S. cannabis market is poised to double by 2025.  The article said: “Growth is expected to be led by multi-state operators who have achieved scale, cleaned up their balance sheets and stockpiled dry powder for roll-up acquisitions. Cannabis companies raised nearly $134 million in the two weeks before Election Day, a 185% increase over the same period last year. Most of the money flowed to multistate operators. In addition, the biggest stocks by market capitalization saw a roughly 20% bump ahead of the election and now are trading at record volumes, providing plenty of stock currency for further acquisitions.  Active Companies active today in the cannabis related markets include:  Item 9 Labs Corp. (OTCQX: INLB), Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: CURLF) (CSE: CURA), Green Thumb Industries Inc. (OTCQX: GTBIF) (CSE: GTII), Sundial Growers Inc. (NASDAQ: SNDL), Greenrose Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: GNRS).


Cannabis Industry Journal continued: “In light of the maturing industry and the 2019 bust, the valuation model for acquisitions in the cannabis space is evolving from one based on sales, typically associated with emerging growth industries, to a more mature industry model based on profits or Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA). Most cannabis MSOs have stabilized and generate positive EBITDA, which justifies the evolution away from a sales-driven model.  The cannabis M&A market is moving into a more mature phase, as MSOs will be choosier in their approach rather than continuing the land-grab mentality of years past. Due to improved financial strength, 2021 should see these MSOs continuing to expand their footprints either within existing states or new ones. Although uncertainties abound, further consolidation and expansion through add-on acquisitions is likely to continue apace in 2021, providing plenty of opportunities for deal makers and their lawyers.”


Item 9 Labs Corp. (OTCQX: INLB) Item 9 Labs Corp. Closes Acquisition of Leading U.S. Cannabis Dispensary Franchisor Item 9 Labs Corp. (“Item 9 Labs,” or the “Company”), a vertically integrated cannabis operator that produces premium products, today announced the closing of its acquisition of ONE Cannabis Group (“OCG Inc.”), parent company of cannabis dispensary franchise Unity Rd. The combination creates a differentiated business model that offers premium products and distribution through an expanding network of dispensary franchises. Resulting synergies and benefits from the transaction include expanded business offering and expertise, operational efficiencies, cost savings, and revenue upside. Additionally, the acquisition creates new opportunities in the cannabis sector by providing solutions to industry challenges commonly faced by existing business owners, prospective entrepreneurs, and consumers.


Item 9 Labs produces award-winning and best-in-class products from its large-scale cultivation site and production facilities. Headquartered in Arizona, the Company is expanding its operations space by 650,000+ square feet on its 50-acre site, one of the largest properties in Arizona zoned to grow and cultivate flower. It also owns and operates and, leading online platforms for information surrounding cannabis business applications, regulations and state updates. Colorado-based OCG Inc. brings the stability, scalability, and brand continuity of franchising to the budding and fragmented world of cannabis through its retail franchise Unity Rd. Named one of the top cannabis retail leaders in the nation by MJBizDaily magazine and the first cannabis business to earn a Franchise Times Dealmakers award, OCG Inc. helps eager participants enter the complex industry with ease by leveraging its legal cannabis business experience and trusted resources under the distinct Unity Rd. brand.


“Blending our premium, experiential cannabis brand with a true dispensary franchise model puts Item 9 Labs in a unique position to capitalize on opportunities in a dynamic and rapidly evolving regulatory environment. ONE Cannabis Group perfectly complements and enhances our existing offerings by creating a built-in platform for national distribution of our products and brands through the Unity Rd. franchise network,” said Item 9 Labs CEO Andrew Bowden. “Having immediate entry points into states where Unity Rd. is building presence is expected to drive margin expansion across multiple markets and strengthen our profitability.”


This acquisition creates one of the first vertically integrated cannabis franchises in the U.S. The reduced capital expenditure (CapEx) franchise model provides accelerated scale for Item 9 Labs and Unity Rd., while keeping dispensaries locally owned and operated. In contrast to existing multi-state operators (MSOs), the franchise model requires reduced corporate capital requirements for development of the dispensary brand, as franchisees own and operate their own businesses. Unity Rd. franchise partners benefit from the continued guidance and tools provided by the franchisor while being able to scale more rapidly, compared with operating independently.


“Unity Rd. is the safest way for entrepreneurs to enter the cannabis industry,” said Mike Weinberger, Chief Operating Officer of OCG Inc., who is now appointed Chief Franchise Officer of Item 9 Labs Corp. and named to the Company’s Board of Directors with this announcement. “Extending our in-house knowledge in dispensary license applications and operations as well as having direct access to Item 9 Labs’ deep bench of trusted, award-winning products are expanded benefits for Unity Rd. franchise partners, positioning them ahead of any competition.”  CONTINUED….  Read this full Press Release and more for INLB at:


In other active company news in the markets this week: 


Green Thumb Industries Inc. (OTCQX: GTBIF) (CSE: GTII), a leading cannabis consumer packaged goods company and owner of Rise™ Dispensaries, recently announced an exclusive partnership with leading cannabis-infused beverage brand Cann to manufacture and distribute its line of cannabis-infused sparkling beverages beginning in Illinois this spring. Green Thumb and Cann will expand distribution to additional markets including New Jersey, which recently legalized adult-use cannabis sales.


“The cannabis beverage category is poised for growth. Consumers are increasingly entering the market seeking alternatives to alcohol with familiar consumption experiences,” said Green Thumb Founder and CEO Ben Kovler. “Cann sits squarely in this opportunity, delivers on the consumer need, and complements our brand portfolio with entry into the beverage segment. What’s even better is cannabis drinks can offer a superior experience, fewer calories and no hangover compared to alcohol. We are investing in the space and in the Cann team and we couldn’t be more excited to bring California’s #1 cannabis beverage brand to Illinois and beyond.”


Sundial Growers Inc. (NASDAQ: SNDL) and SAF Opportunities LP, a member of the SAF Group recently announced they have entered into an agreement to form a 50/50 joint venture (the “Joint Venture”) through a new corporation, SunStream Bancorp Inc. (“SunStream”).


The Joint Venture will leverage a strategic financial and operational partnership to generate asymmetrically enhanced risk-return opportunities in the cannabis industry to provide exposure to a portfolio of attractive debt, equity and hybrid investments. The Joint Venture will focus on cannabis-related verticals, seeking both Canadian and international opportunities and investments. The Joint Venture’s first mandate is the formation of a special opportunities fund with commitments from third party limited partners alongside an initial commitment from Sundial of $100 million. The Joint Venture expects to pursue additional potential mandates, including a Canadian SPAC and other investments.


Greenrose Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: GNRS), a special purpose acquisition company targeting companies in the cannabis industry, has recently entered into definitive agreements to acquire four cannabis companies (The Platform). The companies are Shango Holdings Inc. (Shango), Futureworks LLC (d/b/a The Health Center), Theraplant, LLC, and True Harvest, LLC.


Prior to closing the transaction, Greenrose will be renamed The Greenrose Holding Company Inc. and is expected to transition its listing from the Nasdaq Capital Market to the OTCQX® Best Market.   aditionally, Greenrose intends to list on the NEO exchange after the close of the transaction.


Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: CURLF) (CSE: CURA), a leading U.S. provider of consumer products in cannabis, recently announced the latest addition to its suite of products with Select Fresh, which will make history as a THC product initially launched simultaneously across 10 markets. Held to the brand’s famously rigorous testing standards, Select Fresh combines high-quality premium distillate oil with bold fruit flavors in the brand’s sleek new .3 gram “Go” hardware.


Select, known as America’s #1 Cannabis Oil Brand, is currently available in 17 states with varied offerings across each market largely due to contrasting regulations at the local level. Continuing on its path to becoming the first nationally recognized cannabis brand, Select is determined to improve upon consistency across the U.S. by providing patients and customers with consistent access to the products they know and trust. Select Fresh is the first industry-wide product offering to be launched across 10 markets within a four-week window, starting with Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, and Oklahoma. The premium offering will roll out in California, Colorado, Florida, and Massachusetts by the second week of April.


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