Wall Street stops testing for weed

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Happy Friday readers,

Hope everyone had a good (and short) week after Labor Day. At BI, we're starting to shift our focus to the cannabis-related legislation and ballot measures up for consideration over the next few months.

This week we saw executive changes at two major Canadian cannabis companies, Aurora and Cronos. Jeremy talked to Aurora's new CEO, Miguel Martin, on the day of the announcement. Martin told him how he hopes to change things at Aurora after a difficult few months. 

I talked to some top cannabis VCs and investors to catch up on what I've missed these past few months and hear about some upcoming trends on the investment side of the industry. You can expect some coverage on that very soon, as well as more updates on upcoming legislation.

Reach out to tell me what I should be keeping my eye on. I'm at [email protected]

– Yeji

Here's what we wrote about this week:

Aurora Cannabis has tumbled 90% over the past year. Its new CEO shares how he plans to reset the company's reputation and turn around the business.

Aurora Cannabis' new CEO, Miguel Martin, told Business Insider in an interview how he hopes to turn around the company after a tough few quarters of mass layoffs and stock declines. The company said on Tuesday it would take a $1.4 billion impairment charge, and reduced its guidance for the fourth quarter.

Martin, the latest CPG exec to decamp to Canadian cannabis, said he'll focus on dominating the Canadian market for pre-rolls and vaporizers.

Some of Wall Street's most prestigious banks no longer screen applicants for marijuana use. Here's where 7 of the largest firms stand on drug testing.

Screening job applicants for marijuana use might be a thing of the past, at least on Wall Street. We asked seven of the largest banks with major offices in New York City whether they still test job applicants for marijuana use. Those who responded say that they don't test new hires for THC, and some have removed drug testing entirely. 

Adult-use marijuana is on the ballot in 4 states, and a top Wall Street analyst lays out which cannabis stocks could get the biggest boost from legalization

Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota will decide whether cannabis should be legal for all adults this November. Cowen analyst Vivien Azer says that Arizona and New Jersey are most likely to legalize cannabis. MSOs Curaleaf, GTI, Acreage Holdings, and Cresco Labs, are all well-positioned to benefit from legalization— but Curaleaf stands to benefit the most because it operates in both Arizona and New Jersey.

A psychedelics startup started testing an app for taking mind-expanding 'trips' more responsibly, just in time for virtual Burning Man

Trip, a new app that guides users through psychedelic drug experiences and other consciousness-expanding exercises, started letting more users in for early testing Wednesday. The app is the side project of Field Trip, a Toronto-based startup that aims to facilitate the use of psychedelic drugs for medical treatment.

The app records user's moods and emotions during their psychedelic travels, letting them see their moods and thoughts over time like a psychotropic Fitbit.

Executive moves

  • Aurora Cannabis hires Miguel Martin as its new CEO, taking over from Michael Singer who moves to executive chairman. Martin, previously the CEO of CBD company Reliva, joined Aurora after the cannabis giant acquired Reliva in May. 
  • Kurt Schmidt is taking over for Michael Gorenstein as the new CEO of Cronos Group. Schmidt, a longtime CPG exec, previously held senior roles at Blue Buffalo Company Ltd., Nestlé S.A., Gerber, and Kraft Foods. 
  • CannaCraft has made a slew of executive hires, including Angela Pih as chief marketing officer, and Ron Gray as VP of sales.
  • Kassandra Frederique assumed the role of the executive director of the advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance on Tuesday.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Cannabis company ManifestSeven has closed $10.2 million in equity and debt funding so far this year, in advance of a planned reverse merger to go public on the CSE.
  • Hemptown USA has signed a letter of intent to go public via a reverse merger with Spectre Capital Corp to list on the TSXV.
  • Psychedelic research company Havn Life started trading on the CSE on September 8. 
  • Lifestyle maven (and cannabis fan) Martha Stewart has teamed up with Canopy Growth to launch a line of CBD-infused gummies in the US. 
  • Village Farms International is entering into an agreement with Emerald Health Therapeutics to acquire 100% of Pure Sunfarms. 
  • Columbia Care is acquiring California cannabis company Project Cannabis. 

Policy moves

  • Congress is working on a slew of cannabis measures this month, including the MORE Act, which will be put to a vote on September 21. The act would decriminalize cannabis federally and expunge the records of those convicted for cannabis possession and use. Lawmakers are also considering The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act, which would allow hemp-derived CBD to be marketed as a dietary supplement.
  • The Medical Cannabis Research Act, submitted by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, will be put to a full House floor vote this month. 
  • FinCEN released a report showing that the number of banks serving the cannabis industry is at its lowest level since May 2019.

Chart of the week

Since early 2019, Ontario's licensed dispensaries have slowly but steadily taken a bigger share of the province's total cannabis market, which used to be dominated by unlicensed providers. With the (albeit slow) build out of stores across Ontario, licensed stores have gone from owning 5% of the market share in Jan. 2019 to 25% as of June 2020: 

What we're reading and watching 

One cure for an ailing American economy: Legalize cannabis (Former Senator Tom Daschle, The Hill)

Marijuana vote poses November risk for Democrats (Politico)

Uprooted: California's complicated road to legalization (Weedmaps)

Vaping drops among young people in US (Wall Street Journal)

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