The 26 cannabis startups set to soar in 2021

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Happy Friday readers,

We're getting back into the swing of things here on BI's cannabis team. This week, we have some insight into legendary investor Bill Miller's view on cannabis — and his top stock pick — and we've published our full list of cannabis startups to watch in 2021. Thanks to everyone who shared their insights and predictions.

As a reminder, here's how to get in touch: [email protected], or [email protected] Signal number for encrypted messages upon request.

-Jeremy (@jfberke) and Yeji (@jesse_yeji)

Here's what we wrote about this week:

Legendary investor Bill Miller compared marijuana legalization to the early days of gambling and shares the one pot stock he's betting on to soar

At an investor roundtable last week, value investor Bill Miller compared marijuana legalization to the early days of gambling. "The states are now dying for money. So they have got to legalize this stuff," Miller said.

Miller says he expects Green Thumb Industries, a company he has invested in, to grow up to 30% per year.

Here are the 26 hottest cannabis startups that are set to take off in 2021, according to top investors

We asked some of the top investors in cannabis to name the most promising startups in the industry. Here are the companies they picked.

Executive Moves

  • Acreage Holdings announced on Monday that Coca-Cola veteran Katie J. Bayne would be joining the company as a new board member.
  • Former CFO of Lions Gate Entertainment Marni Wieshofer will be joining Organigram Holdings' Board of Directors.
  • 4Front Ventures cofounder Josh Rosen will be joining Bengal Capital as a managing partner.
  • Andrew Kline is joining Perkins Coie in the firm's Denver office as a senior counsel in the firm's Commercial Litigation Practice and Cannabis Law Industry Group. Kline was previously the director of public policy for the National Cannabis Industry Association. 
  • Massachusetts' attorney general appointed Ava Callender Concepcion to the state's Cannabis Control Commission on Tuesday. Concepcion was most recently director of governmental affairs and external partnerships for the Suffolk County District's AG office.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Cannabis retailer and cultivator Cresco Labs is expanding to Florida through an all-stock acquisition of Bluma Wellness. The deal values Bluma Wellness at $213 million. 
  • Atai Life Sciences announced on Tuesday it had acquired a majority Stake in Recognify Life Sciences, which is developing compounds to treat Cognitive Impairment Associated with Schizophrenia (CIAS).
  • Jushi Holdings announced it had acquired Palm Springs-based cannabis company Organic Solutions of the Desert, expanding its footprint in California by three dispensaries. 
  • Truss, a joint venture between Canadian cannabis company HEXO Corp and Molson Coors, is launching a CBD-infused beverage in Colorado.

Policy moves

  • New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy said in his State Of The State Speech on Tuesday that the state is "on the verge" of cannabis legalization. Here's his tweet reiterating his point. Here's what you need to know, from NJ.com.
  • Jersey City says 100% of tax revenue from medical marijuana dispensaries in the city — when they open — will go to affordable housing. 
  • The USDA released its final hemp rules, which take effect on March 22.
  • Virginia's governor and lawmakers announced a bill on Wednesday that would legalize cannabis in the state for adults over the age of 21.
  • The incoming commerce secretary, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, wants legal marijuana to be sold in government-run stores, reports Marijuana Moment, an industry publication. 

Earnings roundup

  • Aphria reported fiscal Q2 net revenue of C$160.5 million and a net loss of C$120.6 million.

Science and research

  • A study published in the journal Economics & Human Biology found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that people bought and consumed more junk food in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. 
  • A study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence from New York University professor Joseph Palamar found that marijuana use increases steadily throughout the year, using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The researchers theorize the relatively low use in January could be due to New Year's resolutions.

Chart of the week

The regulated cannabis market is growing, but according to New Frontier Data, the illicit market still serves the vast majority of US cannabis consumers. Among US states that have no regulated medical or adult-use market, Texas by far has the largest illicit cannabis market, followed by North Carolina and Georgia. Sales in these three states make up around $8.3 billion in sales every year; by 2025, that figure is expected to jump to $9.8 billion if the states remain unregulated.

What we're reading

Will psychedelic mushroom vacations come to the U. S.? (Washington Post)

Senate flip could turbocharge cannabis deal-making (Law360)

Cannabis CEOs, led by Aphria's Irwin Simon, are among Canada's top-paid execs despite losses (Marijuana Business Daily)

Canopy Growth confident it will enter U.S. within a year: CEO (BNN Bloomberg)

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