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Cannabis Briefs for May 21, 2019

May 21, 2019

•Jakob Ripshtein, formerly CFO of Diageo North America, will resign as president of Canadian cannabis company Aphria effective June 7. Aphria’s interim CEO, Irwin Simon, thanked Ripshtein for his contributions since joining Aphria a year ago, but didn’t give a reason for his departure. Meanwhile, Aphria has appointed James Meiers as COO. Meiers has over 30 years of supply chain experience and general management at consumer-packaged goods companies, including H.J. Heinz and Kraft Food. Most recently he was a senior executive at The Hain Celestial Group. Simon has been leading the company since former CEO Vic Neufeld departed earlier this year.

•Adult-use legalization efforts are officially dead in New Jersey but have been resuscitated in New York. The future of the issue has been unclear in the Garden State since the failure to enact legislation earlier this year, but state senate president Steve Sweeney put to rest speculation when he tweeted last week, “We will move forward with the expansion of our medical cannabis program as well as the progressive social justice reforms in the expungement legislation. We will not, however, pursue the legalization of adult use marijuana at this time.” Meanwhile, New York lawmakers will try again with an amended version of the legislation that it had hoped to include in the state budget earlier this year. As before, the bill faces an accelerated timeline for debate before a deadline of June 19.

•Organigram will invest C$15 million ($11.2m) into the production of THC-infused chocolates. The company plans to construct a high-speed, automated production line capable of producing 4 million kilograms of chocolate a year. Based in Moncton, New Brunswick, Organigram expects to take delivery of the line in the fall, around the same time edibles are expected to receive the go-ahead to enter the Canada market. Organigram has a number of cannabis brands including The Edison Cannabis Company, Ankr Organics, Trailer Park Buds, and Trailblazer.

•Aurora Cannabis will not invest heavily in infused beverages, said chief corporate officer Cam Battley on a recent earnings call, citing concerns of inadequate demand. The Canadian company based its decision on consumption trends in the U.S., where cannabis beverages currently make up less than 0.5% of cannabis sales, according to BDS Analytics, which monitors consumer data around the industry. Aurora CEO Terry Booth said their focus on cannabis concentrates would be confined to edibles and vape pens. Hexo Corp. and MolsonCoors have partnered to develop infused beverages, as have Tilray and AB InBev, and Canopy and Constellation.

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