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Cannabis Briefs for July 21, 2020

July 21, 2020

•Major Canadian producers Aphria and Aurora Cannabis have been considering a merger, Bloomberg reports. The combined company would have been a $2.6 billion powerhouse, but talks broke down in recent days. Progress stalled over disagreements surrounding the makeup of the board and senior executive compensation. The terms would see Aphria shareholders control 51% of the combined entity, with Aphria CEO Irwin Simon as CEO. The company’s annual revenue would be above C$800 million ($592m) and it would hold a leading 30% share of the Canadian recreational market. It’s unknown whether the companies plan to revisit the idea at a future date.

•Detroit has delayed opening cannabis retail within its city limits since the Michigan market launched last December, and it may extend its ban into next year. City councilmember James Tate, the face of the retail ban, has justified the multiple extensions as necessary to create a social equity program before the market launches to ensure that Black residents are able to participate in the new economy. Former state senator Virgil Smith is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to undo the retail ban, but needs 9,000 signatures by month’s end.

•Canada now has 1,010 cannabis dispensaries, less than two years after sales began. Of that total, Alberta leads the provinces with 494, followed by British Columbia at 211. Ontario, which is Canada’s most populous province, still lags behind at 115 but has made significant progress to close the gap following early missteps that bottlenecked the licensing process through lotteries and license caps. Some 496 dispensaries are somewhere in the licensing process in Ontario, so the number of storefronts is set to grow sharply as those business come online.

•Illinois collected $52.8 million in cannabis tax revenue in the first half of the year, beating expectations. Of that $52.8 million, $18 million came from sales tax and $34.7 million came from the excise tax. Governor Pritzker’s budget had projected the excise tax to generate only $28 million. Recreational sales through the end of June now total more than $239 million.

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