As we come to the end of 2019, the Investing News Network (INN) is looking back on some of the most eye-grabbing news of the year for the cannabis industry.

The year was marked both with difficulties and impressive developments in the burgeoning space that rocked the stock market and investor sentiment.


Here, INN gives investors an overview of some of the year’s top news stories in the growing cannabis sector. Investors can also look back at our top five stories from 2018.

1. Auxly CEO: Edibles Legalization Will Reset Cannabis Industry

Though Canada got hit by the global cannabis market slump, some industry players said Cannabis 2.0 — the legalization of edible and infused marijuana products — would be a boon for the sector.

Hugo Alves, Auxly Cannabis Group’s (TSXV:XLY,OTCQX:CBWTF) CEO, told INN in September that the new phase of legalization would reset the industry in Canada.

In terms of new products, Alves said Canadian consumers should expect to see items from its US-based partner, edibles firm Dixie Brands (CSE:DIXI.U,OTCQX:DXBRF), thanks to a rights agreement.

2. Aphria Chairman Gives Response to Green Growth Offer

Early in 2019, the cannabis space saw a dust up between Aphria (NYSE:APHA,TSX:APHA) and Green Growth Brands (GGB) (CSE:GGB) over a publicized proposed takeover bid.

Irwin Simon, then chairman of Aphria and now interim CEO, shot down rumors of a takeover in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box after GGB released a statement doubling down on its plans to purchase all of Aphria’s outstanding common shares.

Simon noted that a takeover was never on the table from the company’s perspective.

“First of all there has been no official offer for the company, okay? GGB came out and said they like to either partner or merge with the company,” said Simon.

The news followed GGB’s initial bid to take over the Ontario-based cannabis producer and the subsequent rejection of the offer by Aphria, which said the proposal was 23 percent below its target.

In the end no takeover came into effect and GGB’s offer expired.

3. Bank of America Continues Moves in Cannabis Space

While banking for cannabis companies in the US continues to be a complex issue, this year saw one bank throw its hat into the Canadian cannabis ring.

In May, Bank of America (BoA) (NYSE:BAC) reported that it held 382,352 shares worth over US$2 million of Aphria, following the launch of its coverage of the marijuana space.

Its first cannabis report tackled some of the concerns surrounding the Canadian cannabis market. BoA Merrill Lynch analyst Chris Carey said that the market was oversaturated with cannabis producers.

“There are over 50 publicly traded Canadian cannabis licensed producers, far too many for a cannabis market the size of Canada’s, in our view,” Carey noted in his report.

4. CannTrust CEO Talks “Precise” Strategy

Before the illegal growing scandal that forced CannTrust Holdings’ (NYSE:CTST,TSX:TRST) shares to an all-time low, former CEO Peter Aceto spoke about his confidence in the cannabis industry’s growth.

In an interview with INN in January, Aceto explained his firm was using a measured strategy in the face of quick-moving markets in the space. (Yes, we see the irony in this line too.)

“We want to be bold, we want to be aggressive, but we want to be thoughtful, then precise. And we want to make sure that we have the ability to execute on all the things that we do,” Aceto told INN.

5. Cannabis Industry Has “Good Growing Up Summer,” Expert Says

Though the summer slump in cannabis somewhat soured investor sentiment, one expert chalked up the experience as part of the necessary growing pains for the market.

Elliot Johnson, chief operating officer at Evolve Funds Group, told INN the industry is now finding its stride and will continue to grow, despite challenges.

“I think it’s been a good growing up summer for the industry,” he said, despite the downturn seen in the summer period for the entire marijuana stock universe.

Johnson added that the struggles the sector has faced — including CannTrust’s scandal and the firing of former Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC,TSX:WEED) CEO Bruce Linton — have made it clear that regulations and good internal governance are key to making sure the cannabis space remains viable.

He also said the valuation gap between American and Canadian companies will shrink as cannabis in the US moves out of “legal limbo” and into nationwide regulation.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Cannabis for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Danielle Edwards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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