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Why Canadian marijuana companies are going public in 2017

Submitted by Marijuana News on Fri, 06/09/2017 – 08:45

The marijuana market in Canada is prepped for additional growth: several companies plan to go public in 2017 since the country’s regulations are more favorable, giving investors more options in this growing sector.

Companies are choosing to file their IPOs in Canada because of the more restrictive environment in the U.S., said Michael Berger, founder of Technical420, a Miami-based company that conducts research on cannabis stocks, and a former Raymond James energy analyst. The legal cannabis market expanded significantly during the past year and medical marijuana is now legal in countries such as Australia, Germany, Canada, Uruguay and Colombia.

By 2018, Canada’s legal recreational cannabis market should generate over $10 billion a year.

“One theme we recognized over the last year is an increasing number of companies listing on Canadian stock exchanges,” he said. “These companies are choosing to list in Canada due to better business policies.”

The number of registered patients is growing at a rapid pace in Canada as licensed producers continue to find innovative ways to create value for its shareholders. The number of patients is nearly 200,000 and growing 10% on a month over month basis, Berger said. The liquidity in the market is also beneficial for investors.

“In Canada, companies can use bank accounts, claim taxes, and write off business expenses legally unlike the U.S. where cannabis companies cannot do any of that and are frequently switching banks on account of their account being closed due to the focus on the cannabis industry,” he said.

The Canadian marijuana market and legislation is outpacing the U.S. because Canada has legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana on the federal level, said Jason Spatafora, co-founder of Marijuanastocks.com and a Miami-based trader and investor known as @WolfofWeedST on Twitter.

“Canada has allowed licensed producers of cannabis to take their companies public in a meaningful way compared to the U.S. since there are still American companies which do not touch the plant directly,” he said.

The Next Canadian Cannabis IPOs

A medical cannabis producer, The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings, is planning to go public in the second half of 2017, said Berger. The company cultivates medical marijuana under Health Canada from a 100-acre farm in Ancaster, Ontario and has already completed two oversubscribed financing rounds with over 2,500 investors, “which is a testament to the company’s leadership and success,” he said.

One factor investors need to consider is the track record of the management team and The Green Organic Dutchman has “one of the best in the industry,” Berger said. “The management team has a proven track record and they were the team that brought together OrganiGram (OGRMF) and Emblem Corp. (EMMBF), two successful Canadian licensed medical cannabis producers. Although the team’s role with those companies was different, they learned invaluable lessons which have also been implemented in this company.”

Compared to its competitors, the company has differentiated itself by growing organic cannabis and is levered to a market that is experiencing a 10% on a month-over-month basis on sales.

“The Organic Dutchman is part of a rapidly growing market, generates a strong balance sheet and consists of several strategic partners,” he said.

High Street Capital Partners, a New York-based real estate company that owns and operates cannabis cultivation facilities and dispensaries in 14 states across the U.S., could go public by the summer.

Although High Street is levered to the U.S. market, the company plans to list in Canada due to better regulatory environment. The company is an attractive opportunity since it has over 60% of the market share in Maine, 11 dispensaries in Illinois, one of the largest dispensaries in the Boston area and other attractive and profitable locations, said Berger.

Based in Ontario, CannTrust, a federally regulated licensed medical cannabis producer, is also planning to go public on the TSX this year. The company is an “attractive” opportunity, because it brings more than 40 years of pharmacy and healthcare experience to the cannabis industry. The company offers various proprietary products, operates out of a 40,000-square foot state-of-the-art hydroponic facility and its lab conducts testing and research on their products.

Risks in Cannabis Stocks

The risk of investing in IPOs for retail traders can be high, especially if they are not familiar with the industry since it is a nascent sector.

“For traders like myself IPOs are only interesting to me if they’re in an emerging market or if as a private company they have solved a problem or created a revenue generating efficiency,” said Spatafora. “IPOs do help fund innovation occasionally on a global sense, but they also pull liquidity from sectors and break hearts such as Snapchat.”

The most recent Canadian company to go public was medical producer Emblem Corp. (EMMBF), which went public on the TSX Venture Exchange in December 2016.

“This offering was nothing short of success,” said Berger. “Retail accredited investors purchased shares at $0.75 and $1.15 before the IPO. Once the shares commenced trading, Emblem was trading above the $3 level.”

Although the cannabis market is burgeoning, some newcomers could wind up not being profitable for several years. Choosing the winners is not always an exact science. Investors should be wary and conduct due diligence since popular stocks are not always profitable.

“Cannabis is an emerging market and as an investment it is a once in three generation opportunity that is barely through its first inning,” Spatafora said. “Just like dot com investors needed to pick their spots to invest in, people should not make just any marijuana investment.”

Investing in an early stage company is often riskier, said Berger.

“While the cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry in the world, leaning to an influx in the number of cannabis companies going public, we have seen several highly anticipated IPOs not live up to expectations and burn through its working capital before being able to deliver on its promises,” he said. “Investors need to look into the company’s balance sheet and determine if it has enough capital to execute on its plan and to make sure its deploying capital to the right places and not on management’s salaries.”

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Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

Mike Adams, The Fresh Toast

Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

This post originally appeared on The Fresh Toast.

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Once the federal government finally allows medical marijuana to become a legitimate part of the healthcare industry, Big Pharma could suffer the loss of billions of dollars, a new report finds.

It seems the pharmaceutical trade has more than enough reasons to fear the legalization of marijuana, as an analysis conducted by the folks at New Frontier Data predicts the legal use of cannabis products for ailments ranging from chronic pain to seizures could cost marketers of modern medicine somewhere around $4 billion per year.

The report was compiled using a study released last year from the University of Georgia showing a decrease in Medicare prescriptions in states where medical marijuana is legal. The study, which was first outlined by the Washington Post, was largely responsible for stirring up the debate over how a legitimate cannabis market might be able to reduce the national opioid problem. It found that medical marijuana, at least with respect to those drugs for which it is considered an alternative treatment, was already costing pill manufactures nearly $166 million annually.

Researchers at New Frontier identified nine key areas where medical marijuana will do the most damage to the pharmaceutical market — castrating drug sales for medicines designed to treat anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, nerve pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Tourette syndrome and glaucoma.

By digging deep into each condition, researchers found that if cannabis was used an alternative treatment in only a small percentage of cases, it could strip in upwards of $5 billion from pharmaceutical industry’s $425 billion market.

Although that may not sound like much of a dent, John Kagia, executive vice president of industry analytics for New Frontier, said, “The impact of medical cannabis legalization is not going to be enormously disruptive to the pharmaceutical industry.”

The report specifically calls out drug giant Pfizer Inc, suggesting that medical marijuana could suck a half billion dollars from its $53 billion in annual sales revenue.

It is distinctly possible that the latest report paints an accurate portrait of the impact medical marijuana could have on the pharmaceutical trade — that is, unless the drug manufactures decide to get in on the cannabis business.

GW Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics are already developing cannabis-based medications that are set to come to market in the near future. Depending how medicinal cannabis regulations eventually shake out with the federal government, it is conceivable that the medical marijuana programs that we have come to know would disappear, with the pharmaceutical companies being the only ones profiting from this alternative medicine.

Some experts say federal legalization would change the cannabis industry in ways that would be unsatisfactory to most in the business.

Be careful what you ask for.

More Mike Adams.

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Big Court Defeat For Marijuana Despite Record Tax Harvests

 

 

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Should marijuana businesses pay tax on gross profits or net profits? It sounds like a silly question. Virtually every business in every country pays tax only on net profits, after expenses. But the topsy-turvy rules for marijuana seem to defy logic. And taxes are clearly a big topic these days under both federal and burgeoning state law.

Many observers and legislators suggested that legalizing marijuana would mean huge tax revenues. With legalized medical marijuana now giving way to more and more states legalizing recreational use, the cash hauls look ever more alluring. Washington state regulators say the state collected $65 million in first-year taxes from recreational marijuana sales in just 12 months on cannabis sales of over $260 million from June 2014 to June 2015. In Colorado, the governor’s office estimated that it would collect $100 million in taxes from the first year of recreational marijuana.

In the end, Colorado’s 2014 tax haul for recreational marijuana was $44 million, causing some to say that Colorado’s marijuana money is going up in smoke. Still, that isn’t bad for the first year. Colorado was first to regulate marijuana production and sale, so other governments are watching. Colorado also collected sales tax on medical marijuana and various fees, for a total of about $76 million. Still, not all sales are going through legal channels.

Now, in another blow to the budding industry, is the IRS has convinced the influential Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that marijuana dispensaries cannot deduct business expenses, must pay taxes on 100% of their gross income. The case, Olive v. Commissioner, was an appeal from a U.S. Tax Court decision. Martin Olive sold medical marijuana at the Vapor Room, using vaporizers so patients do not even have to smoke.

But even good records won’t make vaporizers or drug paraphernalia deductible. The Ninth Circuit upheld the Tax Court ruling that §280E prevents legal medical marijuana dispensaries from deducting ordinary and necessary business expenses. Under federal tax law, the Vapor Room is a trade or business that is trafficking in controlled substances prohibited by federal law.

Indeed, the New York Times had stressed that legal marijuana faces another federal hurdle when it comes to taxes. The problem is major, for federal law trumps state law. Even legal medical marijuana businesses continue to have big federal income tax problems. It is a classic Catch 22–tax evasion if they don’t report, and a risk of criminal prosecution if they do. More imminent, though, is the risk of being bankrupted by their IRS tax bill.

On the question whether marijuana businesses should pay tax on their net or gross profits, the tax code says the latter. Indeed, Section 280E of the tax code denies even legal dispensaries tax deductions, because marijuana remains a federal controlled substance. The IRS says it has no choice but to enforce the tax code.
One common answer to this dilemma is for dispensaries to deduct expenses from other businesses distinct from dispensing marijuana. If a dispensary sells marijuana and is in the separate business of care-giving, for example, the care-giving expenses are deductible. If only 10% of the premises is used to dispense marijuana, most of the rent is deductible. Good record-keeping is essential, but there is only so far one can go. For example, in the case of the Vapor Room and Martin Olive, with only one business, the courts ruled that Section 280E precluded Mr. Olive’s deductions.

Recently, the IRS issued guidance about how taxpayers “trafficking in a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances”—by which the IRS means Marijuana dealers–can determine their cost of goods sold. After all, you have to report your profit, but how do you do that? If you buy goods for $10 and resell them for $20, your profit is $10. Your cost of goods sold is $10.

The IRS guidance (ILM 201504011) is complex, but tries to answer how dealers can determine cost of goods sold, as well as whether the IRS auditing a dealer can make them change. There is considerable tax history in the IRS missive. The IRS is clear that you can deduct only what the tax law allows you to deduct. The trouble started in 1982, when Congress enacted § 280E. It prohibits deductions, but not for cost of goods sold.

Most businesses don’t want to capitalize costs, since claiming an immediate deduction is easier and faster. In the case of marijuana businesses, the incentive is the reverse. So the IRS says it is policing the line between the costs that are part of selling the drugs and others.

Sure, deduct wages, rents, and repair expenses attributable to production activities. They are part of the cost of goods sold. But don’t deduct wages, rents, or repair expenses attributable to general business activities or marketing activities that are not part of cost of goods sold.

2013′s proposed Marijuana Tax Equity Act would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and allow it to be taxed–at a whopping 50%. The bill would impose a 50% excise tax on cannabis sales, plus an annual occupational tax on workers in the field of legal marijuana. Incredibly, though, with what currently amounts to a tax on gross revenues with deductions being disallowed by Section 280E, perhaps it would be an improvement. More recently, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Co.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Or.) have suggested a phased 10% rate here, ramping up to 25% in five years.

For alerts to future tax articles, follow me on Forbes. You can reach me at [email protected]. This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.

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