Top cannabis stock picks for 2021

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Happy Friday readers,

Never a dull week in the cannabis (and psychedelics industry). The biggest headline news this week is Atai’s monstrous $157 million raise. CEO Florian Brand told Yeji the company is “doubling down” on its strategy — you can read her report here. 

Beyond that, I asked Jason Wild of JW Asset Management for his top cannabis picks for 2021. In short, he’s bullish on US cannabis. 

And last, I had the chance to chat with five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber about his new $100 million cannabis equity fund and his push to make cannabis more inclusive from the start. 

“I don’t know of any other industry where this type of vested interest has been made to make change,” Webber told me. “It hasn’t been in tech — tech is lucrative. It damn sure wasn’t in cotton, it wasn’t in transportation.”

You can read more from him here. 

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

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

The biggest private psychedelics company in the world just raised a record $157 million, pushing psychedelics further into the mainstream

Just months after breaking the record for the largest funding round in the psychedelics field, Atai Life Sciences has raised another $157 million to continue to develop treatments for mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and anxiety. CEO Florian Brand told Insider the money will be used to “double down” on the company’s strategy.

A hedge-fund manager who returned 146% last year shares the 6 cannabis stocks he’s betting on now and why he’s bullish on the industry

Jason Wild had a pretty good year last year.

His hedge fund, JW Asset Management, returned over 146% in 2020 — buoyed by significant investments in the cannabis industry. In an interview, Wild shared the six cannabis stocks he’s betting on, including Trulieve and TerrAscend, Green Thumb Industries, and more. 

Former NBA All Star Chris Webber is launching a $100 million fund to help minority entrepreneurs get ahead in cannabis. He told why it’s crucial to build an inclusive industry from the start.

Former five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber has a new mission: Helping minority entrepreneurs access the economic boom created by the wave of cannabis legalization sweeping the US.

Webber is launching a $100 million fund to invest in Black and other minority cannabis entrepreneurs. He told Insider he has a unique opportunity to ensure that the cannabis industry is inclusive from the start.

Executive Moves

  • Private MSO Parallel announced on Monday that Walgreen’s veteran Jeremy Kunicki would be coming aboard as the company’s new CFO.
  • California cannabis distributor HERBL said on Wednesday that it had appointed Chemistry Holdings founder Josh Held as chief strategy officer.
  • Psychedelics company NovaMind has appointed Joseph Braganza as an SVP in charge of the company’s M&A strategy.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Atai Life Sciences is reportedly making plans to go public as early as Q2 of this year, per Bloomberg.
  • The Valens Company announced that it has acquired LYF Food Technologies Inc. through a C$24.9 million cash and stock transaction. 
  • CBD company Charlotte’s Web announced a five-year strategic purchase option on Stanley Brothers USA for $8 million. The move positions Charlotte’s Web to enter the US market.
  • Green Thumb Industries is partnering with Cann, a startup that makes low dose THC and CBD beverages, to distribute Cann products in legal states across the US.
  • Canopy Growth is launching its line of CBD-infused beverages, Quatreau, in the US.
  • OTC-listed cannabis company MariMed closed a $46 million financing facility with Hadron Healthcare Fund to help repay the company’s debt, among other goals. 
  • Comedian Seth Rogen’s cannabis company, Houseplant, launched in the US this week with a line of stylish houseware goods and a selection of strains he says were “handpicked” or “hand-smoked” by him. 
  • Canadian cannabis company MediPharm Labs raised $29 million through a bought deal. 
  • Jay-Z’s cannabis company, Monogram, launched an eye-catching ad campaign developed by the agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address. 

Policy moves

  • Virginia lawmakers on Saturday approved a bill that would legalize adult-use cannabis in 2024.
  • New Mexico’s House passed a cannabis legalization bill that activists say puts social justice and equity first. 
  • A powerful Washington, DC council committee passed a bill that would establish a legal cannabis market in the city.
  • Legalization in South Dakota appears in trouble after facing opposition from Gov. Kristi Noem and other lawmakers. In February, South Dakota’s attorney general abandoned his effort to defend the voter-approved bill. On Thursday, the state’s House State Affairs Committee voted to kill the current version of the bill. 

Science and research

  • A new study from GemmaCert, an Israeli cannabis testing lab, found that up to 45% of legal cannabis strains had THC potency mislabelled. 
  • Marijuana and methamphetamine seizures plummeted in the early part of the pandemic, according to a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Those seizures peaked in August 2020, pointing to how the illicit drug supply chain shifts. 

Chart of the week

Psychedelics companies saw a rush of private funding in 2020, according to data from CB Insights. In 2020, private psychedelics startups raised $448 million globally, compared to just $95 million in 2019. Insider rounded up the 14 psychedelics startups that raised the most capital in 2020:

What we’re reading

MedMen co-founders Bierman, Modlin return to cannabis industry with different California company (Marijuana Business Daily)

Pot or Alcohol, Barron’s Has Never Favored Prohibition (Barron’s)

Merrick Garland, cannabis policy, and restorative justice (Brookings)

Aphria-Tilray cannabis merger talks overcame pandemic pause, rival bidder and other hurdles, proxy reveals (Marijuana Business Daily)

Should marijuana legalization limit THC? Probably not, but it’s happening (Forbes)

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