CULTIVATED: Wealth managers open up to cannabis stocks, top 25 cannabis startups, and more.

Chemdawg marijuana plants grow at a facility in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada October 29, 2019.

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Chemdawg marijuana plants grow at a facility in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada October 29, 2019.
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REUTERS/Blair Gable

Welcome to Cultivated, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.

Happy Friday everyone,

The only constant in cannabis right now is that things move quickly – and what a week it’s been.

There was a slew of earnings this week, including Kush Bottles, a maker of cannabis packaging, and Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR), a cannabis-focused real estate investment trust, or REIT.

Their earnings were two bright spots among a backdrop of slumping cannabis stocks, many of which have lost over 50% this year. IIPR operates on a sale-leaseback model, which in turn, helps cash-starved cannabis companies with capital. That’s a good business to be in right now – the stock gained over 10% after it reported Q3 earnings on Wednesday, and continues to climb.

For Kush Bottles, Cowen analyst Vivien Azer maintained her outperform rating, citing the company’s 186% revenue growth and growing CBD business. But Azer expects Kush Bottles’ vape business to decline by 20-25% next year, amid a spate of lung injuries linked to vaping.

What else?

Your favorite rapper and Toronto’s prodigal son – not me, Drake – entered into a partnership with Canopy Growth. Analysts were mostly positive about the move, but one Jefferies analyst said that while Drake’s star power is a good branding opportunity, celebrity brands “are not a key driver of shareholder value.”

Next week, we’ll be watching Canopy Growth and Cronos Group’s earnings. We’re also going to be reporting on some interesting new cannabis research findings, and we’ll be taking a pulled-back look at the cannabis sector slowdown.

If you want a discount to BI Prime to read my stories, sign up here!

-Jeremy

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

Some cannabis stocks now have the green light from US wealth managers like Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and Wells Fargo. We have details on firms’ policies.

The burgeoning legal cannabis industry has seen a surge in initial public offerings and dealmaking. But financial advisers at some of the largest US wealth managers hadn’t been permitted to allow their clients to buy and sell cannabis stocks – until recently.

Business Insider has learned that some of the biggest wealth-management firms in the US – including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo – have set up processes to allow financial advisers to invest on clients’ behalf in certain Canadian cannabis stocks.

In some cases, advisers at different firms can’t make the investment unless clients ask first. In others, advisers must get the firm’s approval to make such a recommendation, and a decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

Investors are placing huge bets on marijuana as more states legalize THC. Here are the top 25 cannabis startups that have raised the most VC cash.

Cannabis startups have raised closed to $2 billion of venture capital cash in 2019, up from just $17 million in 2013.

As part of a broader effort to track where money is flowing in the cannabis industry – and who’s profiting off these deals – Business Insider put together a list of the top venture-backed startups in the sector, ordered by amount raised, using data from Crunchbase and PitchBook.

A martech startup has raised $3.5 million to bring cannabis and CBD ads to publishers like BuzzFeed, Hearst, and USA Today

Mainstream media has largely shied away from cannabis ads because of regulatory hurdles. But a martech startup called Vana claims it has proprietary age-gating and state-gating technology that can place cannabis and CBD ads that are compliant.

It’s been running such ads across its publisher network that includes BuzzFeed, Hearst, and USA Today. Vana says its technology gives cannabis brands a new way to reach consumers.

Capital raises, M&A activity, partnerships, and launches

  • Columbia Care has entered into an agreement to acquire The Green Solution, a Colorado dispensary chain, in a cash and stock transaction valued at $140 million.
  • Merida Merger Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), closed a $120 million IPO. Shares began trading on the NASDAQ on November 5 and began trading on the NEO Exchange on November 8. EarlyBird Capital acted as the sole bookrunner.
  • Drake and Canopy Growth have entered into a joint venture, called More Life Growth Company, a fully licensed cannabis producer and retailer based in Toronto.
  • CBD company CaniBrands closed a $5 million funding round. The company will offer its products through Amazon Prime.
  • TSX-listed MediPharm Labs has filed an application to list its shares on the NASDAQ.

Executive moves

  • Vireo Health names Ex-Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton executive chairman. Vireo is the US cannabis company Linton hinted at when I interviewed him back in September.
  • Hedge fund manager Richard Jacinto ll has joined Viridian Capital’s advisory board.
  • GrowGeneration Corp has appointed Tony Sullivan as EVP and COO. Sullivan was previously the COO at Forman Mills.
  • Chris Walsh is taking over as CEO of MJBizDaily on January 1, replacing Cassandra Farrington. Farrington will become the board chair.
  • MediPharm Labs has appointed Robert Kwon as CFO. He joins MediPharm from the Weston Group.
  • Namaste Technologies has named Annie Holmes its new CFO. Holmes replaces Ken Ngo, who is leaving the company.
  • Field Trip Ventures adds Michael Ehlers as a strategic advisor. Ehlers is a neuroscientist and chief science officer at Apple Tree Partners.
  • Sunniva CFO David Lyle has resigned from his position. He’ll be replaced by David Weinmann, the company’s Global Controller.

Chart of the week

Here’s some interesting data from a recent BDS Analytics report. The data looks at which cannabis companies rake in the most from their active dispensaries. As you can see, Ayr Strategies is well ahead of the pack:

cannabis revenue per active license

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Ruobing Su/Business Insider

Stories from around the web

All dried up: How Bay Street cashed in on the cannabis frenzy before the carnage (The Globe and Mail)

The pot industry is scrambling for cash (The Wall Street Journal)

Too much weed: Canadian cannabis producers are sitting on a mountain of inventory, and it’s making some industry watchers nervous (Financial Post)

Philadelphia police are searching more cars for marijuana – but finding less of it, critics say (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Cannabis-infused wedding purveyors look to shed pot’s Cheech and Chong image (The Toronto Star)

As Canadian weed companies ramp up in Germany, patients suffer (Vice)

Also, check out this cool short documentary about THC-infused beverages, from HNGRY: #futureofalcohol

Did I miss anything? Have a tip? Just want to chat? Send me a note at jberke@businessinsider.com or find me on twitter @jfberke.