Last Week in Weed Issue 14

In this issue of Last Week in Weed, BAT takes 20% of Organigram, Mexican Congress passes ‘legalisation’ bill, & CuraLeaf purchase British-based EMMAC.

Last Week in Weed

(Issue 14)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this week’s last week in weed, we look at British American Tobacco taking a 20% stake in US cannabis company Organigram, Mexico’s lower house of Congress passing a new bill to ‘legalise’ cannabis, and the US cannabis giant CuraLeaf purchasing British-based EMMAC Life Sciences.

British American Tobacco takes stake in British cannabis company

UK-based producer of Lucky Strike and Newport cigarettes British American Tobacco (BAT) have announced that they will be taking a 20% stake in the Canadian cannabis company Organigram Holdings Inc

The investment is worth around £126million and represents a market share of 58.3million common shares in Organigram at a price of c$3.79 a share. The announcement saw the stock price of Organigram rise more than 30% from c$1.45 to c$5.07 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

As part of the transaction, the companies will enter into a Product Development Collaboration (PDC) and establish a ‘centre of excellence’ located at Organigram’s New Brunswich indoor facility. The site will handle R&D activities conducted by scientists and researchers from both companies to develop ‘next-generation adult cannabis products” with an initial focus on creating CBD products.

“Now there’s a significant injection of capital so that’s a key for us to expand our own research and development efforts and for potential market expansion as we prepare to look at international markets” –Greg Engel Chief executive Organigram 

The deal allows BAT to add its own members to Organigram’s board and time will only tell just how much influence they will have over the direction and decisions made by the Canadian cannabis producer. We do know that BAT has previously stated that they are ‘committed to providing adults with a wide range of enjoyable and less risky products’ As well as increase the number of its non-combustible product consumers to 50 million by 2030.

This isn’t the first big Tobacco and cannabis company investment. Back in 2018 US rival Altria (Marlboro) bought a 45% stake in Cronos Group for $1.8billion and more recently in 2019 UK-based Imperial Brands took a 20% stake in Canadian company Auxly worth £75million. 

Big Tobacco along with the Alcohol industry is now rather heavily invested in cornering the production and distribution of vaporised, combustible, and drinkable cannabis products. They’re seeking to utilise their vast facilities and extensive networks to outmaneuver their rivals that have emerged from the cannabis industry to supply an ever-increasing demand for cannabis and cannabis-based products. 

While this is an encouraging sign pointing towards a potential accelerating of the inevitable end to the global prohibition of cannabis. It also means that the giant corporations of the world that have for far too long had a stranglehold on many major industries will have first dibs to dominate and monopolise the emerging global cannabis industry.

Mexico inches closer to ‘legalising’ cannabis

Mexico adult-use bill passes lower house of Congress

The second story that we’ll cover this week is one we covered in the very first issue of Last Week in Weed, Mexico’s attempts to finally end the criminaliastion of cannabis consumers and create a legal and regulated adult consumption market. 

Various attempts have been made by the Mexican government to uphold the 2018 Supreme Court decision which triggered a binding precedent. That precedent is meant to force the government into creating legislation to end cannabis prohibition and provide its citizens legal access to cannabis.

In Mexican law, if the supreme court votes the same way on any given subject five times it becomes a “binding precedent” that then becomes the precedent used by all Mexican judges. Last week on March 10th we finally saw some meaningful progress on a bill as the lower house of congress passed new legislation.

The bill passed by 316-127 votes and will now be passed to the countries Senate, where the final vote will happen ahead of the revised deadline later this year. Although the government has been dragging its heels and already missed several deadlines. The Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has expressed that he is confident that the bill will be successful and signed into law.

Should the bill be passed by the Senate, a population of nearly 130 million would have access to the largest adult cannabis consumer market in the world. The passing of the Bill would also create ‘The Mexican Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis’ that would be responsible for issuing the proposed five different types of licenses required to cultivate, transport, import, export, and sell cannabis products. 

Under the proposed bill over 18’s would be allowed to consume and possess up to 28 grams of flower or equivalent purchased through licensed businesses. The bill also allows for the creation of cannabis clubs and is likely to follow the Spanish model and require the same public desecration and lack of commercial advertising. 

The cultivation of up to 6 cannabis plants at home by the individual will, however, require a permit from the government. The bill allows for the large-scale cultivation of cannabis by the nation’s farmers and includes a provision meant to prioritise indigenous groups and smaller farmers in an attempt to promote social equity. 

That being said, the combination of a great climate, cheap labor, and inevitable capitalistic greed makes Mexico a very attractive prospect for the major players from the US, Canada, and other emerging markets to monopolise.

The bill is flawed in the same way that all previous attempts to ‘legalise’ cannabis have been. It doesn’t fully remove criminal punishments for breaking arbitrary rules such as ‘over possession’ or cultivation without a license. Mexican citizens will still face fines and exploitation by the state, so it doesn’t really legalise cannabis does it? 

Ultimately, we cannot legalise cannabis, we can only end the criminalisation of individuals undertaking actions with the plant without a license or expressed governmental permission. We shouldn’t have to ask permission to access any part of nature. We should be free to cultivate whatever relationship we desire with one of our oldest plant companion species.

CuraLeaf buys EMMAC Life Sciences for $286 Million

Curaleaf enters UK market by buying EMMAC Life Sciences

The deal worth $286million was announced last Tuesday as London-based cannabis company EMMAC Life Sciences was acquired by Massachusetts-based US giant Curaleaf. At a time when many North American cannabis producers and companies are slowing their investments and roll out into Europe, Curaleaf is hedging its bets on EMMAC.

The deal will see Curaleaf buy EMMAC with just 15% cash and the remaining 85% in CuraLeaf stock – with an additional $57million will be paid upon EMMAC hitting certain performance targets. 

“This is no criticism of and Canadian companies. I know they were hampered by not being able to get into the U.S. and so they were looking for anywhere to go outside of Canada in order to grow. So they went to Europe because Europe was making noises about getting into legalizing cannabis. But timing is incredibly important and I think they were too early.” – CuraLeaf founder Boris Jordan

Curaleaf is already America’s largest cannabis company with an impressive footing in 23 US states where they have over 100 dispensaries and employ 3,800 individuals. EMMAC is an attractive buy for Curaleaf given that they were recently chosen along with five other companies to supply ‘medical cannabis’ to the French trial. 

EMMAC also has a strong position in several major European countries including Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the UK. As well as a growing presence in Israeli, where they intend to increase production capabilities significantly going forward. 

We said where’s the growth going to come from as the U.S. starts to get more penetrated?’ Growth rates will fall from triple-digits to double-digits which is still very good, but nonetheless, I wanted to see where the next frontier for growth is” – CuraLeaf founder Boris Jordan

Curaleaf has stated that they were monitoring EMMAC for about a year before negotiating a deal to buy the ‘medical cannabis’ company. They do not expect to see any ‘material revenue’ until 2023 and are happy to ‘wait five years until the European market is better established.’

The European cannabis market is predicted to skyrocket over the next few years according to research by Prohibition Partners. They estimate that the European market could be worth $2.5billion a year by 2024. A massive increase from the current one of $300million a year in 2020.

As Canopy Growth and others scale back their moves in EuropeCuraleaf will benefit from the premature entry into the market by its rivals and gain a strong footing as now most of the major European nations are now looking at finally ending cannabis prohibition. We can expect to see more companies conglomerating and consuming each other as the industry matures and new markets come on board.

Written by Simpa for


Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

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