Tilray CEO says he expects U.S. federal cannabis legalization within two years

Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Canadian cannabis company Tilray, is optimistic that the United States will take steps toward federal legalization of marijuana in the near future, a move that will shake the industry forever.

“I expect that pressure from the North and the South will ultimately lead the U.S. to implement a federal program here at some point in the next 18 to 24 months,” Kennedy said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Mexico published regulations for medical cannabis use and Kennedy is confident that Mexico and Canada’s positive stance on marijuana will put more pressure on the U.S.

Tilray announced Tuesday that it has been chosen as a supplier of medical cannabis for experimentation in France by the country’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products.

Since 2017, the company has been selling its cannabis products in Germany. With the French program getting underway in the first quarter, Kennedy is optimistic that other European countries will implement medical marijuana programs as well.

“While we are excited for our opportunities in Germany and France, we expect to see additional opportunities for our European businesses in the coming quarters,” Kennedy told CNBC in an interview.

Tilray has cannabis production licenses in Canada and Portugal, where their main cannabis facility is located.

Why are gummies the most popular weed edible?

The world of edible cannabis has seen a lot of innovation over the years. What started as being all about weed brownies, homemade cookies, and rice krispies treats has moved toward a focus on mints, tarts, and candies. There are even novelty edibles like beef jerky and potato chips.

But one type of edible has risen to the top of every legal market’s charts: gummies. What is it about these little weed chewables that makes them such a hot commodity?

Why gummies are great

For one, gummies are delicious and easy to eat quickly. The same reason we love Gushers or Sour Patch Kids is the same reason we love Smokiez Sour Blue Raspberry Fruit Chews. But past their deliciousness, there are a few technical aspects that make them great too.

They’re easy to dose

When it comes to accurately dosing cannabis, you’ll find no easier method than gummies. They’re easy to make uniform and get an exact dose every time. Edibles like chocolate and fruits can be different sizes making consistency hard and making it more difficult for them to pass potency testing.

You can eat them anytime

You have to be in the mood to eat a brownie or a couple cookies. Pretty much everyone’s always in the mood to consume a little candy, so gummies are great anytime. Even edibles like tarts and mints are occasional eats.

Additionally, gummies have way less calories than a brownie, cookie, or hard candy. It’s a trend that seems to be reflected outside the cannabis market. “Even Skittles is going to be coming out with a [non-cannabis product] gummy … Everyone understands what a gummy is: It’s an easy way to take a medicine, and an easy way to snack on something,” said Chef Matt Kulczycki, Edible Product Manager of California’s CannaCraft.

They preserve well over time

Over time, baked goods become old and stale. However, gummies, and candies in general, have a much longer shelf life. You probably won’t eat an old brownie you found under your car seat, but you’ll definitely eat a gummy in a wrapper you found in an old coat pocket.

They won’t melt up and die

Chocolates will melt up in your car, ruining the cannabinoids and terpenes, and weakening the effects and experience tremendously. However, gummies, especially those made with pectin over gelatin, have a much higher melting point. You can take gummies anywhere you want and not have to worry about storage.

Producing gummies vs. other edibles

weed gummies
(Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

Gummies aren’t just a fan favorite among consumers, companies that produce edibles also love them. Every gummy in a batch has to have the same THC percentage. If not, they don’t pass testing. This process is much easier with gummies than with baked goods and chocolates.

“Water, sugar, gelatin or pectin, some flavoring, something to add color; it’s definitely not rocket science. Chocolate is more artisanal. Chocolate is a very hands-on panning process. A lot of it is the handling of the chocolate, the temperature, how you’re forming the actual piece,” said Adam Grablick, Chief Operation Officer of California’s Kiva Confections.

That means it’s much easier and faster for companies to produce gummies than chocolates. On making absoluteXtracts’ vegan gummies versus Satori’s chocolates, Chef Kulczycki said: “Right now we can have five or six employees manufacturing gummies in a day, and we’re doing 3,000 units per day, so that’s 60,000 individual gummies we’re going to be able to make today, in 11 hours. When we do our chocolate panning process, one person could take four days to do our chocolate strawberries.”

Different types of gummies, now and in the future

There are several different types of gummies and many production methods behind those types. Some are made with pectin, some with gelatin; some are made with distillate, some with live resin; some have additives like melatonin, and some have natural plant terpenes. It’s all a reflection of the modern state of cannabis: figuring out exact formulas and recipes to deliver specific effects on a consistent basis.

In the near future, we are sure to see an expansion of cannabinoids, terpenes, and production methods of gummies. “I think we’re going to start seeing THCV gummies; Delta-8 gummies are a big one too. And I think you will see in the future, CBN and CBG. Right now the costs are so high on those that it’s hard to add [CBN and CBG] to the gummies, said Chef Kulczycki.

“Our number one product at Kiva is our sleep gummy. It’s made with 5mg of THC, one milligram of CBN, plus chamomile and lavender, and some other indica-like terpenes,” said Grablick.

Coming soon, Grablick told me he just launched a strain-specific live resin confection called Lost Farm, and in Q1 Kiva is rolling out a fruit chew similar to Starburst and Mamba. “It’ll be interesting to see if that form does just as well as a gummy,” he said. “We believe it will.”

Has San Francisco reached its COVID peak?

While California’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be bumpy amid the deadliest days of the pandemic, the latest numbers on new cases and hospitalizations from the San Francisco Department of Public Health reveal the surge may be easing in the city.

In a Tuesday update, San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said while the number of new daily cases remains higher than before the explosion of cases after Thanksgiving, the most recent data shows promising signs. The case rate is currently 38.3 per 100,000 people, down slightly from the high of 42.5 new cases per 100,000 on Jan. 10.

“This trend is promising, but it’s too early to know for sure so we simply can not let our guard down,” Colfax said. “Our current number per 100,000 is far higher than our summer surge when we peaked at just 15.4, but we are still doing better than California as a whole where the average is 100.9 per 100,000.” (Note: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate per 100,000 in California was 90.3 as of Jan. 20.)

The post-holiday rise in hospitalizations is beginning to trend down “just barely” with the weekly change in hospitalization rate declining by 1%, Colfax said.

“That rate in change is important because it reflects the demand put on our hospitals for acute care and ICU beds to care for COVID-19 and other patients,” he noted. “Again, this is promising and hopeful news.”

With cases finally starting to decline slightly and the distribution of vaccines slowly increasing, some may be wondering: Did San Francisco hit its peak?

“I think the answer is yes,” said UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford. “We’ve seen the positivity rate start to go down. We’ve seen cases start to go down. We’re seeing hospitalizations go down. We’ll start to see ICU admissions go down and then we’ll see deaths go down. So I say yeah, probably. It think we’re on our way down.”

Rutherford said this with caution, noting that numbers can easily increase if people stop wearing masks and social distancing. “You have to be careful,” he warned. “It could bounce right back up.”

Health officials are in a race against time, not only as patients continue to become sick and die but as the virus mutates into forms that can spread much more easily.

An L452R variant has been found in at least a dozen counties and was identified in several large outbreaks in Santa Clara, San Francisco and Monterey counties.

Rutherford believes the new variants are unlikely to cause a major surge in San Francisco if people wear their face coverings, don’t gather and follow public health guidelines.

“What causes outbreaks is people not wearing masks and not socially distancing and getting into crowded situations,” he said. “If it’s one strain or another, they all cause outbreaks. Some may transmit more than others, but at the end of the day it’s all behavioral.”

UCSF infectious disease doctor Dr. Peter Chin-Hong agreed numbers are trending slightly down, but he’s hesitant to say S.F. hit its highest peak; Chin-Hong is worried about the L452R variant, which is increasingly being identified in cases.

“That rate of increase is making me worry it’s going to be the U.K. variant all over again,” Chin-Hong said. “It’s becoming a larger part of the genotype scene. It suggests it’s taking over the COVID.”

He said he also worries people will become less vigilant in following the public health orders. “Just when it’s getting warm and the vaccine hope is there, I’m worried we’ll slack off,” said Chin-Hong, noting that people will still need to wear masks after they’ve been vaccinated. “Until there’s consistency in the numbers, I can’t say for certain we’ve hit the peak.”

Across California, infection indicators are “all showing trends in the right direction,” state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. A surge following Christmas and New Year’s had been feared on top of the surge after Halloween and Thanksgiving that drove case levels and hospitalizations to record levels.

Only a couple of weeks ago, it was feared some hospitals in Los Angeles and other hard-hit areas might have to begin rationing care as they ran out of surge capacity as regular beds were filled.

But statewide hospitalizations are down 8.5% over 14 days, with the number of intensive care patients also easing. Hospitals that had been seeing 3,500 new patients each day are now seeing 2,500 to 2,900 daily admissions — still distressingly high, but “quite a significant reduction,” Ghaly said.

When Cannabis Came Out: Remembering Prop 215

Recently, SF Weekly journalist Veronica Irwin went out on a limb and exclaimed, “It’s because of gay activism that Californians have a regulated cannabis market.”

She rattled off a list of famous gays, without genuinely honoring the foot soldiers, not the superstars of the movement. Guys like Michael Koehn, 74, and David Goldman, 69, a gay couple, who met in 1988 and married in 2008. Both have spread the ganja gospel far and wide, and both have benefitted from recreational and medicinal weed. When I visited them in the Castro District, they shared their favorite cannabis products with me—along with their own individual stories that tell much of the bigger picture.

After Michael Koehn graduated from the University of Wisconsin, he worked for the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department. He tells me he’s never been in the closet as a gay man. “I didn’t think to be secretive, though coming out caused friction with my mom,” he says. “I explained to her, ‘I have to be who I am.’” But while Koehn was out of the gay closet, he was in the cannabis closet. “So was everyone else,” he says. “We smoked on the sly, brands like Acapulco Gold.”

Dave Goldman, an ex-New Yorker and a graduate of the University of Chicago, taught generations of school kids in Marin. “In the 1970s, to be openly gay was fraught with perils,” he tells me. “Jobs were threatened.” Goldman first used cannabis at 18. He hasn’t ever stopped. “It’s been downhill all the way,” he says.

Goldman wisely kept cannabis separate from his day job. “I didn’t socialize with colleagues,” he says. In San Francisco, all through the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, Goldman lost friends. So did Koehn, who attributes his survival to a half-dozen factors. “I have good genes, I was in support groups and I had good luck,” he says. “Cannabis gave me an appetite, eased my nausea and provided relief from pain.”

In the wake of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and with savvy lobbying by Dennis Peron and others, plus nifty maneuvering by San Francisco D.A. Terence Hallinan, Californians approved medical marijuana in 1996. After Prop. 215 passed, Koehn and Goldman were out of the cannabis closet for good.

With Covid-19, they practice all the prudent things. “This is our second pandemic,” Koehn says. “Two more than we wanted.” Covid-19 hasn’t deterred them from their cannabis activism, which links them to NORML, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the San Francisco dispensary, Green Cross, where they sit on the board of directors. “Cannabis isn’t just about getting high,” Goldman says. “It’s about everyone getting educated about marijuana.” This winter, Goldman and Koehn fly to Florida for much needed R and R. Bon voyage, guys.

Jonah Raskin is the author of “Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War.”

2 Top Marijuana Stocks to Buy in January

Marijuana stocks have been on fire lately. Many investors are hoping that a Democratic-controlled senate will steer the U.S. on the path to decriminalization — or even to legalization of the drug at the federal level. If — and it’s a big “if” — legalization did happen, it would create the world’s biggest cannabis industry with over $100 billion in annual sales.

In the past month, the Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences ETF(TSX:HMMJ), a leading indicator of pot stocks, is already up over 12%. That’s just below the S&P 500’s 12.8% return over the same period. Given all the enthusiasm, let’s take a look at two of the best marijuana companies to choose from this January. 


1. Aphria

Aphria (NASDAQ:APHA) and medical cannabis company Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) will merge this year to form the biggest marijuana grower in the world, with nearly 900 million Canadian dollars in annual revenue. The combined entity is well positioned to expand into the U.S. cannabis market, with its line of beverages and cannabidiol (CBD) products available at tens of thousands of retail locations throughout North America.

During the fiscal second quarter of 2021 (ended Nov. 30, 2020), Aphria increased its sales by 33% year over year to CA$160.5 million. Simultaneously, its cash production cost per gram of cannabis fell 6% quarter over quarter to CA$0.79. After adjusting for changes in its convertibles’ fair value, one-time transaction costs, and share compensation expenses, the company posted a surprise profit of CA$0.01 per share.

It is quite remarkable for a pot grower to become profitable while it is expanding. The company’s free cash flow also improved by as much as CA$70 million over the past quarter.

Right now, Aphria sees significant demand for its Canadian pot business as well. It managed to sell approximately 26,730 kilograms of cannabis in Q2 2021, up from 20,880 kg sold in the previous quarter. Given the potential for its momentum to continue, I highly recommend marijuana investors pick up shares of Aphria, even while it’s trading at about eight times revenue.


Pot grower HEXO (NYSE:HEXO) sports the largest market share in the Canadian province of Quebec. It, too, is eyeing the multi-billion cannabis opportunity south of the border. Currently, HEXO runs a joint venture with Molson Coors Brewing Company (NYSE:TAP) to develop its line of CBD-infused beverages. The partnership’s CBD sparkling water was just launched in Colorado.

Despite being a relatively new venture, its beverages are already wildly successful. HEXO now holds a 54% market share in Canada’s cannabis drinks industry, a title previously held by Canopy Growth (NASDAQ:CGC).

Back in the first quarter of 2021 (ended Oct. 31), HEXO’s beverage revenue totaled CA$3 million, a sizable increase over the CA$2 million it brought in during the previous quarter. Moreover, the company managed to break even in terms of gross profit, compared to a negative gross margin of 121% in the fourth quarter of 2020.


It also should be noted that HEXO is more than doubling its sales year after year and is very close to breaking even. Furthermore, its CA$150 million in cash more than offsets the company’s CA$59 million in debt and convertibles. Trading at about 9 times revenue, HEXO’s growth premium is well worth it. Investors should expect the company to break past its earnings estimate as it makes the most of its leading role with its pot beverage brands.


Here’s The Marijuana Stock You’ve Been Waiting For

A little-known Canadian company just unlocked what some experts think could be the key to profiting off the coming marijuana boom.

And make no mistake – it is coming.

Cannabis legalization is sweeping over North America – 15 states plus Washington, D.C., have all legalized recreational marijuana over the last few years, and full legalization came to Canada in October 2018.

And one under-the-radar Canadian company is poised to explode from this coming marijuana revolution.

Because a game-changing deal just went down between the Ontario government and this powerhouse company…and you need to hear this story today if you have even considered investing in pot stocks.