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What we Learned After Two Years of Legalized Cannabis

Vlad Poptamas

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On October 17, 2018Canada became the first G7 nation to legalize recreational cannabis.

The federal government put the Cannabis Act in place “to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, to keep profits out of the pockets of criminals, and to protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis.”

The new legal status of cannabis in Canada presented retailers with a tremendous opportunity to become first movers in a space that was newly regulated. But setting up a legal cannabis retail business was not without its challenges.

“The cannabis industry has definitely overcome numerous challenges and evolved in the past two years, and Merrco has grown along with it,” said Fern Glowinsky, President and CEO of Merrco. “Now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, all businesses are seeking ways to offer safe supply and payment options to help protect consumers and support industry growth. Merrco has curated a unique, highly valuable ecosystem of technology partners to offer omnichannel payment solutions to the cannabis sector. We will continue investing in our payment platform and working closely with our partners as we navigate this next chapter of the industry together.”

The Cannabis Industry’s Growing Pains

When the clock struck midnight on October 17, 2018, provinces with retail stores saw huge customer line-ups, with those hoping to be among the first to buy legal recreational cannabis. Government offices also had long, virtual line-ups of businesses applying for retail licenses to sell legal cannabis. At the same time, licensed producers were navigating compliance requirements touching all aspects of the supply chain. The demand soon led to chronic supply shortages, frustrating customers and retailers alike.

Another challenge for retailers was compliance. Fulfilling the requirements of inventory management, point of sale management systems and payment processing, as well as a compliant store flow, was necessary to operating a legal cannabis retail business. Not only did retailers need to have all the vital technology systems in their stores, but all the components had to be integrated to ensure an accurate view of what’s happening across their business.

Against this backdrop, Merrco provided its payment processing solution to retailers and producers in the legal cannabis industry, quickly becoming Canada’s leading cannabis payment solution provider.

Merrco’s payment services are integrated with the leading cannabis point-of-sale, seed-to-sale and ecommerce platforms, making it simple for merchants to have robust, compliant and secure payment processing solutions in a shifting regulatory landscape, at both the federal and provincial levels.

Anne Forkutza, the VP of Strategic Partnerships for Cova said, “Despite the bumps in the road with licensing and rollout strategy in cannabis retail, it’s still incredible to be living in a country where cannabis is federally legal. It’s a privilege to even be in a situation where we can debate about all the ways our country got it wrong or right.”

What We Learned from the Pandemic

In March of 2020, the optimistic outlook for cannabis sales ran into the coronavirus pandemic which brought the country and the world to a screeching halt.

Cannabis retail stores, among other essential businesses, were allowed to remain open and had to quickly adopt social-distancing, reduced customer footprints and other in-store protective measures. In some provinces, brick-and-mortar stores were allowed to accept click-and-collect orders online with curbside pickup and home delivery.

With the new available options of customer interaction and sales channels, legal cannabis retailers discovered the power of reaching customers through their preferred access points, whether it’s shopping in stores or online; and providing convenient delivery or curbside pickup options.

Commenting on the evolving cannabis industry, Ross Lipson Cofounder and CEO of Dutchie said: “The cannabis space is extremely fast moving, and can change on a dime. It’s important to be agile and adapt to the space as it changes. The game is long and we are only in the first inning. We have to make sure that we provide long term value to customers that will stand the test of time!”

The “Future of Cannabis in Canada Report,” produced by Valens and Resonance Consultancy, studied the most important factors driving the overall cannabis purchase experience and found that: “Having a convenient/easy shopping experience is clearly the #1 driver (31%), followed by having enough product available (17%).”

A large part of making the process more convenient for consumers is to allow them to make their purchases easily, using their preferred payment method and form factor. Merrco has worked closely with cannabis retailers to keep them up and running under evolving conditions, finding the payment solutions that best suit each retailer’s needs.

As merchants went from traditional chip-and-PIN payment terminal transactions in the store to card-not-present transactions online, Merrco worked with digital menu and online ordering partners to offer customers a convenient shopping experience with curbside pickup and delivery (where provincial laws allow). Customers could now use a website or an app to see what inventory is available at different cannabis retailers, place an order and then go pick it up or have it delivered.

Despite the pandemic, cannabis sales have not suffered as they have in other business sectors, buoyed by the innovative ways that government and cannabis businesses responded to the situation. Alberta, for example, saw an increase in cannabis sales since the pandemic began. While Ontario, with its much larger population, recorded higher sales in the first four months of 2020, Alberta recorded the highest sales in the country, in April and May of 2020.

Commenting on the industry growth, Albert Kim, CEO Greenline POS said, “While Greenline POS has seen incredible growth in both the industry and our business in the past two years, I truly feel that we’re just getting started. Most provinces outside of Alberta have very low cannabis retail store densities, and business relationships could be taken to the next level with potential direct-to-retailer sales in places like BC. Consumers are continuously warming up to legal products after two years of transitioning off the gray market, and that shows in the cannabis retail sales numbers from Statistics Canada.” 

The Future Looks Bright

The cannabis business sector seems to have come out stronger after facing huge challenges. Some estimates from an Arcview Market Research report on the cannabis market in North America, predict that the total Canadian cannabis market, including medical and recreational cannabis products, will generate up to $7 billion in sales by the end of 2020, with $2 to $4 billion in the legal recreational market alone.

“It’s still early-days for cannabis, and there’s plenty of opportunity for the right products and teams to become industry main-stays. Existing operators should do their best to give innovators a chance to enter the space and make a positive impact,” said Ryan Lalonde CEO and founder of Buddi.

As the Canadian cannabis industry changes, Merrco will evolve and continue to innovate along with it. Merrco has curated a unique, highly valuable ecosystem of technology partners to offer merchants payment solutions that integrate with the leading technology solutions across the cannabis sector.

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PURA 1-for-1 Shareholder Dividend of PAOG Shares on Track

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Dallas, Texas–(Newsfile Corp. – October 30, 2020) – PAO Group, Inc. (OTC Pink: PAOG) and Puration, Inc. (OTC: Pink: PURA) today released an update on the process underway for PAOG to issue PAOG shares to PURA shareholders in a dividend distribution.

PAOG acquired a cannabis cultivation operation from PURA earlier this year in a transaction that includes issuing PAOG shares to PURA shareholders. The target distribution ratio calls for PURA shareholders receiving one share of PAOG for every one share of PURA owned.

PAOG has executed two acquisitions in recent months and managed to ramp up and organize acquired cannabis pharmaceutical research assets as necessary to execute a contract prerequisite to developing its acquired cannabis pharmaceutical research assets into an FDA approved drug. PAOG admits the dividend distribution process has lagged behind the acquisition and pharmaceutical development contract efforts. Last week, after completing the pharmaceutical development contract, PAOG management and PURA management committed to rapidly completing the dividend issuance.

Since initiating the joint rapid dividend completion effort, PAOG has filed to redomicile the company to Wyoming and increase the authorized number of shares in order to have the necessary inventory to execute the dividend distribution. PAOG has also engaged the services of the company’s transfer agent to manage the dividend distribution of PAOG stock to PURA shareholders. Once the move to Wyoming is complete, PAOG will file with the necessary financial regulatory authority to finalize the dividend details. PAOG anticipates a definitive dividend distribution announcement will be forthcoming within the next two weeks.

PAOG is excited to make PURA shareholders also PAOG shareholders.

The developing PAOG and PURA partnership includes PAOG participating in PURA’s new hemp lifestyle brand strategy, called Farmersville Brands and headquartered on a 72-acre property currently under contract for acquisition by PURA. In conjunction with PAOG’s newly acquired cultivation business, PAOG plans to build a pharmaceutical grade, indoor hemp cultivation operation and lab on PURA’s Farmersville property.

Look for more information coming soon from both PURA and PAOG.

For more information on PAO Group, visit www.paogroupinc.com.

For more information on Puration, visit www.purationinc.com.

Disclaimer/Safe Harbor:

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act. The statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events that involve risks and uncertainties. Among others, these risks include the expectation that any of the companies mentioned herein will achieve significant sales, the failure to meet schedule or performance requirements of the companies’ contracts, the companies’ liquidity position, the companies’ ability to obtain new contracts, the emergence of competitors with greater financial resources and the impact of competitive pricing. In the light of these uncertainties, the forward-looking events referred to in this release might not occur. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Contact:
Puration, Inc.
Brian Shibley,
info@aciconglomerated.com
(800) 861-1350

PAO Group, Inc.
Jim DiPrima
888-272-6472
info@pao.group

To view the source version of this press release, please visit https://www.newsfilecorp.com/release/67197

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Early Warning Report in Connection with the Sale of 5,500,000 Subordinate Voting Shares of Green Thumb Industries Inc.

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Chicago, Illinois–(Newsfile Corp. – October 30, 2020) – On October 29, 2020, RCP23, LLC (the “Seller”), a private investment holding company controlled by Benjamin Kovler, CEO and Chairman of Green Thumb Industries Inc. (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF) (the “Issuer”), sold 5,500,000 Subordinate Voting Shares of the Issuer (the “Transferred Shares”) to a third-party qualified institutional buyer at a purchase price of C$19.25 per share in a private transaction. Prior to the sale, at Seller’s request, the Issuer converted 54,805 Super Voting Shares and 49,448 Multiple Voting Shares of the Issuer previously held by the Seller into an aggregate 10,425,300 Subordinate Voting Shares per the terms of the Issuer’s Articles of Incorporation, as amended.

Following the sale, Mr. Kovler, together with his joint actors, holds beneficial ownership or control or direction over 183,254 Super Voting Shares, which represent 56.5% of the class, 0 Multiple Voting Shares, and 5,068,016 Subordinate Voting Shares, which represent less than 2.9% of the class. Each Super Voting Share carries 1,000 votes and is convertible into one Multiple Voting Share and each Multiple Voting Share carries 100 votes and is convertible into 100 Subordinate Voting Shares (each of which carries one vote).

For further information, please contact Investor Relations, Green Thumb Industries Inc., InvestorRelations@GTIgrows.com, Phone: 310-622-8257.

This press release is issued pursuant to National Instrument 62-103 – The Early Warning System and Related Take-Over Bid and Insider Reporting Issues, which requires an early warning report to be filed on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) containing additional information with respect to the foregoing matters. A copy of this report may be obtained by contacting Investor Relations, Green Thumb Industries Inc., InvestorRelations@GTIgrows.com, Phone: 310-622-8257.

To view the source version of this press release, please visit https://www.newsfilecorp.com/release/67179

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Special Guests and Lovers of Psychedelics Are “Coming Out of the Chemical Closet” to Celebrate New Book about MDMA — Register For Virtual Book Launch

Newsfile

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New York, New York–(Newsfile Corp. – October 30, 2020) –  Charley Wininger and his publisher Inner Traditions are welcoming the arrival of his book “Listening to Ecstasy: The Transformative Power of MDMA” with a free virtual night of storytelling on Nov 13th, 7:00 PM (Eastern Time). Members of the press are invited to join this unique event. To register click link HERE.

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Charley will be joined by several psychedelic luminaries, and hosted by comedian Sarah Rose Siskind. They will share intimate, touching and humorous stories about a time their lives were transformed by the often misunderstood underground party drug, MDMA.

In his book, “Listening to Ecstasy” Charley reveals how MDMA has enhanced his marriage both erotically and emotionally, and describes how pleasure, fun, and joy can be profound bonding and transformative experiences.

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“This is also the story of how my wife and I entered a forbidden world of drug users, and found it to be enchanted. MDMA opened up our lives to new friends, fun, and freedom. It’s also helped us navigate the aging process as we transitioned from middle age into our sixties and seventies.” – Charley Wininger

Wininger’s writing and personal narrative shows how MDMA can be a tool for healing and connection. This is why this particular psychedelic compound is being studied to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Phase 3, peer-reviewed trials taking place at research sites in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, 2020). At the current pace, MDMA will be a prescription medication in the U.S. by 2023.

In a recent Forbes article, Charley referred to MDMA as “super glue for relationships“. He and his wife are open to giving candid interviews about how MDMA helps to strengthen their connection.“It can help you connect with yourself, with your loved ones and with the world at large, [which] is especially important now when we live in a time of isolation and fear.” – Charley Wininger (Forbes)

Members of the media

  1. Check out the Charley Wininger Media Kit for quotes and downloadable images
  2. Book interview with Charley before launch (Nov. 13th)
  3. Request media review copy of Listening to Ecstasy

Please reach out to:
Alana Armstrong
Alana@alanaldous.com
Alex Krause
Alex@alanaldous.com

To view the source version of this press release, please visit https://www.newsfilecorp.com/release/67182

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