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The Ebbu Files: A WeedWeek Exclusive

We've got a scoop today:

"A high-profile Colorado marijuana start-up misled prospective investors and promoted an investment structure that may have violated state laws, according to internal company documents and emails leaked to WeedWeek. The company, Ebbu, subsequently rewarded its investors when it sold its assets in a cash-and-stock deal worth roughly $250 million.

"Publicly available court filings and press accounts suggest fundraising irregularities at Ebbu, but these apparently never attracted scrutiny from Colorado regulators or law enforcement. The situation raises questions about how effectively the state enforces its marijuana investment laws. Ebbu’s story shows why money of unknown origin — akin to “dark money” in politics — could be a significant problem in the fast-growing and federally illegal marijuana industry.

I previously wrote about Ebbu in 2016 and in February 2019.
WeedWeek, Pando


Impeachment/Ukraine: The Weed Angle

Steve Tsang
This ferret didn't work with Giuliani in Ukraine

Two associates of President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, were arrested and charged with campaign finance violations involving REC business licenses. A federal indictment explains the alleged complicated scheme. 🌴WeedWeek California has more.

Former Texas Congressman Pete Sessions (R), an ardent prohibitionist in the last Congress, who lost his seat in November, is suspected of being among the beneficiaries. Sessions, no relation to Jeff, is now running again in a different Texas district.
CNN 2x, Talking Points Memo, Dallas Morning News

  • As mayor of New York City, Giuliani was known for his dislike of ferrets. (It was a simpler time.)

According to the indictment, (Pt. 21), the charged individuals "took steps to hide" to identity of an investor in their Nevada REC business.

My new story, "The Ebbu Files," discusses how some investors with reputational concerns seek to mask their cannabis connections. For at least a year and a half, I've been asking Colorado officials -- past and present -- about this issue. None have been willing to discuss it, or even acknowledge it exists.

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Mitch McConnell and CannaBiz Play Nice in SoCal

The Senate Majority Leader enjoyed California

During a visit to southern California, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) met with cannabiz executives and toured at least one cannabis related business. McConnell opposes legalization but was the force behind federal hemp legalization in last years farm bill, a potential boon for farmers in his home state of Kentucky.

  • The industry was happy to welcome him. The key issue right now is banking: After the House passed the SAFE Banking Act last month. Should the bill pass the Senate banking committee, chaired by Idaho's Mike Crapo (R), it will need McConnell's support to pass the Senate.
  • What the solid Politico article doesn't quite get, and McConnell almost certainly does, is that the cannabis industry and the GOP are natural allies.
  • In light of the vape crisis, former FDA chair Dr. Scott Gottlieb essentially called for descheduling cannabis in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
  • There's also still a lot of legalization opponents in the Republican base tweeted conservative pundit Laura Ingrahm. She warned industry money would support Democrats. Perhaps, she'll reassess when she realizes it could help Republicans.
  • NORML rates Crapo a D, but he has expressed support for some kind of banking bill.
  • McConnell has not expressed support for such a bill, but the banking issue also affects his hemp farmers, which may make him more sympathetic.

Marijuana Moment has the scoop from inside one of McConnell's fundraisers meetings.

  • McConnell mostly listened. He called marijuana a "complicated issue" and while he didn't make any commitments, he seemed to grasp the industry's frustration around banking.
  • “We put our best face forward,” a meeting attendee said. “We were strategic by not forcing him into a corner” by pressing him.
  • This section was a little more political than WeedWeek usually gets. But as I've said here, here, here and here, the industry is at its least attractive when it's kissing Republicans' asses.


As Vape Crisis Grinds On: A New Theory

Rolling Stone has an update on the vape crisis which has now sickened more than 1,300, and killed 23.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) defended his four month ban on the sale of THC and nicotine vape products.

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MedMen's PharmaCann Bid Falls Apart

More red than green lately

MedMen's $682M bid for Chicago-based PharmaCann fell apart this week amid industry turbulence and cratering stock prices. For California retailer MedMen, PharmaCann was supposed to be an entry point into the Illinois REC market, which opens on Jan 1.
Chicago Tribune

  • MedMen's stock is trading around $1.58 per share. Last October it reached $9.
  • MedMen is walking away with one of PharmaCann's two Illinois grows, a shop and a retail license.

In response to a tough parody on South Park, MedMen CEO Adam Bierman said he was "humbled to be considered the most culturally relevant cannabis brand."
Javier Hasse, Forbes

Pot stocks, most of which, like MedMen, trade in Canada, had their worst day of the year on Thursday. 🍁WeedWeek Canada has more.
@weedstreet420 - Twitte

Quick Hit

  1. 🍁WeedWeek Canada also has a great round-up of REC legalization's not so happy first birthday up north.
  2. Leafly suffered a data breach. It didn't say how many users' data was affected.
    Security Affairs


States, Feds Step Up Anti-Cannabis Corruption Efforts

State governments and the FBI are stepping up their efforts to fight cannabis-related corruption. Their pushes come after a top Nevada regulator lost his job amid allegations of being too cozy with the industry and a Massachusetts mayor recently pleaded not guilty to cannabis-related federal bribery charges.
MJBiz, Nevada Independent, Boston Herald


New Frontier Goes Shopping

Cannabis data firm New Frontier Data announced two acquisitions this week.
Mr. Web

  • It bought Zepyr an AI platform used to discover and profile customers in a cash and stock deal worth more than $10M.
  • Zefyr helps cannabis companies answer questions like where ideal customers are located and the products they prefer.
  • New Frontier also bought lifestyle content company Civilized for an undisclosed sum.

Quick Hit

  1. The Telegraph finds eight must-have apps for cannabis entrepreneurs.


Psychedelics Get 60 Minutes Close Up

On 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper delved into the potential for psychedelics to be used as medicine.
CBS News

  • The idea of using psychedelics to treat depression, PTSD and other afflictions is gaining currency in serious medical circles. No doubt it still sounds wacky to some people, but then again, MED sounded a lot wackier to a lot more people a few years ago before Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Weed documentaries on CNN.


Quest for a Cannabis Breathalyzer Continues

The Hound

California company Hound Labs showed off The Hound, its new cannabis breathalyzer, which could be on the market as soon as next year.
Philadelphia Inquirer

A few weeks ago in the Guardian, I wrote that while nobody recommends driving high, it's not clear it is a problem in need of a solution. Additionally, the correlation between THC concentration in the blood and impairment is far less linear than it is with alcohol.

  • The Hound, which consists of a briefcase usit and a handhelp device, will retail for about $5,000. It is about a billion times more sensitive than an alcohol breathalzer.
  • Each test requires a $20 one-time use cartridge.
  • The company believes the market for a THC breathalyzer could be worth $10B annually. This, along with financial backing from the insurance industry, suggests Hound Labs' interests are less than perfect alignment with the cannabs industry.


Weed Flicks: The Endless Debate

A piece in Weedmaps argues every cool movie of the 1990's was a stoner flick.

"Dazed and Confused" deserves much of the credit. 🌴Donny weighs in at WeedWeek California.

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