U.S. Cannabis Firms Eye Market Debut in Canada

Article by Andrew Willis and Christina Pellegrini

EXCLUSIVE U.S. cannabis firms eye market debut in Canada ANDREW WILLIS AND CHRISTINA PELLEGRINI Eron Silverstein shops for marijuana at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, Calif., on Jan. 2, 2018. LUCY NICHOLSON

At least a dozen cannabis companies that operate in the United States are preparing to go public on Canadian stock exchanges, backed by local investment banks and law firms that have been hired to help them tap the market.
The U.S. cannabis firms are working toward listing on Canadian markets in coming months, according to bankers and lawyers working with the companies and public statements from the firms. The list includes Massachusetts-based Curaleaf Inc., Harvest Enterprises Inc. of Arizona and Columbia Care LLC and Acreage Holdings, both of New York.
All four of those companies are looking at deals in Canada that would be challenging to pull off in their home market. Marijuana is classified as a controlled substance and is illegal under U.S. federal law, although a growing number of states have legalized it for medical use and, in some cases, for recreational purposes.
Most cannabis businesses are going public in Canada by way of a reverse takeover of a shell company that is already publicly listed, as the process is often quicker and easier.
The new round of listings involves increasingly large offerings. The first listing is expected to come from Curaleaf, which operates 28 dispensaries, 12 cultivation sites and nine processing facilities.
That legal conflict between federal and state law makes it difficult for most U.S.-based cannabis companies to list on federally regulated U.S. exchanges. So they are following the example of other American firms, such as MedMen Enterprises Inc., a California-based company that runs 14 cannabis stores in three states and now sports a $2.5-billion market capitalization after listing in Canada in the spring.

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