The assessed price for our Biomass Price Benchmark remained flat in June at $1.30/%CBD /pound (or $2.85/%CBD/kilo), despite seeing an observed increase in demand and overall volume of trades. Transactions took place between a low of $0.90/%CBD/pound and a high of $1.68/%CBD/pound. This marks the third month of relatively stable assessed prices, suggesting that the market has a hit a base price for biomass.
During April and May overall biomass transactions were relatively low, as a result of COVID-19 and lockdown measures, however June saw an uptick in the overall level of trades for the raw material.
For most growers and buyers June represented a last opportunity to buy and sell 2019 stock. With the majority of the 2020 crop now planted, or with planting underway, many refiners will only be looking to top up any stock requirement ahead of this year’s harvest.
Trading activity in biomass was relatively strong in both the US and Europe, coming at the end of what has been a very difficult season. The combined impact of biomass oversupply for the CBD sector, along with unstable refinery capacity has meant the last 6 months have been extremely difficult to navigate for growers.
In surveys, many growers have voiced a cautious approach to this year’s season. Although many (in the US) have maintained licence application levels, the approach to actual planting could mean fewer permitted acres are utilised.
Some US growers have reported that they still hold between 40-50% of 2019 crops which will likely now go to waste, and as a result a cautious approach this year is prudent.
According to The Jacobsen’s crop survey, released in June, and early reporting feedback, the vast majority of 2020 crops are again earmarked for cannabinoid production. A recent survey of US farmers suggests that 79.4% of planted hemp will be destined for CBD refinement and 14.5% for CBG processing. By comparison only 2.5% has been allocated for fibre and 3.6% for grain.
This suggests that despite the growing interest in industrial hemp applications, farmers are still concentrating efforts on supplying the cannabinoid market. This is a risky move given the massive over-supply experienced globally during 2019. From biomass to refined products a supply-demand imbalance has caused prices to drop throughout the first half of 2020, and indications are that even now biomass stocks remain high.
Early projections for the 2020 hemp growing season suggest that overall planted acreage in the United States could increase slightly to an estimated total of 160,000 acres, up 8% on the total reported acreage of 146,000 in 2019.
With the US representing one of the largest hemp growing regions, these numbers will be of interest to all participants across the hemp and CBD supply chain.
The figures, which have been collated from a number of industry surveys, suggest that while the number of growing licence applications in established US hemp states like Montana and Colorado have reduced year-on-year, applications in new states have been positive. While early reports are based primarily on qualitative surveying and anecdotal evidence the result of this mixed picture suggests that we will see a slight rise in the overall planted acreage through 2020.
The outlook for the 2020 harvest will ultimately depend upon the extent to which growers utilise their permitted acreage. In 2019, farmers were granted permissions to grow hemp on over 500,000 acres of land however the final harvest yield was considerably less. Estimates from reporting agency The Jacobsen suggest that the actual planted acreage in 2019 was less than 200,000 acres and that the eventual harvested crop was probably around 100,000 acres.
If 2020 harvests follow a similar trajectory then we can expect to see a final harvested acreage of around 108,000, which would be up slightly on last year, but by no means close to the increase observed between 2018 and 2019.
Refined material prices had a mixed picture in June. For the first time in 12 months the assessed price of our CBD Isolate Price Benchmark saw a price increase. The assessed price rose 16% to $1350/kilo, with a low of $860/kilo and a high of $1,600/kilo. While the price spread remained virtually the same as in May, the volume of transactions taking place at, or nearer to, the higher value meant that it raised our benchmark month-on-month.
As we discussed in our previous Market Monitor, transaction levels in May were very weak, and those transactions that did take place, overall pulled down the assessed price for that month. We also some heavy discounting of CBD Isolate towards the end of May which also impacted prices.
As we expected as June trading volume picked up the market has once again settled on a price level that reflects the longer term prospects for CDB isolate. CBD isolate has followed a very similar path to biomass over the past 6 months, as there has been an increase in availability and refiners, all of which has helped to push raw material prices down.
With consumer CBD demand rising again during May and June, as a result of COVID-19, we are starting to see additional new entrants to the marketplace which has helped push CBD isolate prices slightly higher.
Despite this, some manufacturers continued to offer heavy discounts on CBD isolate during of June, in a bid to sell off 2019 stocks.
Across our other refined material price benchmarks the picture has remained mixed.
The Cannyx Markets CBD Distillate Benchmark rose slightly during June to an assessed price of $3,750/kilo. This was up 2% on May’s assessed price of $3,674, with trading fluctuating between a low of $2,700/kilo and a high of $4,700/kilo.
Our CBD Water Soluble Isolate Benchmark fell by 9.4% over the month to a 12-month low of $1,350/kilo, down from $1,490/kilo in May. Observed transactions occurred between a low of $1,200/kilo and a high of $1,500. This is the first significant price movement in CBD Water Soluble Isolate since the start of the year.
CBD Water Soluble Broad Spectrum Benchmark remained virtually unchanged in June, recording a slight 1% decrease in the assessed price at $2,350/kilo, down from £2,373/kilo in May. Prices for CBD Water Soluble Broad Spectrum continue to remain relatively steady and have seen little movement in price since the start of the year.
We recently published our 2020 US Hemp Harvest Projections, based on recent surveys and reports and the data suggests that we are looking at a slightly higher potential harvest yield in 2020 than in 2019, with nearly 80% of growers targeting the CBD market. The number from Europe suggests a similar picture. Even with the continued growth in consumer demand for CBD products, it is looking likely that we may see supply considerably outweighing demand again towards the end of 2020, which could negatively impact all raw material classes.
For the first time since the start of 2020 our CBG Isolate Benchmark rose during June, to $8,000/kilo. This represents an increase of 8% and is a reverse of the month-on-month price depreciations that we have consistently seen since the start of the year.
Despite the recent fall in raw material prices for CBG Isolate, many growers are viewing this minor-cannabinoid as a potential to increase the value of their 2020 harvest. A recent survey of US farmers suggests that 14.5% of planted hemp, in 2020, will be destined for CBG refinement.
While the CBG market is still in its relative infancy, many growers are keen to experiment with the cannabinoid, and end users from consumer product manufacturers to biotech pharmaceutical companies are researching potential uses. Earlier this year research demonstrated the anti-bacterial properties of CBG and as such there is significant interest in using the compound with hand sanitizers and similar products. Another purported benefit of CBG is that it can relieve ailments associated with immune disorders.
United Nations Meeting to Discuss WHO Recommendations on CBD
The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs Secretariat met at the end of June, in the first of a series of gatherings that will discuss recommendations made by the World Health Organisation, that could see CBD, and CBD preparations, containing no more than 0.2% THC removed from international drug-control conventions.
In the recommendations the World Health Organisation has suggested that CBD ingredients up to 0.2% THC should not be under international control. Recommendation 5.5, if ratified would have significant implications, including the easing of international trade and control of CBD products.
The recommendations were due to be voted upon by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs Secretariat in March, however the vote was delayed. News of this meeting and subsequent discussions could signify that a vote may be called, on the issue, for December.
According to reports by mjbizdaily.com, the guidance emailed to UN members including discussion topics around Recommendation 5.5 including:
Many member countries and the European Commission are still unsure about the possible ramifications of approving Recommendation 5.5, and so any discussion to move the issue forward will be beneficial.
According to reports the outcome of the discussions was that The World Health Organization’s proposal to exempt plant-derived CBD extracts and tinctures with less than 0.2% THC from international control under a United Nations narcotics convention could be difficult to enforce.
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) advised during the meeting that authorities in some countries may lack the lab technology or manpower to evaluate the cannabinoid profile of CBD preparations – something that would be necessary to ensure compliance with the exemption.
The INCB also raised concerns over “cannabis cultivated for the extraction of CBD.” The reason: The board considers CBD “would need to be monitored … because it does not meet the definition of ‘industrial purposes.’” according to reports by hempindustrydaily.com.
INCB President Cornelis P. de Joncheere has said that “if the cultivation of cannabis … is for the production of the flowering top, then it should be considered under control regardless of the THC or CBD content.”
The UN is scheduled to vote on the WHO recommendations in December, but given the current INCB reservations, it is likely that that the recommendations may not be taken forward, until such times as there is more formalised structure to the industry.
Novel Food Regulation
Members of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), the largest industry body in Europe, voted in June to go ahead with new studies on CBD and THC that will support a joint novel food authorization application.
The move follows a similar announcement at the start of June, that a consortium of leading US CBD companies (including Charlotte’s Web, CBDistillery, Columbia Care, Boulder Botanicals, CBD American Shaman, HempFusion, Infinite CBD and Kannaway) would be sponsoring research to evaluate the impact of daily CBD use on the liver function of healthy adults.
The research push comes from a request from the Food and Drug Administration seeking science-based data on CBD to help guide its regulatory approach to the substance. Last November, the FDA published a consumer update on CBD products, warning that their use could result in health problems such as liver injury, among other difficulties.
With more countries around the world requiring novel food applications for products containing CBD ingredients, regulators are looking to the CBD industry to help improve the current data and scientific understanding of the effects of CBD. Research that can provide tangible data to allay safety fears is increasingly becoming a critical requirement for the whole industry.
In the UK the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (The ACI) has implemented a similar process. The organisation announced, in June, that it would be spearhead a CBD Safety Study Consortium to generate data to assess the safety of CBD and to discern exactly what the recommended daily dose should be. This move is in response to calls from regulators around the world who are highlighting the lack of evidence relating to the safety of CBD. The ACI sees this as the most comprehensive and cost effective option available.
In the UK these safety concerns have been highlighted in public statements from the FSA, the Committee of Toxicology and the MHRA. Internationally, requests for more evidence are coming from national food safety agencies alongside calls from EFSA, the FDA and the UN.
The ACI’s CBD Safety Study Consortium will grant the opportunity for companies to provide the evidence these organisations are calling for whilst sharing the burden of costs of such studies. The study will identify data gaps and generate analytics based accordingly. The goal is to generate data to be used across a broad range of secondary (finished) products.
This safety data is required to successfully gain novel foods approval from regulators. Answers that need to be gathered include whether CBD causes potential drowsiness, liver toxicity or has any interaction with other drug substances.
The study will assess different modes of delivery and bioavailability, for example ingestion, absorption and inhalation. The study will also assess if there are any potential vulnerable groups (for example children, adolescents or pregnant and lactating women). The outcomes will help define a maximal acceptable daily intake of CBD for all products.
UK Government Reclassifies GW Pharma CBD Drug EPIDYOLEX
The UK government has reclassified GW Pharma’s cannabidiol medicine, EPIDYOLEX to the lowest level of control for drugs, which clears the way for improving patient access to the medication.
Under the new scheduling, EPIDYOLEX will become a Schedule 5 drug, which will significantly reduce the administrative burden on organisations providing the drug to patients. The change went into effect on June 24th in all four of the constituent nations of the UK – with Northern Ireland enacting separate legislation.
EPIDIOLEX®/EPIDYOLEX® (cannabidiol), the first prescription, plant-derived cannabis-based medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the U.S. and the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) for use in Europe, is an oral solution which contains highly purified cannabidiol (CBD).
The medicine is approved in the EU for adjunctive therapy of seizures associated with Lennox Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome, in conjunction with clobazam, for patients from 2 years of age and older.
The decision to move EPIDYOLEX to a low level of control is an important one for patients, their families, healthcare professionals, pharmacists and the NHS as a whole – reducing costs and ensuring the medicine can be dispensed more easily.
June saw some major consolidation in the US CBD market following Aurora Cannabis’ (NYSE | TSX: ACB) completed acquisition of Reliva, LLC a leader in the sale of hemp-derived CBD products in the United States for approximately US$40 million of Aurora common shares.
The transaction also includes a potential earn-out of up to a maximum of US$45 million payable at Aurora’s option in shares or cash contingent upon Reliva achieving certain financial targets over the next two years.
Reliva is a leader in delivering high quality hemp-derived CBD products, built on a philosophy of compliance, testing, product innovation and approachable price points. The company is one of the largest retail CBD brands in the USA with products available in over 20,000 retail stores.
The partnership between Aurora and Reliva is expected to create a market leading international cannabinoid platform designed to increase Aurora’s operating scale, international reach, and product and brand diversity.
Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB), has recently been upgraded to a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). This upgrade is essentially a reflection of an upward trend in earnings estimates. Analysts have been steadily raising their estimates for Aurora Cannabis Inc. Over the past three months, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company has increased 29.4%.
With lockdowns beginning to ease during June we have seen renewed market activity in terms of deal activity and market developments. In addition to a number of strategic acquisitions and partnership, June also saw a flurry of activity in relation to the development of suitable scientific data relating to novel food applications along with the usual new product and innovation announcements. We highlight the key market activity below:
Canopy Growth Reports Second Billion Dollar Quarterly Loss
Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC) has announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full twelve-month fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, announcing a second billion-dollar quarterly loss, as the company remains mired in a turnaround effort.
Despite seeing revenue grow by 76% from 2019, the fourth-quarter net loss of C$1.33 billion ($946.4 million) was the second in its history after the Smiths Falls, Ontario based company logged a C$1.28 billion loss in the fiscal first quarter last year.
A loss of hundreds of millions of dollars was expected, as Canopy announced in March that it expected to record a C$700 million to C$800 million charge related to shutting down two facilities in British Columbia and laying off 500 people from related jobs.
Outlook for Khiron Positive, Despite Q1 Losses
Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (TSXV: KHRN), (OTCQX: KHRNF), (Frankfurt: A2JMZC), a vertically integrated cannabis leader with core operations in Latin America and Europe, has released its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2020, showing strong opportunity for growth despite increasing losses.
The Company recorded a net loss of $9.2 million in Q1 2020. This compares to a net loss of $8.0 million in Q1 2019. Adjusted EBITDA is comparable between periods at $5.9 million.
Revenues decreased in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019 due to the impact of COVID 19, the appreciation of the Canadian dollar by an average 6% relative to the Colombian peso and the suspension of surgical procedures at the Company’s health centres after the Colombian government declared a national emergency in March 2020, which required suspension of invasive surgeries. Effective May 26, 2020 the health centres have resumed these surgical procedures, and the Company expects to fill the backlog of suspended surgeries throughout the year. Notwithstanding, the health services operating segment increased its gross margin to 21% in Q1 2020, compared to 18% in Q1 2019.
HANetf Launches Switzerland’s First Medical Cannabis ETF
London-based investment platform HANetf has launched Switzerland’s first medical cannabis ETF as one of five new products on the Swiss Stock Exchange, in a further expansion of the company’s pan-European distribution capabilities.
According to Swiss stock exchange operator SIX, the ETFs enable investors to diversify their portfolios by incorporating “promising” megatrends, with the focus of the ETFs covering e-commerce, cloud technologies, medical cannabis and wellness.
The Medical Cannabis & Wellness UCITS ETF (CBDX) – provides exposure to companies involved in the legal medical cannabis, hemp and CBD sectors. The fund tracks a rules-based Medical Cannabis and Wellness Equity Index from Solactive, consisting of publicly listed companies conducting legal business activities across nine thematic sub-sectors in the medical cannabis, hemp and CBD industries.
Charlotte’s Web Acquisition of Abacus Health Products Cements Leading Market Position
Charlotte’s Web announced acquisition of Abacus Health Products has cemented the company’s position as America’s largest vertically integrated hemp-derived CBD Company, with a combined retail distribution reach of over 21,000 outlets.
Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (TSX: CWEB) (OTCQX: CWBHF) and Abacus Health Products, Inc. (CSE: ABCS) (OTCQB: ABAHF) announced the finalisation of the acquisition last week.
Combined, the companies distribute to more than 21,000 unique retail locations with limited shelf overlap due to adjacent but complementary positions across the ingestible and topical CBD product categories. Recently Charlotte’s Web added 1,100 new drug stores, more than 700 pet stores, and Abacus added more than 5,000 retail doors with the signing of a new retail partner.
Khiron Partners with Leading German Medical Cannabis Distributor Nimbus Health
Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (TSXV: KHRN), (OTCQX: KHRNF), (Frankfurt: A2JMZC), has partnered with Nimbus Health, a leading German distributor of medical cannabis products, to distribute Khiron branded EU GMP medical cannabis in Germany for prescription by doctors and dispensation in pharmacies.
The move marks a major milestone for the company. Following Khiron’s recent entry into the United Kingdom, the expansion into Germany will greatly benefit patients who still suffer from inconsistent supply. Khiron is now well positioned to service this rapidly expanding market in Germany.
Therapix Biosciences Raises $2.6 Million in Private Share Placement
Therapix Biosciences Ltd. (Nasdaq: TRPX), a specialty, clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focusing on the development of cannabinoid-based treatments, has announced that it has entered into definitive agreements with several institutional investors in a share placement worth $2.6 million.
Under the terms Therapix will issue an aggregate of 5.2 million American Depositary Shares (ADS) at a purchase price of $0.50 per ADS, and warrants to purchase up to 2.6 million American Depositary Shares in a private placement. The private placement is expected to result in gross proceeds to Therapix of $2.6 million. Therapix intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes.
Impression Healthcare Commences Trials of CBD as Treatment for Symptoms of Respiratory Syndrome
Impression Healthcare has commenced an animal study for the treatment of sepsis associated acute respiratory distress syndrome (SAARDS).
SAARDS is the leading cause of death associated with COVID-19, due to a runaway immune response which causes organ and tissue damage. The new study will test Impression’s novel treatment, IHL-675A, in suppressing this runaway response known as a cytokine storm.
IHL-675A is a combination drug comprised of CBD and hydroxychloroquine, a historical treatment for malaria. The medical cannabis developer first unveiled the drug to the market in April, announcing it had filed a provisional patent over IHL-675A for SAARDS with the Australian Patent Office.
Sepsis occurs when the immune system overreacts to an infection, producing excessive levels of cytokines, which are signalling molecules that attract immune cells.
New Study Highlights Potential for Cannabinoid Treatment of PTSD
A new research study using archival data from Strainprint®, a medical cannabis technology platform, has found evidence that supports the use of medical cannabis as a potential treatment for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Data from 404 medical cannabis users who self-identified as having PTSD were obtained from Strainprint®, a medical cannabis app that patients use to track changes in symptoms as a function of different strains and doses of cannabis across time. This sample collectively used the app 11,797 times over 31 months to track PTSD-related symptoms. Multilevel models were used to explore long-term consequences of repeatedly using cannabis to manage these symptoms.
The researchers found that inhaled cannabis acutely reduced PTSD symptoms by more than 50%, immediately following use, however the data also suggested that cannabis only provides temporary relief from PTSD symptoms.
Emerald Bioscience Awarded Patent for Cannabidiol Ocular Formulation
Emerald Bioscience, Inc. (OTCQB: EMBI), has announced that the company’s proprietary analog of cannabidiol, cannabidiol-valine-hemisuccinate (CBDVHS) has been awarded a patent in Japan that covers composition of matter claims and multiple methods of use. This molecule, licensed from the University of Mississippi, was recently granted a similar patent in the United States.
Emerald Bioscience is focused on the development of cannabinoid-based therapeutics to address global medical indications, especially those of unmet medical need. Modifying the molecules of the cannabis plant and creating synthetic cannabinoid derivatives, results in an optimised cannabinoid technology that enhances bioavailability and delivers more predictable pharmacokinetics.
Study finds CBD Improves Arthritis Symptoms in Dogs
A team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in collaboration with Medterra CBD conducted the first scientific studies to assess the potential therapeutic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) for arthritic pain in dogs, and the results could lead the way to studying its effect in humans.
Published in the journal PAIN, the study first showed both in laboratory tests and mouse models that CBD, a non-addictive product derived from hemp (cannabis), can significantly reduce the production of inflammatory molecules and immune cells associated with arthritis.
Subsequently, the study showed that in dogs diagnosed with the condition, CBD treatment significantly improved quality of life as documented by both owner and veterinarian assessments.
Mile High Labs Partners with New CBD-infused Beverage Company CarryOn
Mile High Labs has announced plans to supply a new sparkling water beverage company CarryOn™ with ingredients for a range of CBD-infused products that bring together taste and functional ingredients, designed to elevate mood or hone focus and calm.
US-based CarryOn™ was developed by Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.’s Lighthouse Incubator, which was created by the farmer-owned cooperative last year to accelerate accessible health and wellness-focused innovation. The CarryOn™ brand has formulated and developed two CBD-infused beverages and, with CBD supplied by Mile High Labs, will be bringing those products to consumers in Colorado.
“Partnerships with trusted brands are what Mile High Labs was built for,” said Stephen Mueller, CEO, Mile High Labs. “Our implementation of the strictest manufacturing standards, like cGMP and ISO 9001, continues to give high-profile companies the confidence they need to bring their products to the CBD space.”
HempFusion Launches CBD Topicals Allowing for Targeted Relief
HempFusion® has announced the launch of its Food and Drug Administration listed Over-the-Counter Topical Products featuring scientifically documented active ingredients targeting specific consumer needs including menthol, salicylic acid, and colloidal oatmeal, providing relief for pain, acne, eczema and more.
HempFusion is a dietary supplements company focused on products that contain Hemp/CBD in the United States with distribution of its family of brands to approximately 4,000 retailers across 47 states. The company has a wide variety of 25+ CBD products with a full spectrum of cannabinoids and other constituents are sourced from quality phytocompounds manufactured under cGMP standards designed to attain efficacy and safety.
Elements of Green Launches New European Marketplace for Premier CBD Brands
Elements of Green has launched a new hemp-based CBD eCommerce marketplace offers consumers one of the largest selections of hemp-based CBD products available in Europe.
The marketplace which is available in 27 countries across Europe Elements of Green new platform offers a carefully curated range of products from hundreds of leading brands from around the world.
Hemp Cigarettes Provide a New Alternative to Traditional Tobacco
US-based tobacco company TAAT is preparing to launch a new brand of hemp cigarettes, as a tobacco-free and nicotine-free alternative to traditional tobacco.
According to the company, the hemp cigarettes are flavoured with naturally-occurring terpenes as well as a proprietary blend of tobacco flavouring which contributes to a user experience emulating that of a traditional cigarette. Taat hemp cigarettes also contain a minimum of 50mg of cannabidiol (“CBD”, a non-psychoactive derivative of hemp), which has been shown in studies to impart numerous benefits to tobacco users who wish to quit, including the alleviation of tobacco withdrawals and the overall reduction of tobacco dependency.
Arcadia Biosciences to Acquire Industrial Seed Innovations
Arcadia Biosciences, Inc.® (Nasdaq: RKDA), has announced it has entered into a binding term sheet with Industrial Seed Innovations, an Oregon-based industrial hemp breeding and seed company, to acquire its commercial and genetic assets, including its seed varieties, germplasm library and intellectual property.
“Industrial Seed Innovations brings tremendous talent, an impressive intellectual property and genetics portfolio and a solid and synergistic customer base to Arcadia,” said Matthew Plavan, Arcadia’s president and CEO. “This transaction will strengthen our hemp breeding and seed production capabilities, augment and leverage our proprietary ArcaTechTM discovery platform and further position us as a leader in delivering high-value, premium hemp seeds.”
According to the term sheet, ISI’s popular Rogue, Deschutes and Umpqua seed varieties will become part of Arcadia’s portfolio, alongside the company’s GoodHemp line of genetically superior hemp seeds, transplants, flowers and extracts.
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