Will Federal Legislation Open Cannabis Acquisition Floodgate?Client Alert
Are potential buyers quietly lobbying at federal and state levels to kick open the door to launch a new round of strategic acquisitions? Will presently pending federal legislation, the SAFE and MORE Acts, providing safe harbor for banks and re- or de-scheduling marijuana, be sufficient to mobilize into action major non-cannabis companies that previously shunned the cannabis industry due to the unknown implications of owning businesses whose activities are illegal under federal law?
When tobacco giant Altria invested $1.8 billion in Cronos, and beverage behemoth Constellation Brands invested in Canopy, the investments did not require the assumption of a smorgasbord of unknown risks that come with investing in federally illegal enterprises since neither Cronos nor Canopy had any “illegal” US operations. These include key business issues and concerns, such as banking relationships (almost certainly mitigated by the SAFE Act), stock exchange listings and liquor licensing.
It was recently disclosed that Altria, which has been acquiring ancillary cannabis businesses and intellectual property since its Cronos deal, has engaged lobbyists to promote its cannabis interests. It wouldn’t be much of a leap to speculate that they, and other potential strategic tobacco, beverage and pharma company investors, are both carefully analyzing the pending legislation in the US and actively working to firmly place their feet in the open door and widen the porthole, facilitating a new wave of acquisition activity.
Right now, as the financial performance of cannabis businesses is beginning to pop, the shelves of the acquisition market are fully stocked with potential acquisitions candidates of all sizes, shapes and flavors. If the door is opened, competition and pricing could be eye popping. Think “first mover advantage.”
For questions, please contact Business and Corporate Law Member and Managing Partner of BMD's Phoenix/Scottsdale location Stephen Lenn at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 480.687.9747.