Highlights from the 4th Annual Cannabis Private Investment Summit Toronto
Kahner Global's 4th Annual Cannabis Private Investment Summit in Toronto took place on Wednesday, June 12. We were in a beautiful space with spectacular views thanks to our sponsor McCarthy Tétrault. The networking brunch kicked off mid-morning and the room was packed with investors, brands and influencers in the cannabis space. Noa Kahner, founder of Kahner Global and JJ McKay, founder of The Fresh Toast, started the afternoon program with a few words about the current and future state of the industry.
From there, the agenda started with “Legal Concerns for Cannabis Investors.” Ranjeev Dhillon, Partner at McCarthy Tétrault, moderated the panel that featured Christopher Barry, Partner at Dorsey & Whitney, Vlad Klacar, VP of Regulatory Affairs at Auxly and Mark Cavdar, Director of Legal Affairs in Canada at Aprhia Inc. The discussion included discourse on international trade laws, how new regulations can actually create opportunities and what’s happening in the unregulated world of CBD. Both Vlad and Mark agreed that when investing in low cost cultivation centers like Colombia or Jamaica for exports, investors need to do more research. It may seem like a good, logical idea, but international trade channels for cannabis are not developed and have not been commercialized yet, so investors should do their due diligence before jumping in. When asked about CBD and the recent FDA hearing, Christopher said that “CBD is a regulatory morass right now.” Specifically on the recent hearings, he said that “the industry and the FDA talked passed each other. The industry asked for regulations and the FDA asked for data and research that doesn’t really exist yet.” Additionally, the panel made some comparisons between markets in the U.S. and Canada and what Federal legalization in the U.S. would mean for the Canadian market.
After the legal discussion, Rehan Huda, CEO of Green Sky Labs, gave an insightful presentation about capital market trends in the cannabis industry. Green Sky Labs is on a mission to use superior science and technologies to improve the current standards of cannabis extraction & isolation processing, therapeutic cannabinoid manufacturing, and digital healthcare solutions. Rehan’s presentation was very informative and led us into the next session, “M&A: Public and Private Markets.”
In this panel, JJ McKay moderated the discussion between Michael J. Willner, Esq., President and CEO of Willner Capital Inc., Eddie Miller, CEO at ECANN Inc., and Charles Taerk, President and CEO at Faircourt Asset Management Inc. After introductions and some discussion around investment strategies in the space, JJ turned the session into a lightning round asking pointed questions that were definitely on the minds of all investors in the audience. In response to whether there’s room in the market for continued growth and major M&A, panelists responded with “yes,” “no doubt” and “exponential!” Slightly lengthier answers were allowed for the question around the length of time investors should expect their capital to be tied up before they see dividends, but responses were positive and ranged from 2 – 7 years. When JJ asked, “someone gives you $10M cash today and said I want it in play in a month, where do you put it?” Answers ranged from “extraction” to “companies that are going about it the right way” to Eddie Miller’s pitch for “the Museum of Cannabis in NYC in Times Square.”
After questions from the audience, we moved to a networking break, where McCarthy Tétrault once again impressed us with their great food and hospitality. From there, we moved right into a discussion around where medical marijuana is going. Louis Barré, Managing Director at Greenfield Global Opportunities Fund moderated the panel with Kevin McGovern, Chairman and CEO of McGovern Capital, Kai Nygard from the Nygard Family Office, and Dr. Jon Chan, CEO of Imagine Health Centers. Overwhelmingly, the panel agreed that more research is needed in medical marijuana. Kevin McGovern said that, “when we can show, with evidence, that plant-based cannabis has a positive impact on endocannabinoid issues, that will be the holy grail.” Dr. Jon Chan also noted that “physicians are trained to look at evidence,” so ten years down the road, he hopes to see further research that brings cannabis more mainstream. He added that while there’s a small body of research now, “when we see medicinal cannabis with consistent ingredients and doses used for clinical trials, that will change the paradigm.” This discussion covered a wide range of topics including terpenes, the entourage effect, cannabis in Europe and the risks around investing in CBD.
Mowgli Holmes, CEO at Phylos Bioscience, spoke to the group about the future of cannabis breeding. Mowgli and Phylos were pitch contest winners from the event in Beverly Hills back in May. We then heard from Lorne Gertner, Chairman of CannaGlobal, who shared what’s next in a presentation titled “Cannabis 3.0.”
The final session of the day was focused on “Investment Opportunities.” Daniel Sax, CEO at Sensi Properties, moderated the discussion with Malcolm Mansfield, CEO at Wabana Capital Inc., Narbe Alexandrian, CEO of Canopy Rivers and Mark Goldhar, Strategic Advisor at Thalys. The panel agreed that cultivation is overhyped and there’s a lot of opportunity in extraction. They discussed insights and comparisons between investment opportunities in Canada vs. the U.S., the strengths of different brands, and opportunities in Europe. When asked about the emerging investment trends in the short term, Narbe Alexandrian mentioned agtech and synthetics while Mark Goldhar felt that anything IP-based and protected is something to watch. The biggest takeaway from the event is that investing in cannabis can be very rewarding, but can also be scary because of the changing regulatory environment and volatility in the space. That said, all panelists are bullish on the industry and are uncovering new opportunities every day.
Before breaking for networking cocktails, we held the “Live Pitch Contest” that featured seven companies pitching before a panel of accredited investors. Each company had seven minutes to present followed by comments and questions from the judges. Companies that participated included 100THX, BRNT, HiGrade, Integrated CBD, Magical Butter, Maku and Propagation Inc. It was tough, but the judges finally came to a decision…
Congratulations to BRNT for winning the pitch contest in Toronto! We are always impressed by the caliber of companies that come to pitch and this event was no different. We thank all of the companies and the judges, Michael Willner, Mark Goldhar and Arthur C. Salzer, CEO & CIO at Northland Wealth Management.
The Cannabis Private Investment Summit showcases the best and brightest cannabis entrepreneurs in the industry, and is the premiere summit for institutional investors, family offices, and ultra-high net worth investors. Sign up now for our upcoming events in New York City and San Francisco.