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Cultivated weekly cannabis newsletter: March 20 – Business Insider – Business Insider

Welcome to Cultivated, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

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Hello Cultivated readers,

We hope everyone is staying safe (and sane) out there as we’re all hunkered down in our homes.

We’re going to be away for a bit as we’re temporarily switching our focus here on the cannabis team to COVID-19 to help out with Business Insider’s coverage. If you want to follow along, you can subscribe to Dispensed, Business Insider’s weekly newsletter on pharma, biotech, and healthcare.

To say the least, there’s a lot going on and it’s an all-hands-on-deck situation in the newsroom. Starting this week, Jeremy’s been editing a lot of coronavirus-related stories and assisting with covering how the pandemic is affecting New Yorkers, while Yeji’s been focusing on how the pandemic is affecting the US healthcare system.

We’ll be taking what we hope is a short break from Cultivated for a few weeks until the pandemic subsides, so this will be the last edition for a few weeks. 

We’ll be back, so don’t go anywhere. 

Before we switched over, Jeremy came out with a big story on how the cannabis industry is preparing for — and reeling from — the coronavirus pandemic. People are stockpiling pot as they prepare for what may be weeks cooped up in their homes on end.

But investors, analysts, and experts say there is pain to come in the cannabis space, as the broader market downturn exacerbates the underlying issues cannabis companies have faced for months. 

You can read that story here

In the meantime, you can catch both of us on Twitter: @jfberke & @jesse_yeji

– Jeremy and Yeji

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

Pot stockpiles, supply chain disruptions, and CBD hand sanitizer: How the cannabis industry is preparing for — and reeling from — the coronavirus pandemic

People are stockpiling pot as many cities order non-essential retail stores to close, in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite strong sales numbers, investors, experts, and analysts told Business Insider that the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic will be dire. They said that it will disrupt supply chains, hurt startups, and accelerate a shakeout period for cannabis companies.

Green Bits, a cannabis startup backed by Tiger Global, quietly terminated over 40 employees in a bid to cut costs

Green Bits, a Silicon Valley-based software platform backed by Tiger Global, laid off 40 employees on March 9 in an attempt to reduce costs, Business Insider learned. The company provides point-of-sale and retail-management services to cannabis dispensaries in California and other states with adult-use programs.

Green Bits is the latest in a long line of cannabis companies that have let go employees in recent months.

cannabis amsterdam

The coronavirus can be a downer for those wanting to get high in one of Amsterdam’s world famous “coffee shops”, people queue to enter at coffeeshop Prix d’Ami where clients are scanned for fever, one of the symptoms of a coronavirus infection, and are obliged to wash their hands before being allowed to enter to roll a joint and smoke marijuana in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Friday, March 13, 2020.
AP Photo/Peter Dejong

Meet the top 9 startups raising millions to use psychedelics to treat depression, anxiety, and more

Investment in psychedelics has ramped up in recent years and companies say that interest from traditional biotech and pharma investors has picked up as well.

Business Insider identified the top nine companies that are working to turn psychedelics into approved medicines, for conditions like depression and anxiety. We used a list provided by CB Insights, and reached out to the companies to confirm how much money they’ve raised.

Here’s how much they’ve raised and what they’re working on.

Alcohol delivery and CBD-infused beverage startups are flourishing during coronavirus containment, while the broader direct-to-consumer industry struggles to keep a foothold

So-called “vice” startups, such as those that specialize in alcohol or CBD, are seeing record sales and booming demand during the widespread work-from-home directives and social distancing measures to protect people from the novel coronavirus.

Alix Peabody, founder and CEO of canned alcohol startup Bev, said that her business model was built to flourish in times of economic uncertainty and larger downturns because people use alcohol to “celebrate” but also when they are “bored and worried.”

Executive moves

  • Grant Froese has resigned as CEO from Vancouver-based cultivator Harvest One. Froese, who also left his board seat, will be replaced on an interim basis by Andy Bayfield, the company’s chief commercial officer.
  • Peter Horvath has stepped down as CEO and board member of embattled cannabis and CBD retailer Green Growth Brands. We interviewed Horvath numerous times since he took over as GGB’s CEO in January of 2019. 
  • Edibles producer Wana Brands has appointed Joe Hodas as chief marketing officer. Hodas joins Wana from Dixie Elixirs. 
  • Goldenseed adds Kevin Harrington, one of the original sharks from Shark Tank, to its advisory board. 

Chart of the week

Investments in cannabis-focused special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, have ramped up in recent months: 

Cannabis related SPACs have raised over $2.8 billion in recent months

Ruobing Su/Business Insider

What we’re reading

Liquor, marijuana and guns are also popular among coronavirus hoarders (LA Times)

Amid Coronavirus, San Francisco, New York, Deem Marijuana Businesses ‘Essential’ (NPR)

Pot company Cronos receives SEC inquiry (MarketWatch)

Coronavirus Is Turning People Into Weed Hoarders (Vice)

Did we miss anything? Have a tip? Just want to chat? Send us a note at or find Business Insider’s cannabis team on twitter: @jfberke & @jesse_yeji. You can also reach Jeremy on encrypted messaging app Signal on at (646) 376 6002. 

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