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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Silver Linings for Cannabis at Benzinga Conference

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It was a monsoon in Florida as the Benzinga conference got under way in Miami. The weather seemed fitting as the cannabis industry continues to weather its storm.

However, despite the headwinds for the industry, many on Day 1 spoke with optimism and finding the silver linings in cannabis.


One big example was the appearance of Twitter representatives at the conference. While the social media giant has faced its own storm, it saw a new source of advertising revenue from the cannabis industry.

“What twitter tweets today the world talks about tomorrow,” Rohan Routroy of Twitter NEXT said.

Routroy specifically noted that cannabis was one of the most tweeted topics on Twitter – more than wine, alcohol, and fast food combined.

He also said that data showed an increased interest in cannabis retail and product. Not surprisingly, legalized states tweet the most, and three-quarters of tweeters are below the age of 35.

Alexa Alianiello, who oversees U.S. sales and partnerships at Twitter, led the charge for allowing the cannabis industry to participate more broadly on the social media giant. She was proud that Twitter was the first social media platform to allow for cannabis advertising.

“Eight in 10 people see information on Twitter before TV,” said Alianiello. 

“The best content on Twitter is entertaining, informative, and relevant, like Weedmaps pushing people to get out and vote,” she said.

If deployed effectively Twitter conversations can drive sales; a 10% increase in conversations can lead to 3% increase in sales. Alianiello provided two case studies for how impactful Twitter can be.

Trulieve created a goal to drive brand reach and increase web traffic. What they saw when they increased activity was:

  • +128% mentions
  • 44% profile visits
  • +315% impressions
  • +214% web traffic 

House of Puff saw similarly impressive jumps:

  • +69% e-commerce web traffic
  • +162% downloads

Bad is Good

Tim Seymour and Jason Wild

Silver linings only appear with gray skies, a fact not lost on Tim Seymour of CNBS and Seymour Asset Management.

Seymour interviewed Jason Wild of TerrAscend and Wild Asset Management, specifically asking about recent comments that the industry was so bad it was good. 

“The environments are bad but if you are in a position where you still have some money left over, it’s a pretty good spot to be in. So bad its good,” Wild said. “The environment is in such bad shape that we are always looking for deals.”

Some of those deals are going for  literally pennies on the dollar.

“It’s swung beyond that,” Wild added. “There’s a lot of debt in the industry. The equity is zero essentially. We’re now discussing the deals with the lenders. The lenders are incentivized for someone to take the assets. They are really workout situations.”

More Silver Linings

More silver linings came from Michigan, which is starting to see some improvements.

Wild also pointed out that new markets continue to come online. Maryland’s adult-use program is slated to launch in July, and Pennsylvania is expected to follow in the near future.

Finally, Seymour asked about the Toronto Stock Exchange listing for TerrAscend. Wild believes that many MSOs are watching the company’s move to the TSX.

“If this goes off without a hitch, you will probably see more following us,” Wild said.

The move is expected to open the stock up to European institutional investors and TSX indices. This could provide renewed optimism for cannabis equity.

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