By Shariq Khan and David Randall
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A year ago, Flora Growth Chief Executive Damian Lopez had just spent a chunk of his company’s seed capital buying a Colombian cannabis producer, and was fighting his way through the legal and financial hurdles that have made development of the industry such a challenge over the past decade.
These days, a boom in sales of his hemp-derived health food and beauty products during the coronavirus pandemic, and the prospect of an easing of marijuana laws in the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, have him sealing a $30 million funding round and making plans for a U.S. public floatation early next year.
“I think the election will be a huge catalyst,” Lopez said on Wednesday. He was busy planning for the initial public offering (IPO) with investment banking firm Boustead Securities set to be the company’s chief adviser.
Lopez is far from alone. U.S.-based dispensary business Gage Cannabis announced two weeks ago it would seek to list in the new year, while synthetic cannabinoid maker BioMedican has also laid out plans to go public in the first half of 2021.
Another hemp-based health products maker, Vertical Wellness, told Reuters this week it too was looking to debut next year.
Today’s outlook is a far cry from 2018, when many Canadian-based players created for last year’s legalization there, as well as expectations of the widespread opening of U.S. markets, faced fines and shutdowns, or were forced to merge, due to regulatory roadblocks that hampered growth prospects.
Lopez and other CEOs say the potential January arrival in the White House of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his pro-decriminalization running-mate, Senator Kamala Harris, may prove a watershed moment for the industry.
But even if President Donald Trump wins a second term,