Our somewhat regular roundup of cannabis industry news in Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri.

Morningstar Analyst: Biden bud boom would benefit Green Thumb and CuraLeaf

While few anticipate near-term federal legalization of recreational cannabis during a possible Joe Biden Administration, proposed decriminalization of the plant by the Democratic presidential ticket would be an economic boom for cannabis companies operating in the U.S., says Kristoffer Inton, an analyst for Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar. 

It is widely believed that a Biden presidency along with a Democrat-controlled Senate would work to limit penalties and liabilities for financial services providers who service cannabis companies. 

Greater access to banks and other ancillary service providers would lead to 25 percent annual growth for recreational sales and 15 percent annual growth for medical sales through 2030, writes Inton, who added that companies like Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries and Massachusetts-based CuraLeaf that already have large U.S. license footprints stand to benefit the most from a liberalization of banking law.

Smaller operators also stand to benefit downstream. 

“Not only could incumbents be richly valued in acquisitions, but they would also likely enjoy far stronger liquidity, driving intense bidding for cultivation and dispensary licenses at play.”

Verano opens second Illinois ZenLeaf dispensary in Aurora

Chicago-based multistate cannabis operator Verano on October 20th opened the first adult-use dispensary in the far western Chicago suburb of Aurora. 

Verano’s other regional Zen Leaf dispensaries are based in St. Charles, Illinois and Buchanan, Michigan. An additional adult-use dispensary is scheduled to open in suburban Naperville later this year. The company’s Ataraxia cultivation facility in Albion, Illinois is among the state’s largest. 

More suburban Chicago Zen Leaf locations are anticipated for 2021.

Natrabis plans $20 million cultivation center in Michigan’s Orion Township

Billing itself as “Detroit’s premier cannabis company”, Macomb County-based cannabis company Natrabis announced this week plans to break ground on a $20 million, 54,000 square-foot cultivation facility in Orion Township.

The company, backed by individual investors and secured debt funding from West Palm Beach-based lender Advanced Flower Capital, plans to complete construction in February. An additional 54,000 square foot facility plus five Michigan area retail locations are also planned. 

Says Natrabis partner Nick Simpson in a press release, “We’ve been in this industry for 20 years and are committed to producing the highest quality cannabis at an affordable price through the use of cutting edge technology.” 

Second Missouri testing facility, Green Precision Analytics, opens in Kansas City

With testing equipment named after “Cheech and Chong” and “Bill and Ted”, Green Precision Analytics this week became the second Missouri-based laboratory to begin testing medical marijauna. According to Fox 4 Kansas City, the company, which holds one of 10 cannabis testing laboratory licenses in Missouri, received its first shipment to test on October 20. Green Precision Analytics tests for things like potency, cannabinoids, as well as unwanted pesticides or mold, for a five-day period before approved products can be sold in one of the state’s two operating dispensaries.

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.