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Next Stage Cannabis Stocks in the Spotlight

CannabisNewsWire Editorial Coverage: Projections for the cannabis markets are staggering, yet there’s evidence that the lofty estimates may be understated.

  • Cannabis projections often fall far short of actual sales growth.
  • Cannabis-infused beverages looks to be next area of explosive upside.
  • Beverage and cannabis companies striking deals to gain market access.
  • New technologies could snag significant market share.

Once viewed as wild conjecture for the future of cannabis markets, forecasts in 2015 fell severely short of actuality. At that time, consensus was that Canada could reach CA$2.8 billion in legal sales by 2020. Sage prognosticators now say that the market may exceed CA$7 billion in 2019. Catering to the tastes of market demographics, intense interest is now focused on the cannabis-infused beverages market. Not even legal in Canada until this fall, the infused beverage market is already pegged to reach a mind-boggling CA$4.4 billion within five years.

Joining the ranks of the majors to meet this titanic demand, Sproutly Canada Inc. (OTCQB: SRUTF) (CSE: SPR) (SRUTF Profile) announced a joint venture with Moosehead Breweries, the largest and oldest independent beer company in Canada. Cannabis colossus Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) announced a research partnership into infused beverages and is bringing in executives with backgrounds in the beverage industry. The maker of Corona and Modelo beer increased its stake in Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC) to 38%, spurring speculation of cannabis-infused beverages to come. HEXO Corp. (NYSE American: HEXO) (TSX: HEXO) entered a joint venture with Molson Coors Canada to produce CBD-infused beverages. And New Age Beverages Corp. (NASDAQ: NBEV) is anticipated to begin roll out of Marley+CBD-infused drinks in four targeted U.S. states.

Untapped Market

Soothsayers seem to consistently underestimate the warp-speed of public acceptance and the velocity of uptake of cannabis products. As marijuana muscles into the mainstream, usage among all age groups is on the upswing. However, among the most coveted 18-34 demographic, there’s an explosion of acceptance as these users mature in a world where cannabis is common. Millennials are about three times and Gen Z about four times more likely to use cannabis than aging Boomers. Forward-leaning cannabis companies are full throttle in product and brand development to corral this coveted demographic and capture market share, now and for decades to come.

According to a United Nations report, cannabis is the most widely consumed drug on the planet. Even so, only about 4% of the world’s adult population has used it. North America, the leader in cannabis growth, is only the fourth largest cannabis consumer market on the globe, ranking behind Asia, Africa and Europe in sheer size of its cannabis consumer market. As public perceptions change and legalization expands, the number of users is certain to skyrocket in a nearly untapped market. A global transition is underway and presenting a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

The Deal

Of particular interest is the cannabis-infused beverages market. Poised to capture an outsized share of the infused beverage boom, Sproutly Canada Inc. (OTCQB: SRUTF) (CSE: SPR) and Moosehead announced a joint venture that marries Moosehead’s vast adult-beverage experience with Sproutly’s innovative cannabis technology. The result? A fast-onset, fast-offset option that some have called the industry’s holy grail of beverages.

Leveraging Sproutly’s transformational technology to create the world’s first and only truly natural water-soluble cannabinoids, the partners will develop, produce and market beverages that will solve the major issues that limit the consumer appeal of cannabis-infused beverages in the market today: 1) a beverage that actually tastes good and 2) that can provide the cannabis experience with an immediate onset and controllable experience of up to 90 minutes. Sproutly and Moosehead intend to be ready to put recreational infused beverages on the shelves by the time of legalization.

Utilizing Sproutly’s acquired patent-pending process, validated by 13 years of scientific R&D, the partners will form a new company to launch a full line of infused products. Moosehead is an iconic Canadian brand, selling more than 140 million bottles of beer annually across Canada, the U.S. and 15 countries around the world. The company’s 152 years of beverage experience and formulation prowess has led to over a dozen popular brands, including licensed and supporting partner brands such as Angry Orchard, Twisted Tea and Samuel Adams beer, proving the ability to manufacture and market leading adult beverages. In addition, the Oland family who owns 100% of Moosehead also owned the beer brand Alexander Keith’s prior to its sale to Labatt Brewery Company which is currently owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Unlike other lopsided joint venture forays into cannabis beverages, the Sproutly-Moosehead agreement is a 50-50 equity partnership structured to maximize the alignment of interests. Even the board of directors will have an equal number of board members from each company, with Sproutly appointing the chairman. The joint venture includes a five-year exclusive agreement for Sproutly to deliver its breakthrough water-soluble cannabis solution, and Moosehead will license all its brands and related intellectual property to the new company formed by the agreement. Moosehead will provide marketing, distribution, logistics, admin and other resources while Sproutly will deliver formulation, R&D, marketing and other resources.

Underscoring the significance of the agreement, Matthew Oland, a Moosehead executive and scion of the founders, will leave Moosehead to become CEO of the newly formed company. Moosehead and Sproutly combined appear to be going all in on this enterprise.

Paradigm Shift

Perplexing problems plague the creation of ingestible cannabinoids. Cannabinoids and terpenes are completely insoluble in water resulting in serious difficulties with absorption, dosing, efficacy and onset/offset times. For years laboratory-formulated cannabinoids have been engineered to become water compatible and sort of mimic water solubility. These techniques have been in use by pharmaceutical and beverage companies for decades, but production challenges and insolubility issues remain for cannabinoids. Relying on the same outdated, costly and ineffective techniques, these encapsulation and emulsion technologies are what’s currently being employed by the suitors to the cannabis-infused beverage bonanza.

Establishing a paradigm shift in how cannabis is effectively and efficiently processed, delivered and consumed, Sproutly is transcending the industry’s current antiquated regimens. Already a licensed premium cannabis producer with 1,400 kg annual production capacity, Sproutly also owns the rights to the world’s first and only naturally water-soluble cannabis technology for Canada, Australia, Jamaica, Israel and the entire European Union.

Sproutly’s partner who licensed the technology, Infusion Biosciences, discovered that the cannabis plant naturally produces water-soluble forms of phytochemicals. Infusion Biosciences then created a patent-pending Aqueous Phytorecovery Process (APP) for the recovery of naturally water-soluble phytochemicals (Infuz2O). Unlike encapsulation or emulsion, Infuz2O is a truly water-soluble cannabis solution that fully dissolves in water and can be easily and economically added directly into beverage formulations.

Infuz2O has the unique ability to deliver precise doses and measurable amounts of cannabis and is predictable, with less than five minutes onset and less than ninety minutes offset times, the same as smoking or vaping cannabis. Sproutly’s APP Technology also recovers valuable natural oil-based cannabinoids in addition to the water-soluble phytochemicals destined for beverages. Sproutly’s transformational technology produces the world’s only naturally water-soluble bioactive molecules that deliver the full experience of cannabis that is strain specific. Product and production advantages such as these could lead to a lion’s share of a market set to quickly balloon to billions of dollars.

Creating Value

Highly scalable, Sproutly’s pioneering technology is also an extremely cost-effective process to extract both water-soluble and naturally derived oil-based cannabinoids. Using its APP technology, Sproutly should be able to produce better quality products faster and cheaper than the competition. Little wonder Moosehead is so committed. Current methods require at least four complex processes to extract cannabis oil from biomass and three more to obtain water-compatible products.

In just two steps, using APP technology, Sproutly produces both water-soluble and oil-based cannabinoids without using any alcohol or solvents. And that’s not all. Using current CO2 extraction methods, THC recovery rate is about 60%. Sproutly’s APP Technology delivers a total of 90% THC recovery rate. The economic ramifications seem obvious. This isn’t an idea or concept; the technology is in place. In fact, the APP Technology is already proven in real-world applications and is ready for full operational deployment.

Shortly after acquiring Infusion Biosciences Canada and the rights to use the APP technology, Sproutly entered an exclusive technology license agreement with Micronutrient Technologies to produce nutritional minerals in water solutions in a low-cost, scalable process. The agreement provides Sproutly the unique ability to add healthy, water-soluble minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, and in different combinations, directly into various cannabis beverages without artificial chemical additives. Sproutly now has the unequaled ability to create beverages that not only cater to cannabis consumers but also cross over to the large, functional beverage market. Sproutly’s seemingly unparalleled versatility in beverage formulation crosses multiple sectors with limitless end-user applications.

The joint venture with Moosehead not only validates Sproutly’s technology but also positions the venture to reap enormous rewards in the nascent cannabis-infused market. And this may only be the beginning for Sproutly.

In the Hunt

Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) is one of the established cannabis companies in the hunt for the infused-beverage market. In December, the company announced a research partnership with Anheuser-Busch. Tilray also recently announced that it was bringing executives into its leadership team who have strong backgrounds working for big beverage companies.

Focused on healthy beverages, New Age Beverages Corp. (NASDAQ: NBEV) is banking on the popularity of Bob Marley to help grow its products. The company’s Marley+CBD products will first begin roll out in four U.S. states, although a date hasn’t been established for when that will happen.

Last August, Constellation Brands, the maker of Corona and Modelo beer, increased its stake in Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC) to 38%, spurring speculation of cannabis-infused beverages to come. Canopy’s forays into the U.S. hemp markets suggest CBD beverages may be on the horizon.

HEXO Corp. (NYSE American: HEXO) (TSX: HEXO) entered a joint venture with Molson Coors Canada (MCC) last summer to produce CBD-infused beverages in which the brewing giant took 57.5% ownership. The new company will be led by a former Molson Coors executive. As part of the deal, HEXO issued 11,500,000 warrants to MCC.

There’s little argument where the cannabis markets are headed, and all indications point to infused beverages becoming the next big surge. Perhaps the lofty forecasts for the cannabis-infused beverages market in Canada will imitate past cannabis projections and vastly exceed expectations again.

For more information on Sproutly Canada, visit Sproutly Canada Inc. (OTCQB: SRUTF) (CSE: SPR) (FRA: 38G)

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