Pot Topics is a weekly collection of cannabis-related news curated by the Chicago Sun-Times. Here’s the latest news for this week:

  • Chicago-based pot company Cresco Labs plans to go pubic in Canada
  • Oak Park-based medical marijuana firm PharmaCann sold for record sum
  • Republican congressman says White House is ready to reform cannabis laws
  • FDA seeks public’s insight on marijuana reclassification
  • Marlboro maker eyes investment in cannabis industry
  • Canada set to become second country to legalize marijuana
  • Award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal details new line of edibles
  • CBD cocktails, pot-centric discussions on the menu at Logan Square pop-up

Cresco Labs to go public in Canada

A Cresco grower tending to marijuana plants. | Cresco website.

River North-based Cresco Labs, Illinois’ largest cannabis cultivator, announced plans Wednesday to go public in Canada through a reverse takeover of an existing company.

Cresco has signed a binding agreement to take over Randsburg International Gold Corp. in a deal that’s expected to close during the final quarter of 2018, which ends on Dec. 31. While Randburg is listed on the NEX board of Canada’s TSX Venture Exchange, Cresco is seeking approval to list its shares on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

“The Canadian market has been very supportive of U.S.-based cannabis companies, and we look forward to having expanded access to capital that will help us accelerate our strategic growth plan,” Cresco CEO Charlie Bachtell said in a statement.

The announcement comes less than a month after Cresco raised $100 million in Series D funding, which marks the second-largest private funding round for an American pot company.

Cresco is currently operating cultivation and dispensary facilities in Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Meanwhile, the company is getting new facilities up and running in Ohio and California, which is primed to become the world’s largest cannabis market.

Green Thumb Insdustries — or GTI, another River North-based cannabis company that has cultivation and dispensary facilities in multiple states — previously went public in Canada through a reverse takeover. GTI raised $61 million through the deal.

PharmaCann sold for a record $682 million

newly transplanted cannabis cuttings grow in soilless media in pots

MedMen Enterprises Inc. has acquired Oak Park-based PharmaCann for a whopping $682 million. | AP file photo

MedMen, one of the most touted American pot brands, recently acquired Oak Park-based medical marijuana company PharmaCann for $682 million, marking the largest acquisition in the history of the budding cannabis industry.

L.A.-based MedMen, which has also gone public in Canada through a reverse takeover, will now have 13 cultivation centers and 66 retail stores spread across 12 states.

MedMen currently has operations in California, Nevada, New York and Florida. The company will now pick up PharmaCann’s licenses in Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan.

In Illinois, MedMen will acquire dispensaries in Arlington Heights, Evanston, North Aurora and Ottawa, as well as grow operations in Dwight and Hillcrest.

“This is a transformative acquisition that will create the largest U.S. cannabis company in the world’s largest cannabis market,” said MedMen CEO Adam Bierman. “This would not have been possible even two years ago and is a testament to how far both the industry and these two companies have evolved.”

GOP lawmaker: White House to unveil pot reform plan

President Donald Trump in Orlando

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher said the Trump administration has committed to regulating medical marijuana. | AP Photo

Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, R-Calif., told Fox Business this week that President Donald Trump’s administration has made a “solid commitment” to regulating marijuana nationwide.

Rohrbacher noted that Trump has publicly supported the federal legalization of medical marijuana while encouraging states to individually sort out laws dealing with recreational use.

“I have been reassured that the president intends on keeping his campaign promise,” Rohrbacher said.

“I would expect after the election we will sit down and we’ll start hammering out something that is specific and real,” he added.

FDA wants public comments on potential weed reclassification

the Food and Drug Administration campus in Silver Spring, Md.

The FDA is asking for public comments on marijuana reclassification. | AP file photo

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has started asking for the public’s insight on the “abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use” of marijuana and other drugs under international review, Forbes reported.

“These comments will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the abuse liability and diversion of these drugs,” according to a Federal Register filing published Wednesday. “WHO will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs.”

WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence is slated to meet next month in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the reclassification of the drugs under review. Other substances on the list include five types of the powerful opioid fentanyl and the pain reliever tramadol.

To submit a statement, follow the instructions outlined in the FDA’s filing.

Marlboro maker in discussions to invest in pot company

Altria, Marlboro’s parent company, is in talks to acquire part of a Canadian pot cultivator. | File photo

Virginia-based tobacco purveyor Altria, the parent company of Marlboro, could be the next large American corporation to invest in the marijuana industry.

According to a report from the Globe and Mail, Altria is considering acquiring an equity stake in Canadian cannabis cultivator Aphria. In addition to its tobacco holdings, Altria also owns a significant stake in Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewer and the maker of Budweiser.

Details of the deal have not been finalized.

Canada to legalize cannabis next week

Another big first for the marijuana industry is in the books: A major Canadian pot business has completed an initial public stock offering in the United States.

Canada is primed to become the second country to legalize marijuana on Wednesday. | AP file photo

On Wednesday, Canada will become the second and largest country to fully legalize marijuana for recreational use. Last year, Uruguay legalized sales of the drug after several years of planning.

It’s a profound social shift promised by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and fueled by a desire to bring the black market into a regulated, taxed system after nearly a century of prohibition.

Hannah Hetzer, who tracks international marijuana policy for the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, called Canada’s move “extremely significant,” given that about 25 countries have already legalized the medical use of marijuana or decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot. A few, including Mexico, have expressed an interest in regulating recreational use.

“It’s going to change the global debate on drug policy,” she said. “There’s no other country immediately considering legalizing the nonmedical use of cannabis, but I think Canada will provide almost the permission for other countries to move forward.”

At least 109 legal pot shops are expected to open across the nation of 37 million people next Wednesday, with many more to come, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces. For now, they’ll offer dried flower, capsules, tinctures and seeds, with sales of marijuana-infused foods and concentrates expected to begin next year.

Chicago pastry chef Mindy Segal launches 2nd edibles line

James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Mindy Segal, discusses her new cannabis edibles line. | Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Mindy Segal, discusses her new cannabis edibles line. | Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal recently released her second line of cannabis-infused edibles, a mix of gummies, hard candies and fruit chews.

In an exclusive interview with the Sun-Times, Segal discussed her brand’s expansion into new states, her partnership with Cresco and the state of the pot business. To read the full story and watch the video, click here.

Logan Square pot pop-up offer CBD-infused cocktails, 420-friendly lectures

Mike Battista walks through an art installation Saturday at the Yes We Cann pop-up in Logan Square. Tom Schuba/Sun-Times

Mike Battista walks through an art installation Saturday at the Yes We Cann pop-up in Logan Square. Tom Schuba/Sun-Times

Hordes of marijuana-industry insiders and Logan Square denizens flocked to a pop-up bar last weekend in the hip Northwest Side neighborhood to sip CBD-infused cocktails and hear presentations about all things pot.

The Yes We Cann event ran from Oct. 5-7 at Emporium Popups at 2367 N. Milwaukee Ave. To read more about it, click here.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

Upcoming cannabis events in the Chicago area:

Sun-Times Cannabis Info Guides:

Our coverage also includes: