Cannabis Firm MPX Takes Aim at N.J., California Markets

MPX Bioceutical Corp. (MPXEF) plans to take part in a closely-watched contest for one of six new medical cannabis licenses in New Jersey now in play, as it expands its footprint into more U.S. states.

The potential move into the Garden State caps off a busy few weeks for MPX, which just inked a deal to move into the California market and won final approval to open its first dispensary in Maryland.

MPX Bioceutical Corporation COO Beth Stavola said the company plans to hire another 100 people in coming months to bring its total headcount up to about 350.

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It’s opening two more facilities in Maryland, and it’s about to open its first store in Massachusetts, in Fall River. Another Massachusetts location is planned for Attleboro, with a third location pending.

MPX is also participating in a call by New Jersey to award six more medical marijuana licenses. The state this past week called for applications with a tight deadline of August 31.

MPX is planning to apply for the licenses for vertically integrated companies to cultivate, process and sell medical marijuana.

Stavola, a New Jersey resident, said she supports the state’s efforts to ramp up its medical marijuana program under Gov. Phil Murphy.

“New Jersey offers huge potential for MPX,” she said. “It was frustrating to see the abysmal program under ex-Gov. Chris Christie. The program is going to thrive under our new governor.”

With tobacco tax revenue dwindling and a need for more income, New Jersey needs cannabis sales tax revenue, she said.

She expects the health license award process to be “very competitive” with other industry players.

The larger companies active or operating businesses in the region include MedMen (MMNFF) , Terra Tech (TRTC) , and Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF) . Acreage operates one of the existing medical cannabis businesses in the state.

In California, MPX Bioceutical on Thursday, July 19, said it inked an agreement with Case Farms Collective, the largest cannabis processing facility in southern California, to enter the state for the first time. Operating under the trade name Oil Haus, Case Farms runs a 22,000 square foot extraction, post processing and packaging space in Long Beach.

Case Farms will distribute the MPX-branded cannabis concentrates to its licensed dispensary network. Scaling up since adult-use sales launched on January 1, the state’s cannabis market is expected to hit $3.7 billion by the end of 2018, and more than $5 billion in 2019 according to BDS Analytics.

“The California market is exciting, the shelves are bare in some dispensaries,” Stavola said. “We’ll see a short term opportunity to grow our business as well as a path for longer term expansion.”

CBD is also in demand in products in California.

“It’s growing so much it’s getting crazy,” Stavola said. “In juice bars, instead of a scoop of protein powder, they’re offering a scoop of CBD as a wellness supplement.”

In Maryland, MPX last month won final licensing approval from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to open its first dispensary, which will be managed by S8 Management, in Bethesda. The dispensary will operate under the Health for Life brand and will open on August 4.

Last month, MPX closed its roughly $13.7 million acquisition of Canveda, a licensed producer with a 12,000 square foot facility in Peterborough, Ontario.

Commenting on the success of Canada-based Tilray’s (TLRY) IPO on Thursday, Stavola said it’s “only a matter of time” before a U.S. cannabis producer will be able to list on a the NYSE or the Nasdaq.

Outside of her work with MPX, Stavola has also launched her own private company called CBD For Life, a NJ-based maker of CBD health and beauty products.

“I decided to do it party because other [CBD] products looked like they came out of somebody’s basement,” she said.

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