“I am cautiously optimistic and believe 2021 could be a monumental year for the entire cannabis industry.”

Each month, Charles Town Holdings profiles a member of our investment banking team. This month we get to know Garrett Hale.

Garrett leads CTH’s focus on the Cannabis & Hemp Markets. Previously, Garrett was with Roth Capital Partners, advising and providing  capital formation for growth-stage private companies in verticals including technology, software, healthcare, med-tech, cannabis / hemp, and consumer sectors. Before that he founded the San Diego Trade Organization, SD Sport Innovators in partnership with NBA Hall of Famer, Bill Walton. He led SDSI’s mission to provide capital formation, mentorship, and networking opportunities to sports and active lifestyle companies in Southern California while growing membership to 80 + companies, ranging from service-sector providers to large sports-centric organizations and companies. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University. 

Tell us about your work in the cannabis space in 2020.

This year has been all about the slow and steady approach as the Cannabis industry has gone through its ups and downs. Debt and M&A deals dominated the industry for much of the year as equity investors were meticulously looking for value opportunities as valuation slowly came back down to realistic levels. I’ve worked on an array of deals this year that include capital raises for a Texas-based vertically integrated medical license holder looking to become the major player in what should be one of the biggest cannabis markets in the US, a secondhand smoke filtration technology company that has created a new product category, a dominant CA  retailer looking to bolster its already impressive dispensary footprint in California, and advising a few clients on a M&A opportunities around the country.

This past election is going to bring significant change to the Cannabis space. What do you expect to see in 2021?

I am cautiously optimistic and believe 2021 could be a monumental year for the entire cannabis industry. The “green wave” continues to sweep the nation as five additional states (AZ, MT, NJ, SD, MS) passed pro-cannabis legislation bringing the total to 44 states having some sort of pro-cannabis legislation (adult-use, medical-use, and or CBD oil only).  According to recent cannabis industry statistics, about two-thirds of the population supports Federal legislation of marijuana. President-elect Joe Biden has said he would support Federal decriminalization of cannabis, Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris sponsored a previous version of the MORE Act in the Senate plus openly supports its descheduling, a friendly or at least non-hostile Department of Justice and Attorney General, and if the Senate were to flip (depends on Georgia Senate seats run-off results) to Democratic majority you would have all branches of the government become pro-cannabis possibly resulting in federal descheduling, banking reform, decriminalization, etc. As you could imagine this would be great news for all investors looking at cannabis opportunities as the barriers to entry would be knocked down as it would become federally legal to invest in the space, the US public exchanges like the NYSE and NASDAQ would eventually allow cannabis companies to list thus giving investors a path to liquidity they never had, and strategic investors like big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big Beer, etc would have the ability to make acquisitions / investments in US cannabis companies. A recent Forbes headline said it best, “It’s Time To Admit: Drugs Won The War On Drugs.” 

What changes do you expect within the banking system and how the industry is regulated?

Cannabis specific banking reform is a must and would pave the way for cannabis businesses to gain access to traditional Financial Services, which would be a game-changer for the industry as most marijuana businesses deal primarily with cash. The latest COVID-19 relief bill contains the SAFE Banking Act which would decrease the national deficit, increase tax revenues at both the federal and state levels, help public policy, and does not cost the government anything… It’s a no-brainer. Tax revenue from cannabis will be key to helping states recover from COVID stimulus spending. Like everything in cannabis, it’s going to take time and patience.

Cannabis is a very large industry. What are some of the sub-sectors in the space that offer the most opportunity?

A few areas of opportunity within the cannabis industry to keep an eye on:

  1. Personalized cannabis consumption—cannabis has so many health benefits however, like any drug, it affects people differently, so personalization is key to gaining new users and holding on to current ones
  2. Expansion of legalization —  additional states coming online means new opportunities throughout the value chain
  3. Delivery Tech—people want their product quickly and securely
  4. Brands — no dominant players, highly fragmented state to state, brand authenticity is important to users

Tell us three things that most people don’t know about Garrett Hale.

  1. I’ve been microdosing cannabis for years
  2.  I’m a big proponent of collaboration
  3.  I’m a family man as I believe that’s the most important thing in life.