Vape supplier Greenlane Holdings Inc. GNLN, -6.36% and Canadian weed producer Tilray Inc. TLRY, +5.24% merged with MJ Freeway with a specialized purpose acquisition company by the name of MTech Acquisition became the first cannabis-based software stock to be listed on Nasdaq in history, Tuesday.
And they did it with a strategy that is not new but still remains brilliant. Instead of going through the costly and time-consuming processes of initial public offerings, the companies went into a merger and started offering stocks.
The resulting entity, called Akerna Corp. KERN, +68.79% began trading Tuesday and closed up 28% at $15.35. By Tuesday’s close, the company’s market value was $71.9 million after 144,897 shares changed hands, according to FactSet.
While Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange have banned companies that violate U.S. federal law, including those that sell marijuana and other cannabis products, Canadian companies can cross-list there in the U.S. by the virtue that cannabis is legal in Canada. This is the reason why American pot companies are forced to list in Canadian stock exchanges.
MJ Freeway is best known for two types of software: seed-to-sale technology required by states such as Washington and California, which tracks cannabis through its eventual sale to consumers; and “enterprise resource planning” software for cultivators, pot stores and manufacturers, similar to what Oracle Corp. ORCL, -0.39% offers for other industries.
“MJ Freeway was born 9½ years ago — we invented the concept of seed-to-sale tracking,” MJ Freeway Chief Executive Jessica Billingsley said in an interview. “It didn’t exist outside of cannabis. There were other models that had pieces of it, but nothing that pulled together all those pieces. It did have to be built from the ground up … we also built in compliance across the entire supply chain in every legal jurisdiction.”