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MedMen, The $1.7 Billion Apple Store of Weed, Goes Bankrupt Just as Marijuana Gets Rescheduled in America


medmen goes bankrupt

MedMen Enterprises Inc. has admitted defeat, citing financial woes and an inability to settle its debts, revealed Amit Pandey, the former chief financial officer of the cannabis company, late Friday.

MedMen, once a celebrated pioneer in the cannabis industry and dubbed the ‘Apple store of weed,’ has been hit by a string of setbacks in recent years. These include financial woes, the shuttering of retail outlets, workforce reductions, legal battles, and internal disputes among top executives, all of which have led to the company’s current predicament.

In a press release issued on Friday, MedMen declared that they have carefully assessed the company’s and its subsidiaries’ current financial state. This assessment also includes their incapacity to meet financial obligations as they come and the imminent actions by secured creditors. To that end, they’ve reached the challenging decision to cease operations and initiate Bankruptcy Proceedings and Receivership Proceedings.”

Considering these factors and with no viable alternatives at hand, the Company’s board of directors concluded that proceeding with the Bankruptcy Proceedings and Receivership Proceedings was in the Company’s best interest,” the statement continued.

Here Are A Few Indications

Once revered as a titan in the cannabis industry, with a valuation soaring as high as $1.7 billion as a public entity, MedMen faced imminent financial collapse over a year ago, as revealed in a December 2022 regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. At that time, the company possessed a mere $15.6 million in cash while grappling with a staggering $137.4 million debt load.

Following its initial financial struggles, MedMen faced a series of challenges. Store closures and inventory liquidation began in California, and the company defaulted on payments, leading to severed partnerships with major brands. Landlords demanded overdue rent payments. Amid this turmoil, top executives and board members started to depart, signaling deeper turmoil within the company, as the Green Market Report reported.

What Caused the Downfall?

The crux of the issue likely stems from the company’s swift expansion, driven by the initial excitement surrounding the 2018 legalization of cannabis in California. However, as is often the case nationwide, legalization marked just the beginning, leading to confrontations with the intricate realities of an industry rife with regulatory barriers, hefty taxes, and hampered by federal law.

Despite enjoying early triumphs, MedMen encountered a slew of obstacles, including legal disputes, unsuccessful acquisitions, and competition from both legal and underground cannabis markets.

Six years following an IPO that propelled its valuation to over $3 billion, MedMen, a cannabis retailer, now holds negligible value. Its recent bankruptcy filing in a California court signifies the final blow in a dramatic downfall for a company emblematic of the broader trials facing the legal cannabis sector.

“MedMen has been ‘DeadMen’ for many investors for quite some time,” remarked cannabis industry analyst Alan Brochstein to Fortune. “While this outcome may have been foreseeable to some, not everyone anticipated it.”

MedMen swiftly penetrated the legal cannabis scene following California’s legalization of recreational use in 2016. Initially lauded as the “Apple store of weed,” MedMen’s retail outlets boasted “sleek branding” and a “premium design aesthetic,” as outlined in a 2022 investor presentation.

To capitalize on the anticipated surge in legal cannabis demand, MedMen embarked on an ambitious expansion, opening upscale storefronts in prominent areas such as Venice Beach, New York’s Fifth Avenue, and near the Las Vegas Strip. Riding a wave of positive media coverage and public excitement surrounding legal cannabis, the company enjoyed significant attention.

Under the leadership of co-founder Adam Bierman, who launched the venture in his twenties, MedMen made its debut on the public market in 2018 at slightly above $3 per share. Investor enthusiasm drove its share price to double by the year’s end.

Buoyed by early triumphs, MedMen aimed for rapid growth, accumulating hundreds of millions in debt and pursuing an extensive $682 million merger with competitor PharmaCann. However, the merger collapsed following a Department of Justice announcement of an antitrust investigation, exacerbating MedMen’s financial woes.

As the broader cannabis market faced headwinds, compounded by concerns over regulatory scrutiny of hazardous vape cartridges, investor confidence waned, hindering MedMen’s ability to repay creditors. They went public in 2018. And by the time we reached 2020, [MedMen] was in big trouble, remarked Brochstein. They took on too much debt and made overzealous promises.”

Throughout 2019, MedMen’s stock plummeted, shedding 92% of its value as the company grappled with exorbitant tax obligations and struggled to compete against unlicensed sellers offering lower prices. The onset of the pandemic, however, triggered a surge in demand, providing MedMen and other cannabis retailers with a reprieve through 2020.

The cannabis industry did better than anybody would have expected in 2020. Despite this unexpected boon, it proved insufficient. At its peak, MedMen boasted 25 branches nationwide and had ambitious plans for international expansion. However, today, all but two locations have permanently shuttered.

Bierman, the co-founder, was ousted in early 2020 amidst a slew of high-profile lawsuits alleging racism, stock manipulation, and misuse of company funds to finance an extravagant lifestyle complete with private security and customized Cadillac Escalades.

A Fall From Grace

MedMen’s bankruptcy filing, unveiling over $400 million in liabilities, marks the final chapter in its stunning collapse. Hindered by steep interest rates and sour investor sentiment, the company could not refinance its debt, eventually ceasing SEC disclosures altogether.

“The capital markets were cut off for them so they couldn’t fix their old mistakes,” noted Brochstein.

The once-vibrant unicorn of the cannabis industry now stands bankrupt, with assets valued at a mere $1 (yes, just a dollar) and liabilities totaling $410 million, as detailed in the company’s bankruptcy documents. Predictably, MedMen’s shares, dormant for weeks, face imminent delisting following its steep downward spiral in 2024. At the start of this decline, the OTC Marketplace devalued the company to zero in January.

MedMen’s complete downfall serves as a sobering lesson in the ever-evolving cannabis sector, where once a fault appears, the entire structure can unravel swiftly.






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