DEA-endorsed marijuana research grower debuts on Nasdaq; shares soar

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Bright Green Corp. made U.S. marijuana industry history Tuesday.

The Florida-based company, which says it has conditional approval from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to grow marijuana for research purposes, became the first American plant-touching company to trade on a major exchange in the United States – in this case, the Nasdaq.

The stock, traded under the ticker symbol BGXX, opened at $15.99, after the Nasdaq on Monday issued an $8 reference price for what is called a direct listing, according to Bloomberg.

Shares traded as high as $36.44 before closing at $25.25, reflecting a 216% increase over the reference price.

In a direct listing, existing shareholders sell their stock and the company itself doesn’t receive proceeds.

The Nasdaq consulted with Bright Green’s financial adviser, EF Hutton, before setting the $8 reference price.

Stockholders had offered to sell up to 158.2 million shares, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Bright Green’s market value at Tuesday’s closing price was roughly $4 billion – even though the company has yet to generate sales.

The Fort Lauderdale-based company is building a $300 million manufacturing and cultivation facility in the small New Mexico town of Grants, about 80 miles west of Albuquerque.

The company also said it plans to sell marijuana products on commercial markets if and when the plant becomes legal under federal law.

Marijuana’s illegal status federally has prevented U.S.-based plant-touching companies from listing on major U.S. exchanges such as the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange.

For decades, the University of Mississippi was the sole DEA-approved cannabis cultivator in the U.S., but the DEA has begun licensing additional cultivators.

In its regulatory filings, Bright Green differentiated itself from state-legal marijuana businesses, noting that it expects to operate with federal government approval.

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Bright Green CEO Edward Robinson owns 5 million shares of the company’s stock, and his wife owns 605,000 shares, according to an SEC filing on May 13.

The largest shareholder is company director Lynn Stockwell with 69,611,470 shares, followed by director Terry Rafih with 20,005,000 shares, according to SEC filings.

Jeff Smith can be reached at