CannabisNewsWire Editorial Coverage: As the cannabis industry sees its profits and legitimacy rise, the market potential is drawing increased attention from big investors.
- The U.S. and global cannabis sector is seeing great growth, lifted by the success of medical and recreational cannabis and legalization in Canada.
- This is drawing in previously reluctant investors as companies become listed on stock exchanges.
- Greater integration within the sector is both a symptom of and a support for this cannabis boom.
Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTC: NUGS) (NUGS Profile) shows this integrated approach, bringing together cultivation, product sales and personnel services for the cannabis industry. Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) is working across borders on international research to create better cannabis-based medicines. Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE: CGC) (TSX: WEED) has benefited hugely from the surge in investor attention, receiving billions in investment from the beverage sector. CBD products are allowing parts of the cannabis sector to achieve widespread acceptance, thanks to the work of companies like Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: CWBHF) (CSE: CWEB). All of this means a rise in sales for suppliers of hydroponic equipment such as GrowGeneration Corp. (OTCQX: GRWG).
Cannabis’s Money Problems
The legal cannabis industry is one of the newest in the world and one weighed down with a great deal of baggage. Decades in the legal wilderness have tainted the public image of the drug, leaving many potential customers and investors with a negative knee-jerk reaction to the sector and its products. Even now, as legal cannabis becomes more common on a state-by-state basis, the U.S. industry is held back by lingering federal laws enacted as a result of the war on drugs.
This has created challenges for cannabis companies in search of finance. Both the legal restrictions in the United States and historical prejudice against the industry have made it hard to find mainstream investors. But with the market expanding and profits rising significantly year on year, that looks set to change.
The Signs of Change
In the United States, the cannabis industry is taking off in a big way. California is the largest of the nine state-sized markets for recreational cannabis, so it makes sense that the state has become home to many of the companies working in the sector, such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTC: NUGS). But the seeds for the rise of these companies lie elsewhere.
The first signs of the huge potential for a legal cannabis market came in 1996, when California passed Proposition 215, the first law making medical cannabis legal in a U.S. state. The medical market quickly took off, with legal companies moving into a business previously owned entirely by criminals, while other states considered such legislation of their own. Just over 20 years later, 31 states have legal medical cannabis markets, and a whole host of companies have sprung up to cater to them. Knowledge of cannabis’s benefits has also grown swiftly, thanks to these companies’ research efforts.
But the biggest bellwether for growth in the recreational market has come from north of the border. This October, Canada became the first G8 country to legalize recreational cannabis on a national level. The result is a tightly regulated and quickly growing industry that is setting an example for the rest of the world.
That example holds out great promise for the likes of companies such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures. Cannabis Strategic Ventures has taken a portfolio approach to the cannabis sector, developing a range of brands covering areas such as cannabis oil, concentrate extraction services, staffing for the cannabis sector, and most recently cannabis cultivation itself.
The industry is growing quickly, with analysts predicting that it will reach $65 billion by 2023. That’s creating plenty of space for companies such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures to grow. It’s also drawing the attention of investors.
The Rise of Cannabis Investment
The cannabis industry didn’t initially attract a lot of funding from investors. The potential of cannabis as a legal market was unclear, and it came with risks thanks to the drug’s illegality at a federal level. Investors couldn’t yet see much potential for profit, and they were wary of throwing their financial lot in with such a dubious group.
Now, however, the market has had time to mature. The sector isn’t just a handful of cultivators and retailers trying to work on an untested business model. There are specialist cannabis tech firms, research outfits and umbrella companies such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures. It’s looking more and more like a conventional market sector — though a market sector subject to staggering growth.
The result is a growing surge of investment. Since January this year, U.S. cannabis companies have raised more than $8.2 billion of investment, while their Canadian cousins raised $2.2 billion in October alone.
Getting listed on a stock exchange is invaluable to a getting a company’s stocks in front of powerful investors and thus raising additional funds. Larger cannabis companies are looking at moving from the Toronto exchange to the New York Stock Exchange, the largest stock market in the world, while others such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures are preparing for their first listings.
Investors are more prepared now to take a chance on the cannabis market. Stock exchange presence will allow cannabis companies to tap into that potential and so to take a stronger place in a fast-growing market.
A Fractured Industry
The American cannabis industry is a fractured one. Without the well-established business relationships and support structures of longer-standing sectors, many of the pieces are small and disjointed. Progress has been driven primarily by small startups.
The same moment of maturity that has brought the recent wave of investment has also brought the seeds of change for the industry’s structure. Some companies are using mergers and takeovers to build bigger businesses focused on particular parts of the sector, benefiting from the efficiencies these acquisitions bring. Others are diversifying to create companies with greater reach across the sector and even potential to take it to new places. Cannabis Strategic Ventures, for example, is expanding its product lines to include beauty products even as it adds cultivation to its portfolio for greater vertical integration.
Within the industry, one of the big fractures in the United States is that between the different states. With cannabis still illegal under federal laws, businesses have to operate within the borders of individual states with their own local regulations. Though some companies have operations in several states, it’s not yet possible to create a properly integrated national operation, at least in part because of states where the drug remains entirely illegal. But with the White House hinting at potential reform, this is something that could change over the next few years. While politicians respond slowly to public and investor demand for a more efficient and integrated cannabis sector, it’s the companies that are leading the way.
An Industry Coming Together
Despite the limitations they face, cannabis companies are finding ways to come together and cooperate, both within the United States and across international borders.
Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY), a leading medical cannabis company, is supporting research work beyond the borders of the United States. As a supplier of materials for clinical trials in Canada and Australia, Tilray working with other research-oriented companies to increase understanding of the effects of cannabis and develop better treatments based upon it. These could be invaluable in treating such problems as chemotherapy-induced nausea and childhood epilepsy. And while the work has an invaluable humanitarian element, it’s also appealing to investors who recognize the profits present in the pharmaceutical industry.
Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE: CGC) (TSX: WEED) is one of the great investment success stories. One of Canada’s largest cannabis companies, it has attracted several billion dollars of investment from Constellation Brands, an American drinks manufacturer. This represents an interesting twist on integration within the cannabis industry, with an alcohol company looking to get involved in other recreational chemicals. Tobacco companies have been taking a similar interest in cannabis, and the industry may one day bleed over into one or both of these related sectors.
Already connected into the cannabis industry is industrial hemp, a form of cannabis that doesn’t get users high. Recent years have seen a surge in sales of cannabidiol (CBD) products, which use a compound extracted from industrial hemp. Companies such as Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: CWBHF) (CSE: CWEB) have had huge success is developing and marketing CBD-based health and wellness products. These products are gaining mainstream acceptance, with Charlotte’s Web getting its products into three thousand outlets.
The success of cannabis growers and retailers has been a boon for companies providing the products and services they need. GrowGeneration Corp. (OTCQX: GRWG), which supplies hydroponic systems and nutrients used in growing cannabis, has seen a massive rise in sales off the back of legalization initiatives. The company’s sales went up by 80 percent in 2017, and it has acquired several smaller companies to help it make the most of this surging demand.
Greater investment helps companies to achieve these successes, which in turn draw in greater investment. As more cannabis companies hit the big stock exchanges, the industry looks set to see its growth continue.
For more information on Cannabis Strategic Ventures, visit Cannabis Strategic Ventures, Inc. (NUGS)
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