Weed, marijuana, pot, cannabis, loud, Mary Jane, sticky icky, green, chronic, tea… Whatever you call it, it is a growing market in the United States. Ten or fifteen years ago you would have been laughed out of a room if you brought up the idea of legalized marijuana in the U.S. In recent years though, the trend has definitely been in that direction. Medical marijuana has been around for years, but legalized recreational marijuana is fairly new. Ten states now have voted in favor of recreational marijuana, and our northern neighbor, Canada, legalized marijuana on the national level in 2018.
Medical marijuana has been around since California became the first state to legalize it for medical use when voters approved it in 1991. Since that time, medical marijuana laws have been put in place in 33 states, and many more are considering new legislation to join the list.
Whether you believe that cannabis should be legal, either recreationally or medically, you cannot deny the direction we are headed. We are in the early days of the marijuana revolution, but as more states move in that direction more will follow.
The pot market is huge, and at this point it really is anyone’s guess how big it will be. It has the potential to disrupt several of the biggest industries including soda, alcohol, tobacco and even the healthcare sector.
It is still the early days, and the companies that are able to take the lead today have the best chance at dominating the market as it grows. Here are five marijuana stocks involved in the cultivation side of the business that have risen to the top of the industry.
Canopy Growth (CGC)
Canopy Growth (CGC) is a marijuana grower based in Ontario, Canada. The stock has exploded over the last year, and shares are currently trading 148 percent above the 52-week low set last April. Investor optimism is fueled by Canada’s move to legalize marijuana last fall, and the increasing number of states in the U.S. that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. Last summer Constellation Brands (STZ) saw the potential in Canopy and invested $4 billion. Constellation now owns 38% of the company.
Lagunitas, a Dutch craft-beer company already has cannabis-infused sparkling water, and the market for cannabis drinks has a lot of potential. As one of the largest marijuana producers, and analysts have predicted that Canopy’s global market opportunity could hit $200 billion over the next 15 years. CGC trades at $47.39 with an average price target of $55.46.
Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB)
Aurora Cannabis (ACB) has been volatile over the last year, with the stock winding up basically where it was trading this time last year. The stock recently gapped higher after analysts at Cowen said they believe Aurora will become the first profitable marijuana company. Cowen named the stock its top pick in the sector, a title previously held by Canopy Growth (CGC). Cowen cited Aurora’s initial gains in Canada’s recreational market, and the company’s large cultivation infrastructure. Since Canada legalized marijuana on a national level, marijuana dispensaries have struggled to keep up with demand, and it has become obvious that the companies with the ability to significantly ramp up production will become the clear leaders.
Aurora already controls around 20 percent of the recreational market, and its cultivation expertise and infrastructure should allow it to increase its share moving forward. ACB is trading at $7.71 with a $7.17 average price target.
Cronos Group (CRON)
Another marijuana grower that has attracted a huge investor is Cronos Group (CRON). Tobacco giant Altria (MO) announced it would invest around $1.8 billion in Cronos for a 45 percent stake in the company. Altria also received warrants that, if exercised, would give Altria a 55 percent in Cronos. Altria has been looking for ways to battle declining smoking rates, and it believes the future marijuana market is just that. The deal gave Cronos a stronger balance sheet, and if the day ever comes where marijuana is legalized for recreational use in the U.S., Cronos will be in the driver’s seat thanks to Altria’s infrastructure and political connections.
CRON stock has trended steadily higher over the last six months and is currently just shy of its all-time high at $22.84.
Tilray (TLRY) started public trading last summer, and after a huge initial run, the stock settled in the mid-$70s has been trending sideways for the last four months. Looking at more than just cultivating marijuana, Tilray recently purchased the world’s largest hemp food company, Manitoba Harvest, for around $313 million. With the acquisition, Tilray plans to make and deliver new CBD wellness products and hemp-based foods to both U.S. and Canadian markets. By acquiring Manitoba’s distribution network, Tilray will more easily expand into both markets. Analysts see huge upside in the stock, with an average price target of $146.67 versus its current price of $78.13.
MariMed (MRMD) is the only U.S., non-Canadian, marijuana stock in this week’s list. The company is based out of Massachusetts, where recreational marijuana recently became legal. The first legal sales in the state started in November, and it is still the very early stages of dispensaries opening for retail sale. What is important about MariMed is that the company itself does not actually grow marijuana. What it does do though, is to help a lot of other companies do it. The company consults on the designing and operations of marijuana facilities. As more states move in the direction of medical or complete recreational legalization, MariMed’s expertise in the industry will be in high demand.
The future of marijuana in the U.S. is very unclear, and it will be a long time before the U.S. follows Canada’s lead on national legalization, but the trend is definitely moving in that direction, and whether it is medial or recreational expansion, MariMed will have an easy time moving into new states with their expertise to help companies in the new markets develop their cultivation centers.