In late September, a U.S. House vote to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act was delayed until after the presidential election. If the House remains controlled by Democrats, industry analysts expect the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to potentially pass before the end of 2020. Then, it would be up to the Senate to possibly take a similar action. Today, we will look at three marijuana stocks to buy with decriminalization in the agenda.
Canada is the first and only G7 nation to have legalized cannabis nationwide. In the U.S., at the federal level, marijuana is illegal and remains a Schedule I drug. Legal status varies at the state level. However, Democratic vice president nominee Kamala Harris has recently said marijuana would be decriminalized at the federal level under a Biden administration.
2018 saw excessive speculation in marijuana stocks. Yet since 2019, a wide range of issues have affected the cannabis industry. Recreational cannabis sales in Canada hit significant headwinds and never reached the levels investors hoped. Although revenue improved for some companies, they have yet to become profitable. And cash burn remains concerning. As a result, most marijuana stocks have been on a roller coaster ride and hit new lows. Put another way, the bubble has burst.
According to recent research led by Douglas Berman of Ohio State University, “the COVID-19 pandemic has both introduced tremendous new challenges for the cannabis industry and exacerbated long-standing difficulties for businesses in this arena.”
Nonetheless, with difficulties usually come new opportunities while industry leaders and innovations may appear. With that information, here are three marijuana stocks that could benefit from U.S. developments at the federal level:
- Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ)
- ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSEARCA:MJ)
- GW Pharma (NASDAQ:GWPH)
Marijuana Stocks: Constellation Brands (STZ)
Constellation Brands is best known as a leading producer and marketer of alcoholic beverages. It holds a large portfolio of beer, wine and distilled spirits brands. Several of those well-recognized brands include Corona, Modelo, Robert Mondavi, Svedka vodka, Casa Noble tequila and High West whiskey. It is one the fastest-growing large consumer packaged goods companies stateside. Outside the U.S., it has operations in Italy, Mexico and New Zealand.
The Victor, New York-based group is on our list of marijuana stocks because in 2018, it took a large stake in Ontario, Canada-based Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), one of the leading Canadian marijuana producers. STZ’s 38%-stake in CGC means the latter now has considerable managerial and financial backing.
So far, this equity stake in Canopy Growth has been an earnings drag for Constellation Brands, and it will likely remain so in the near future. However, any potential improvement in the outlook of the pot sector in Canada and the U.S. could easily benefit STZ stock. Therefore, this indirect play on CGC could be a less risky approach for many investors.
Year-to-date, STZ stock is down about 1.5%. However, that metric tells only half the story. Since the lows hit in early spring, the stock is up about 80%. The current forward price-earnings and price-sales ratios stand at at 20.88 and 4.78 respectively. We’d look to buy the the dips in price, especially if there is a decline toward the $175 level.
ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ)
The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF offers exposure to Canadian cannabis producers as well as a number of firms with exposure to the industry, albeit indirectly. Thus the fund could be appropriate for long-term investors who are interested in the pot sector, but would like to have access to a diverse range of companies.
MJ, which has 37 holdings, tracks the Prime Alternative Harvest index. Canopy Growth, Cronos (NASDAQ:CRON), and Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) top the list of holdings. Top-10 names make up around half of net assets, which stand around $550 million. The ETF was launched in 2015.
So far this year, the fund is down more than 30% and hit an all-time low in March. Since 2019, MJ has lost considerable value, driven by the industry’s weakness and poor earnings by most pot companies. These stocks tend to be very choppy when their quarterly earnings are due. Given the volatility in the sector, long-term investors should be ready for large short-term price fluctuations in the fund. The sector is risky, but MJ’s diversification makes it safer than many alternatives.
GW Pharma (GWPH)
Our final marijuana stock is the cannabis-focused biotech GW Pharma. According to a recent report by the United Nations, Britain is the biggest producer and exporter of legal cannabis in the world. And almost all of the exports are in a single drug, i.e., Sativex, produced by the UK-based GW Pharma. It is used to treat spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.
Earlier in the year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration also descheduled Epidiolex, another one of the company’s products. As a result, it is no longer listed as a controlled substance stateside. In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it to treat seizures in tuberous sclerosis complex.
GW is also one of MJ’s largest holding, accounting for 6.41% of its assets. GWPH stock could be an alternative way to get exposure to the cannabis industry. Year-to-date, the shares are down around 8%. A potential decline toward $90 or below would improve the safety margin for long-term investors.
On the date of publication, Tezcan Gecgil did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
Tezcan Gecgil has worked in investment management for over two decades in the U.S. and U.K. In addition to formal higher education in the field, she has also completed all 3 levels of the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) examination. Her passion is for options trading based on technical analysis of fundamentally strong companies. She especially enjoys setting up weekly covered calls for income generation. She also publishes educational articles on long-term investing.