Until recently, there was much ado about investing in the “Green Rush” of cannabis stocks. Those with a stomach for the risks of investing in cannabis saw some returns hit 400 percent or more.
But those high returns won’t be happening for many other investors, as 2019 has thus far served as a major disappointment.
This has been true for both US and Canadian brands, although with national cannabis legalization, Canada has a stock market that can list cannabis stocks. And many of those stocks in the Great White North are sliding south, quickly.
How bad is it? It’s bad. As Merry Jane writes: “Canada’s federal cannabis program, which is largely operated by five companies, saw a total market loss of $23 billion since September 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Part of this is attributable to the outbreak of VAPI—Vaping Associated Pulmonary Illness—which has hospitalized over 1,300 and killed nearly 30 individuals across the US.
In states with recreational cannabis programs, vaping products comprise 10 to 25 percent of the market.
The CDC started an investigation on August 1. Since then, according to Forbes, “Four of the biggest cannabis companies, Tilray, Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis and Cronos Group—have lost around $10 billion in market value since the CDC launched its multi-state investigation into vaping illnesses.”
Not all the losses can be blamed on VAPI, however. Pre-existing issues within the market have derailed expected profits, and as the Wall Street Journalreports, it’s been brutal for some companies, even those funded with millions in capital.
One cannabis stock, Hexo, is in a joint venture with Molson Coors Brewing, and their plan to produce CBD-infused beverages in a deal valued at more than $50 million Canadian hasn’t done so well.
Their stock has dropped 38 percent, and the WSJ writes, “On Thursday, the Quebec company withdrew its revenue outlook of 400 million Canadian dollars (about US$300 million) for fiscal 2020, ending July 31, and said it expects fiscal 2019 revenue of between C$46.5 million to C$48.5 million.”
That isn’t the only alcohol-backed cannabis stock to tank.
”Canopy Growth Corp., whose stock has declined more than 30% this year despite the backing of Corona brewer Constellation Brands Inc., which controls 38% of the company’s stock. Constellation, which made a $4 billion investment in Canopy in August last year, wrote down the value of the investment by $1.3 billion when it reported earnings earlier this month.”
In the US, two companies canceled a merger last week that would’ve been worth $700 million. MedMen, the pastel-polo-shirted Chad of US cannabis brands, announced they were pulling the plug on its acquisition of PharmaCann.
As the Motley Fool writes, the company has a multitude of challenges, including losing two Chief Financial Officers in one year (the first is suing the company). “The company has a growing debt pile, which doesn’t jibe well with last quarter’s whopping $53.3 million operating loss.
That’s a pretty good summation as to why MedMen’s stock has plummeted by about 80% over the past year, it’s canceling major acquisitions, and senior executives are fleeing in droves.”
MedMen has inspired a tremendous wave of schadenfreude, including being thrown out of the the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association (NYMCIA) this year for what NYMCIA said in a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Per Marijuana Business Daily, “MedMen’s CEO Adam Bierman is alleged to have made racist, sexist and homophobic comments targeting African-Americans, women and members of the LGBT community.”
This is the same group that submitted a proposal to Cuomo earlier this year urging a ban on all home cannabis grows in a recreational cannabis program, writing that home cultivation “creates a significant public safety and black market risk.” (Via Marijuana Moment.)