Legal marijuana is a smoking hot growth industry in the U.S., Canada, and beyond. The global cannabis market is projected to soar from $20.5 billion back in 2020 to $90.4 billion by 2026.¹ And these estimates are likely conservative, as the U.S. moves closer to wide-ranging federal legalization and European nations, including economic powerhouse Germany, prepare to do the same in 2022.
The best part about investing in legal marijuana right now is that despite all of the progress, there are ample opportunities to get in right near the ground floor given where we are in the legal lifecycle. Plus, many top pot stocks are trading near all-time lows heading into the new year, after they were beaten down in 2021, along with other former covid high-flyers and growth stocks.
Still in the Early Innings
The legal recreational cannabis market has come a long way in the last few years. Yet the growth runway remains massive. Eighteen states have legalized adult-use marijuana as of December—up from zero in 2011. Meanwhile, Canada is one of only a couple countries to legalize marijuana nationally and it did so in 2018.
Luckily, more U.S. states are poised to join the legal ranks in 2022, while others could add to the number of medical marijuana states to help take the country well above the current 36 states. Crucially, multiple bills are circulating around Washington, D.C. right now that aim to introduce sweeping Federal marijuana legalization, which will be an overnight game-changer and supercharge the space and the stocks.
Even Republicans, the party historically opposed to legal weed, have started to roll out their own legalization proposals including one high-profile effort introduced in November. All of this is to say that Washington appears ready to enact some form of Federal legalization soon.
The heightened political drive follows increased bipartisan support that matches the polling data—68% of U.S. adults are in favor of legal marijuana, including 50% of Republicans. Legalization at the national level will open the floodgates for U.S. growers to list on the NYSE and the Nasdaq, and for money to pour in from established players far outside the current pot space looking to cash in and make a big splash.
Before those floodgates open, savvy investors are starting to focus on companies that are direct plays within the booming marijuana industry. These stocks are primed to continue growing and receiving institutional investment both before and after federal legalization.
Continued . . .
Marijuana Stocks? There’s Never Been a Better Time
Today we’re on the verge of bipartisan marijuana legislation at the Federal level. Once the bill is passed, money is likely to flow into current and brand-new stocks at a rate that has never been seen in this industry.
Thirty-six states plus D.C. have already legalized medicinal marijuana and 18 states plus D.C. made recreational use legal. There’s no stopping this trend, and now is the time to join the rush for profits. Global sales are predicted to skyrocket from $20.5 billion back in 2020 to $90.4 billion by 2026.
Zacks recently closed marijuana trades of +39.7%, +94.5%, even +147.0% in as little as 4-1/2 months. Plus, new stocks are being lined up that could greatly surpass these gains.²
See Zacks' latest pot stocks now >>
Don’t Touch the Plant
Only Canadian marijuana growers can list on U.S. exchanges given the current standing of cannabis at the Federal level. Fortunately, outside of growers and pure-play pot companies, an array of stocks and industries provide access to legal marijuana because they maintain just enough distance from cannabis.
Don’t touch the plant stocks also theoretically provide greater stability amid the current legal grey area in the U.S. The growing niche within pot investing includes real estate investment trusts, suppliers and equipment makers, tech firms, product safety and testing operations, pharmaceutical giants, and beyond.
Hydroponics & High-Tech Farming
Marijuana, even with all of the complicated new ways to consume it, is a plant. Therefore, the companies that directly support the growing of cannabis are some of the most straightforward and essential of the don’t touch the plant stocks.
Today’s cannabis companies run grow operations that more often resemble high-tech, spotless computer chip factories than anything close to a farm. Hydroponic gardening or farming, which simply means growing without the use of soil, by utilizing formulated, mineral nutrient solutions in water, is front and center of modern cannabis cultivation.
Marijuana is planted in an inert growing media and constantly supplied with nutrient-rich solutions, oxygen, and water, while light, temperature, and carbon dioxide levels are carefully controlled through various gadgets and other devices. Hydroponics allows for year-round growing, larger yields, and nearly complete control of the process.
The global hydroponics market, which spans from multi-billion dollar operations to home grows, reportedly hit around $10 billion in 2020, and it's expected to reach well over $20 billion before the end of the decade. Many public hydroponics and indoor farming companies have posted 60% or higher revenue growth over the last several years.
Plus, large institutional investors are pouring money into hydroponics stocks, with most holding at least 50% institutional ownership, compared to pure-play pot stocks that are closer to 15% or less.
Real Estate Expansion
Huge, high-tech marijuana growers require tons of capital and cash to start and operate. Yet, marijuana’s classification under federal law makes running successful U.S. pot businesses complex and cumbersome, especially when it comes to money. Most local and national banks don’t want anything to do with the legal marijuana market because of all the various state laws and expensive compliance standards.
A few companies have helped fill the void for firms that don’t have access to traditional banking services. This backdrop enables cannabis-focused real estate investment trusts or REITs to essentially lend millions of dollars to cannabis companies that don’t have easy access to other sources of capital and collect extremely high interest rates for doing so, on long-term agreements. And like all REITs, they are required to distribute 90% of their taxable income to shareholders.
Technology dominates our lives and the market, so of course, it plays a vital role in legal pot. There are multiple companies that sell cannabis-specific software to help growers, dispensaries, and others operate more effectively and efficiently in the highly-regulated space.
Various publicly traded companies offer solutions for compliance, data, taxation, payments, plant tracking, and much more. The opportunity for expansion is huge in the marijuana tech world and a few companies are in the midst of rapid consolidation to try to capture more market share ahead of U.S. federal legalization that will likely require increasingly stringent guidelines.
Extracting Profits from Plants
The transition from the black market to labs and hydroponics ushered in the age of endless, hyper-specific marijuana strains. Outside of traditional flower that’s smoked, tons of growth is coming from edible products, oils, and other highly concentrated forms of cannabis.
In order to transform cannabis plants and marijuana buds into new-age consumption methods, from concentrates to topical creams, detailed and varied extraction processes must be completed. There are various extraction methods that must be performed repeatedly and precisely, often on a massive scale.
Extraction is growing more crucial given the global scope and the increasing demand for non-flower products, which includes widely popular non-psychoactive CBD products.
Medical-grade and adult-use cannabis products sold in legal markets are required by law to be clearly labeled with ingredients, cannabinoid levels, dosage recommendations, and tons of other information. Like all industries, from food to medicine, tons of testing is involved at various stages of the cultivation process.
Cannabis testing is a potentially huge segment and it will garner even more attention at the national level, especially amid a rise in laced black market drugs. The broader field includes regulatory compliance, quality control, research, and beyond. There are currently multiple cannabis testing companies out there, and a few publicly traded names stand out through their exposure to other areas outside of marijuana.
Pharmaceuticals and Biotech
Far outside of medical marijuana exists the nascent world of cannabis-based medicine. There are a few stocks making waves in this growing field. One such public company sells the first prescription, plant-derived cannabis-based medicine approved by the FDA and the European Commission.
The drug is used in the treatment of seizures associated with various syndromes in patients one year or older. Another more home-run style stock has attracted investment for its potential first-in-class therapeutics targeting the endocannabinoid system that aims to address needs in multiple diseases and conditions, including anorexia, cancer, pain, and inflammation.
Multiple Opportunities for Investors
As mentioned, this space looks to explode from $20.5 billion in 2020 to $90.4 billion by 2026. Yet only a few growers, pharmaceuticals, financial firms, suppliers - both established and start-ups - are the true innovators and offer historic profit potential.
So if you don't want to devote constant attention and painstaking analysis to find these often little-known tickers, we can find them for you.
Today, as the legalized marijuana floodgates are about to open, you’re invited to take part in our portfolio service Zacks Marijuana Innovators.
This approach is responsible and vigilant, but we look for aggressive growth. Recently, we closed gains of +39.7%, +94.5%, even +147.0% in as little as 4-1/2 months.²
Right now you can follow the live buys and sells inside Marijuana Innovators, and be among the first to get in on new buys that I’m lining up.
Bonus Report: Speaking of industries with explosive growth potential, when you check our marijuana recommendations you are also invited to download our Special Report, One Semiconductor Stock Stands to Gain the Most. From 35 semiconductor stocks, you can get an early look at Zacks’ top pick during today’s chip shortage crisis.
We can’t let everyone in on our marijuana portfolio, so your chance to gain access must end at midnight this Sunday, December 26. Sorry, no extensions.
See Zacks' Marijuana Innovators Trades and Bonus Semiconductor Report Now >>
Ben Rains develops strategies that enable investors to profit from the growing legal market in the U.S. and beyond. Ben uses his extensive experience and concentrated industry study to direct our unique portfolio service, Zacks Marijuana Innovators.
¹ Source for marijuana industry growth estimate: Research and Markets
² The results listed above are not (or may not be) representative of the performance of all selections made by Zacks Investment Research's newsletter editors and may represent the partial close of a position.
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