Cannabis in the news April 17, 2019

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News on cannabis stocks and on developments in the industry haven’t let up in today’s volatile markets. Here are this week’s stories that we believe will mean most to you as a Canadian investor. the law was changed in November.

1. No less than three new cannabis-focused exchange traded funds are expected to hit the market this year, with at least one squarely aimed at the growing U.S. market.

The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF is expected to launch Thursday with 0.74% MER—just short of the two most-established funds in the market.

The launch comes after Horizons ETFs Management filed its final prospectus late Monday to launch a new U.S.-focused exchange traded fund. Evolve Funds Group will offer a similar ETF, also set to trade on the NEO Exchange.  Still, new funds will have to compete with Horizon’s leading fund, Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF, which continues to expand its holdings to include U.S. based operations.

That ETF, for example, quickly moved to add Charlotte’s Web Holdings Inc. to its portfolio (now 1.45% of total assets) following the U.S. government’s December decision to remove hemp-derived CBD from the list of drugs covered under the Controlled Substances Act.

HMMJ is listed on the TSX, which blocks industry firms that are based in the U.S. and operate outside of federal laws. Delisting hemp now makes Charlotte’s Web eligible for inclusion by the ETF.


2. Sales of cannabis products fell nearly 9% in February compared with the previous month, according to Health Canada, pointing to fewer days in the month and not a fall in daily transactions.

Sales of dried pot in February totalled 6,671 kilograms, or 8.8% less, than the 7,313 kilograms sold in January, according to Health Canada data.  Average daily sales of dried cannabis actually rose 1% to 238 kilograms from 236 kilograms.

The overall drop mostly reflects the shorter month, and the fewer number of business days in February.

Supply challenges, on the other hand, do not appear to have been a limiting factor: The government agency’s latest sales and inventory figures also show that the inventory of finished cannabis continues to pile up at both licensed producers and government retailers and distributors.


3. Another investor in Canada’s cannabis industry is suggesting the market’s appeal has diminished as interest in global operations rises.

“We’re very bullish on the globe, on the U.S.—not so much on Canada,” Loren DeFalco, of CB1 Capital, a cannabis-focused investment advisory, said at a cannabis investors’ conference in Toronto this week.

The sentiment echoed that of other attendees to the event as the industry looks internationally for new growth.

Falco and others point to limiting factors for Canada’s cannabis industry, including restrictions on advertising and the slow rollout of retail distribution in Ontario and B.C.

Canadian firms are also looking to expand outside the domestic market.

“I think the U.S. is really the most interesting market today,” said Hexo Corp. CEO Sebastien St-Louis at the conference Tuesday. “I saw that from the perspective of a licensed Canadian producer … with one of the largest market shares in the country.”


4. The third legal retail cannabis store for Toronto is set to open this week—less than a kilometer from the first.

Nova Cannabis will be the second pot shop to open up on Queen Street West, within a kilometre of The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co.

The new store is part of a chain, with other Nova Cannabis-branded locations in Alberta. Alcanna Inc.—the parent company of the chain—licensed use of the Nova name to the Toronto store’s proprietor.

In addition to the Hunny Pot, the new location will compete with another nearby dispensary, Ameri.

That Yorkville store opened last week, attracting the same sort of lineups that greeted the first day of operations for other cannabis stores across Ontario. While all 25 of Ontario’s approved vendors were expected to open their doors on April 1, many blamed bureaucratic red tape for their failure to meet that deadline.


5. Environmentalists warn that the mass cultivation of cannabis will have significant environmental impact in Canada. A U.S. study suggests that the average plant grown indoors consumes the energy equivalent of 70 gallons of oil. Moreover, the energy required to produce a single marijuana cigarette roughly equals the energy needed to run a 100-watt light bulb for 75 hours.

In a presentation to the federal government on the legalization of recreational cannabis, Canadian academics pointed to outdoor cultivation as a way to lower energy and water consumption.

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