By Max Cherney, GOOD.is
State legalization has unsurprisingly proved a boon to the cannabis business: Legal marijuana sales in the United States are projected to reach $7.1 billion this year, and some analysts are calling weed the country’s fastest-growing industry. Still, the plant’s pesky status as a Schedule I illegal substance—heroin is federally regulated the same way—makes cannabis a risky investment. Most publicly traded, marijuana-based businesses remain wild penny stocks, but there’s a reason to be optimistic.
For one, the legal market is growing. Cannabis is recreationally legal in four states and medically in 25 states (up to 12 states could vote on legalization measures this November). Meanwhile, biopharmaceutical companies are ramping up research with the support of the federal government. The Democratic Party even wrote federal rescheduling—the potential of reclassifying cannabis—into its 2016 national platform.
Currently, the Marijuana Index series, an equity tracker for marijuana stocks, puts the U.S. market cap for publicly traded cannabis companies at just under $5 billion. This includes, yes, a handful of companies trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market—mostly drug discovery firms, but also an innovative pill-making business and an industrial hemp manufacturer. MassRoots, a cannabis-themed social network, was rejected by the exchange this May.
Investment Tips from the “Wolf of Weed Street”
Jason Spatafora, the self proclaimed “Wolf of Weed Street,” runs MarijuanaStocks.com, the leading hub for cannabis stock news, trends, and insights. Here, the Wolf offers tips for aspiring marijuana moguls.
Pay Attention to Politics: Pot stocks often move because of regulatory action, so keep an eye on legislative measure and federal agencies.
Don’t Buy Into Hype: Invest in companies that are actually doing something, not just hawking theoretical products.
Look for Opportunities in Biotech: If the Drug Enforcement Administration reschedules cannabis, Big Pharma will embrace it and make pharmaceutical efforts look cheap.
Lock in Gains Quickly: Irrational exuberance is the name of the game.
Illustrations by Emily Lin