An Overview of Public Cannabis Companies
With the growth in the legalization of cannabis, it should come as no surprise that the number of public cannabis companies is also growing. Even within the United States, where marijuana is illegal at the federal level, enough states have legalized it to encourage many public companies to appear. This is even truer in Canada and other areas where marijuana is now legal.
Those interested in cannabis may want to learn more about these public cannabis companies. At the very least, glancing at the history and goals of the companies can give you an idea of the future of the industry and what to expect from cannabis in the future. Those looking for other ways to support the cannabis industry may even want to invest in some of these companies since they are publicly traded. That type of investment has the potential to gain profits as marijuana becomes more accepted, both legally and socially.
Comparing the US and Canada
The most significant difference between the public cannabis companies in the United States and Canada is the legal framework in which they operate. Now that cannabis is fully legal in Canada, companies are better positioned to thrive.
In contrast, in the United States, companies must still deal with patchwork legality where marijuana is legal in some states and not in others. This creates additional complications for the companies, as they must adhere to federal laws. It also makes things like securing business loans and banking more challenging as the lack of legality causes service providers and financial institutions to label cannabis companies as high risk.
It is also important to note that the lack of legality of cannabis at the federal level in the United States leads to restrictions on stock exchanges in the country. Specifically, companies on the New York Stock Exchange cannot have direct involvement with the United States marijuana market via actually touching the cannabis plant.
It is interesting to note that until the last year or so, the Canadian companies mostly accounted for the major players in public cannabis companies. This includes them having a dominating presence on the United States’ stock exchanges, including the NASDAQ, at least when compared to American companies.
Recently, however, a change has begun, and, starting around a year or so ago, more American companies have begun making their way into the Canadian public markets. This trend began in mid-to-late 2018. They all arrived at the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE). It is important to note that the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is more extensive but does not list companies holding American assets since they technically violate the law.
As such, the CSE became the go-to choice for American companies looking to list in Canada. Once it became clear that the CSE embraces cannabis companies, including those that are American, more American cannabis companies announced their plans to go public.
Which Companies Are Better for Investors?
It remains to be seen whether investing in American or Canadian cannabis companies will be better for investors. There are experts on both sides of the spectrum, each with their opinions. In 2018, GMP Securities released a report indicating that it is smarter for the long-term to invest in American companies. This preference was backed by multiple points, including the broader markets in the United States, the strong economics, and the attractive valuation gap.
On the other hand, many feel that the lack of federal-level legality of cannabis in the United States makes investing in Canadian companies a wiser decision.
Of course, there is no way to predict the future accurately, so all of the best guesses of experts are just that, guesses or predictions.
In the meantime, those with interest in cannabis, whether for investment or use, should consider familiarizing themselves with some of the public cannabis companies.
1933 Industries (TGIFF)
Listed on CSE and OTCQX, 1933 Industries is a vertically integrated company with assets in the U.S. and Canadian cannabis markets. These include producing, extracting, and cultivating hemp-derived products.
22nd Century Group (XXII)
This is a biotechnology company that is working to develop genetically modified cannabis plants. That research comes from a sublicense agreement it has made with a subsidiary of Aurora Cannabis, Anandia Laboratories.
Abacus Health Products (ABAHF)
Abacus Health Products is on the OTCQX and CSE. It develops over-the-counter medical items of a topical nature that feature hemp-derived CBD. These products are designed to appeal to those who want pain relief.
Acreage Holdings (ACRGF/ACRG.U)
Acreage Holdings, listed on the OTCQX and CSE, is among the United States market’s largest operators for cannabis assets that span multiple states. The company also has a Canopy Growth acquisition deal that will go into effect when the federal government makes marijuana legal across the United States.
Altria Group (MO)
Altria Group is primarily known as one of the biggest tobacco companies. Its status as a cannabis company comes from its investment deal with Cronos Group, which is just one of many in its asset portfolio.
Anheuser Busch InBev (BUD)
Another company that barely associates with cannabis but does is Anheuser Busch InBev, which is known for its alcoholic beverages. Its cannabis involvement comes from a partnership with Tilray to develop drinks infused with marijuana.
Aphria is a Canadian-based marijuana stock that sells and produces cannabis. This company’s production facilities cover over 300,000 square feet. Aphria hopes to sell its cannabis products in Canada as well as various international end-markets. The company’s products are varied, including cannabis oils and a selection of sativas and indicas.
The caveat to keep in mind about Aphria is that as a stock, it is very unpredictable. Experts even consider it unstable in comparison to the average cannabis stock, which is known for being volatile due to the market’s uncertainty. As of October, it had a market cap of $1.807 billion.
The stock of Aphria surged in April 2018 following an announcement of a deal to sell products via Shoppers Drug Mart, a large Canadian chain of pharmacies. In 2019’s second and third quarters, however, the stocks slumped.
Aurora Cannabis (ACB)
Aurora Cannabis has a quickly expanding operation, especially given the fact that cannabis is now legal in Canada. The company is actively growing its infrastructure, which as of March, took up 92,000 square feet. The future greenhouse will include 1.1 million square feet.
The focus of Aurora Cannabis is on medical marijuana. This does limit the company’s interests somewhat, but it also means that there are higher profits. Those increased profit margins for medical marijuana, including via Aurora Cannabis, allow for demand-driven prices that are inelastic and specialty products. Additionally, as of January 2017, Aurora has a license to sell cannabis oil.
As of October, this company was valued at $5.071 billion. Aurora Cannabis first appeared on TSX, the Canadian venture stock exchange, in October 2016, before debuting on the New York Stock Exchange precisely two years later. There are also some noteworthy acquisitions in Aurora’s history. In May 2018, it paid $2.5 billion for MedReleaf Corp, and, in early 2019, it bought Whistler Medical Marijuana Corporations, an organic producer of cannabis.
CannTrust Holdings Inc. (CTST)
As of October, CannTrust Holdings Inc. had a market cap of $195.117 million. The company has a global partnership of exclusive nature with Appotex Inc., which is one of the Canadian leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. Additionally, CannTrust has a cultivation facility in Canada’s Niagara region with 430,000 square feet. This facility is the country’s sixth-largest dedicated to marijuana.
CannTrust offers consumers dry products as well as drop-based ones, all of which are designed for pharmaceutical applications. It only recently debuted on the New York Stock Exchange, doing so in February 2019.
Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC)
Canopy Growth is also an LP from Canada. As of the middle of 2018, it was the industry’s biggest company, thanks to its fully-diluted market cap reaching about $6.5 billion. It was among the first companies to become publicly-listed within the United States, when it joined the New York Stock Exchange in May 2018.
Canopy Growth Company sells and grows marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. In the first quarter of 2018, it made headlines by quadrupling sales. The operations of this company are wide-spread, including herbs as well as hemp, gel, concentrates, and oils. As of October 2019, CGC had a market cap of $6.969 billion.
Constellation Brands (STZ)
Constellation Brands is an American company traditionally known as a significant player in wine and beer. This brewer is best known for Ballast Point, Corona Extra, and Modelo Especial, among others. In August 2018, the company acquired a stake of 38 percent in Canopy Growth in exchange for $4 billion.
Given Constellation Brands’ already-established nature and its $31 billion valuation (as of March), it is a safer method of getting involved in investing in cannabis via a public company since your investment will not only be in cannabis.
Hydrofarm is a distributor of cannabis equipment for cannabis growers. The company has been around since the '70s and is one of the biggest manufacturers of hydroponics and horticulture equipment. Their current CEO, Bill Toler, came over in 2019 to lead the company to profitability, after doing so during his tenure at Hostess Brands. They plan to embrace the growing vertical farming movement which isn't specific to cannabis, but all plants.
Cresco Labs (CRLBF/CL)
Cresco Labs is on the CSE and the OTCQX. It is among the public space leaders of MSOs. This company is known for its quick expansion across the markets where cannabis is legal.
Cronos Group (CRON)
Cronos Group is a Canadian LP that was the very first cannabis company that was pure-play and traded on NASDAQ or any other major United States exchange, doing so in February 2018. As of July 2018, it had a market cap of about $1.3 billion. Cronos Group focuses on investing in various marijuana-related companies as well as pot growers. Investments from Cronos include PEACE NATURALS, which is a global wellness and health company, COVE, which is a cannabis producer based in British Columbia, and Lord Jones, which produces hemp-derived CBD. Additionally, it provides cannabis and cannabis products.
Last year, Altria Group (MO) paid $1.8 million to buy a 45-percent stake in Cronus Group. You may have heard of Altria Group as the company that makes Virginia Slims and Marlboro and owns Philip Morris USA. That partnership is something that many see to be a significant advantage due to the company’s experience. Additionally, Altria acquired 30 percent of Juul, the vaping leader, the same year. This means that Cronos Group has the potential opportunity to explore both markets or have various interactions with vaping as well as cannabis. As of October, Cronos Group’s market cap was $2.844 billion.
Emerald Health Therapeutics (EMHTF)
Listed on the OTC, Emerald Health Therapeutics has a market cap of $101.379 million. The company produces dry cannabis in addition to cannabis oils, and it has its base in British Columbia. According to New Cannabis Ventures, this company raised $10 million (CAD) in equity thanks to Dundee Capital.
Green Thumb Industries
Green Thumb Industries is among the earlier American cannabis companies to be listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange.
Harvest One Cannabis (HRVOF/HVT)
Listed on the OTCQX and TSXV, Harvest One Cannabis has assets and production facilities across Canada as well as Israel, Australia, and Europe. It also has three subsidiaries: Dream Products, Satipharm, and United Greeneries.
HEXO Corporation (HEXO)
HEXO Corporation was the first licensed producer of medical marijuana to have its headquarters in Quebec. The company’s focus is on the use of recreational marijuana. In October 2019, the company launched a new line of cannabis that is value-conscious, called Original Stash. This affordable line costs only $4.49 per ounce, a price that already includes taxes.
Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR)
Innovative Industrial Properties is not a typical cannabis company. Instead, it is a real estate investment trust that signs lease deals for spaces in the world of medical cannabis. Since this is a real estate investment trust, this allows it to avoid touching the marijuana plant and enabling it to be still listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
MedMen is an American marijuana company that you can find publicly listed on the CSE as well.
Molson Coors Brewing Company (TAP)
Molson Coors Brewing Company is one of the many beverage makers that entered the cannabis industry thanks to a partnership. It is working with HEXO to help develop drinks infused with cannabis, designed to sell in Canada now that marijuana is legal there.
Namaste Technologies Inc. (NXTFF)
Namaste Technologies Inc. is listed on the OTC and has a market cap of $97.082 million. Its focus is on medical marijuana and e-commerce. The company has operations in 20 countries, with 32 separate sites. As of 2017, Namaste enhanced its portfolio with CannMart Inc. This company has a distribution network throughout Toronto. This acquisition helped Namaste Technologies with the distribution.
Neptune Wellness Solutions (NEPT)
Neptune Wellness Solutions works in the marijuana space’s extraction market, as well as providing products in the extraction market. It also makes use of Licaps technology to produce cannabis capsules.
OrganiGram Holdings (OGI)
OrganiGram Holdings has a market cap of $549.118 million as of October. This company first arrived on the NASDAQ in May 2019, so it has not yet been publicly-traded for very long so far. The company produces licensed medical marijuana products. The portfolio has dry cannabis products, and cannabis oil and related accessories, such as vaporizers.
Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
You may be surprised to learn that Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, which is known for being among the largest product sellers for consumer lawn and garden products. The company entered the cannabis industry by providing services for growers without direct involvement in the industry or with the plants.
Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (SPRWF; 7 Acres)
Supreme Cannabis Company is listed on the OTC and has a wholly-owned subsidiary known as 7Acres. It is this subsidiary that produces marijuana. Before December 2017, The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. was called SupremePharma.
As of October 2019, The Supreme Cannabis Company’s Blissco wellness brand received its license to sell cannabis oil. Those in the industry anticipate that this will lead to an expansion in the products that the company offers.
Tilray is yet another Canadian LP, but this one is operated and owned by Privateer Holdings, which is based in Seattle. When this company made its NASDAQ debut, it had a market cap of over $1 billion.
The company was incorporated in 2018 and went public nearly immediately, being among the first cannabis companies to do so. The stock quickly skyrocketed, going from just $20 per share to $300 in just several months.
Tilray’s focus within the cannabis industry is on research and production as well as distribution for medical cannabis. Earlier this year, Tilray branched out with its acquisition of Manitoba Harvest. Tilray was valued at $7 billion at the time. Manitoba Harvest is a food company offering hemp-based products and a major distribution network across the United States. This move cost $316 million and should provide diversification, helping to stabilize Tilray as an investment option.
Village Farms International (VFF)
Village Farms International is a greenhouse grower in North America that is vertically integrated. Its entry into the world of cannabis began via a 50-50 joint venture related to managing Pure Sunfarms, a cannabis grower.
In addition to the other public cannabis companies mentioned on this list, there are many others, especially if you spread your search to international companies instead of just the United States and Canada.