Although the ride can be bumpy at times, there's no denying that the marijuana industry is slowly but surely maturing before our eyes. With Canada having legalized recreational marijuana, and two-thirds of U.S. states now allowing medical marijuana prescriptions from a physician, the breadth of legal cannabis is greater than it's ever been.
According to various Wall Street projections, the global pot industry could see a fourfold to sixfold increase in sales between now and 2029/2030. If these estimates prove accurate -- and there's reason to believe they're attainable given the tens of billions of dollars in sales on the black market each year -- the cannabis industry could be a once-in-a-generation growth opportunity for investors.
Image source: Nasdaq.
Another pot stock aims to uplist to the Nasdaq
Another way we're seeing the marijuana industry grow up is through uplistings and initial public offerings on major U.S. exchanges. Following Akerna's debut last month, there are now a cool one dozen pot stocks listed on either the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or Nasdaq (NASDAQ: NDAQ). The good news is that lucky No. 13 could be right around the corner.
On Monday, July 8, ancillary player KushCo Holdings (NASDAQOTH: KSHB) announced that it had filed the paperwork to list its shares on the Nasdaq under the same ticker symbol as it has now. If KushCo were to be approved for its uplisting from the over-the-counter (OTC) exchange, it would join the likes of Tilray, OrganiGram Holdings, and Cronos Group, just to name a few, on the Nasdaq.
The allure of uplisting is pretty simple: Being on a major exchange should mean substantially higher average daily trading volume that, in turn, should reduce bid/ask volatility. This reduced volatility is also a means of rolling out the red carpet for institutional investors that might not otherwise cover or invest in companies that trade on the over-the-counter exchange. And, as the icing on the cake, it allows marijuana stocks to list their shares next to time-tested businesses, which further adds to the validity of the cannabis industry and the notion that it's here to stay.
Here's why KushCo gets the nod, but most other pot stocks don't
Of course, not every marijuana stock has the luxury of uplisting to a major exchange. Companies that directly deal with the cannabis plant in the U.S. are barred from such a move, because marijuana remains a Schedule I (i.e., illicit) drug. This means all of the multistate cannabis operators, despite their billion-dollar market caps, are relegated to the OTC exchange for the time being.
This caveat isn't a problem for KushCo given that it aims to dominate the ancillary space. Not responsible for growing or processing, KushCo operates in three segments.
KushCo's top revenue generator: vaporizers. Image source: Getty Images.
Its largest segment, from the perspective of total sales generated in its most recent quarter, is vaporizers. Whereas consumers in select states may have access to cannabis vape products, derivative pot products aren't set to hit dispensaries in Canada until mid-December at the earliest. Nevertheless, demand for vape products remains very strong, and it's only projected to get stronger once Canada waves the green flag on derivatives.
Second is its packaging and branding operations. Since federal, state, and even local laws on packaging regulations can differ, KushCo works with growers to develop compliant packaging solutions for their products. And with product competition picking up, it helps growers and retailers to develop packaging that stands out.
And third, KushCo supplies hydrocarbon gases and solvents that are used, respectively, in the production of cannabis oils and concentrates. These are high-margin derivatives that should see increased demand as Canada's derivative rollout marches on much later this year.
Aside from not being directly involved in the cannabis industry, KushCo should also meet a laundry list of financial requirements needed to uplist to a major U.S. exchange. But a final decision probably won't be known for more than a month.
CBD oil is the specialty of Charlotte's Web Holdings. Image source: Getty Images.
This "marijuana stock" should uplist next
With KushCo likely getting the nod from regulators to move to the Nasdaq, the question then becomes: Which pot stock is next to make the move?
Suggesting it should be Flowr Corp. would be too easy, because it already has the go-ahead to uplist to the Nasdaq. At this point, Flowr is simply awaiting the date that it'll make the move from the OTC exchange to the Nasdaq.
Instead, I'd bet on cannabidiol (CBD) giant Charlotte's Web Holdings (NASDAQOTH: CWBHF) making the leap next. CBD is the extremely popular nonpsychoactive cannabinoid that's best known for its perceived medical benefits.
Charlotte's Web holds the largest market share of the hemp oil and hemp-derived CBD market at the moment, albeit there are a lot of players. Between Dec. 31, 2018, and March 31, 2019, the company increased its retail store presence to more than 6,000 from 3,680. More recently, it announced a near-tripling in the amount of hemp it would be planting in 2019 (862 acres) compared with the previous year (300 acres), in order to meet growing demand for CBD products. Since President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law in December, hemp farming and hemp-derived CBD are no longer illegal at the federal level. That means the NYSE and Nasdaq would almost certainly welcome an uplisting.
In terms of its balance sheet, Charlotte's Web also appears to meet all the criteria needed to uplist from the OTC exchange. Having made the move to the Toronto Stock Exchange, an uplisting to the Nasdaq or NYSE feels imminent.
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