Despite Jeff Sessions and DOJ “canna-phobia,” 2017 should be a very, very green year. The results are in for the first quarter of America’s cannabis businesses. In the green, that is. Long green.
Colorado set new sales records. New Mexico sales are up 86%. Arizona expanded by 30%. Stocks are booming. Numerous states around the country created their own cannabis programs this quarter. California, Nevada, and Maine are still on track for adult use markets by January of 2018. Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania all have new medical markets on the way.
No matter what is happening in other parts of Donald Trump’s administration, or the latest drug war bluster of Jeff Sessions, it appears on closer inspection as Sessions admitted early on this year, the White House does not really have the political will to take on the fight.
Following the withdrawal of Tom Marino from consideration for the President’s Drug Czar position on May 3rd, last Friday the White House announced plans to cut the funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy by 94%. With Rohrabacher-Blumenauer defending spending against compliant state-sanctioned cannabis operations and no money to pay for a mouthpiece, 2017, provided North America survives it, should be a very, very green year.
8000 joints per day
As Forbes Magazine’s Deborah Borchardt notes, the American cannabis industry is being super-sized before our very eyes. One of her examples is the cannabis giant, GFarmaLabs, who began in a 3000-square foot space and hand-rolled hundreds of joints. Now they manage a 700,000-square foot cultivation facility and have a Futurola machine which whips out 8000 joints per day and those joints are only one of over one hundred products the company now manufactures.
Earlier this month, Borchardt reported that after years of steady decline, cannabis wholesale prices have stabilized in some markets. New consumer spending analysis suggests that the cannabis market is not only growing in raw dollars, but in diversity of products and customers as well. With major markets like Nevada, Massachusetts and California coming online shortly, it is small wonder predictions for 2018 are sky high.
A new report from the Cannabis Consumer Coalition blasted the old stereotype of cannabis consumers being low-level achievers. According to their research, more than 27% of cannabis consumers earn more than $75,000 per year and the average consumer will spend $600 this year on cannabis products. If that figure should hold, American cannabis revenue would nearly quadruple between ’16 and ’17 and top $18 billion. BDS Analytics’ new report on consumer spending also shows the 2017 world of cannabis spans all types and generations.
In what has got to be one of the best governmental puns in recent memory, Adam Orens, of the Marijuana Policy Group, the US consultant Canadian officials with Health Canada, hired to brief the department on the US cannabis industry, remarked last week that Canadian potential was “unbelievably high.” Orens pointed to figures from Colorado’s 2015 market which showed the state’s marijuana industry had a combined economic impact of over $2.4 billion dollars on the state. As Orens explained: “This is a conversion of an existing, informal market into a formal, regulated market and you’re going to see several years of very fast growth.”
But 2015 numbers are actually ancient history. Even as Colorado DUIs dropped by a third in the first quarter of 2017, Colorado consumption in still on the rise. According to BDS Analytics 46% of adults in Colorado used cannabis at least once in the past 6 months. Half of those used cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs or alcohol. A survey of industry experts predicts 2017 will serve as a developing platform for an explosive 2018. Several see the coming California and Canadian markets as radically altering the fundamental way North America perceives cannabis.
Marijuana stock analysts, Viridian Capital Advisors report cannabis stocks have raised $733 million in the first quarter of this year, compared to $124 million for the same period in 2016. Companies like Terra Tech are reporting a 340% increase in sales between ’16 and ’17. And though the North American Marijuana Index shows fluctuations each time Attorney General rattles his saber, the index as a whole still sits at about double its value of 12 months ago.
“We tracked over $1.2 billion in capital raised by cannabis-related companies in 2016. A lot of the capital was raised in the second half of the year, around the elections. What we have seen so far this year is the opening up of new markets like California and Canada driving investor sentiment and additional capital raises” — Harrison Phillips, Vice President Viridian Capital Advisors
New Cannabis Ventures also weighed in at the turn of the first quarter, reporting that cannabis investments have now grown to be an international consideration. Not only is the Canadian market preparing to launch its own multi-billion-dollar industry, Germany, Australia and countries in South America have all opened national medical markets. Uruguay now has the world’s first national recreational program and Mexico is creating a medical program expected to be open within a year. But not all predictions are rosy in light of the frenzied pace of 2017 expansion.
Kinda canna-friendly market analyst, The Motley Fool’s Ryan Goldsman, warns the exponential growth in the industry is reminiscent of the “Tech-Bubble” of late 90s which ultimately crashed in 2000. “Before profitability may come a boom and a bust.” Goldsman specifically notes that larger cannabis companies are pouring both their investments and their revenues into expansion and generally cash poor.