Marijuana News Today: New York Looking to Legalize Recreational Pot

Marijuana News Today
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Marijuana News Today

The marijuana news today is a first for 2019: a U.S. state announcing that it’s looking to legalize pot this year.

New York State has finally come to the table with legislation that would legalize the drug for recreational consumption.

This was a long time coming. New York City had long ago begun instituting its own reforms that, while short of legalizing marijuana, did much to help lessen the legal burden of being caught with small amounts of pot.

Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled New York’s marijuana legalization plans, including the age limit (21), how marijuana offenses on personal criminal records would be sealed, and the hope that the state would generate around $300.0 million through taxes by legalizing the drug. (Source: “Cuomo unveils plan to legalize recreational marijuana use,” Times Union, January 15, 2019.)

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While this is good news for the marijuana industry, there is one notable drawback to the state’s proposal: it limits producers from also owning retail outlets.

The Province of Ontario in Canada has a similar limit in effect, with producers allotted only a single brick-and-mortar location from which to sell.

The thinking behind such a regulation is to encourage smaller businesses and craft growers to develop while preventing larger marijuana producers from muscling out the little guys.

It’s an admirable goal, sure, but one that would no doubt limit some of the success of the larger marijuana companies in the state.

The marijuana companies immediately affected by that part of the legislation are the in-state medical marijuana producers that would want to expand into recreational pot.

All the same, the limit on producers opening retail locations won’t be calamitous even if that part of the legislation is passed. Marijuana growers would still be able to sell their products via retail locations owned by others; they would simply miss out on the branding opportunity of owning one’s own store.

Nevertheless, New York State’s legalization plan is a huge win for the marijuana industry.

CGC Stock

The announcement of New York’s marijuana legalization plan is by far a bigger event in the marijuana news today than the muted performances in the pot stock market.

Shares were sleepy in early-morning trading, with not a whole lot of movement to be seen.

Canopy Growth Corp (NYSE:CGC), for instance, climbed one percent in early-morning trading today, with most other pot stocks faring about the same.

Over the past five days, however, Canopy Growth has been singing a different tune; CGC stock is up 25% over that period.

And that’s no surprise. I don’t think a single marijuana stock has had a better opening to 2019 than Canopy Growth stock.

Sure, other pot stocks may have outperformed CGC stock at the beginning of this year, but in terms of building momentum and potential, few can rival the industry leader.

Canopy Growth was the recipient of a huge bank investment and Wall Street analyst backing, and it is leading the pack when it comes to entering the U.S. market via hemp (now legal, due to the U.S. Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018).

For all those reasons above, CGC stock had a roaring start to 2019, and I expect to see those gains continue throughout the year (with unavoidable ups and downs along the way, to be sure).

ACB Stock

While CGC stock has had a great start to 2019, Aurora Cannabis Inc (NYSE:ACB) is not too far behind.

Aurora made waves earlier in the week when it acquired Whistler Medical Marijuana Corporation.

The acquisition is expected add over 5,000 kilograms per year of cannabis to Aurora’s production capacity when Whistler’s second location reaches full capacity. (Source: “Aurora Cannabis buying Whistler Medical Marijuana in deal worth up to $175M,” Global News, January 14, 2019.)

The company followed that strong purchase with an announcement that it was looking to enter the U.S. hemp market

ACB stock, as a result, has had great success in 2019 so far. Over the past five days, Aurora stock has jumped 34%.

Even today, whereas most marijuana stocks have been sleepy, ACB stock saw impressive returns, with a near-four-percent jump in early-morning trading.

While I’m still more bullish on Canopy Growth compared to Aurora, due to the former’s Big Alcohol partnership and overall superior fundamentals, there’s still a lot to like about Aurora stock.

CGC and ACB Stock Performances

The performances of ACB stock (black line) and CGC stock (blue line) over the past week are seen on the chart below.

Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

Analyst Take

The New York marijuana legalization would make it the 11th U.S. state to legalize recreational pot.

Furthermore, the state initiated the process through the legislature, rather than via a referendum. This means that political support is building behind pot legalization.

The marijuana news today—the boring pot stock market aside—is very rosy. The industry has had a blistering start to 2019, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a very good year for pot stocks in general.