Marijuana News Today: Pot Spurs Job Growth, Helps Speed Along U.S. Legalization

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Marijuana News Today

The marijuana news today—in keeping with the theme this week—is all about pot legalization in the United States. A new report shows that the cannabis sector is leading in U.S. job creation.

If there’s one thing that politicians of all political stripes can agree on, it’s this: they love jobs. Job creation, usually seen as a primary sign of a robust economy, is among the most easily digestible and roundly supported campaign promises. After all, who doesn’t want more jobs to come to their community (provided they’re good jobs)?

With that in mind, a new report from cannabis web site Leafly and Whitney Economics LLC shows that the marijuana industry is a huge driver of job growth in the United States. How huge? It’s the fastest-growing sector in the whole country.

The legal cannabis sector added 64,389 U.S. jobs in 2018, an increase of 44% from the year before. (Source: “Special Report: Cannabis Jobs Count,” Leafly, last accessed March 15, 2019.)

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That brings the total number of legal cannabis jobs in the U.S. to 211,000. When accounting for indirect employment, the number swells to 296,000. Indirect jobs include suppliers and independent contractors, as well as jobs that are created as a result of workers spending their wages.

To put those numbers in context, marijuana jobs number more than those in coal mining (52,000), textile manufacturing (112,000), and breweries (69,000).

“It’s been five years since Colorado and Washington opened their first adult-use retail cannabis stores, and we’re just now seeing a slowing in the rate of cannabis growth in those two states,” says the report.

“If cannabis job gains follow on at a conservative 20% in 2019, that will represent a 110% gain in full-time jobs in three years.” (Source: Ibid.)

The report also stated that, in 2018, legal marijuana sales in the U.S. grew 34% to $10.8 billion.

The takeaway is that political support for marijuana reform is only going to get easier with numbers like these. After all, a politician looking to muster support for pot legalization can easily point to these job numbers as an indisputable good that is generated by the pot sector.

Couple these impressive job numbers with tax revenue from legalization, and you have a lot of hard facts and figures that lend support to marijuana legalization in the U.S.

Not to mention, of course, the curtailing of the black market and the choking off of a huge revenue source for criminal organizations.

But I’m not trying to convince you about the benefits of legalizing pot; if you’re reading this, you’re more than likely already on board.

What I am doing, however, is laying out the game plan that politicians may follow in the near future to advocate for marijuana legalization.

While we’re still likely a few years out from federal legalization, reports like these are going to help build the base of support and speed the process along.

What that means is that the huge rush that marijuana stocks can expect with legalization is getting closer by the day.

TLRY Stock

The marijuana news today was highly positive on the political front, but for Tilray Inc (NASDAQ:TLRY), we’re left with anticipation.

Tilray is expected to release its quarterly report on March 18, with many investors gearing up for what will be the most important financial report for the company yet.

That’s because it will be the first earnings report that will include Canadian marijuana legalization. The previous period contained two weeks post-legalization, but Tilray didn’t sell any pot in that time.

Analysts polled by FactSet Research Systems Inc. (NYSE:FDS) are expecting a loss of $0.15 per share, down from a loss of $0.20 per share in the previous quarter. (Source: “Tilray earnings: Time to prove it can actually sell some pot,” MarketWatch, March 15, 2019.)

Those same analysts are anticipating revenue of $15.9 million, up from $10.0 million the previous quarter when it sold no recreational pot.

I’ve been bearish on Tilray stock for much of 2019—and for good reason. While the stock had a strong finish to 2018, it has lagged behind its competitors by a wide margin in 2019.

While many pot stocks have seen huge growth over the past two months, TLRY stock has been the outlier. While many stocks have seen near-100% gains, Tilray stock has seen two-percent gains year-to-date.

The quarterly report is likely to help boost the Tilray stock price (unless it is truly calamitous), purely based on the numbers we can expect to see as a result of marijuana legalization. Still, long-term, I have my concerns when it comes to TLRY stock.

The company subsisted too much on hype at the start of its lifespan as the first marijuana initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq. Now the stock has to register substantial, sustained gains via more concrete factors (like financial reports, partnerships, and acquisitions) before I get back on the bandwagon.

All that being said, March 18 will likely present an opportunity for quick gains for day traders.

Tilray stock fell by more than one percent in early-morning trading today, while the stock gained about one point over the past five days.

ACB Stock

Aurora Cannabis Inc (NYSE:ACB) stock started the week strong, with its addition of billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz as an advisor, but it has since balanced out.

Peltz adds a strong Wall Street figure to the company, undoubtedly endearing the stock to the New York City investor set. The move was met with strong support from investors, with single-day gains exceeding double digits in the early goings after the announcement.

Since then, however, Aurora Cannabis stock has been rather quiet. ACB stock was flat in early-morning trading today, while it has gained about 16% over the past five days.

That is to say, overall, the week has been very positive for Aurora Cannabis stock, even if the days since the Peltz announcement have been quiet. I believe, however, that ACB stock is poised for greater gains.

HEXO Stock

Another marijuana stock that started the week on fire but has since lost its spark is Hexo Corp (NYSEAMERICAN:HEXO). HEXO stock jumped half a point to start the day and is up 12% over the past five days.

The big gains of the week were motivated by two events: a strong quarterly report and the company’s acquisition of Newstrike Brands Ltd (OTCMKTS:NWKRF, CVE:HIP).

In Hexo’s quarterly report, its gross revenue increased 1,269% versus the same period last year and increased 144% versus the previous quarter.

The company produced 4,938 kilograms (about 10,886 pounds) of dried cannabis in the quarter, an increase of 39% over the previous quarter. Some 2,689 kilograms (about 5,928 pounds) of that were sold in the quarter, an increase of 142% from the company’s previous.

“This is an exciting time for HEXO as we continue to achieve milestones on the way to becoming a top two cannabis company,” said Hexo CEO Sebastien St-Louis. (Source: “HEXO reports over $16.2 million in total gross revenue in the second quarter of fiscal 2019,” Globe Newswire, March 14, 2019.)

The Newstrike acquisition will help the company expand its reach in Canada while also boosting its production capacity.

Overall, it was a very strong week for HEXO stock, and it remains a top marijuana penny stock in my eyes.

TLRY, ACB, and HEXO Stock Performances

The performances of TLRY stock (black line), ACB stock (blue line), and HEXO stock (red line) over the past week are seen on the chart below:

Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

Analyst Take

The marijuana news today is fairly positive all around.

While the pot stock market was flat to start the day, the legal cannabis sector’s job growth in the U.S. was a huge win for the industry, including on the political front.

Tilray Inc, meanwhile, has a lot to prove on Monday with its next quarterly report.