Marijuana News Today: New York Poised to Legalize Recreational Marijuana, TLRY Stock and APHA Stock Jump

Marijuana News Today
iStock.com/Rex_Wholster

Marijuana News Today

The marijuana news today features another striking win for the U.S. legalization effort as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledges to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state.

The upward projections put the marijuana industry in New York State at about $1.7 billion annually, while legalization is estimated to bring in $248.0–$677.0 million in new tax revenue within the first year. (Source: “Cuomo Moves to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in New York Within Months,” The New York Times, December 17, 2018.)

Other benefits being touted by the plan are the reduction of both the opioid crisis and the racial disparity in the prison system—not to mention needing less policing.

The marijuana news today from New York is important for a variety of reasons. The most immediately important factor is that legalization will grow the consumer base within the U.S. by leaps and bounds, since New York State has a high population.

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Another aspect worthy of note is that this is being initiated by the political class rather than a ballot initiative, speaking to the willingness of political figures to touch an issue that was formerly divisive or untenable politically.

The move will contribute to the rising tide of states that have already legalized marijuana, with another roughly 20 million people now gaining access to legal marijuana. That will put the number of Americans who can buy pot legally in their home state (despite the feds still having strict bans in place) at over 100 million.

While all these are familiar takes on the state-level legalization of marijuana, perhaps the most unique—and potentially monumental—part of the New York legalization effort is Cuomo himself.

He was an enemy of cannabis legalization for many years, only reluctantly accepting the legalization of medical marijuana in 2014.

More recently, however, Cuomo spoke out on a national stage with a promise to legalize recreational marijuana. That has become one of the more talked-about points of his address.

Moreover, Cuomo is said to be mulling over a presidential run. Should he emerge as the lead candidate for the Democrats, there’s every reason to imagine that his recent speech was a test run for making marijuana a central plank of his election campaign.

If that happens, we could—for the first time in American history—see a viable presidential candidate openly run with a pro-marijuana legalization agenda.

TLRY Stock

Another big win in the marijuana news today was more localized to a single pot stock: Tilray Inc (NASDAQ:TLRY).

Tilray stock shot up by about nine percent in early-morning trading, in a much-needed reprieve after the share price tanked by about 23% over the past five days.

The jolt comes after TLRY stock signed a global partnership with Sandoz AG, a division of Swiss drug-maker Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS). The deal will see Tilray develop and distribute its medical marijuana in legal jurisdictions around the world.

Tilray stock was bolstered when the company announced that it had reached its agreement with Sandoz.

This improves upon an existing partnership with Sandoz Canada Inc. The two companies are interested in commercializing Tilray’s medical marijuana offerings that are not smoked.

“It just made sense for us to reach an agreement with a company like Sandoz, which is known for its focus on patients, its reliable supply chain, a well-established sales force and a global distribution network,” said Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy. (Source: “Tilray Goes Global With Novartis Marijuana Sales Partnership,” Bloomberg, December 18, 2018.)

“If a product comes into a pharmacy with the Sandoz logo co-branded on it, or if a pharmaceutical sales rep is talking to a physician about a product that’s branded as Tilray and Sandoz, it lends credibility to that product.”

The deal is a hit of good news for TLRY stock, which has been in desperate need of some.

The marijuana stock market downturn had, for a while, largely ignored Tilray stock, but lately, the stock has been taking a beating. So this turnaround is a welcome move in the right direction.

APHA Stock

Another big win in the pot stock market was scored by Aphria Inc (NYSE:APHA), which announced an expansion into the German market.

Aphria stock jumped by about six percent in early-morning trading today, although it’s still down seven percent over the past five days.

The announcement came as Aphria and Rapid Dose Therapeutics Inc. (CSE:DOSE) expanded the territory in Germany where Aphria would be able to exclusively license, manufacture, distribute and sell Rapid Dose’s “QuickStrip,” an oral quick-dissolve marijuana product. (Source: “Aphria and Rapid Dose Therapeutics to Introduce Innovative QuickStrip Oral Thin Strips to German Cannabis Market,” Cision, December 18, 2018.)

Aphria expects to have the product in Germany by spring 2019.

Germany is one of the most sought-after cannabis markets today, and Aphria continues to take a comprehensive approach to ensure a leading presence in the country as the opportunity evolves,” said Jakob Ripshtein, president of Aphria, in a statement. (Source: Ibid)

He added, “Aphria is committed to bringing advanced products and innovations to cannabis markets around the world, and this agreement with RDT will enable us to bring QuickStrip technology to the German market and offer a unique nutraceutical product that delivers a consistent dosage.” (Source: Ibid)

APHA stock has, for a while now, been off my radar—other than as a short-term play. This plan, frankly, doesn’t lend me much confidence for the future of the stock.

While the German market is a highly lucrative one, and expansions into it are always welcome, I still see Aphria stock as a day trader’s game, due to its extremely poor performance in 2018.

TLRY and APHA Stock Performances

The TLRY stock (black line) and APHA stock (blue line) performances from the past week are seen on the chart below:

Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

Analyst Take

The marijuana news today shows victories on both the micro and macro scales.

New York State legalizing marijuana would be a huge win for pot companies across the world and help push the needle closer toward full legalization in the United States.

Meanwhile, both Tilray stock and APHA stock were beneficiaries of strong deals being announced, with both stocks rising high to start the day.