Everyone and their dog are trying to figure out the next big trend in marijuana so they can capitalize on it. To me, the opportunities have been supplanted by big corporations and if you think you can ‘buy into’ the stock buying craze and make big bucks you’re a couple of years behind.
Meanwhile the world is watching as societal norms are being turned on their head, corporations are clamouring to get a piece and traditional industries are bending all their rules and philosophies.
According to a Deloitte report, our society is “in transition and industry is poised for growth.” No kidding, it doesn’t take rocket science to realize that what Baby Boomers have been buying illegally for years is now the new business for all to get into — unless you live in America.
Yes, everyone is looking at Canada to see if the new legal framework will work or blow up in our faces. People are watching to see what industries are spawned from the devil marijuana seed and what legal/social/policy and regulatory issues will come up because of its legalization in 2018.
One major social benefit is converting former criminals to legitimate business people. I figure it’s replacing one bad egg for another with no moral compass.
So, the big marijuana experiment, on a large scale, is opening new opportunities for 2019 but it will be mainly for those huge corporations that have a lot of resources to throw around.
I remember not that long ago listening to an Aurora Cannabis (ACB:CA) VP tell me they had over $80M in the bank. They still hadn’t licensed dispensaries back then. Recently Aurora spent over $3.5 billion gobbling up every marijuana related company they could from CanniMed to MedRelief and ICC.
Some of the trends are not difficult to forecast but not hard to spot:
- Consolidation, acquisition and mergers
- Edibles and beverages
- Medical research and pharmaceuticals
- Traditional conservative investors want a piece
- Pesticides and ecology awareness
- Research and education
- Legal issues and borders
Consolidation by companies like Aurora is bound to happen when people and banks are opening their wallets and the product demand is exceeding production. Craft industries have been acquired just to clear out the field. It’s common in other industries to cull the small fry and consume them for the small innovation they may bring to the market.
We all know smoking is a dying trend — people want vaporizers or are moving to edibles and beverages. Some of the latest data from Arcview Market Research shows that California cannabis consumers alone spent $180 million on THC-infused food and beverages in 2017.
One can assume that consolidated acquisition will be in these industries in advance of edible legalization in 2019. Meanwhile edible manufacturers are the new ‘drug dealers’ in Canada.
My big surprize in 2017 was traditional banks and big brokerage houses denying their investments in marijuana while buying up as much as they could. The traditional industries are going to expand this trend in 2019 and big pharma and bevcos will finally attempt to grab lions share of the market. The rumour in 2018 that Coca Cola was in talks with Aurora sent everyone abuzz. It will happen in 2020.
One must not confuse the picture of a drugged out hippie smoking a joint with the ‘new’ industry. Sure everyone is on the ‘let’s get high’ rush but the big news is the medical marijuana/health benefits coming out of the research. Imagine Pepsi or Corona beer infused with cannabis that will be healthy.
The pharmaceutical companies already know the pain relief benefits of cannabis use. Their money is on the non-hallucinogenic benefits of cannabis. The trend will be major partnerships rather than buyouts.
Medical research will trend in 2019. Millennial’s are leading the way with the need to understand the benefits and effects of MJ use. The social collateral obtained by finding innovative health uses of marijuana will be profound and probably legitimize its use to the rest of the world still teetering on the edge of acceptance.
The concern for, and ecological awareness is coming to the fore in a big way. The pesticide giants have been given notice. There is no place in a marijuana joint for the stuff cigarette manufacturers have been stuffing people’s lung forever.
Research and education will take on new meaning as ways to improve, capitalize and predict how cannabis can change the way we live.
Laws are changing in 2019. One of Canada’s big issues came up with drunk driving laws. Are you incapacitated after smoking marijuana? Of course, unless you are a user and you will say it makes you more focused — ha! Being under the influence of cannabis is difficult to prove and the law has been changed recently to allow police to request breathalyser tests on drivers for any reason.
Border laws? Ouch, what a conundrum! Four years ago a good friend was at the US border going home to Dan Diego where he owns a home and works. He was asked if he had ever been convicted of a drug offence. Being Canadian and unable to tell a lie he admitted that 40+ years ago in his teens he was caught with a joint and convicted. He candidly went on that years later he was ‘pardoned’.
The border official reminded him that a Canadian pardon meant diddly and he was denied entry. He lost his $250k engineering job, cost him $25,000 in legal fees and six months of his life but he did get back to his home.
Back to the current, anyone can be in the same boat. It’s now legal to carry cannabis on an airplane for Canadian domestic flights but cross the border — wham! While the US adamantly refuses to change border rules there will need to be concessions. Wait until the first big celebrity hits the border with a joint.
It’s also very strange that in an open free society and the Internet is as it is for non-censorship that when one looks up information on marijuana, you will be censored by US websites. They ask for your birthdate and you must agree that you are over 18. It’s easier to watch pornography.
Canada is poised to be, not only, the first G7 country to legalize cannabis but it will be the largest exporter and research market in 2019.
It’s a changing world and while conservatives may find it reprehensible that pot is legal, to some the benefits are too many to argue. Unfortunately while some US states are now legal it will need 30+ states for federal law to reflect the will of the people.
The world is watching Canada!
Gary Bizzo is CEO of Bizzo Management Group Inc. in Vancouver. He has mentored over 1000 business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs. London-based Richtopia placed Bizzo on the Top 100 Global Influencers in the World for 2018.
Originally published at www.equities.com.