2018 was an exciting time after the whirlwind of events that happened surrounding cannabis spurred the growth of the flourishing sector that people know today. For a quick summary, take a look at some of the most notable accomplishments, breakthroughs, and controversies of the recent year. It was a successful time for the cannabis sector in spite of a rough start with the Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attempt to put a halt on the legalization plan in the United States. During that time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged at his campaign to legalize recreational use of cannabis in Canada. After that, Thailand and the United Kingdom has followed suit and legalized medical marijuana, much to the world’s surprise. The cannabis legitimization has gained its rapid momentum as more and more traditional customers, as well as pharmaceutical companies, looked to invest or become partners with pot firms. Some of which include fortune 500 companies and corporations like Constellation Brands Inc., Novartis AG, Altria Group Inc., and Anheuser-Busch InBev SA. The amount for listings of cannabis skyrocketed, consisting of at least 149 companies with a joint value of CAD$54.7 billion on January 2. Among the ranks include U.S. based firms that value at CAD$1 billion in the market. Pot stock tradings were extremely volatile especially for Tilray Inc. who is the sole cannabis stock listed on the U.S. exchange. Some of the others are doing well in comparison to recent levels. The BI Global Cannabis Competitive Peers index sank to 54%. Stocks closed at 315% from its initial offering for July at the end of 2018. However, it shows a major decline for investors when compared to their highest point of 1, 665% in September. Trades are now close to USD$70, and the stock peaked at USD$300. Their market values still remain at USD$6.6 billion, earning the second spot among the pot firms, just coming up next to Canopy Growth Corp.
Cannabis Outlook for 2019
A deserving start to 2019, Aphria Inc. has now become a target of a hostile takeover bid. The Canadian pot producer has also previously been attacked by short sellers. The Quintessential Capital Management and Hindenburg Research have claimed on a conference call that the company has paid for overpriced yet worthless assets in Latin America. As a response, Aphria Inc. stated that they are just malicious and self-serving allegations. It is inevitable that more questions will be needed to answer after Aphria release their reports for the fiscal second quarter on the 11th of January. When Aphria lost a quarter of their stock value in December, Green Growth Brands Inc. proposed a hostile bid which took place on the last week of the month. Their offer, which values USD$2.1 billion, has not yet been finalized. But it did bring up the issues regarding Aphria’s associations with the relatively smaller Green Growth Brands, Inc. The short seller Hindenburg Research is calling it an attempt to create an “appearance of demand” in the company’s hopes of prompting others to make credible offers. This issue can affect the cannabis sector, and people have yet to see an outcome. On the other hand, the U.S. has recently passed a bill legalizing hemp farming. Hopefully, this will spur legislators to legalize cannabis nationwide. This may be the year for the bigger U.S. market to seize the attention of investors. ArcView Market Research and BDS Analytics predict consumer purchase to go up to 20.9 billion USD from last year’s USD$ 11 billion. It is also a great year for the pot producers in Canada as they rake in their first earnings on recreational cannabis. A surge in sales can be anticipated, but only for some, as not everyone can succeed. Because of this, they expect a few will emerge as failures and a lot of consolidation. Ontario is soon to announce the first 25 retail cannabis stores to open in the province. In their quest to make institutional investors feel more comfortable in investing, the U.S. is looking into legislation that will open banks and stock exchanges to cannabis companies. More countries are moving to legalize medical and recreational cannabis including France, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, and Lebanon.