When it comes to corporate investments into the legal cannabis markets, Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco reign supreme. But when it comes to individual stockholders, Maine hosts the most private investors out of all US states, according to new data from Investing.com, a global investment platform, and SEMrush, an online account management system.
The two platforms compiled data on their users’ interest in buying pot stocks. They discovered that Maine had the most interested investors (7.1 percent of users), followed by followed by Massachusetts (6.1 percent), Michigan (5.6 percent), Alaska (5.2 percent), and California (5.1 percent).
Maine was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 1999. The state legalized recreational use in 2016, though regulators have still not rolled-out licensed recreational sales. (You read that right: It’s been three years of legal weed but no legal sales in the Pine Tree State.)
According to the analysts at Investing.com, neither New York nor Pennsylvania made it into the top states with the most interest in weed investments.
“What’s surprising to me is that New York and Pennsylvania — two states with high levels of personal marijuana use — don’t appear among the top five states,” said Investing.com’s US Markets Analyst, Jesse Cohen. “I would also have expected California, one of the first states to legalize cannabis, to be higher on the list. Alaska, meanwhile was a real shocker to me — but then again it just goes to show the strong effect legalization has on interest in cannabis stocks.”
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While Investing.com assessed investor interest in the state-legal weed markets, SEMrush looked for deeper trends in the data and found that legalization played a significant role in predicting individual investment interest. (Also: Duh.)
According to SEMrush, in the six months prior to state legalization and the six months after legalization, the top 10 cannabis companies saw their investments double from the top five investor states mentioned above.
“The legalization of marijuana is without a doubt one of the biggest growth engines we'll see in the coming years, so the extra attention the industry is getting makes sense,” said Investing.com’s Senior Analyst, Clement Thibault. “Wall Street and investors are relentless in the pursuit of new growth and profit, and marijuana legalization offers that exactly.”
Investing in America’s burgeoning weed industry can be difficult. Most big banks won’t allow customers to purchase stocks for companies associated with marijuana, and many large investment firms won’t do business with weed entrepreneurs, either. That’s because although marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in 11 states and DC, and over 30 states have legalized the plant or its derivative products for medicinal use, it remains illegal at the federal level. Most investment firms and banks, especially those under federal insurance plans, are concerned they’ll be prosecuted for laundering drug money under RICO statutes, although no such thing has yet happened in regards to state-legal weed and financing.
In the meantime, individual stockholder investments are dwarfed by the biggest investors, Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco companies. Currently, Constellation Brands, an alcohol manufacturer known for producing Svedka vodka and Corona beer, holds the crown for the largest investment — a whopping $4 billion — into Canada’s top pot producer, Canopy Growth.
Overall, weed stocks have proven incredibly volatile over the last year alone. Due to the uncertain nature of the industry, particularly in the US, and the public’s sensitivity to negative news and information, some of the best-performing pot stocks reached an all-time high earlier this year only to plummet 30 to 40 percent in price after recent regulatory scandals and underperforming quarterly reports.
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