Oct 8, 2019

Welcome to Marijuana 2.0

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The cannabis industry is poised to undergo another major change as Colorado's House Bill 1090 takes effect next month, providing investment opportunities for publicly traded companies, venture capitalists and private equity firms, which were previously barred.

Why it matters: The law will push cannabis into a new phase of development and foster considerable consolidation in the industry, creating new businesses and driving out others.

  • Wall Street, venture capital funds and private equity firms will now have the opportunity to enter a fast-growing industry and provide the funds to scale at a new level.
  • "We are moving to a national, even international economy in marijuana," Jim Burack, director of the Colorado Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division, tells Axios.

The big picture: Colorado is opening up right as investors have begun to sour on publicly traded pot stocks, which have seen their once massive valuations cut in half over the course of the year.

  • "There was too much exuberance and froth in the markets," Emily Paxhia, managing director at cannabis investment firm Poseidon Asset Management, tells Axios.
  • "Anyone who was prudent about valuing the market saw this coming from 10 miles away. Now there will be a shift to operational efficiency in many of these businesses. That's a healthy innovation for any market."

Between the lines: While Canadian companies like Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth have drawn massive valuations, investors have been eager to find a way into the U.S. market, which has a much larger and richer consumer base.

  • Investors will now have access to a U.S.-based mature marijuana market that includes businesses ranging from restaurants and property development to advertising and wellness.

Yes, but: The industry's growth prospects remain restricted by the fact that it is federally illegal, making many traditional avenues for growth impossible.

Still, Colorado's deregulation of the industry and the potential for access to banking services through the SAFE Banking Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives, could be game changers.

  • The new law "opens up funding opportunities that we have really not had available to us before," Nancy Whiteman, CEO of edibles company Wana Brands, tells Axios.
  • "Having more and more cannabis companies that are operating in multiple states and some of them with very large, deep pockets, it's changing a lot about how the industry operates."

Go deeper

Bernie Sanders debuts plan at 4:20 pm to legalize marijuana

Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released a proposal precisely at 4:20 pm on Thursday to legalize marijuana at the federal level, per a campaign email.

The big picture: Marijuana legalization has become an increasingly popular stance within the Democratic Party, but Sanders' proposal appears to be one of the most progressive in the 2020 field. Sanders says he would legalize marijuana within 100 days via executive action and fight against large marijuana companies monopolizing the market to ensure communities of color are able to benefit from the industry.

Go deeperArrowOct 24, 2019

Cannabis companies could be facing cash crisis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Marijuana companies may be in serious trouble, as their declining stock prices are putting the cash-reliant businesses in a bind.

Why it matters: "Dealmaking is already slowing, while debt is becoming scarce and more expensive," writes the Wall Street Journal.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

Venture capitalists on track for $100 billion in startup investments

Photo: JOSEPH EID / AFP

Venture capitalists are on pace to invest over $100 billion in U.S. startups for the second straight year, including a record number of rounds more than $50 million. This might be the industry's high-volume mark.

The big picture: The dizzying numbers have been driven by an influx of new money that has helped companies stay private longer. But much of that new money comes from what I've previously referred to as "VC tourists" — or investors for whom startups aren't their core competency.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019