cannabis bubble popped

The Licensed Producer Bubble

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government agreed to not to appeal the Allard ruling, but that still doesn’t mean the results will be favourable to patients.

A new system that merges the two medical cannabis regulatory regimes will likely include the licensed producers (LPs) as commercial suppliers, while limiting home gardens to a dozen or so plants.

At least, that’s how five leading LP CEOs see it working out.

And they might be right.

Of course, patients could sue again, but that in itself is a costly and time-consuming process.

Especially when the Liberals have vowed to legalize, with many people taking them on their word.

Vic Neufeld, CEO of licensed producer Aphria, thinks the LPs will be a supplier of plant genetics for home-growers.

Many of them think pharmacies will replace “illegal” dispensaries and that plant counts will be limited.

But there’s more than what meets the eye.

While we have a definite date for when Health Canada must announce the new rules, there is no definite date for when market fundamentals will reveal that most of the licensed producer prosperity has been illusionary.

A financial crisis worse than we experienced in 2008 is inevitable. And yet, the value of many of these LPs are based on the stock market.

The LPs suffer from a public relations problem with many patients, and growth has been hindered by the Allard injunction and the proliferation of dispensaries.

Now, they’re about to suffer from the economic realities ahead.

If we go back a couple years, when many LPs made their debut on the TSX, their shares shot through the roof even though some of them, like Denis Arsenault’s OrganiGram, had yet to make any money.

As the Globe and Mail reported, “OrganiGram was probably a year away from pulling in meaningful revenue – and it was already worth nine digits in the stock market.

“I was just shaking my head,” Mr. Arsenault said of that first week of licensed producer trading.

OrganiGram wasn’t alone. Tweed was worth $100 million before it even made its first shipment.

As mining exploration companies faltered, investors started piling into medical cannabis.

But is any of this sustainable?

Most of this wealth is based on paper, not actual sales.

And with the stock market drunk, supplied by alcohol from the Federal Reserve, the question isn’t if it will crash, but when.

Even former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan called the spread between treasury bonds the “wildest level in American history.”

No one is investing for the long-term. It’s all about a quick-turn around.

This was the case back in the late 90s, when mining wasn’t doing very well, so investors flooded into dot-com companies.

Since that was a bubble built on artificially low interest rates, when it burst, investors went back to mining companies.

Now it’s happening again: out of mining and into pot. And when this licensed producer bubble bursts, it’ll be back to mining.

Especially if foreign cannabis companies overtake the Canadian market.

Perhaps Allan Brochstein, an analyst who follows the sector, put it best when he said, “There’s a lot of people that are in the marijuana industry – [but] they’re not in the marijuana industry. They’re in the stock-promotion industry.”