THE launch of the world’s first cannabis-focused exchange-traded fund (ETF), on the Toronto Stock Exchange on April 5th, is welcome news to aficionados of marijuana. As with any ETF, the fund spares would-be investors the need to pick out their own favourite stocks, or indeed weed out dodgy ones, as it will simply replicate and track an index, in this case the North American Medical Marijuana Index.
The fund’s home in Canada is no accident. Medical marijuana has been legal there since 2001, with growing and selling outsourced to licensed firms since 2013. (Justin Trudeau’s administration has also announced plans to legalise recreational use by 2018.) In America, despite state-level legalisation, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, making it nigh-impossible for pot firms to even access the banking system, let alone seek a proper public listing.
As a result, the index itself ends up having a strong Canadian bent. Eleven of its 16 companies are based there, and all but three are licensed suppliers of medical marijuana in Canada, though a few also have American operations. Three of the others are American, though none of them deal directly with…Continue reading