Cannabis company Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) may have just secured its highest-profile celebrity endorsement yet. Perhaps only topped by the well-publicized relationship between Oprah Winfrey and Weight Watchers (NASDAQ:WW), lifestyle icon Martha Stewart just revealed she invested in an undisclosed stake in Canopy Growth stock because cannabis and cannabinol products are an “alternative to opioids.”
She’s probably not wrong. Insys Therapeutics (NASDAQ:INSY) and Cara Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CARA) are just a couple of several pharmaceutical companies developing ways to use the unique properties of the plant to make effective but not addictive pain-killers.
Still, some industry experts are skeptical, and even if the CBD is the basis for an alternative to opioids the world hopes it will be, Canopy Growth role in that sliver of the cannabis movement is modest, at best. Its rise to prominence has been almost entirely driven by recreational use.
Take a closer look at the company though, and you’ll find a handful of the (too many) different entities Canopy Growth owns are actually taking aim at the opioid epidemic.
Pain Relief and Canopy Growth Stock
The 77-year Stewart is as in-touch with societal trends as any millennial is, recently explaining of her investment in Canopy Growth stock to Create & Cultivate’s founder Jaclyn Johnson, “Well, it’s the modern thing, and it’s an alternative to opioids of course.”
It is indeed the modern thing to do. More than 60% of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana, and cannabis has promise as a strong pain reliever.
The former model and TV show host went on to undermine her case, however, adding, “I have a lot of animals, and I would love to be able to relieve stress or arthritis or other kinds of problems that my horses, my dogs, my cats experience. We’re working on that first, and we’re working on additions to human food stuffs, and also on cosmetics.”
To-date, recreational marijuana has been the crux of the story surrounding Canopy Growth. Of its fiscal Q3 sales of 10,102 kilograms, up 334% year-over-year, the vast majority of it was for recreational usage.
The company isn’t ignoring its potential role as a supplier of cannabis for true medicinal purposes though.
Pharma and Canopy Growth Stock
As of the latest look, Canopy owns eight diverse brands, including the relatively new Spectrum Therapeutics, which serves as “the company’s healthcare professional and patient-facing identity in medical markets in Canada and around the world.” While new, the division has still been undersold.
Spectrum Therapeutics is a three-branch unit. Canadian consumers are likely most familiar with Spectrum Cannabis, which supplies medical cannabis using a clever-though-not-complicated color-coding system.
It’s the other two divisions of Spectrum, however, that quietly look and feel more like pharma companies than a means of simply scoring a high.
Canopy Health Innovations, for instance, has secured 38 provisional patents in the United States with more on the way. Overseas, it’s involved in eleven different drug-development trials.
Cannabinoid Compound Company, also referred to as C3, is Europe’s largest cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals company. Granted, that doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot just yet. The company’s dronabinol, however, can be “prescribed by doctors in Germany for any type of chronic pain, and for any condition in palliative care.”
It’s a credible start towards becoming the opioid alternative Martha Stewart believes is possible.
Adding to that credibility is the fact that the NFL is exploring the use of cannabis as a means of treating players’ pains. That follows a partnership forged between the NHL Alumni Association and Canopy Growth earlier this year, to explore cannabinoids as a means of treating post-concussion neurological diseases… an area the NFL should be exploring as well.
Looking Ahead for Canopy Growth Stock
Don’t misread the message. An investment in Canopy Growth stock is an investment in many things, but an investment in opioid alternatives is the least of them. And, it could take years for the prescription-based use of cannabis to catch up with Canopy’s recreational business. If that’s the impact Stewart is betting on, it could be a long and rocky wait.
It’s still on the radar though. And, with the opioid market expected to be worth roughly $35 billion by 2025, it’s a prospect that would certainly make for a solid second-act from the company. Or, maybe a third act, if the United States legalizes marijuana at the federal level. While certainly game-changing, recreational usage can’t drive double-digit and triple-digit growth forever.
Besides, the bigger the recreational market gets, the more competitive it becomes, and we’ve already seen the prices of marijuana fall as it becomes increasingly commoditized.
Prescription-based products, preferably co-developed with a major partner, could prove to be a key means for Canopy Growth to differentiate itself and establish a longer-lasting, better-defended growth engine. You’ve just heard very little about the potential opportunity because it’s such a long-term one.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can learn more about James at his site, jamesbrumley.com, or follow him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.