Canopy Growth Is a Worthy But Cautious Cannabis Play

I don’t believe it’s a stretch in the slightest to say that when the Associated Press declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential race, more than a few people lit up doobies to celebrate. Did they inhale? In terms of Canopy Growth Corp. (NYSE:CGC) and those holding CGC stock, they likely exhaled.

Mature Marijuana Plant with Bud and Leaves. Texture of Marijuana Plants at Indoor Cannabis Farm.
Source: Shutterstock

You see, in a market fueled by unprecedented growth — hothouse growth, if you like — this Canadian company has just begun to see daylight after a rough run in 2019 and much of 2020. The upward action started on Oct. 2 and aided by the tailwind of a Biden election victory, CGC stock has shot up by more than two-thirds, trading now at $24.77.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether Canopy has once and for all shed the troubles that have dogged it. Co-founder and co-CEO Bruce Linton was forced out in July 2019 in the wake of losses and light revenue. Canada’s cannabis market (which I like to call the “Cannadabis”) also proved something of an abyss, growing much slower than expected after nationwide legalization in Oct. 2018. So what happens if the U.S. legalizes pot? Or not?

CGC Stock and Where Capital Meets the Capitol

To most definitely toot my own horn, I recommended Canopy stock as a buying opportunity on Oct. 5, nearly to the day of its current upswing. Here’s what I wrote: “Buy some shares of CGC stock while prices are cheap and analyst consensus is somewhat rosy. Then, wait on what shakes out in the halls of D.C. and the corporate offices in Smiths Falls, Canada. I’d say one quarter is just about right.”

Ha! Did I nail it, or what? Then again, did I put my money where my big mouth was? Uh, no.

Still, I do not consider this a lost opportunity vis-a-vis CGC stock, as there’s a helpful clue in the second half of my call: Stand by for “what shakes out in the halls of D.C.” For with a highly contentious presidential race behind us (even if the so-far spurious court cases aren’t), a most incredible congressional development is one step closer to reality.

Pot’s Potential Under a New POTUS

Just prior to election day, Congress moved tantalizingly close to legalizing marijuana nationwide. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act came within inches of a House vote on the week of Sept. 21. Unless this legislation gets lost in the shuffle of some national crisis, the House will likely revisit and pass it in early 2021, with current President-Elect Joe Biden signing the MORE Act into law if the Senate follows suit.

Yes, conservatives have traditionally opposed marijuana reform and if the Senate remains in GOP hands, all manner of Democratic legislation will be blocked. Nor would it help that Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris sponsored the senate’s version of the bill.

But in this case, senatorial stubbornness would equate to an anti-business stance Republican lawmakers are loathe to take. And if Biden chooses to press that point, it will not go over well in states where pot sales are legal, but still against the law on the federal level. Regardless, the outgoing president was no friend of legal reform. The chances of Donald Trump signing the MORE Act into law were at best dubious; his administration had undertaken “a number of hostile anti-marijuana actions.”

Canopy No Longer a Wait and See

While so many other stock pickers with Wall Street pedigrees could wipe the floor with me, my three decades as a journalist have taught me to sniff out under-the-radar news stories that can impact sectors and stocks greatly. Progress on the MORE Act is one. Nobody’s talking about it but I’m here to talk it up as a big reason to plow ahead with cannabis investment as a whole, and CGC stock for our purposes.

But on the company level, there are yellow flags. In hindsight, the move to force out Linton was wise but it did raise the specter of overreach by Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ), which owns a 38% stake in CGC. Will Constellation stay hands off should things go well from here on out or indulge some compulsion to fix what ain’t broke — especially if investors in CGC stock ain’t broke? That’s hard to say.

Now as in October, many analysts remain on the fence and that puzzles me. We are firmly in hold territory where they are concerned, with 15 out of 23 taking that stance. The consensus price target $19.87 is already in the rearview mirror, though, so I have to wonder whether these numbers reflect the current reality.

Again, this might not be a deep plunge: We are talking about the intersection of new legislation and lasting corporate competence to make the current good fortune of Canopy take root. So, what do you say? Have another hit? Take another toke? Where CGC stock is concerned, it looks like it’s time to inhale.

On the date of publication, Lou Carlozo did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.


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