The marijuana industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years, but gained perhaps its biggest win in history this year: legitimacy.
In Canada, following years of promises from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and months of debate in Parliament, the Cannabis Act was signed into law. On Oct. 17, recreational marijuana was legalized in our neighbor to the north, which could potentially pave the way for $5 billion or more in added annual sales by the turn of the decade.
Major advancements were made in the United States, too. Residents in Utah and Missouri voted in favor of medical marijuana initiatives in their respective states, increasing the number of states to have legalized medical weed in some capacity to 32. During the year, Vermont and Michigan also approved recreational pot, boosting the number of adult-use legal states to 10.
Florida could be a surprisingly strong market for cannabis investment
Though Canada is the most legitimate of all marijuana markets for investors, it's the U.S. that's considered the biggest opportunity. If it were legalized at the federal level, the U.S. cannabis industry would leave Canada in the dust. That's why investors have focused their attention on a number of key U.S. states -- among them, Florida.
Sales estimates for Florida's medical cannabis industry vary wildly. Whereas BDS Analytics and ArcView foresee $1.09 billion in medical weed sales for Florida by 2020, GreenWave Advisor and New Frontier estimate sales of $936 million and $727 million, respectively. Regardless of whichever firm is closer, the fact remains that Florida offers big-time potential in the short- and long-term for medical marijuana companies.
Also remember that Florida is one of the top states that retirees call home, and is therefore the perfect state for medical pot companies to focus on. Aged Americans have a higher chance of being diagnosed with ailments that medical cannabis can potentially treat than younger adults, making the Sunshine State a sound market for investment.
So, where can investors consider putting their money to work? Here are three marijuana stocks with very strong ties to the Florida market.
One pot stock that's gung-ho on the Florida cannabis market is Trulieve Cannabis (NASDAQOTH:TCNNF). With its headquarters based in Quincy, Florida, Trulieve announced the opening of its 22nd dispensary in the state on Nov. 20.
Just how dominant is Trulieve? According to the company's press release announcing its Deerfield Beach store's grand opening, the company is "consistently selling between 60% and 80% of the state's overall volume," with an estimated 150,000 registered medical marijuana patients in Florida, per the Office of Medical Marijuana. As a reminder, Florida doesn't allow smokable products, so dispensaries like Trulieve are primarily focused on providing ground flower for vaporizers, vaporizers, topical creams, and concentrates. The company also offers delivery.
Also interesting, Trulieve, like most dispensaries, is a vertically integrated company. Since marijuana cannot be transported interstate in the U.S., Trulieve owns cultivation facilities that supply its dispensaries. It's a solid means of providing cost controls throughout the cannabis supply chain.
Even though we're in the early going, Trulieve has been an absolute beast. It tallied $28.3 million in sales in its most recent quarter, which would be more than $110 million in annual sales on an extrapolated basis. It also is one of a select small group of pot stocks to generate an operating profit without the assistance of one-time benefits, fair-value adjustments, and/or asset sales in its latest quarter.
Liberty Health Sciences
Another major player in the Florida marijuana market is Liberty Health Sciences (NASDAQOTH:LHSIF). Like Trulieve, this is a vertically integrated dispensary that controls its cannabis supply chain. In fact, Liberty Health is working on a notable capacity expansion project known as the Liberty 360 Innovation Campus. When complete in February, it'll boost growing space to 225,000 square feet, presumably giving Liberty Health greater production potential than any other dispensary within the state.
Another point worth mentioning is that Florida has limited the number of medical cannabis growing licenses in the state to just 14, at least for the time being. As one of those 14 license holders, Liberty is facing a known, but limited, group of competitors. Really, it's all about escalation and public presence; and its peers will struggle to compete with Liberty's rapidly expanding growing capacity.
Last month, the company announced plans to nearly double its presence in Florida by opening three new dispensaries in November and two more in December. When complete, it'll have a dozen locations within the state, and, like Trulieve, the desire to open more based on demand.
According to its Dec. 9 quarterly operating results, Liberty Health recorded $3.2 million in sales and had approximately 14,500 registered patients, which represented year-on-year increases of 45% and 46%, respectively.
Last but not least, there's Curaleaf Holdings (NASDAQOTH:CURLF), one of the largest pot stocks by market cap and the vertically integrated dispensary with the largest retail presence throughout the United States.
According to the company's most recent store opening in Ocala, Florida, it has 18 of its 34 dispensaries located within the Sunshine State. As a whole, Curaleaf has 34 open dispensaries, a dozen cultivation sites, and 10 processing facilities. In other words, it's a vertically integrated company, just like Trulieve and Liberty Health. Once the MedMen Enterprises buyout of PharmaCann is complete, Curaleaf may lose its spot as America's most prominent cannabis retailer. But for now, it retains its title.
In Curaleaf's first report as a public company, it announced $21.4 million in revenue, an increase of 289% from the prior-year quarter. Sequential quarterly sales growth was just as impressive at 47%. Having pocketed around $400 million from going public, Curaleaf now has more than enough capital on hand to really ramp up its expansion in, and beyond, Florida.
Understandably, Curaleaf, Liberty Health, and Trulieve do come with risks. Oversupply, a lifting of cultivation licensing limits, and a reversal of federal policy are all risks that investors would need to consider. But based on sheer growth potential in Florida's medical cannabis market, these pot stocks are all worth keeping an eye on.