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2 Cannabis Stocks That Would Benefit the Most From Marijuana Reform

By David Jagielski – Updated Aug 18, 2021 at 4:38PM

Key Points

  • Although both Curaleaf and Green Thumb have been growing their operations across the U.S., the federal ban on marijuana doesn't make it easy.
  • Green Thumb has turned a profit, but that could change if it were to ramp up expansion. Curaleaf still struggles with profitability and is burning through cash.
  • Marijuana reform could instantly improve the prospects for both of these businesses.

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These companies are among the largest multi-state operators in the country.

Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, introduced draft legislation that could legalize marijuana at the federal level. Although that might be a best-case scenario for the industry, any kind of reform could be welcome news for multi-state operators (MSOs). Simply passing legislation that would make it easy for cannabis companies to access banking services would help them tap into more money for growth.

Two companies that have the most to gain if there is major reform are Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF 0.31%) and Curaleaf Holdings (CURLF 3.22%). These are two of the top MSOs in the country, and here's why their shareholders could be big winners if the federal government eases the rules for the marijuana industry.

People checking on plants in a greenhouse.

Image source: Getty Images.

Green Thumb Industries

Green Thumb Industries has been aggressively growing its operations across the U.S. On Aug. 9, it opened its 62nd retail location; two years ago, it was at just 28. The company has been looking to expand just about anywhere -- its most recent move was to enter the Rhode Island medical marijuana market this month, acquiring a vertical license that allows it to open a retail location there and set up production. The move expands Green Thumb's presence into 14 states.

Green Thumb is already growing its business very aggressively, and marijuana reform would allow it to move at an even faster pace. Vertical licenses are currently crucial, because the federal ban on marijuana prohibits cannabis businesses from moving their products across state lines. Legalization would help Green Thumb take advantage of economies of scale and bring its costs down. And that would go a long way in boosting its bottom line.

Although the business has posted a profit in each of the past quarters, its net margin fluctuates at 10% or less. That doesn't leave a whole lot of room to absorb a big increase in costs should it undergo aggressive expansion in a new marijuana market. Even if the only immediate change to the industry is banking reform, that could help Green Thumb take on additional debt to potentially make more acquisitions to grow its operations.

Green Thumb isn't doing badly by any means -- as mentioned, the company is profitable, and for six straight quarters, it has generated positive cash flow from its day-to-day operations. But getting some help from the federal government could set it up for some even better results.

This cannabis company is one of the best investments you can make in the U.S. pot market today. And it'll be an even better one once the barriers in the industry are gone.

Curaleaf Holdings

Curaleaf is another company that has been expanding rapidly in recent years. And with operations in 23 states, including 108 dispensaries, it has an even broader footprint than Green Thumb.

Curaleaf is looking beyond just the U.S. market. In April, the company announced the closing of its acquisition of Emmac Life Sciences, a European cannabis company that Curaleaf sees as pivotal to its expansion in Europe; at the same time, it established Curaleaf International -- a new business that is focused on growth opportunities in the European market and which encompasses Emmac.

But that aggressive expansion has made it difficult for the company to post a profit. In its latest results, for the period ending June 30, Curaleaf increased its revenue by 166% year over year to $312 million. But its net loss of $7 million more than tripled in size from the $2 million loss it incurred a year earlier. During the period, the company opened multiple dispensaries, including in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New Jersey, as well as the first adult-use store in all of Maine.

Curaleaf is expanding quickly across the U.S., and it is another example of a business that could be in much better shape with some help from the government. Given that more than 30 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes (and 19 have legalized it recreationally), there are plenty of markets for the company to expand into today. But Curaleaf has burned through $89 million over the trailing 12 months from its day-to-day operations, meaning it has to be careful in picking its spots, since too much of a drain on cash could create problems.

Marijuana reform could not only help improve its financials but also allow Curaleaf to expand at an even faster pace. And that's why holding shares of this pot stock before reform actually happens could lead to some fantastic returns for investors.

David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Green Thumb Industries. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Curaleaf Stock Quote
Curaleaf
CURLF
$5.45 (3.22%) $0.17
Green Thumb Industries Stock Quote
Green Thumb Industries
GTBIF
$11.35 (0.31%) $0.04

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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