Cannabis ETFs Soar After Biden Pardon

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Cannabis-related exchange-traded funds and stocks were lifted this week after President Biden’s pardon on Thursday of those convicted of simple marijuana possession.

The president also called for a review of how marijuana is categorized under federal law, with the moves boosting speculation that a loosening of cannabis restrictions is on the horizon.

Cannabis ETFs offering exposure to the industry in the U.S. have been beaten down badly over the past few years as the industry takes longer than anticipated to develop. Still, they had record gains Thursday after President Biden’s announcement.

The AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (MSOS), the first and biggest ETF offering exposure to the U.S. market, gained 33% Thursday. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ) added 20% and the ETFMG U.S. Alternative Harvest ETF (MJUS) rose by 26%. The ETFs rose again earlier Friday before coming down from their highs.

Additionally, shares of cannabis companies such as Canopy Growth Co. and Tilray Brands Inc., which maintain the first- and fourth-largest holdings in MJ, also jumped by approximately 22% and 33%, respectively.

“President Biden’s announcement is obviously tremendously uplifting for the industry,” Jason Wilson, cannabis research and banking expert at ETF Managers Group, told ETF.com in an interview.

“There’s always been some level of anxiety that President Biden might not sign a substantive reform or even incremental reform but, based on his actions, it sure looks like he went for it,” he noted.

Cannabis investors will remain cautious until formal legalization legislation is announced by Congress, Wilson said. Industry investors were burned in the past when they got encouraging news about decriminalization before the efforts stalled.

He also said that such reform would encourage more money to be invested in the cannabis sector:

“I think to get bigger money flows into the industry, we will need to see legislation that supports proper banking, proper access to capital and legislation that will allow us companies to list on primary exchanges, so we’re not just trading on tertiary exchanges.”

Currently, marijuana is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Region: North America