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Caution in the Sunshine State: Why Florida Cannabis Stocks May Not Be a Sure Bet

Cannabis stocks are rallying hard in 2024. The New Cannabis Ventures Global Cannabis Stock Index is up by 33.5% so far. Of course, a major development is playing out: rescheduling. If cannabis is moved from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3, then 280E taxation will end, which will be very good for the American cannabis companies that have been paying it.

The American cannabis companies are doing well, but they aren’t the only part of the market firing forward. The NCV American Cannabis Operator Index has gained 35.1%, only slightly higher than the Global Cannabis Stock Index. As we discussed last week, certain Canadian LPs that are in the GCSI are doing so much better than the index and the American operators. Cannabis investors should avoid certain Canadian LPs.

While rescheduling looks like it will take place, which should be good for the MSOs due to tax reduction and improved cash flow, we remind readers that there may be some things that will not be so positive. We have a fairly large exposure to MSOs in the model portfolio at 420 Investor, but we are avoiding some of the largest ones. The five Tier 1 names are up dramatically in 2024 and over the past year, especially Trulieve.

Each of these stocks has outperformed the Global Cannabis Stock Index, up 39.2%, over the past year. A year ago, Trulieve was very out of favor. Going back to the end of 2022, it is up a lot, but it is not the leader.

Since the end of 2022, the Global Cannabis Stock Index has gained 11.5%, so these large MSOs are all up by at least twice as much. The two leaders among the five largest MSOs are both big in Florida, which is a large medical-cannabis state that is vertically-integrated. Trulieve has 136 dispensaries, while Verano operates 75. The two of them have about 1/3 of the 635 open dispensaries in the state.

Investors have been very excited by the chances of the voters in Florida approving a ballot initiative in November that would allow adult-use legalization. The Supreme Court of Florida gave the go-ahead in early April, overruling a challenge. The MSOs in the state joined Trulieve in funding support for the amendment, which will require 60% of voters approving it to pass.

In addition to Trulieve and Verano, AYR Wellness and Curaleaf are big operators in the Florida medical cannabis market, with 125 stores between the two of them. The four of these, then, have 336 dispensaries in Florida, which is 53% of all dispensaries in the state. AYR Wellness, which is up 59.2% in 2024, has gained 139.2% since the end of 2022, ahead of the five largest MSOs.

We began writing about the Florida medical market recently. The state provides an update each week with unit volumes for all of its participants. Typically, these reports are released on Friday for the week ending on Thursday. The past report, though, was late to actually hit the website. Instead of last Friday, it was published on the OMMU website on Tuesday.

The report showed a new all-time low in growth of patients, which expanded just 7.3% from a year ago. When we updated the BDSA data earlier this month, we shared that Florida revenue was up only 1.8% from a year earlier in March. This was a record low too.

It’s not clear that Florida voters will approve adult-use legalization in November. If they don’t, we think the market will not be happy with a mature medical market that is slowing and competitive. If they do, it’s not yet clear that the four largest operators will win going forward. Investors should be careful in our view with the big Florida operators.

Will Florida's cannabis market thrive if adult-use legalization passes in November?

  • Yes, it will boost the market significantly.

  • No, the medical market's slowdown will persist.

  • Unsure, it depends on regulatory and market responses.


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