The jury is out on the effectiveness of microdosing psychedelics, experts say, but definitely don’t do it at work

microdosing psychedelics
A microdose used in a recent study.

  • Using tiny amounts psychedelic drugs to try to boost creativity and focus has become more popular in recent years.
  • Iterable CEO Justin Zhu was fired last month for microdosing LSD before a company meeting in 2019.
  • Experts told Insider the available evidence suggests the risks likely outweigh the benefits.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The firing last month of Justin Zhu from the top job at marketing startup Iterable thrust the issue of workplace drug-use back into the conversation, highlighting an ongoing tension between individual performance-hacking and traditional corporate norms.

According to Zhu, the reason the board cut him loose from the company he co-founded was because he took a “microdose” of the psychedelic drug LSD before a company meeting in 2019, in the hopes of improving his focus.

While Zhu was by no means the first – or the highest-profile – tech industry leader to experiment with psychoactive substances to boost their professional performance, the company said it had a policy barring drug use among employees.

“Like it or not, this is an illegal activity,” said Matthew Johnson, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins and the associate director of the university’s Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, which was the first research group in the country to receive regulatory approval to study psychedelics with healthy volunteers.

“Microdosing has become such a fad, and particularly talked about in the tech industry, but these are Schedule I drugs,” he said, referring to the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s classification of substances with high risk for abuse.

Read more: How Entrepreneurs Microdose on Psychedelics to Spur New Business Ideas

With microdosing, users take fractional doses of what might ordinarily be considered a recreational substance like LSD, ecstasy, or magic mushrooms, attempting to stay below the hallucinogenic effects the drugs are known for. In many cases, these low doses are repeated at regular intervals to achieve a cumulative effect over time.

As to whether it works, “my jury is still firmly out on that one,” said Jamie Wheal, a researcher and writer on the neurophysiology of human performance, and the founder and executive director of the Flow Genome Project, which consults with high-growth startups and Fortune 500 companies like Google and Cisco.

“The biohacker bro is a relatively new version,” he said. “I first noticed it probably a decade ago with some Google engineers and other places where some folks were beginning to see microdosing as a brain-hack optimization thing.”

This ad-hoc experimentation is an extension of the academic research pioneered in the 1960’s and 70’s by psychologists like James Fadiman that was effectively shunted out of the mainstream in favor of the development of less potent alternatives.

“We could have had the Age of Aquarius – instead, we got Prozac nation,” Wheal said.

Federally sanctioned research and commercial interest in therapeutic applications for psychedelics is generally focused on so-called “heroic” doses, and the results may give pause to anyone considering self-experimentation with microdosing.

Professor Johnson said he has heard from people who’ve attempted to measure out drugs on their own and been caught off-guard by the results.

“They intend to take a microdose, but then they’re at work and the wall starts waving,” he said.

Johnson said his research often compares heroic macrodoses of LSD or psilocybin with microdoses that effectively constitute a placebo or control group.

“If there is a benefit of microdosing, it’s very likely that it has almost nothing to do with the types of effects that we’re seeing with high doses,” he said.

Steve Jobs, one of the most prominent psychedelic experimenters in Silicon Valley, said that “taking LSD was a profound experience.”

“LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important,” Jobs said.

Indeed, research by Johnson and others has shown that heroic doses of psychedelics have been shown to have a host of benefits in clinical trials, but they also effectively incapacitate the user and require the close supervision of a trained professional to guide a person safely through the experience.

In other words, you wouldn’t be able to lead a meeting – or do much of anything for that matter – when on the recreational or higher amounts of psychedelics required to experience the reported therapeutic benefits.

But the current findings indicate those benefits don’t seem to transfer down the scale very well. Although some users claim to see attentional or creative benefits from microdosing, Johnson says the science just doesn’t support the specific claims of heightened creativity and focus.

If anything, Johnson says “tinkering with the serotonin system” could have an ongoing benefit for mood, but that raises other medical concerns for cardiac health.

“If there is something there, I think the the antidepressant effects seem the most credible, and if it works, the most important,” he said. “But psychedelics wouldn’t be the on the top of my list to investigate to enhance focus.”

Indeed, a recent study published in the journal eLife found that microdosing’s reported benefits were largely attributable to the placebo effect. Considering the health, legal, and professional risks of a wrong dose, Johnson suggested revisiting a more familiar cognitive boost: caffeine.

“If you’re not taking it every day, 200 milligrams of caffeine has some real performance and cognitive enhancing effects,” he said.

Every company has its own culture and norms, but Johnson said he would see no contradiction if one of the several psychedelic startups looking to cash in on developing an FDA-approved therapy were to prohibit the sort of self-experimentation that got Zhu into trouble with Iterable’s board.

“We’ve got safeguards in our research, and anything that sends to the FDA pathway, they’re going to have safeguard the safeguards in place,” he said.

When it comes to psychedelics, contrary to the Silicon Valley ethos of “move fast and break things,” experts say it’s better to go slow and follow the rules.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A landmark study shows the main compound in magic mushrooms could rival a leading depression drug

Psilocybin in pill form
Psilocybin in pill form

  • Imperial College London scientists just published a report on how psychedelics could treat depression.
  • The study pits psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, against the depression drug escitalopram.
  • Reduction in depression occurred more quickly with psilocybin, but the differences were not significant.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In recent years, research into the use of psychedelics for the treatment of mental-health illnesses has begun to thrive.

Private companies focused on developing psychedelics-based medications for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration have raised hundreds of millions of dollars over the past year and several have gone public, garnering valuations of more than $1 billion.

Meanwhile, half a dozen prestigious universities in the US and Europe have established centers dedicated to research on psychedelics, a trend fueled by wealthy donors interested in the potential medical benefits of the substances.

But medical research into these mind-altering compounds is still nascent. Psychedelic research was virtually barred for decades and most academic institutions have only recently restarted studies testing psychedelic compounds in people.

That research is beginning to deliver results. On Wednesday, scientists published a milestone report that directly compares psilocybin, the active compound found in magic mushrooms, with the depression drug Lexapro, or escitalopram.

A compound found in magic mushrooms works as well as a major depression pill

The study, in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, shows that psilocybin works about as well as escitalopram to treat patients with moderate or severe major depressive disorder.

Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, led the research team.

He told Insider that while he believes the findings support the potential of psilocybin to be an improvement on current antidepressants, they are also a reality check on what he called “a kind of unbridled optimism about psychedelic therapy” driven by for-profit psychedelics companies and investors.

He added that the findings in the report are consistent with previous studies on the effectiveness of psilocybin as a depression treatment.

Dr. Robin Cahart Harris, head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London

The mid-stage trial was small, with just 59 participants, limiting scientists’ ability to draw strong conclusions. About half the volunteers were treated with psilocybin and the other half received escitalopram. All patients received psychological support throughout the trial.

Researchers found that although the reduction in depression occurred more quickly and in “greater magnitude” with psilocybin, the differences between the two treatments was not significant.

“Larger and longer trials are needed to compare psilocybin with established treatments for depression,” the article said.

Companies like Compass Pathways, which is the furthest along in testing psilocybin in clinical trials in the for-profit world, have focused on psilocybin as a treatment for treatment-resistant depression (TRD), or depression that hasn’t improved with at least two forms of treatment.

Psilodep psychedelic research at Imperial College London
Psychedelic research at Imperial College London

Psilocybin could take a slice of a $100 billion market

Imperial’s study works to provide the academic foundation to show psilocybin’s effects on more moderate forms of depression.

“What’s on the table now is the prospect that psilocybin therapy could be an alternative to SSRIs, if it’s at least as good,” Carhart-Harris said. “What we’re showing is that people could consider psilocybin therapy earlier on in the course of a depression.”

Psilocybin has in recent years been seen as a potential disruptor to the market for depression treatments. Current treatment options don’t work for some patients and can take a long time to fully work. Canaccord Genuity has estimated that psychedelic-based medicines focused on mental health could take part in what could soon become a $100 billion market.

Psilocybe cyanescens, a species of psychedelic mushrooms
Psilocybe cyanescens, a species of psychedelic mushrooms

Carhart-Harris said that the results of the study are framed in a conservative way in the journal, but he emphasized that they’re impressive. He pointed to some of the study’s secondary findings, such as the fact that about 57% of patients who received psilocybin saw their depression go into remission, while that occurred in about a quarter of patients who received escitalopram.

“To say it in a conservative way, psilocybin therapy looks at least as good as the leading treatments for depression,” Carhart-Harris said. “What you see in the paper is a very conservative framing but when you look a little bit closer under the hood, you realize it’s pretty impressive findings.”

If the trial were longer, researchers say patients who received escitalopram may have seen better efficacy

Escitalopram takes several weeks to show its full effect and the researcher note in the article that if the trial had been longer than six weeks, patients who received escitalopram may have done better.

Carhart-Harris said the fact that psilocybin seems to work faster than existing depression drugs could be a noteworthy benefit of the psychedelic.

“We’ve become so accustomed to this principle that you have to wait a couple of months for your SSRI to work and that’s not good enough,” he said. “Many people with depression are seriously considering taking their own lives and you tell them you have to wait two months to see any improvements. It’s not a great message yet we’re just accepting that.”

Magic mushrooms psychedelic psilocybin
Psilocybin mushrooms

Scientists say that more and bigger trials are needed

The next logical step for psilocybin for depression research is a late-stage trial involving more people. Carhart-Harris says that this is where for-profit and nonprofit entities step up to the plate.

Compass Pathways and the Usona Institute, a non-profit focused on psychedelic research, are furthest along in clinical trials of the compound. Both are in phase II trials, which involves testing the treatment in up to several hundred patients.

A smattering of other psychedelics companies are also in pre-clinical or early stage research around psilocybin

Different political initiatives – like Measure 109 in Oregon, which created a regulated therapeutic psilocybin program – also provide a route to providing psilocybin therapy to patients with depression. This offers an alternative to seeking approval from the FDA.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Insider Cannabis: New York finally legalizes adult-use marijuana

marijuana cannabis
Employees tend to medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel.

Welcome to Insider Cannabis, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.

Happy Friday readers,

What a week.

The big news was New York’s legalization of adult-use cannabis. The day after state lawmakers released an updated version of the MRTA over the weekend, New York’s legislature voted to pass the bill in both the State Assembly and Senate. Hours later, on Wednesday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation into law.

We’ve got you covered on all the different angles of this and how it’ll affect current operators. While stocks remained relatively unchanged the day the bill passed in New York’s legislature, they saw big gains after Cuomo signed the bill.

More regulations are expected to trickle in as the Office of Cannabis Management and a Cannabis Control Board begin to create a more detailed framework for recreational cannabis. But we’ve got you covered in the meantime with the key takeaways every investor should know.

Outside of the vacuum suck that was New York legalization, some companies announced deals to increase their presence in the US. Greenlane and KushCo announced they were merging in an all-stock deal while Verano Holdings announced an acquisition in Pennsylvania and Ayr Wellness closed a deal in Ohio.

Plus, check out my colleague Andrea Michelson’s story on delta-8 THC, a cannabis compound with a hazy legal status that’s growing in popularity. She explains what it is, and tried a latte loaded with the substance.

My canna buddy Jeremy will be back on Monday after a well-deserved vacation. We’ll have more news coming your way very soon. Let’s get to it.

– Yeji (@jesse_yeji)

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

Cannabis companies are giddy as people use their stimulus checks to stock up on marijuana

Cannabis companies are gearing up for a boost in sales as stimulus checks start hitting people’s bank accounts. Ben Kovler, Green Thumb Industries’ CEO, says “it’ll be as simple as people will buy more weed.”

A top Wall Street analyst lays out 5 cannabis stocks to buy now that could pop as New York legalizes marijuana

Pablo Zuanic, an analyst at the investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald, laid out five cannabis stocks earlier this month that would see a boost if New York lawmakers legalized cannabis for all adults.

3 New York cannabis companies told us they’re planning to ramp up cultivation and prepare for wholesale now that the state has legalized recreational marijuana

GTI, Columbia Care, Curaleaf told us they’re looking to ramp up cultivation to meet demand. They also say they’re generally happy with the law but are waiting as more regulations come to light in the coming months.

The key details every cannabis investor needs to know about New York marijuana legalization, including the stocks to buy now

New York’s new legal market is nuanced and complex. We’ve got you covered with the key takeaways investors should know, including which stocks to buy, deals to expect, and how taxation will look as sales begin.

New York cannabis legalization will give the state’s 10 existing operators a big leg up – and that could be good news for investors

New York’s adult-use law gives huge advantages to cannabis companies that already have a foothold in the state. The 10 operators in New York’s medical market will be able to transition into adult-use and be some of the few players to be vertically integrated.

Here are the prime acquisition targets and the types of deals you can expect as New York legalizes cannabis.

The vast majority of the 10 operators currently in New York are multistate operators with deep pockets. A select few, however, are either private or financially struggling. As newcomers look to enter New York, here are the kind of deals you can expect to see.

A timeline of when New Yorkers can smoke marijuana, grow it, and sell it legally

Some aspects of NY’s cannabis legalization bill take effect immediately, while others are delayed. Here’s what we know about what’s allowed now and when you can expect to be able to home grow and buy products in dispensaries.

Executive Moves

  • Cannabis data and analytics company New Frontier Data announced changes to its C-suite on Tuesday. Founder and former CEO Giadha A. DeCarcer will now be executive chair. Gary Allen, former COO, is now CEO.
  • Psychedelics company Cybin announced executive changes on Tuesday. Co-founder and former COO Paul Glavine will become chief growth officer, and co-founder and former SVP, Business Development John Kanakis will become chief business officer.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Psychedelics company Wesana Health announced that it closed a C$16.1 million private placement to fund trials of psychedelic-assisted therapy to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI).
  • Greenlane and KushCo announced on Wednesday that they were merging in an all-stock deal in which KushCo will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Greenlane.
  • MSO Verano Holdings announced on Wednesday that it agreed to acquire The Healing Center in Pennsylvania, adding three Pittsburgh-based dispensaries.
  • Ayr Wellness announced that it closed on its acquisition of Ohio Medical Solutions, Inc. On Tuesday, the company closed the acquisition of medical marijuana company Parma Wellness Center.
  • Canopy Growth said on Thursday that it closed its acquisition of Ontario-based cannabis brand Ace Valley.

Policy moves

Earnings roundup

  • Harvest Health & Recreation released Q4 results, reporting $69.9 million in revenue and a $7.4 million net loss. The company guided to $380 million in revenue for 2021.
  • Clever Leaves Holdings released Q4 results, reporting $3.3 million in revenue and a net loss of $11.6 million. The company said it expects 2021 revenue of $17 million to $20 million.
  • Greenlane Holdings released its Q4 results, reporting $36.3 million in sales and a $10.9 million net loss.
  • Agrify released its Q4 results, reporting $4.4 million in revenue and a $13.1 million net loss.

What we’re reading

Investigation: Illegal cannabis operation looks for roots in Indigenous communities (High Country News)

Chicago-based marijuana giant part of federal pay-to-play investigation (Chicago Tribune)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Insider Cannabis: Stocks to bet on for New York legalization – Cannabis on Capitol Hill – Dutchie’s $1.7 billion valuation

GettyImages 1178310599
As the legal cannabis market grows in the US, there are many ways for investors to gain exposure to the industry.

Welcome to Insider Cannabis, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.

Happy Friday readers,

The cannabis news machine was cranking on all cylinders this week.

First, the SAFE Banking Act was reintroduced in the House by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The Senate version will be introduced next week. We read through the bill and pulled out all the most important details.

The SAFE Banking Act, a relatively narrow cannabis reform bill, has a really good chance of becoming law. The same cannot be said for more widespread decriminalization bills, at least in this Congress, as we reported with our colleague Kimberly Leonard in DC.

President Biden, for his part, will not likely be a friend to cannabis reform efforts – recent reporting from The Daily Beast shows that the White House fired staffers who admitted to past cannabis use. Bob Dylan may have said it best: The times are a-changing, but not quite as quickly as some may have hoped.

It’s important to keep in mind the more pernicious impact of punitive cannabis policies, though: It’s on people of color. Ninety-four percent of marijuana-related arrests by the NYPD last year were people of color.

In other news, check out my panel on cannabis reporting for SXSW online with some of the other folks on the beat. You can watch it anytime before Saturday.

-Jeremy (@jfberke) and Yeji (@jesse_yeji)

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

The CEO of a $1.7 billion cannabis-tech startup shares how he convinced Tiger Global and DFJ to bet on the spread of marijuana legalization

Dutchie closed a $200 million Series C funding round led by Tiger Global. The monster round gives Dutchie a valuation of $1.7 billion.

Cannabis tech is one of the few areas that mainstream investors are allowed to bet on – and cannabis is hot.

A top Wall Street analyst lays out 5 cannabis stocks to buy now that could pop if New York races ahead to legalize marijuana

New York Gov. Cuomo said he expects to strike a deal to legalize cannabis ahead of the April 1 budget. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic picked five companies to bet on that are set to benefit.

The bankruptcy risk of every major cannabis company, ranked

Cannabis companies that survived a tumultuous 2019 and 2020 are seeing their fortunes improve. Insider looked through data from CreditRiskMonitor to see the risk of bankruptcy for major cannabis companies.

The good news is that cannabis companies have generally seen their financial situations improve over the past year. The bad news is that many still remain at risk and in the “red flag” zone.

Several Democratic senators say they’re against cannabis legalization, busting claims that the filibuster is the only obstacle in the way of reform

Democratic leaders want to federally legalize weed, an exciting prospect for the industry. But six Democratic senators on Capitol Hill told Insider they had reservations about doing so.

Insider’s interviews with several senators on Capitol Hill show Democrats aren’t united on the issue, and the prospect of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level this Congress isn’t as high as the industry envisions. Republicans tend to oppose the matter, but some would like legislation to support cannabis shops.

A House bill would help cannabis companies work with big banks and let you use your credit card when shopping for marijuana. Here are 7 things to know about the bipartisan plan.

House lawmakers introduced a modest cannabis reform bill this week that has a good chance of becoming law, because it has bipartisan support. Insider read through the SAFE Banking Act and chose the top takeaways from the legislation.

Executive Moves

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • California cannabis company MWG Holdings Group announced it closed a $10.8 Million Series B preferred private placement.
  • Psychedelics company Field Trip announced it closed a $78 million bought deal financing.
  • Cannabis real estate firms NewLake Capital Partners and GreenAcreage Real Estate Corp are merging, to create what the companies say would be the largest cannabis real estate firm with a combined portfolio of $325 million across 9 states.
  • Publicly traded cannabis tech company Akerna will acquire Viridian Sciences, a business management platform geared toward dispensaries in an all-stock transaction. The company did not disclose the size of the deal.

Policy moves and politics

  • Dozens of White House staff have been sidelined for their past cannabis use, according to The Daily Beast. Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said that only five people who started working at the White House are no longer employed.
  • Sens. Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden held a discussion on Facebook Live to underscore their support for the SAFE Banking Act and federal marijuana decriminalization.
  • A deal to legalize recreational cannabis in New York is “very close” according to state lawmakers and Gov. Cuomo. Senator Liz Krueger, a co-sponsor of the MRTA, said in a radio interview this week that she is “extremely pleased” with the agreement that Gov. Cuomo and other lawmakers have reached in regards to growing pot at home and social equity funding.
  • The New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee passed HB12, a bill that would legalize cannabis in the state, on Thursday. The bill could become law as soon as this weekend.
  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would allow cannabis companies to access banking services. Read our story here.
  • Sen. Bob Menendez reintroduced the CLAIM Act, a bill that would allow cannabis companies to access insurance.

Research and data

  • A report from the nonprofit Tax Foundation found that the value of marijuana sales – if projections hold – may be twice that of firearms and ammunition and three times bigger than McDonald’s sales revenue by 2023.
  • Between 2010 and 2019, there were eight times as many marijuana-related arrests of Black and Latinx people as there were of white people in New York City, according to a report from the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance and the City University of New York’s Public Science Project.
  • People of color made up 94% of arrests by the NYPD last year, according to the department’s data.

Earnings roundup

  • Columbia Care released its Q4 and full-year results, reporting a combined revenue of $76 million and a $73.7 million net loss for the quarter.
  • Green Thumb Industries released its Q4 and full-year results, reporting net revenue of $177.2 million and $22.5 million in net income.
  • Sundial released its Q4 and full-year results, reporting net revenue of C$13.9 million and a net loss of C$64.1 million.
  • Hexo Corp released its Q2 results, reporting net revenue of $32.8 million and a net loss of $20.8 million.

Chart of the week

Cannabis jobs have been growing rapidly across the US in recent years. The industry has averaged 27.5% growth each year, according to Leafly’s 2021 Jobs Report. In 2021, there are now 321,000 legal cannabis jobs in the country:

Total cannabis jobs in the US

What we’re reading

Investors Are Debating Who Should Own the Future of Psychedelics (Vice)

‘Chopped’ Takes on Cannabis and Generation Z in New Editions for Discovery Plus (Variety)

Can Magic Mushrooms Heal Us? (NYT)

Biden White House Sandbags Staffers, Sidelines Dozens for Pot Use (The Daily Beast)

Does smoking marijuana cause cancer? (Discover Magazine)

The data on legalizing weed (NPR)

No One Knows Where President Biden is on Marijuana (The News Station)

Mexico’s move to greenlight marijuana may pressure Biden (Politico)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Insider Cannabis: WallStreetBets comes for weed – Cannabis hedge funds post eye-popping returns – What to know about psychedelics

medical marijuana cbd hemp weed smoking joint leafly flowers cannabis cox 96

Welcome to Insider Cannabis, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.

Happy Friday readers,

This week’s volatility was brought to you by the WallStreetBets forum on Reddit. As “meme stocks” like Gamestop and AMC fell back to Earth, the forum’s users turned to a new target: cannabis stocks.

The trading frenzy saw shares of Canadian cannabis companies like Sundial and Tilray surge on Wednesday, and slump on Thursday.

We’ve got you covered on the implications of all this – and where you should be putting your money instead. 

Beyond that, we have a look at how hedge funds with significant investments in cannabis weathered the crash of 2019, and profited in 2020. One fund, JW Asset Management, ended the year up a whopping 146%. You can read that story here.

Yeji took a dive into the emerging psychedelics space, breaking down the top players, their business models, and when to expect their medications to hit the market.

-Jeremy (@jfberke) and Yeji (@jesse_yeji)

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

What to know about the major public psychedelics companies, including a guide to their business models and when they expect to sell medications

A year ago, there were just a handful of publicly traded psychedelics companies.

Today, the landscape looks drastically different as psychedelics companies have made the jump into public markets, seeking more capital to develop drugs for regulatory approval, build out networks of clinics, or cultivate and extract psilocybin from mushrooms.

Insider identified the biggest companies in the industry, most of which have gone public within the past year. Here’s what to know about them, including a guide to their business models and when they expect to sell medications

Reddit traders are piling into cannabis stocks and driving up valuations, but experts say they’re betting on the wrong companies

The traders who hang out on the Reddit forum WallStreetBets have a new target as GameStop shares fall back to Earth: cannabis. 

But investors say those looking to bet on US legalization are looking in the wrong place: They should be investing in US companies directly.

Three hedge funds that focus on cannabis generated eye-popping returns by betting on the US, according to exclusive documents

Three hedge funds that have significant holdings in the cannabis industry, including dedicated cannabis funds, shared returns exclusively with Insider. The documents show that after steep losses in 2019, investors who held on were rewarded as the industry recovered.

JW Asset Management led the pack, gaining a whopping 146% in 2020. 

Here are the cannabis stocks that experts say you should bet on now

The biggest cannabis stocks had a wild week. They got slammed on Thursday, after soaring on Wednesday, in part thanks to retail traders spurred by Reddit forum WallStreetBets.

Insider talked to analysts who said that the stocks that are currently experiencing volatile trading aren’t the right companies to bet on. Instead, they said, look to US MSOs. 

Executive Moves

Deals, launches, and IPOs

Policy moves

  • Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joined the National Cannabis Roundtable as co-chair. Sebelius, also the former Democratic governor of Kansas, will be heading the industry group alongside former Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Read more here from Politico.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers unveiled a plan this week to legalize marijuana through the state budget, reports Marijuana Moment.
  • Marlboro-maker Altria registered to lobby on cannabis legalization in its home state of Virginia, where lawmakers passed legalization bills last week. Altria has a significant stake in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group. 

Earnings Roundup

  • Canopy Growth reported Q3 earnings on Tuesday, reporting C$152.5 million revenue and an C$829 million loss. CEO David Klein said on a call with investors that he expects Canopy to enter the US market later this year and said that he predicts the company will turn a profit by 2022. 
  • Aurora Cannabis reported its Q2 earnings on Thursday, reporting C$67.7 million in revenue and an adjusted EBITDA losses of C$16.8 million. 
  • cbdMD reported its Q1 earnings on Tuesday, reporting $12.3 million in net sales and a $9.4 million loss.
  • Canopy Rivers reported its Q3 earnings on Wednesday, reporting net income of C$1.4 million. The company said its revenue increase was driven by its investment in US cannabis company TerrAscend.
  • MedMen and Green Thumb Industries are scheduled to announce earnings next week.

Science and research

Chart of the week

The largest cannabis markets in the US will be California, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, and Colorado, by 2025 according to data from New Frontier Data. The data assumes no additional states pass legalization measures and there are no significant federal policy changes:

Legal cannabis market share estimates in 2025

What we’re reading

How Tobacco Giant Altria Is Becoming A Cannabis Company (Forbes)

The Half-Legal Cannabis Trap (Politico)

Can a Company Patent the Basic Components of Psychedelic Therapy? (VICE)

Many think weed is already legal in N.J. But cops still make arrests as Murphy, lawmakers haggle over bills. (NJ.com)

Read the original article on Business Insider