Marijuana Stocks: A 4/20 Special – Nasdaq

Marijuana stocks (Shutterstock photo)

Today is April 20th. Now, for those readers of a certain age or who have led a somewhat sheltered existence, this means nothing, but many will understand that today, 4/20, is a logical day to talk about one of the fastest growing businesses in the U.S.: Marijuana.

Marijuana is now legal in some way in twenty eight states and the District of Columbia. Eight allow possession and use for recreational purposes, while the remainder permits medical marijuana use with varying degrees of restrictions. Pot is in the process of moving from illicit, underground drug to something more like alcohol in that is accepted, taxed and regulated.

It is little wonder, therefore, that stock in companies in the still immature pot business garner a lot of attention.

Perhaps the best known of them and the largest by market cap is GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH). GW is actually a British company, and in some ways lumping them in with other marijuana companies is somewhat unfair. As it stands right now, GW’s focus is not really on the cultivation and or supply of marijuana itself. They are, as their name implies, a pharmaceutical company whose platform is based on medicines derived from cannabis plants.

GWPH trades and is ultimately priced in the same way as other pharma companies in that it moves based on the perception of the efficacy and prospects for approval of its drugs rather than the trend towards the broad legalization of cannabis. The fact that those drugs are derived from cannabis adds another factor to the equation, but ultimately the prospects for the company are with the FDA, not the Justice Department.

Following some successful trials they will submit their drug Epidiolex for approval soon, with a decision expected from the FDA early

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