Q&A: Canada tries trading marijuana in new ETF – Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – You can smoke it or eat it, and now in Canada, you can trade it in your stock portfolio.

The $120 million Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF (HMMJ.TO) – the first exchange traded fund in North America that focuses on the legal marijuana market – launched in April on the Toronto Stock Exchange. There are no U.S. competitors, at least initially, as federal law prohibits the drug, making it difficult to set up a fund.

Canada is on track to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018 after the government put forward legislation in April that will allow it to regulate production but leaves the details of how the drug will be sold up to the provinces.

At least one detail of the new ETF has already changed: in June, its Canadian-based fund sponsor dropped “medical” from the fund’s name in anticipation that recreational marijuana will soon be legal in Canada.

With positions including marijuana grower Aurora Cannabis Inc (ACB.TO), medical marijuana companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals Plc (GWPRF.PK), and fertilizer company Scotts Miracle-Gro Co (SMG.N), the fund attempts to capture the full extent of the Canadian marijuana industry, which Deloitte expects could grow to $22.6 billion if the recent bill to legalize recreational use is successful.

Reuters spoke with Horizons Exchange Traded Funds President and Co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Hawkins recently about what is next for the firm’s marijuana ETF.

Q: With few pure plays for medical or recreational marijuana, how do you decide what goes into the fund?

A: We didn’t want to make this one actively managed, even though we are the biggest provider of actively managed ETFs in Canada. This is more index-rules based. It’s a very new and growing industry and we expect to

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