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Global meltdown hits the cannabis industry, already on the brink


For an industry that was already struggling to survive slumping stock prices and a virtual shutdown of capital markets, it’s hard to overstate the impact of the coronavirus-related market meltdown.

Between the close of trading on Feb. 20 and Thursday, when many global stock markets were hit by once-in-a-generation declines, the BI Global Cannabis Competitive Peers index slumped 43 percent, bringing its 12-month decline to about 81 percent.

It’s debatable what impact the rapidly spreading pandemic will have on revenue — all those housebound, anxious people could be very good for pot sales — but it may be too little, too late for some companies that were already running low on cash.


“We believe focus among cannabis investors has shifted to minimizing downside; in other words, evaluating cannabis stocks from a liquidation perspective, simply comparing market capitalization to net cash balances,” CIBC analyst John Zamparo said in a note published March 11.

The fact that some companies are tapping the markets at this tense and volatile moment signals a level of desperation. Tilray Inc. shares plunged 32 percent Friday, the most ever, after it announced plans to raise $90.4 million via a registered offering of shares and warrants. The offering was priced at $4.76, well below Thursday’s closing price of $5.95.

The sale “reinforces the serious challenges it faces managing conditions in Canada’s weak legal-cannabis market with stretched finances,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kenneth Shea. “Asset sales could also be on the table soon to increase its strategic focus and liquidity.”