Investing in cannabis stocks can be controversial in the eyes of both the investing community and society in general. After all, the stigma surrounding marijuana doesn’t exactly paint these shares in the best light.
However, controversies aside, the cannabis industry is creating some interesting opportunities for investors. More businesses are developing medical and consumer healthcare products using the young commodity. And consequently, market forecasts indicate potentially explosive growth over the next decade.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the world of UK cannabis stocks and see which businesses are leading the charge.
What are cannabis stocks?
As the name implies, cannabis stocks consist of any business using marijuana to create a legal product for other companies or consumers. The sector is still in its infancy, but it can be broken down into three primary categories:
- Growers & Retailers – Companies creating consumer products with cannabis.
- Medical – Pharmaceutical and biotech firms creating medicinal marijuana products for patients.
- Ancillary – Groups providing products or services to other cannabis companies.
As such, there are a vast number of products coming out of this young industry, including food, beverages, lotions, oils, perfume, and medicine, just to name a few.
Typically, a commodity with this many applications doesn’t create a high barrier to entry. However, in the case of marijuana shares, the story is quite different. The regulatory environment surrounding cannabis in most nations is unsurprisingly strict. And the UK is no exception.
Most cannabis-based products require regulatory approval before they can be sold to consumers. And in the case of UK medical marijuana firms, additional authorisation from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is also necessary, which can be both time consuming and expensive.
Needless to say, this does elevate the risk profile. And subsequently, cannabis shares are often synonymous with volatility. But there are also stories of immense growth potential, so the risk does come with potentially higher rewards for investors.
With that in mind, here are five leading United Kingdom marijuana stocks in order of market capitalisation.
Top marijuana shares in the UK
|Associated British Foods (LSE:ABF)||£13.16bn||Grower & Retailers||One of the UK’s largest licensed hemp plant cultivators.|
|Futura Medical (LSE:FUM)||£89.06m||Medical||A pharmaceutical group developing cosmetic and pain-relief cannabis medical products.|
|Deepverge (LSE:DVRG)||£31.86m||Ancillary||A biotech group providing lab-grown tissue samples for businesses to test skincare products.|
|Kanabo (LSE:KNB)||£25.89m||Medical||Sells a medical-grade vaping device for precise and controlled prescription of medical cannabis to patients.|
|Cellular Goods (LSE:CBX)||£16.23M||Grower & Retailer||An early-stage wellness business selling consumer products aimed at skincare and pain relief.|
Associated British Foods
Associated British Foods is not the most well-known cannabis stock. After all, this is the company behind many popular food brands, including Kingsmill bread and Blue Dragon cooking sauces. It’s also the parent company of clothing retailer Primark.
However, in 2017 the group’s subsidiary, British Sugar, signed a deal with GW Pharmaceuticals to supply M250 marijuana for drug development purposes. M250 contains high concentrations of the active ingredient cannabidiol without producing a psychoactive effect. In other words, the plants can’t be harvested for recreational marijuana purposes.
Subsequently, Associated British Foods converted around 45 acres of tomato greenhouse space to grow hemp plants, making it one of the largest licensed cultivators in the UK.
- Market Cap: £13.16bn
- Average Daily Volume: 1.44m
- HQ: London, UK
- Cash/Debt: £2,307m / £3,687m
Futura Medical is an early-stage research and development pharmaceutical company. The group focuses on novel treatments aimed at sexual health and pain relief using its proprietary DermaSys technology.
This enables active pharmaceutical ingredients to be formulated into a gel absorbed directly through the skin. As such, it’s a highly targeted solution that’s proving to be successful with its flagship MED3000 erectile disfunction treatment and its TPR100 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment.
However, as it turns out, DermaSys is entirely compatible with cannabidiol. And the company has since begun developing a new gel called CBD100 in a joint venture with CBDerma Technology. While it’s still in the early stages of development, initial lab testing showed promising results for this future cannabis stock.
Consequently, management has begun exploring commercialisation options for new cosmetic, dermal, and pain relief treatments using cannabidiol as the primary ingredient.
- Market Cap: £89.06m
- Average Daily Volume: 656.35k
- HQ: Guildford, UK
- Cash/Debt: £1.02m / nil
Deepverge is a specialist vertically integrated human-skin-testing technology business. Its proprietary platform, Labskin, grows tissue that mimics the naturally occurring microbiome of good and bad bacteria found in the real world.
Using Skinlab, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and other healthcare-related companies can test consumer products on human-like skin in a real-world environment without exposing any individuals to potential health risks.
With new cannabidiol oils and skincare products entering the markets, demand for the group’s technology to test these products is rising. In recent years, Deepverge has signed contracts with various leading European beauty, household, and hygiene product manufacturers integrating cannabidiol into their product portfolios.
While the company does sell a handful of cannabis-based products such as creams and wound dressings for pain relief, the long-term strategy for this marijuana stock is to focus on offering Labskin as a service to the cannabis industry and the healthcare sector in general.
- Market Cap: £31.86m
- Average Daily Volume: 702.67k
- HQ: Malahide, Ireland
- Cash/Debt: £1.44m / £2.55m
Kanabo is a producer and retailer of cannabidiol-based products for the health & wellness consumer sectors. Alongside this retail activity, the cannabis stock has also designed a proprietary medical-grade inhalation system called VapePod.
The device consumes the company’s cannabis oil cartridges delivering high precision dosage to patients. This provides a controlled and safe method to prescribe medical marijuana to individuals suffering from chronic pain, sleeping disorders, and anxiety attacks triggered by post-traumatic stress or obsessive-compulsive behaviour.
After the completion of a successful pilot programme, management has begun ramping up production capacity, extending supply lines, and making strategic acquisitions within the European markets.
- Market Cap: £25.89m
- Average Daily Volume: 695.18k
- HQ: London, UK
- Cash/Debt: £0.36m / nil
Cellular Goods is an early-stage wellness business that offers a range of cannabidiol products. Its three primary product lines include a de-ageing face mask for skincare, a topical roll-on athletic gel for muscle recovery, and a recently launched collection of ingestibles to improve sleep patterns.
Unlike most product manufacturers within the industry, Cellular Goods does not use cannabidiol extracted from hemp plants. Instead, the cannabis stock uses a synthetic formulation manufactured within a lab. This unique approach makes the group less susceptible to farming disruptions while simultaneously being more ecologically sensitive.
The products have only recently made it to the market, and the company is expecting to report its first lump of revenue in 2022.
- Market Cap: £16.23m
- Average Daily Volume: 3.44m
- HQ: London, UK
- Cash/Debt: £10m / nil
Investing in the United States’ marijuana industry
American cannabis stocks have to navigate a more complex regulatory environment. Currently, 37 states have legalised marijuana for medical use, with 18 allowing for recreational purposes as well. However, on a federal level, it remains a controlled substance which significantly limits the geographic expansion of these businesses.
In April 2022, the US House of Representatives passed a new bill to legalise cannabis on a federal level. This bill is now en route to the Senate, where it will either be rejected or signed into law. Assuming it’s successful, the US marijuana industry could be set to boom.
Some leading American cannabis stocks in order or market cap are:
- Jazz Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:JAZZ)
- Scotts Miracle-Gro (NYSE:SMG)
- Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR)
- Hydrofarm Holdings Group (NASDAQ:HYFM)
- GrowGeneration (NASDAQ:GRWG)
Are cannabis shares right for you?
Just looking at these five cannabis stocks, an investor who bought equal positions in each over the last five years is probably quite disappointed. That’s because collectively, these shares have fallen by over 60%!
Seeing such poor performance from an unproven industry isn’t exactly surprising. And demonstrates the risks of being an early investor. That’s why investing in marijuana stocks is not suitable for everyone.
Having said that, industry forecasts predict enormous growth over the next decade. If these prove to be accurate, the cannabis market could be an explosive opportunity for risk-seeking investors.
We recommend taking a diversified approach. It’s pretty challenging to determine which companies will become future titans at this stage. And by owning a collection of promising businesses, the odds of finding a winner increase.