Two Quarters In, What’s Next for U.S. Cannabis?

In August, more than a dozen of the top cannabis companies reported their earnings for the second quarter. And while product sales this year remain brisk—with states like Michigan and Illinois reaching billion-dollar industry valuations—questions remain about the true viability of legislative change and the ability of legal providers to compete with legacy markets.

Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary spoke to several executives at prominent U.S. firms to get their thoughts on performance this year, the prospects of banking reform, and the future of American cannabis after a record-setting first half of 2021.

Growth Persists Despite Legal Uncertainty

Despite an ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty, American cannabis remains hot. Curaleaf, a leading U.S. multi-state operator (MSO) with more than 100 dispensaries across 23 states, reported a scorching 166% year-over-year increase in revenue for Q2. The company is on track to break $1 billion in sales revenue for the 2021 fiscal year. 

Leadership identified the company’s multi-state presence and focus on product quality as drivers of growth.

“Our focus on delivering high quality products that meet the needs and wants of our patients and customers is one of our biggest priorities as Curaleaf continues to scale,” said CEO Joe Bayern in an email to CBT and CD. “We are in new form factors based on consumer needs, including new innovations within the vape, concentrate or oral, ready-to-drink beverage and topical categories.”

Smaller firms did just as well. Arizona-based TILT Holdings saw a 33% year-over-year increase in revenue, while Illinois wholesale leader Cresco Labs broke $100 million in quarterly retail sales, a 157.6% increase year-over-year.

Revenue is projected to continue upward for the foreseeable future, with major markets like New York, New Jersey and Virginia set to establish adult-use markets in the next two to five years. In August, Cantor Fitzgerald predicted the U.S. market would reach $36 billion by 2023—an increase of over 100% from its present size.

Banking Still a Wild Card 

The prospect of cannabis banking reform remains a tantalizing one. The flagship SAFE Banking Act bill passed another full floor vote earlier in 2021, and language protecting financial institutions from punishment for working with cannabis businesses was included in a preliminary House budget passed in July.

Despite uncertain prospects, industry execs and insiders believe the passing of federal banking regulation could unlock even greater exponential growth.

“I think if the legislation was broken down into bite-sized pieces instead of one sweeping bill we would get more momentum, but as it stands, it still seems bogged down in politics,” said Gary Santo, CEO of TILT Holdings, in an email. 

Others said investor demand for access to the industry could be a catalyst for financial reform.

Andrew Thut, Chief Investment Officer at 4Front Ventures, said via phone interview that the U.S. cannabis sector was “almost a goldilocks scenario for investors.”

“You have profitable companies, well-run, at the beginning of a growth curve, that are really attractively valued,” added Thut, who spent 11 years at BlackRock and managed its Small Cap Growth Fund.

at the Forefront  

As MSOs rake in billions,

More Two Quarters In, What’s Next for U.S. Cannabis?