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Economy & Business

Cannabis Stocks Had A Roller Coaster Of A Week


Some huge developments in the cannabis industry this week. Several companies lit up markets - if you please - only to take huge hits immediately afterwards. As NPR's Colin Dwyer reports, those rumblings could be a sign of a new boom industry in Canadian cannabis. Some major players are trying to get in on it.

COLIN DWYER, BYLINE: Cannabis stocks this week got really high and then low. In fact, some of them were bouncing all over the place. Here's Bloomberg and CNBC.


JONATHAN FERRO: The story of the week for some people has been this massive shift into cannabis stocks.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They're calling the stock surge, quote, "beyond comprehension." And you can see, really, why they're calling it that.

DWYER: Look at a small Canadian cannabis producer called Tilray. Its stocks soared this past week. It was even trading higher than American Airlines and CBS at one point. And then, it crashed. But overall, things have been pretty sweet for Tilray lately and others in the marijuana field. They're having something of a coming-out party these days.

CAM BATTLEY: It's the invention. It's, literally, the invention in real time of a brand-new global industry.

DWYER: Cam Battley is chief corporate officer at Aurora Cannabis. When he joined the company a few years ago, they had just 35 employees; now, there are more than 4,000. They're in 15 countries. You might even say they're growing like a weed. Battley prefers to call it a mega trend.

BATTLEY: And it's changing a lot of things. It's creating new opportunities, and it's causing a rapid change in social attitude.

DWYER: And he says investors are just catching up. Look no further than some recent moves by international beverage makers. You've heard of Corona and Modelo, right? The massive company behind them has poured billions into a cannabis producer called Canopy Growth. The brewing giant Molson Coors is laying seeds for a joint venture of its own. And even the granddaddy of them all, Coca-Cola, is thinking about making a whole new drink - one that's infused with a kind of cannabis compound that won't get you high. In other words, don't think of blunts. Think of bottles, instead.


DWYER: And Paul Rosen says the cannabis industry is attracting suitors, not just from the folks who make drinks but other products, too. That could mean pot brownies and cookies or gels, ointments, pharmaceuticals.

PAUL ROSEN: We're all trying to calculate what is going to be, if you will, the dominant delivery mechanism for this incredible plant.

DWYER: Rosen is chairman and CEO of Tidal Royalty, an investment firm that finances cannabis operators. And he points out another reason for the recent frenzy of activity. Aurora, Tilray, Canopy Growth and so many of their peers - what do they all have in common? They're homegrown in Canada.

ROSEN: Because Canada has shown such a leadership in sensible cannabis reform, it's really become the global hub for cannabis.

DWYER: Unlike the U.S., where marijuana is still against federal law, Canada has already legalized medical marijuana. And come October 17, it will be the first major industrialized country to legalize weed for recreational use. That's got a whole lot of people wanting to get in on this party with not a whole lot of avenues to get there. But if all this talk of the next big thing and small companies with massive hype and wild volatility reminds you of anything, you're not alone. Plenty of people see similarities with the dot-com boom and bust nearly two decades ago. Even Battley sees it. Some companies will flame out, which would mean a ton of cash going up in smoke with them.

BATTLEY: But what you do see is that companies will come out the other side and will be established as the new global leader.

DWYER: And that is why, despite the risks, investors continue to place big bets on green.

Colin Dwyer, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.