Trump is a buzzkill for pot stocks

Trump is a buzzkill for pot stocks
Posted at 2:34 PM, Mar 01, 2017

The Trump administration is a drag on marijuana stocks.

Pot stocks have been getting killed since last week, when the White House signaled it would get tough on marijuana.


The share price for Innovative Industrial Properties, which buys buildings and leases them to growers of medical marijuana, has dropped every trading day since then, a total of nearly 8%.

That includes a 5% drop on Friday, the day after White House press secretary Sean Spicer predicted "greater enforcement" of federal pot laws.

Smaller marijuana stocks have taken a beating, too.

A penny stock called Weed Inc., which purchases land to lease to growers, plunged 10% the day after Spicer's comments. Other penny pot stocks including Medical Marijuana, Hemp Inc., GrowLife and Pineapple Express suffered steep declines that same day.

The White House has drawn a distinction between medical and recreational pot.

"The president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs including medical marijuana can bring to them," Spicer said last week.

But investors could be fleeing medical marijuana companies, too, because their options for growth into recreational have become narrower.

"Business decisions regarding the recreational part of the industry are going to be under a cloud for the foreseeable future," said Isaac Boltansky, Washington policy analyst for Compass Point Research & Trading.

Pot stocks are heading in the opposite direction from the Dow, which has been hitting record highs.

Innovative Industrial Properties announced its plans to go public last October. It seemed like a good idea at the time: More and more states have voted to legalize marijuana, both medical and recreational, in recent years.

And on Election Day, eight more states legalized pot in one form or another. But Trump was also elected, and his administration has not been friendly to the movement.

Marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance, which makes it illegal and equal to heroin in the eyes of the federal government. The Obama administration took a more relaxed stance with marijuana. In 2013, the Justice Department said it wouldn't challenge state laws legalizing it.

By contrast, Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, told the National Association of Attorneys General this week that he was "dubious" about pot and that "we don't need to be legalizing marijuana."

"States, I guess, can pass whatever laws they choose," he said. "But I'm not sure we're going to be a better, healthier nation than if we have marijuana being sold at every corner drugstore."

Paul Smithers, the CEO and president of Innovative Industrial Properties, wouldn't discuss his company's stock price. But he told CNNMoney he takes a "lot of comfort" from the distinction Spicer and Trump seem to recognize between medical and recreational.

"I think you could go crazy trying to parse every comment from Sessions until there is an official position taken from the White House and attorney general's office as to how to proceed with the medical markets," he said. "As far as what happens on the recreational side, I don't think we'll be impacted going forward."