Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Alex Cohen & A Martínez

HighQ: What are the best marijuana stocks to invest in?

by Jacob Margolis | Take Two

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Since marijuana was legalized in California, we've been inundated with questions from listeners about what it means for them. So, each week we answer those questions and bring to you stories from the world of weed in our regular segment HighQ.

Since anyone 21 and older can legally grow up to six plants, can that person give away, or sell, their surplus to friends and/or family?

I'm not sure if you're rushing around trying to find holiday gifts, but the answer is yes, you can gift 28.5 grams of marijuana as long as it's to anyone over 21 years old. That's according to Section 11362.1 in Proposition 64. However, it's against the law to sell it without a special license.

If you're on probation in California, can you now smoke recreational marijuana?

To answer this one, I reached out to Eric Shevin, an attorney who specializes in marijuana-related law in California, as well as Jolene Forman, a staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. 

The whole point of probation is that you're under supervision for good behavior, so the question is: does marijuana fall under bad behavior? The answer is: it depends.

If you're on probation, you're not automatically prohibited from using cannabis. The terms of your probation are set by a judge. And that can include restrictions on whether you can consume marijuana and alcohol.

So, if you're on probation and you want to know what rules you have to follow, consult your lawyer and/or your probation officer.

What are the best marijuana stocks to invest in?

There are publicly listed companies that grow weed, make pot products and invest in marijuana-related properties. To make sense of this world, I reached out to investor Alan Brochstein, who runs 420 Investor, a service where he gives advice on investing in marijuana-related stocks.

If you want to survey the landscape, there are three places to look for cannabis-related stocks.

There are marijuana-related companies on exchanges in Canada, some of which grow and process weed.

In the United States, there's GW Pharmaceuticals on the NASDAQ. They're a pharmaceutical company out of the U.K. that manufactures cannabis-derived medicine.

And then, according to Alan, there are plenty of marijuana penny stocks, which he largely recommends that people stay away from.

He recommends that people look at companies that go beyond the plant. And that's because marijuana's still federally illegal in the U.S.

"There's always the risk — especially if you're investing in a company that actually grows, processes or sells cannabis — the assets of that company can be seized, technically. It's not super likely, but if that were to happen, you would lose your investment, but you're not going to jail and you're not going to be fined or anything like that, but you could lose your investment, so that's the risk."

So, I asked him, if you had to point people towards one sort of company that might be a good marijuana investment, what criteria would it meet?

"If you go back to the 1860s, the Gold Rush, who made the money? The people that were paying to dig the mines or the people that were digging the mines and selling the blue jeans from Levis? The picks and shovels play is what people call them."

That could include companies selling specialized fertilizers, greenhouses, or buying up real estate for marijuana operations. And it goes without saying, nothing's a sure bet. So, exercise caution.

If you don't want to invest in stocks or own your own marijuana operation but want to invest money, there are private companies taking cash.

Right now, it's difficult for marijuana businesses to raise money through banks, so they're turning to private capital.

I reached out to one investment firm here in L.A. called MedMen to see what how they were doing business. Chris Ganan, ‎a partner and chief strategy officer at the company, said investors need at least $500,000 to work with them and that they largely invest in real estate opportunities related to marijuana. The company also has a management arm that assists people in setting up and running marijuana operations.

I would feel remiss if I didn't add this one caveat: people are always ready to take your money. There are a lot of unknowns in this industry, especially since marijuana is still illegal under federal law. So be careful.

If you've got a question that you'd like me to answer you can tweet at me or leave me a message at (929) 344-1948.

Series: High-Q: Your California pot questions answered

This story is part of Take Two's look at the burgeoning, multi-billion dollar marijuana industry in California, with audience Q&As, explorations of personal narratives and an examination of how the industry is changing the world around our audience.

Read more in this series and call or text us your questions at (929) 344-1948 or tweet reporter Jacob Margolis.

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