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Cannabis Watch: Cannabis stocks fall after Attorney General offers muted support for States Act

Cannabis stocks were mostly lower Thursday, a day after the top justice official in the U.S. offered muted support for a bill that would protect companies in states that have legalized weed. Read More...

Cannabis stocks were mostly lower Thursday, a day after the top law enforcement official in the U.S. offered muted support for a bill that would protect companies in states that have legalized weed.

Attorney General William Barr told a Senate committee that he would rather have the approach taken by a cannabis reform bill than the current state of affairs, as MarketWatch’s Victor Reklaitis reported.

Barr said the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act, or States Act, a bipartisan bill introduced last week, is currently being circulated in the Justice Department for comment and as soon as DOJ officials have gathered those, they can work with lawmakers.

“Personally, I would still favor one uniform federal rule against marijuana but, if there is not sufficient consensus to obtain that, then I think the way to go is to permit a more federal approach so states can make their own decisions within the framework of the federal law and so we’re not just ignoring the enforcement of federal law,” he said.

Statistics Canada said an analysis of crowdsourced price data from Canadian cannabis consumers found that legal prices have been higher since legalization last October than black market prices. The average price per gram of legally purchased cannabis stands at $9.99, compared with an average $6.37 from illegal sources.

“Prior to legalization, the average price for illegally purchased dried cannabis was $6.79 per gram,” said the agency. “The purchase price from legal sources was, on average, 56.8% higher than the purchase price from illegal sources, according to the crowdsourcing data.

See: Cannabis stocks mixed with KushCo the latest company to uncover accounting errors

From Marijuana Business Daily and Viridian Capital Advisors comes the news that last week was the busiest for mergers and acquisition activity among publicly traded companies with 11 deals closing.

Also: Unilever’s Schmidt’s Naturals to launch hemp-oil deodorants in September

Seven involved companies that touch the plant, while the remaining were in adjacent businesses and services. Another three deals by privately owned companies brought the weekly total to 14, marking the second-busiest of the year so far.

L.A.-based Vertical Companies closed a $58 million Series A funding round that will help it expand its footprint and brands. Vertical President Smoke Wallin told MarketWatch the money came from family offices and high net worth individuals, as institutional investors remain leery of the sector, because of the federal ban.

“We’re in it for the long game,” he told MarketWatch in an interview, in which he outlined plans to create winning brands, and launch hemp and CBD product lines as soon as the regulations are clearer.

Read also: They’re over 60, selling marijuana — and say it’s ‘pretty damn cool’

Green Thumb Industries Inc.’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings showed a strong operating performance and guidance for the first quarter was upbeat, according to Benchmark analyst Mike Hickey, who rates the stock GTBIF, -5.20%  a buy.

Hickey raised this price target to $17 from $16, equal to 21% above its current trading level. The stock was down 5% in line with the broader sector.

Aleafia Health Inc. ALEF, +0.00% ALEF, +0.00%  said it has increased its investment in CannaPacific Pty. Ltd, an Australian medical cannabis company that is licensed to grow and research the substance. Aleafia invested another AU$540,000 ($385,500) in the company. CannaPacific has closed its acquisition of a 108,000 square feet greenhouse in the Byron Bay region of New South Wales. Aleafia shares were down 3.9%.

Elsewhere in the sector, Canopy Growth Corp. CGC, -5.05% WEED, -4.86%  was down 4.6%, Aurora Cannabis Inc. ACB, -2.42% ACB, -2.47%  was down 2.9% and Cronos Group Inc. CRON, -6.49% CRON, -6.59%  was down 4.6%.

Tilray Inc. TLRY, -6.19%  was down 4/3%, OrganiGram Holdings Inc. OGRMF, -3.96% was down 3.0%, MedMen Enterprises Inc. was down 2.0% and Cresco Labs CRLBF, -4.06%  was down 4.3%. Hexo Corp. was down 1.9% and Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. was down 5.2%.

Read: Tilray stock rises after the company shows it can sell recreational pot

Also: Cannabis stocks climb after Tilray’s earnings, as New Jersey moves closer to legal weed

The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF HMMJ, -2.95% was down 2.5%, and the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ, -2.53% was down 2.3%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.05%  was down 0.2% and the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.00%  was down 0.1%.

See also: In California’s Weed Country, wildfires burn both cash and crops

Cannabis Watch: All of MarketWatch’s coverage of cannabis companies

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