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A Reddit-fueled mania has sent cannabis soaring and crashing back down in recent days. Leaders of some of the marijuana industry’s biggest companies are now joining a Twitter movement that’s pushing back -- with hashtags.
The tag #MSOgang has trended on the social-media platform as supporters seek to differentiate U.S. multistate operators -- or MSOs -- from their peers in Canada. The Reddit phenomenon has largely lumped all the companies together, obscuring what some in the industry say are critical differences.
The movement behind the hashtag has also pitted individual investors against big ones, bringing some tension with conservative institutional investors who haven’t gotten into U.S. cannabis stocks because of ongoing regulatory uncertainty.
Canadian companies have traded in tandem with U.S. ones -- in part because they’re a legal way for institutional investors to take part in U.S. cannabis, making them something of a proxy amid regulatory uncertainty. But many investors say that this year, as the prospects for more U.S. legalization of recreational cannabis pick up, there’s no longer an equivalence between stocks in the two countries. That’s because Canadian companies don’t have a clear path to sell their products to the U.S.’s much larger market, even if the legalization effort gains momentum.
The hashtag has shown up on the profile pages in recent days of the heads of many top cannabis companies, including Cresco Labs Inc.’s Charles Bachtell, Curaleaf Holdings Inc.’s Boris Jordan, Green Thumb Industries Inc.’s Ben Kovler and Trulieve Cannabis Corp.’s Kim Rivers. Jordan declined to comment through a spokeswoman and the other executives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on their reasons for using the hashtag.
The movement highlights a tension between small and large investors, said Todd Harrison, the chief investment officer of CB1 Capital, a fund with US$50 million invested in U.S. cannabis companies. As big players are mostly stayed on the sidelines of cannabis companies, the Reddit-driven volatility of late is predominantly a result of small investors flooding in.
With the hashtag, supporters are trying to show how the industry is maturing, in part through the differences in U.S. and Canadian companies, he said in a phone interview. “The whole mission is to educate others on the opportunity in cannabis, especially given the Reddit surge.”
Because it is all about the consumer, I believe cannabis is the next great American growth story. It's wonderful that so many people still don't see it. That's what makes a market and what creates such a great opportunity. Buyer beware... #MSOgang https://t.co/8ExtdQx5qb— Ben Kovler (@Bkov9) February 12, 2021
Harrison said he was one of the earlier people to use the hashtag and has been watching the movement build. Some view him as one of its leaders, he said, citing a recent post that surprised him: a shot of his face photoshopped over that of Marlon Brando in the Godfather, labeled #Toddfather.
The MSOgang term has been around since at least August, but it has been trending in recent days. For some, it has been used in response to a negative industry outlook from television commentator Jim Cramer.