Cannabis Industry's Capital Crunch: Why It Needs More Funds Than Other Industries, Will Fed Legalization Change This?

Recent research conducted by Viridian Capital Advisors reveals that the cannabis sector requires more capital as compared to other similar industries.

The findings offer a unique perspective into the challenges the cannabis industry faces, especially considering the potential for federal legalization and the subsequent acquisition of interest from other sectors.

Scott Greiper, president & founder of Viridian Capital Advisors, will be a featured speaker at the upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago from September 27-28. Expect him to delve into this crucial topic during his presentation.

Related Content: Federal Marijuana Legalization Is Doable And Urgently Needed, Says Cannabis Coalition's New White Paper

Breakdown of Companies Surveyed

For this research, Viridian chose to evaluate the capital needs of the cannabis industry against four potential acquirer sectors in the event of federal legalization.

Here's a breakdown:

  • Cannabis: Includes nine multistate operators boasting market caps exceeding $100 million.
  • Tobacco: Comprises British American Tobacco BTI, Altria Group Inc MO, Philip Morris International PM, and Japan Tobacco JAPAF.
  • Alcoholic beverages: Encompasses ABEV ABEV, Brown-Forman BF/B, Constellation Brands STZ, Diageo DEO, and Molson Coors TAP.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Features giants like Johnson & Johnson JNJ, Pfizer PFE, Merck & CO. MRK, and Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY).
  • Consumer products: Colgate Palmolive CL, Mondelez MDLZ, Proctor & Gamble PG, and Unilever UL, per Viridian's report.

Related Content: From Controversial To Profitable: Why Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo And Other CPG Brands Should Embrace Cannabis

Viridian elaborated on its methodology, stating that the capital intensity of each group was calculated by the aggregate "next 12-month consensus revenue estimates divided by aggregate capital employed (book equity + total debt – cash)." To put it simply, “the lower the bar, the more capital the industry needs to generate $1 in sales,” wrote co-founder, and executive editor of Green Market Report, Debra Borchardt.

Borchardt will be also a featured speaker at the upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, set for September 27 - 28 in Chicago.

Insights From The Report

Frank Colombo, a Viridian analyst, stressed the importance of these findings. “The capital intensity issue is a big one for cannabis,” he noted.

Though some operators might argue that recent significant investments will facilitate long-term growth without much need for additional capital, the consistent data across the group suggests otherwise. “I have also used forward 12-month sales to account for this. The idea is that your capital comes ahead of your sales,” Colombo explained.

The fact that cannabis remains a federally illegal product in the U.S. has significantly contributed to these capital challenges. Multistate operators (MSOs), as highlighted in the chart, have to maintain overlapping operations because their products cannot move across state lines. This restriction has inadvertently led to inefficient businesses, resulting in them spending more than their counterparts in legally compliant sectors.

Related Content: Safe Harbor Financial Originates Three New Loans To Cannabis Multi-State Operator

However, hope is on the horizon.

“The good news, as I tried to point out, is that when and if interstate commerce happens it will help this issue significantly,” said Colombo.

If cannabis becomes federally legalized, these operational costs could decline, allowing MSOs to centralize their operations and thereby eliminating redundancy.

Despite these insights, there's a palpable challenge for cannabis companies. Many are struggling with mounting debt and the pressing need for more capital as well as access to willing investors. “The capital shortage matched with capital intensity makes rapid growth impossible,” Colombo concluded.

Related Content: Alcohol Association To Congress: Create Regulatory Category For Hemp Derivatives Like CBD And Delta-8 THC

The cannabis industry's future is at stake and federal legalization could be the game-changer. If you want to delve deeper into these topics consider joining us at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago on September 27-28All information is available on

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsPoliticsEventsMarketsGeneralABEVAltria Group IncBenzinga Cannabis Capital ConferenceBritish American TobaccoBrown-FormanCCCConstellation BrandsConsumer products: Colgate PalmoliveDebra BorchardtDiageoeli lillyFrank ColomboGreen Market ReportJapan TobaccoJohnson & JohnsonMerck & Co.molson coorsMondelézPfizerPhilip Morris InternationalProctor & GambleScott GreiperUnileverViridian Capital Advisors

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