Bad Timing Hits Marijuana’s Newest ETF

Marijuana stocks have attracted a lot of new investors lately, and nearly everyone associated with the industry is doing their best to take advantage of the cannabis craze by making it easier for investors to get exposure to the industry. Between cannabis cultivators listing their shares on major U.S. exchanges and institutional investors making partnership deals with rising stars in the marijuana market, it’s easier than ever to tie your fortunes to those of the budding pot industry.

For investors who like diversification, exchange-traded funds are a great way to invest. Until recently, the best marijuana ETF option for most investors was…

ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSEMKT:MJ), which has accumulated more than $1.2 billion in assets under management. Yet more recently, AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis (NYSEMKT:YOLO) threw its hat into the marijuana ETF ring. Unfortunately for AdvisorShares, although the new ETF has done a good job of attracting investors, a sluggish period for cannabis stocks has watered down what could have been an even more impressive showing.

How Pure Cannabis has done

From one perspective, Pure Cannabis has done a lot better than most new ETFs. From raising roughly $15 million in assets under management during its first week, the size of Pure Cannabis has grown dramatically, and the ETF now boasts almost $60 million invested in the pot stocks it’s selected.

Yet there are signs that the new marijuana ETF hasn’t gained as much traction as its sponsors would like. Average volume remains relatively weak at less than 200,000 shares per day, and that compares quite poorly with the 700,000 share average that Alternative Harvest has achieved recently.

Moreover, although $60 million is an impressive amount of money under management for Pure Cannabis, it still works out to less than $450,000 in management fees at the ETF’s current expense ratio. That’s not enough to make the fund economically viable over the long haul, and stands in stark contrast to the roughly $9 million annual fee revenue that Alternative Harvest should bring in based on its current level of assets.

Why hasn’t Pure Cannabis taken off?

The biggest problem that the Pure Cannabis ETF has faced in its short history is the weakness in the marijuana market more broadly. Both Pure Cannabis and Alternative Harvest have seen their shares drop by roughly 4% to 5% in the past month. Although Pure Cannabis is beating Alternative Harvest by about a percentage point over that time frame, any losing performance is enough to put would-be investors on edge.

Much of that weakness stems from…

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