The high times in Canada’s marijuana sector have been a national headline for over a year now, as a nascent industry continues to build up in preparation for the legalization of recreational cannabis use. The obsession is not ours alone, however, as countries around the world are following Canada’s progress, a socio-economic experiment which could very well be repeated in a range of other countries over the next decade.
But one place where marijuana legalization is likely not in the cards is Sweden, which has some of the strictest drug laws in the European Union and boasts a populace which shows no signs of wishing to make a change anytime soon.
Even so, Swedes are currently obsessed with Canadian pot stocks, go figure.
“Out of nowhere, the interest for Canadian cannabis shares has completely exploded in Sweden,” said Joakim Bornold, a savings adviser at online broker bank Nordnet AB, to Bloomberg News. Nordnet reported that two of Canada’s top cannabis stocks Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth (together, their market caps total over $11 billion) were among the top ten most traded shares during the month of January when the whole pot sector was white hot. During that stretch, a reported 50,000 Swedes traded in the cannabis sector on either Nordnet or Avanza AB, another online broker.
Google Trends bears this out.
On a national basis, searches for “cannabis stocks” over the past 12 months were most common in Canada, followed by the United States, followed in order by three Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Finland and Denmark. Searches for “Canopy Growth” and “Aurora Cannabis” also ranked Sweden prominently within the top six. Over the past 90 days, interest in the topic in Sweden peaked at about the same time as stocks in the sector hit their record highs in January, with the regional interest within Sweden confined exclusively to the Stockholm area of the country.
It’s not just marijuana cultivating companies, either, as shares in Gothenburg, Sweden-based Heliospectra AB, a LED lighting systems company that supplies the cannabis industry, also spiked in January, says Bornold. “Heliospectra became involved in the rush due to the so-called Klondike thesis, that is, it’s not the gold diggers that make the money, but the people selling the spades,” he said.
All this in a country where not only are the selling, buying and possessing of marijuana a crime but weed users can be charged, as well — and that includes for medical or recreational purposes. Starting in 1988, police in Sweden can compel individuals suspected of using drugs, including marijuana, to take either a urine or blood test, with those caught facing jail time.
That legal framework seems to be well-backed by most Swedes, too, as polls consistently show majority support for the criminalization of drug use, including cannabis.
So how do those 50,000 investors square their purchases within their domestic cultural climate? It’s just business, says Bornold, who claims that Swedish investors in their 30s and 40s are keenly interested in high risk/high reward sectors like cryptocurrency trading, emerging technologies like 3D printing and, now, cannabis.
“That’s where the money is, if there’s a will to continue legalizing markets,” Bornold said. “But if the wind turns, that gigantic market will close as fast as it opened.”
For Sweden, then, until Canada’s regulated rec market gets up and running and a more measured sector develops, pot stocks like Canopy and Aurora are likely to remain hot topics.