Over the past decade, marijuana has enjoyed a huge turnaround. The drug used to be illegal almost everywhere, but now, it’s widely available in much of North America. Investors have understandably piled into cannabis stocks to ride the boom. Is another such societal transformation under way?
Part of MindMed’s sudden rise is due to improved visibility. In addition to Oregon’s move, MindMed made a big leap of its own. The company formerly traded on the Pink sheets, and thus didn’t have much trader interest. Brokerages such as Robinhood tend to not offer trading of Pink sheets companies. In April, however, MindMed jumped to the Nasdaq exchange.
With MindMed now being one of the first stocks of its kind on a major American exchange, it opens up a new frontier for investors. So is the age of psychedelics now upon us? Before investors rush into the stock, however, there are some things to consider.
Game Plan Behind MNMD Stock
MindMed is focused on developing clinical drugs out of various psychoactive substances. Psilocybin is the one that is getting the most attention thanks to the new Oregon law. However, other substances in the MNMD stock arsenal could include LSD, MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy), and the active ingredient in ayahuasca, a South American psychoactive brew used both socially and as ceremonial spiritual medicine among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.
Using these various ingredients, MindMed is targeting various maladies such as ADHD, anxiety and addictions. This is a pharmaceutical approach. Find a specific condition, and use a particular substance to try to improve the patient’s outcome.
No Likely Overnight Success
This is a good and promising model to follow. However, that’s much different from setting up a retail shop and selling to anyone who wants the substances. Don’t expect MindMed to generate tons of revenues in the near-term. While MindMed is working with what many people call “party drugs,” the company is taking a sober approach to commercialization.
It will likely take years for MindMed to run its clinical trials. And, if successful, there’s still no guarantee of much revenue after that. That’s because the U.S. federal government labels most of the products MindMed is working on as Schedule 1 drugs. These are subject to the heaviest federal legal inhibitions against commercial use. For example, marijuana infamously is on the Schedule 1 list, which has greatly slowed down the development of the U.S. recreational market compared to Canada.
This Won’t Be A Fast Money Trade
With cannabis, the initial investor focus was on medicinal marijuana. Soon, though, it became clear that the recreational market would be the real big prize. The same will likely occur here, assuming that other jurisdictions eventually follow Oregon’s lead.
If MindMed ever moves toward selling psychedelics for a consumer market, the business could take off in a hurry. The mass market is the path to an overnight boom in sales.
Yet, as long as that remains difficult due to regulatory concerns, it will take awhile for MindMed to mature. Clinical trials take years to pull off. And there’s no guarantee of success on those trials either. The good news, on this front, is that MindMed is cashed up. As of last quarter, it has $160 million in cash. That will allow it to run clinical trials for a long time before needing to raise more funds.
Investors Pouring Into the ‘Story’
The verdict on MNMD stock is more of an incomplete than anything else. This is a clear case where investors are rushing to put money into a story. The Oregon legalization really opened minds to the opportunity for psychedelics.
However, the problem is that there simply aren’t many investable ways to play the theme yet. MindMed is something related to the theme, so traders have gravitated to it. But it will take years to see if MindMed’s products end up being clinically successful or not. Over that time, MindMed stock will experience tons of volatility. For a patient investor that really believes in the potential, there could be a case for holding shares.
For most people, however, it makes more sense to revisit this story in a couple of years. Let’s see if legalization really gets going nationally or if Oregon was just a one-off. And can MindMed produce the clinical results needed to back up the hype?
After we get answers there, it will be easier to decide whether MindMed is a long-term opportunity or just a flash in the pan.
On the date of publication, Ian Bezek did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for InvestorPlace.com and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a $300 million New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.