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Cannabis Nation: From Woodstock to Wall Street

Fast forward to 2017 and one of the hottest investment themes is “canna-business.” As increasing numbers of states legalize marijuana for medical and/or recreational purposes, marijuana is becoming a multi-billion-dollar industry. Meanwhile, the Canadian government is expected to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018.

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When I was 12 years old, my dad took me to the local movie theater to see Woodstock, a film that blew my little adolescent mind. By the time the lights came up, I had outgrown Disney.

Marijuana, of course, played a prominent role in this Academy Award-winning 1970 documentary about the legendary music festival in upstate New York. During the Woodstock era, pot was the forbidden fruit that hippies, freaks, college kids, and rebels of all stripes imbibed to taunt the establishment.

Fast forward to 2017 and one of the hottest investment themes is “canna-business.” As increasing numbers of states legalize marijuana for medical and/or recreational purposes, marijuana is becoming a multi-billion-dollar industry. Meanwhile, the Canadian government is expected to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018.

Mary Jane has moved from Woodstock to Wall Street. Problem is, as marijuana gets legalized and becomes a mainstream moneymaker, inherently shaky micro-cap cannabis companies have been sprouting up like pot plants under a grow lamp. These thinly financed and often poorly managed newcomers suffer from weak underlying fundamentals; most will go bankrupt. Investors who blindly pile into dubious pot stocks are headed for a bum trip.

Marijuana is indeed a compelling investment theme, but you should shun the proliferating number of tiny OTC-traded stocks.

Certain quality plays stand out, though, and one of them enjoyed a spike in its stock price on Tuesday: 22nd Century Group (NYSE: XXII), a small-cap biotech that genetically engineers tobacco and cannabis plants to change their chemical potency.

XXII stock jumped 3.49% on Tuesday, immediately after the company’s announcement that the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health’s Fifth Annual Conference will discuss Tobacco Regulatory Science and spotlight the science behind 22nd Century’s low-nicotine tobacco cigarettes. The influential national conference is scheduled for October 5-6 in Burlington, Vermont and its keynote speaker will be Mitch Zeller, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products.

Now’s an opportune time to take a closer look at 22nd Century Group.

The FDA lights a fire…

Make no mistake, I’m not taking a stand on the legalization of marijuana, one way or the other. My job isn’t advocacy; it’s finding profitable investments.

Consider this: In the wake of this week’s Las Vegas mass shooting, gun-maker sales and equities have soared. Whether that’s immoral depends on your perspective.

Regardless of your personal views on pot, the legalization and subsequent commercialization of marijuana is an unstoppable trend and a once-in-a-generation chance to get onto the ground floor of an industry that’s becoming a juggernaut. Regulators already are getting on board.

The FDA announced in July that it would try to severely limit and in some cases eliminate flavorings in tobacco products even as it takes a more conservative approach on other regulatory goals. “Big Tobacco” is transitioning away from conventional cigarettes toward e-cigarettes and smokeless, low-nicotine products.

The FDA asserted that encouraging the development of low nicotine cigarettes would be a regulatory priority, an unexpected development considering the Trump administration’s anti-regulatory approach to all industries. The FDA’s announcement was good news for 22nd Century, which occupies the vanguard of this research.

A significant milestone for 22nd Century occurred on September 25, when the company announced that its Research License and Commercial Option Agreement of 2013 between XXII and British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS) is now finished.

The conclusion of this restrictive agreement frees 22nd Century to forge lucrative new partnerships. British American Tobacco can no longer claim rights to any intellectual property or other assets of 22nd Century, which gives the latter complete control of its prolific intellectual property portfolio.

In recent days, 22nd Century has started talks with global tobacco and pharmaceutical companies that previously approached 22nd Century for joint ventures but were stymied by the agreement between XXII and BAT.

22nd Century’s proprietary technology aims to dramatically reduce levels of nicotine and other nicotinic alkaloids in the tobacco plant through plant breeding and genetic engineering. 22nd Century has the ability to make cigarettes with nicotine levels 95% lower than conventional cigarettes.

22nd Century Group is the only firm in the world that possesses viable and well-tested technology to grow tobacco leaves that carry nicotine beneath the FDA’s recommended threshold for addiction. The company can calibrate the amount of nicotine in tobacco plants without blunting the elements of the tobacco leaf that bestow taste, aroma and other pleasurable qualities.

A budding market…

With a market cap of $289.2 million, 22nd Century is big enough to weather volatility, but small enough to offer potentially market-thumping returns. The company on June 26 became a member of the Russell Microcap Index.

22nd Century’s THC-free marijuana is sought by medical scientists, farmers, and agricultural programs throughout the U.S.

The company’s researchers are now creating so-called enabling tools that expedite the targeted bioengineering of cannabinoid production in the cannabis plant, with the goal of creating new strains of industrial hemp plants with lower levels of cannabinoids for new drug treatments and agricultural applications.

Among the company’s key initiatives is the development of a new strain of hemp containing zero THC, the key psychoactive compound in cannabis. THC produces the chemical high in the human brain that got marijuana banned on the federal level.

Apart from medical uses, a THC-free plant would have significant consequences for the industrial hemp industry, which is all but crippled here in the U.S. Hemp is one of the world’s most sustainable and practical basic materials yet has been illegal since 1970.

But the most immediate opportunity for XXII relates to tobacco. At a meeting this year of the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco, industry leaders, scientists, public health officials, and regulators analyzed the effects of reducing nicotine in cigarettes. They came to the conclusion that lower nicotine results in lower cravings and hence lower cigarette consumption.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published an Advisory Note titled Global Nicotine Reduction Strategy. The purpose of the data is to help health officials develop policies for limiting the sale of cigarettes to brands with a nicotine content that isn’t powerful enough to foster addiction.

WHO’s report asserted that this goal could be reached with a 95% reduction in nicotine compared with the conventional cigarette brands on the market today. This nicotine level corresponds to 22nd Century’s research program.

22nd Century Group plans to conduct Phase III clinical trials of its leading, extremely low nicotine product called X-22. Scheduled to commence in early 2018, the study is designed to prove that X-22 can serve as an effective aid to help smokers quit cigarettes. If the FDA eventually approves the product, demand would be huge and shares of 22nd Century Group would skyrocket.

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Trading

Here’s an Investment You Should Not Forget About

It’s pretty near impossible to build a growth portfolio without a very large weighting of technology stocks.

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Original Link : Investing Daily

It’s pretty near impossible to build a growth portfolio without a very large weighting of technology stocks. Look at any actively traded ETF containing the major tech companies like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN)Alphabet (Nasdaq: GOOG)Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB), and you are looking a collection of stocks that has vastly outperformed the major market averages over the past one-, five-, and 10-year periods.

All of these stocks have strong fundamentals and near monopolies or at least leading market shares within their realms. They will maintain this grip unless the government decides to step in (some whispering about this lately but nothing more) or the companies run into major competition from Chinese counterparts.

Moreover their valuations while not cheap are not frothy, either. In contrast to 2000, when Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) was trading above 100 times earnings, not even Amazon trades at a forward P/E of about 60, with growth in the mid-20s likely over at least the next several years. Amazon’s free cash yield is positive, about 3.5 percent based on expected 2018 values, and growing faster than earnings.

But we’re not here today to praise these great tech companies but to offer an alternative, an investment that in the long run may have more potential and where you don’t have to worry about government interference or Chinese competition. No, we haven’t discovered some miracle stock – rather, we’re talking about a miracle metal. It’s one that is vital in almost all technologies and that is running up against supply constraints just as the demand for technology, from blockchains to artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things, may be on the verge of a major extended growth phase.

Moreover, this miracle metal offers not just a way to play on tech but is also prized because it is inherently beautiful, resistant to oxidation, and a wonderful hedge against inflation. We are, you may have guessed, talking about silver. Silver, which has been used as currency for at least as long as gold – many thousands of years – is still valued as a monetary investment, with about 40 percent of yearly demand coming from investors. But the other 60 or so percent comes from its many industrial uses, which are on the threshold of accelerated growth.

In the 1980s no less an investor than Warren Buffett became the world’s largest holder of silver. Once it became news that he had amassed such a large position, he stopped reporting his silver holdings and presumably sold them. Still, Buffett’s rationale for buying the metal holds true today, to an even greater extent.

Buffett said he was buying silver because demand for the metal consistently exceeded supply. Silver has a number of remarkable properties that make it a critical part of many industrial applications. The metal is the world’s best electrical conductor – even better than copper – and also the world’s best conductor of heat. And as mentioned above, it is relatively nonreactive with oxygen, which is a major reason the metal maintains its properties over time.

This combination of characteristics has made silver an essential industrial and technology metal. The keyboard I am using to write these words has silver. My smartphone may have 0.35 grams of silver, and if I lived in a house that used solar power, silver would be critical to the photovoltaic modules providing my electricity. The auto I drive may have as much as 2 to 3 ounces of silver, depending on how many connections it has and the type of windshield heater.

The point is that silver’s properties, because they are simultaneously singular and critical, translate into many uses. And in world in which technology is becoming more pervasive; in which solar has become the fastest-growing renewable energy; and in which the number of nano-connections among objects is multiplying, the industrial demand for silver is certain to surge.

Right now, as has been true since at least the 1980s, demand for silver exceeds supply, and prospects for additional supply are limited. As I pointed out in a recent interview, above-ground stocks of silver – bars and coins purchased for investment purposes – have mostly accumulated in custodian vaults. The bulk of these supplies, around 1 billion ounces, or a year’s worth of production, is held in China.

Rather than use these supplies to make up for the current supply/demand deficit, it’s likely that China will continue to accumulate the metal. That’s because the country, with its megacities that go hand in hand with a burgeoning Internet of Things, its massive AI projects, and other technologies that have begun to drive the economy, will want to have on hand as much as possible of the silver that these technologies depend on.

The bottom line is that over the next several years, silver is likely to be in extremely short supply. I would not be surprised to see the metal climb to three digits by the early part of the next decade, and I sincerely doubt that you will find many tech stocks that will outperform.

 

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Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin Won’t Replace Gold… Here’s Why You Should Still Own It

Bitcoin is frequently compared to gold. But it’s not an either/or proposition… And I’ll tell you why.

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Bitcoin is frequently compared to gold. But it’s not an either/or proposition… And I’ll tell you why.

Gold and bitcoin are the only two widely distributed, decentralized methods of exchanging value as currency. They have no central authority issuance, unlike U.S. dollars or any other fiat currency.

Likewise, neither bitcoin nor gold can just be “printed” at the push of a button by an anxious central banker. You have to either earn your gold by mining it, or you can pay cash for it. The same is true of bitcoin (although bitcoin miners use computers instead of picks and shovels).

But there’s one big difference between the two…

Gold is the very opposite of new technology.

Gold is a physical, tangible, and real asset. You can pick it up and feel its satisfying weight in your hand. It can’t be altered. Gold is gold. Once I own it, that’s it. I don’t need to rely on a functioning Internet. I don’t need a computer. It has pure, tangible value.

And gold has unquestionably been money for thousands of years. A gold coin can still sit in my pocket, even while I might be fending off mobs, zombies, hordes of cockroaches, or a nuclear winter.

On the other hand, bitcoin is nothing more than a code that exists somewhere on the Internet. You can’t pick it up and put it in your pocket. If you lose that code… you lose your bitcoin.

Not only that, but unlike gold, bitcoin isn’t easy to explain to the average guy on the street. The fundamentals of blockchain, and the distributed ledger systems upon which bitcoin is built, are not straightforward. It usually takes time and effort for people to understand just how much of an innovation bitcoin really is as a “trustless” mechanism for exchanging value.

(By “trustless,” I mean we don’t need to trust an intermediary to settle our transaction – we can exchange value directly and securely with one another, thanks to blockchain technology.)

Despite its benefits, most people simply can’t comprehend bitcoin and blockchain.

Gold, however, is easy to understand. Its value has stood the test of time. As a friend of mine once put it: “I prefer a currency that has survived 5,000-plus years of wars, empires, the rise and fall of countries, cold spells, hot spells, and has been universally accepted in every country of the world.”

I can’t argue with that.

No matter how big bitcoin gets, it will never be gold.

If you were to ask me which I think is more likely to be around a hundred years from now, my answer is gold… every time. Nothing has usurped it for millennia as a globally accepted medium of exchange or store of value, and I don’t think bitcoin will do so either.

But… you should still own bitcoin. Let me tell you why…

Bitcoin is the ultimate in freedom of asset ownership. The government can’t confiscate it, as the U.S. government did with gold under Executive Order 6102 in 1933.

You can cross national borders with bitcoin in your possession on a USB thumb drive… or, if you can memorize your private key, with no physical object in your possession of any kind.

Whether your bitcoin is worth $100 or $100 million, it makes no difference to how you move and store it (which is clearly not the same with gold). You don’t need a trusted middleman to send it. And you can move it around the world, securely, in a matter of minutes.

And if you’re looking for gains… bitcoin is a lot likelier than gold to be up 1,000% three years from now. Even though its price has soared over the past few years, it’s still nowhere near mainstream yet.

So gold and bitcoin both deserve a place in your portfolio.

Gold has stood the test of time and is a medium of storing value. Bitcoin’s time, on the other hand, is just beginning. Blockchain technology is the future, and when you have an opportunity to buy the future and tuck it away, you should take it.

Good investing,

Tama Churchouse

Editor’s note: Tama’s little-known bitcoin technique could potentially make you 10-50 times your money… And this week, he’s sitting down with Porter Stansberry – live from Baltimore – to reveal how it works. You’ll also hear unique predictions about bitcoin and the crypto markets. This event is completely free to attend – just tune in Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Click here to reserve your spot.

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Cryptocurrencies

This is Why Blockchain Makes Online Retail Better

The cryptocurrency trend is red-hot.

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The cryptocurrency trend is red-hot.

In fact, many are hailing cryptocurrencies as the future of money.

But as I’ve pointed out before, the underlying technology behind the cryptocurrency trend is the enabler… and that’s going to change everything.

Today, I want to talk about a new way the blockchain and crypto trend is impacting an industry you’ve probably never considered — online retail.

In a way, this new trend is looking similar to when retailers in the 1990s jumped on the online marketplace trend. This changed the retail landscape dramatically and I foresee the same impact with blockchain.

In fact, we’re already starting to see the shift.

Say Goodbye to Counterfeit Goods

Have you ever won an intense online bidding war only to receive your coveted order and find out upon receipt that the item you purchased is a fake?

If you haven’t, you’re lucky. Almost half a trillion dollars in counterfeit goods are delivered to homes and businesses each year.

Counterfeit goods also plague retailers. They erode sales, brand trust and customer loyalty.

But using blockchain technology, retailers can now provide customers with indisputable proof of authenticity at every step in the supply chain.

The high-end sneaker company Greats, for example, uses blockchain and 3-D-printed smart tags, scannable by a smartphone, to prove product authenticity.

No More Stolen or Lost Packages

Counterfeit goods aren’t the only problem blockchain tech is tackling in online retail.

We’ve all had a package lost or stolen at some point. It’s a frustrating inevitability of buying online.

It’s even worse for businesses. When orders are lost or stolen, a business could fail, costing people jobs and their livelihoods.

With blockchain tech, retailers can use a decentralized network that connects all parties in a supply chain, including you.

By using blockchain, a retailer can register their product on an encrypted digital ledger, meaning stolen merchandise can be identified and tracked anywhere at any time.

This blockchain-based solution has already been used by retailers in several markets, including pharmaceuticals, luxury items, diamonds and electronics.

But blockchain goes one step further, too. By offering peer-to-peer networks instead of the linear, checkpoint-based tracking today’s couriers use, problems with shipments get identified much faster and resolved automatically.

For example, if Amazon implemented blockchain into their supply chain, they could instantly communicate digital documents like purchase orders, receipts and shipping manifests directly to their customers.

If something went awry, Amazon would be alerted immediately, with resolutions following swiftly. This would streamline the delivery process, eliminating the need for customers to jump through hoops when a package doesn’t arrive on time or at all.

Digital Wallets For All Your Warranties

Consumer protection is another application that will use blockchain platforms to better the customer experience.

If you’ve ever had an expensive purchase go belly-up well before its time, you know the importance of having your warranty handy.

But honestly, who keeps track of all that paper?

A family of four would need a full file cabinet just to keep track!

That’s where blockchain comes into play by moving product warranties onto the cloud via blockchain.

This eliminates the need for the clutter paper warranties create, allowing customers to maintain a virtual warranty wallet. This gives you access to all your product warranties anywhere, anytime.

On the flip side, this also allows retailers to update warranty info, saving them a ton in administrative costs.

The marriage between online retail and blockchain is a match made in heaven with endless possible applications.

Right now, we’re just scratching the surface of how blockchain could fundamentally change online retail for the better.

It’s becoming clear that blockchain can revolutionize e-commerce in amazing ways.

Potentially solving the woes you face when shopping online.

For Tomorrow’s Trends Today,

Ray Blanco
for The Daily Reckoning

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