The Cannabis Industry

ESG and Legal Risks

2020 will likely go down in the annals of investing as the year when retail investors and their advisors finally took note of the swelling ESG investing trend, already well entrenched with the world’s largest asset owners and asset managers. But ESG was not the only topic du jour for retail investors in North America.

After several quiet months, cannabis stocks were also on the move in Canada which had become the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in 2018. Across the United States, 34 states have legalized medical marijuana, and 11 have expanded the legality to recreational use. The changing political, legal, and public attitudes toward cannabis prevalent in this region are emblematic of a broader change in public discourse. As policymakers work to address two concerns regarding this burgeoning industry – how to safely administer the potential health benefits of cannabis and how to combat the illicit market through legalization – investors, too, must respond.

The emergence of a potentially lucrative new market presents considerable opportunities for investors—but not without risk. Responsible investors must determine how best to ensure public interest while regulating these significant ESG and legal risks. As expected, there is considerable divergence of views about whether—and how best—to participate in this dynamic industry.

Investor Economics, an ISS MI business, and ISS ESG, along with distinguished guests discussed the following topics:

  • ESG risks and legal complexities facing the cannabis industry
  • Challenges asset managers face in classifying such a nascent industry with divergent medical and recreational identities.
  • Practical tools and insights available to help investors navigate the constantly shifting political, legal and financial landscape of the cannabis industry
  • Looking ahead: trends of the growing industry and their implications for investors


Goshka Folda  

President and CEO, Investor Economics  

Global Head of Research, ISS Market intelligence 


Panelists : 

Martin Glass 

Co-Chair of Cross-Border Transactions Practice 

Partner, Jenner & Block 

Daisy Mellet 

President and Partner 

Merida Capital 

 Jay Simpson 

Associate Vice President  

Sector-Based Screening, ISS ESG 

Justin Ort 

CEO/Portfolio Manager 

Measure 8 Venture Partners 


April 8, 2021

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