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Nineteen of the top 20 largest publicly traded cannabis companies in the U.S. lost a combined $2.3 billion in 2023 and only one turned a profit, Green Market Report wrote this week. 

This is even though the companies brought in more than $8.7 billion in revenue in 2023. The findings are similar to those in a study published by Green Market Report last year that two dozen publicly traded cannabis companies in the U.S. lost $4 billion in 2024, despite more than $9 billion in revenue. 

According to Green Market Report, the only cannabis company of the 20 to post net income in 2023 was Green Thumb Industries, with a profit of just $36.3 million on revenue of $1.1 billion. The report found that Trulieve Cannabis posted a loss of $527 million in 2023, the worst showing for any of the 20 companies. 

The company with the largest revenue of the 20 was Curaleaf Holdings, which posted a loss of $281.2 million on revenue of $1.35 billion. 

Green Market Report quotes GreenWave Advisors Founder Matt Karnes who said that the “never-ending losses” show that “turning a profit is difficult, as well as generating sufficient levels of cash.”

He added “because everyone is running out of money. 280E is just killing everybody.” 

280E and the cannabis industry

While taxes aren’t the only problem cannabis companies have to contend with, the removal of the 280E tax code when cannabis is moved to Schedule III should be a major boon to the cannabis industry and cannabis companies of all sizes.

As a Schedule I substance, cannabis is currently subject to Internal Revenue Service Tax Code 280E. Section 280E prohibits businesses from deducting business expenses from income associated with Schedule I and Schedule II substances.

In comments made to MJBizDaily, Jon Levine, CEO and president of multistate cannabis operator MariMed said that removing 280e would save his company millions of dollars every year. 

“I think those millions of extra cash flow every year would be a great opportunity to help us continue our growth, research and development and give money back to our employees for the continued growth that we’re going through.”

Cannabis stocks and Schedule III

Cannabis industry observers have watched closely how marijuana stocks have responded to the Schedule III news. 

Last week, news that the DEA will reschedule marijuana saw cannabis stocks soar - at least temporarily. 

As Yahoo reported, Canopy Growth shares soared by 37% while Village Farms stock rose 20%. 

In March, cannabis stock prices rose after US President Joe Biden stated in his State of the Union speech that he would direct his Cabinet to review federal cannabis classification.

But as Benzinga noted this week, the rise in cannabis stock prices was short-lived. Major cannabis companies like Canopy Growth and Tilray Brands saw their prices fall by 5.08% and 2.38% respectively, after reports that DEA Administrator Anne Milgram failed to sign the order to reschedule cannabis. 

4/20 in the Shadow of Reclassification

How was this year’s international cannabis holiday? According to the cannabis analysis firm Headset, this year’s 4/20 saw $83.6 million in cannabis sales in the U.S. and Canada.

Seen as a cannabis industry equivalent to Black Friday for the non-cannabis retail world, 4/20 always means a big sales boost for cannabis companies. The Headset report found that Oregon led all states with a 2.9-fold increase in sales compared to normal days. All states noted at least a 1.7 times increase in sales. 

The report also found that while cannabis flower is still by far the largest sales category, cannabis beverages saw a 206% increase in units sold. Beverages also experienced a 150.8% increase in sales in 2023. In previous years, concentrates were at the top of the growth category. 

These figures should increase after reclassification and as more states legalize cannabis and open regulated markets. 

To learn more about how reclassification to Schedule III should affect the cannabis industry, check out the Rootwurks webinar held on May 8th What Will Schedule III Mean for Cannabis on-demand here.

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Ben Hartman, Content Manager

Ben Hartman is a cannabis writing and marketing professional with over 15 years of experience in journalism and digital content creation. Ben was formerly the senior writer and research and analysis lead for The Cannigma.

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