Canadian pot producers like Canopy Growth (ticker: CGC) and Aurora Cannabis (ACB) enjoy listings on U.S. stock exchanges, but it has been a struggle for the American cannabis industry to find a similar welcome. That’s because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, of course, even after many states have allowed it under their own laws.
Head shop supplier Greenlane Holdings (GNLN) made it to Nasdaq in April, but cannabis packaging provider KushCo Holdings (KSHB) still waits in the wings. Most companies doing business in the U.S.—whether or not they touch the federally-proscribed plant—have had to raise capital in Canada.
So Jessica Billingsley was pretty happy Tuesday that her cannabis compliance software firm Akerna was starting to trade on Nasdaq, under the ticker “KERN”. The Denver outfit’s chief executive says it took almost eight months of due diligence to make it on to the exchange. “There’s still the federal-state conflict that creates a challenge,” she says, “so I understand that Nasdaq wants to really ensure they are on the right side of that.”
Akerna stock jumped 30% after its opening, to $15.60 on Tuesday afternoon.
Akerna’s MJ Freeway platform lets government regulators and licensed pot producers track cannabis products from seed to sale, as required under many jurisdictions’ compliance rules. Billingsley co-founded the company about 10 years ago, and it has followed the cannabis industry’s bumpy road upward. In January 2017, a hacker attack disrupted the MJ Freeway data center. No customer data was decrypted, but some customers say the experience prompted them to move to the rival BioTrackTHC