Infographic: 9 Things Cannabis Investors Should Know
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9 Things Cannabis Investors Should Know

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9 Things Cannabis Investors Should Know

9 Things Cannabis Investors Should Know

The swift regulatory changes taking place in the global cannabis sector are almost without modern precedent.

While some find the situation analogous to the repeal of Prohibition in the United States, it’s also fair to point out that such events happened 85 years ago in the midst of the Great Depression. It was a long time ago, and in a very different economic climate.

Today’s infographic comes to us from Evolve ETFs, and it shows what investors should know as the legal cannabis sector comes out of the dark.

What Cannabis Investors Should Know

Since there is so much happening at once with little precedent for what such a market will look like, it’s worth summing up the sector’s potential in broad strokes:

1. Global Size
According to research from The Brightfield Group, the size of the legal cannabis sector is expected to surge from $7.7 billion to $31.4 billion between 2017 and 2021.

Currently the recreational market makes up only 37% of the global total – but by 2021, that will rise to 57%.

2. Versatile Uses
Cannabis comes in different forms. One gram of dried cannabis is roughly equivalent to:

  • 5g of fresh cannabis
  • 15g of edible product
  • 70g of liquid product
  • 0.25g of concentrates
  • 1 cannabis plant seed

These can be used in various medical applications, including to fight chronic pain, migraines, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, and nausea. Cannabis can also be used to treat Alzheimer’s, PTSD, and cancer.

3. North American Growth
By 2021, it’s estimated that North American sales will make up 86% of the global market. Specifically, the U.S. legal market is projected to hit $18.1 billion by that time, while the Canadian legal market is expected to be $8.9 billion in that same year.

4. A Shifting Legal Landscape
Canada will be the first G7 country to legalize cannabis at a federal level.

In the United States, recreational cannabis is already legalized in nine states – but this could change swiftly as various states undergo referendums.

5. European Markets
In 2017, the legal market for cannabis is estimated to be just $0.11 billion, but by 2021 it will have expanded to $3.8 billion.

According to The Brightfield Group, growth will be quite impressive in Western Europe: Germany’s market will grow at a 284% annual rate, the Netherlands at 364%, and Spain at 334%.

6. Rest of the World
Although markets outside of North America and Europe will not see the same growth in absolute dollar terms, the legal cannabis market will still expand from $80 million to $350 million, led by activity in Latin America.

7. Pharmaceutical Research
Israel has a special place in the cannabis world – the country is world leader in medical cannabis research, and industry expects that it will eventually translate into a $1 billion export opportunity. That said, export plans have hit a recent road bump.

8. Investment Activity
Compare the start of 2018 to that of 2017, and you’ll see an impressive difference in investment activity.

For this we use Canada with its impending recreational legalization as an example: in the first six weeks of 2018, investment was up nearly 7x over the previous year. Further, the average deal size increased from $5.6 million to $18.7 million.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Cannabis Index rose 201% between January 2017 and January 2018.

9. How to Invest?
There are a variety of ways to gain exposure to the sector, including:

  • Licensed producer stocks
  • Biotech stocks
  • Ancillary services stocks
  • Licensed retailer stocks
  • Cannabis ETFs

Regardless of how you play it, the legal cannabis sector is coming out of the dark – and it will be interesting to see how the industry takes shape.

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Technology

Synthetic Biology: The $3.6 Trillion Science Changing Life as We Know It

The field of synthetic biology could solve problems in a wide range of industries, from medicine to agriculture—here’s how.

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How Synthetic Biology Could Change Life as we Know it

Synthetic biology (synbio) is a field of science that redesigns organisms in an effort to enhance and support human life. According to one projection, this rapidly growing field of science is expected to reach $28.8 billion in global revenue by 2026.

Although it has the potential to transform many aspects of society, things could go horribly wrong if synbio is used for malicious or unethical reasons. This infographic explores the opportunities and potential risks that this budding field of science has to offer.

What is Synthetic Biology?

We’ve covered the basics of synbio in previous work, but as a refresher, here’s a quick explanation of what synbio is and how it works.

Synbio is an area of scientific research that involves editing and redesigning different biological components and systems in various organisms.

It’s like genetic engineering but done at a more granular level—while genetic engineering transfers ready-made genetic material between organisms, synbio can build new genetic material from scratch.

The Opportunities of Synbio

This field of science has a plethora of real-world applications that could transform our everyday lives. A study by McKinsey found over 400 potential uses for synbio, which were broken down into four main categories:

  • Human health and performance
  • Agriculture and food
  • Consumer products and services
  • Materials and energy production

If those potential uses become reality in the coming years, they could have a direct economic impact of up to $3.6 trillion per year by 2030-2040.

1. Human Health and Performance

The medical and health sector is predicted to be significantly influenced by synbio, with an economic impact of up to $1.3 trillion each year by 2030-2040.

Synbio has a wide range of medical applications. For instance, it can be used to manipulate biological pathways in yeast to produce an anti-malaria treatment.

It could also enhance gene therapy. Using synbio techniques, the British biotech company Touchlight Genetics is working on a way to build synthetic DNA without the use of bacteria, which would be a game-changer for the field of gene therapy.

2. Agriculture and Food

Synbio has the potential to make a big splash in the agricultural sector as well—up to $1.2 trillion per year by as early as 2030.

One example of this is synbio’s role in cellular agriculture, which is when meat is created from cells directly. The cost of creating lab-grown meat has decreased significantly in recent years, and because of this, various startups around the world are beginning to develop a variety of cell-based meat products.

3. Consumer Products and Services

Using synthetic biology, products could be tailored to suit an individual’s unique needs. This would be useful in fields such as genetic ancestry testing, gene therapy, and age-related skin procedures.

By 2030-2040, synthetic biology could have an economic impact on consumer products and services to the tune of up to $800 billion per year.

4. Materials and Energy Production

Synbio could also be used to boost efficiency in clean energy and biofuel production. For instance, microalgae are currently being “reprogrammed” to produce clean energy in an economically feasible way.

This, along with other material and energy improvements through synbio methods, could have a direct economic impact of up to $300 billion each year.

The Potential Risks of Synbio

While the potential economic and societal benefits of synthetic biology are vast, there are a number of risks to be aware of as well:

  • Unintended biological consequences: Making tweaks to any biological system can have ripple effects across entire ecosystems or species. When any sort of lifeform is manipulated, things don’t always go according to plan.
  • Moral issues: How far we’re comfortable going with synbio depends on our values. Certain synbio applications, such as embryo editing, are controversial. If these types of applications become mainstream, they could have massive societal implications, with the potential to increase polarization within communities.
  • Unequal access: Innovation and progress in synbio is happening faster in wealthier countries than it is in developing ones. If this trend continues, access to these types of technology may not be equal worldwide. We’ve already witnessed this type of access gap during the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, where a majority of vaccines have been administered in rich countries.
  • Bioweaponry: Synbio could be used to recreate viruses, or manipulate bacteria to make it more dangerous, if used with ill intent.

According to a group of scientists at the University of Edinburgh, communication between the public, synthetic biologists, and political decision-makers is crucial so that these societal and environmental risks can be mitigated.

Balancing Risk and Reward

Despite the risks involved, innovation in synbio is happening at a rapid pace.

By 2030, most people will have likely eaten, worn, or been treated by a product created by synthetic biology, according to synthetic biologist Christopher A. Voigt.

Our choices today will dictate the future of synbio, and how we navigate through this space will have a massive impact on our future—for better, or for worse.

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Energy

How Far Are We From Phasing Out Coal?

In 2021 coal-fired electricity generation reached all-time highs, rising 9% from the year prior. Here’s what it’d take to phase it out of the energy mix.

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How Far Are We From Phasing Out Coal?

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

At the COP26 conference last year, 40 nations agreed to phase coal out of their energy mixes.

Despite this, in 2021, coal-fired electricity generation reached all-time highs globally, showing that eliminating coal from the energy mix will not be a simple task.

This infographic shows the aggressive phase-out of coal power that would be required in order to reach net zero goals by 2050, based on an analysis by Ember that uses data provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Low-Cost Comes at a High Environmental Cost

Coal-powered electricity generation rose by 9.0% in 2021 to 10,042 Terawatt-hours (TWh), marking the biggest percentage rise since 1985.

The main reason is cost. Coal is the world’s most affordable energy fuel. Unfortunately, low-cost energy comes at a high cost for the environment, with coal being the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions.

China has the highest coal consumption, making up 54% of the world’s coal electricity generation. The country’s consumption jumped 12% between 2010 and 2020, despite coal making up a lower percentage of the country’s energy mix in relative terms.

Top Consumers2020 Consumption (Exajoules) Share of global consumption
China 🇨🇳82.354.3%
India 🇮🇳17.511.6%
United States 🇺🇸9.26.1%
Japan 🇯🇵4.63.0%
South Africa 🇿🇦3.52.3%
Russia 🇷🇺3.32.2%
Indonesia 🇮🇩3.32.2%
South Korea 🇰🇷3.02.0%
Vietnam 🇻🇳2.11.4%
Germany 🇩🇪1.81.2%

Together, China and India account for 66% of global coal consumption and emit about 35% of the world’s greenhouse gasses (GHG). If you add the United States to the mix, this goes up to 72% of coal consumption and 49% of GHGs.

How Urgent is to Phase Out Coal?

According to the United Nations, emissions from current and planned fossil energy infrastructure are already more than twice the amount that would push the planet over 1.5°C of global heating, a level that scientists say could bring more intense heat, fire, storms, flooding, and drought than the present 1.2°C.

Apart from being the largest source of CO2 emissions, coal combustion is also a major threat to public health because of the fine particulate matter released into the air.

As just one example of this impact, a recent study from Harvard University estimates air pollution from fossil fuel combustion is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths globally.

The Move to Renewables

Coal-powered electricity generation must fall by 13% every year until 2030 to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals of keeping global heating to only 1.5 degrees.

To reach the mark, countries would need to speed up the shift from their current carbon-intensive pathways to renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

How fast the transition away from coal will be achieved depends on a complicated balance between carbon emissions cuts and maintaining economic growth, the latter of which is still largely dependent on coal power.

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