CalPERS Buys Small Stake in Marijuana Stocks

The giant pension fund dipped its toes in the bongwater in Q3, SEC filings show.

Believe it or not, America’s largest public pension fund is investing in the wacky weed.

The $362 billion California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) purchased a small amount of stocks in recreational marijuana company Tilray and cannabis-focused biotech firm Insys Therapeutics, according to its report of third-quarter holdings filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month.

As of September 30, the fund owned 1,617 shares of the Canadian pot maker (the stake is currently valued at $106,544), whose initial public offerings in the US and Canada launched in July. CalPERS held 75,500 Insys shares (worth $362,400).

Marijuana is a tricky business, as it’s only legal in a handful of areas throughout the globe, and these types of equities are high in volatility. It is not known if CalPERS is the first public fund to invest in the substance, but its size and location (California is the largest legal pot market in the world) make the fund’s purchase worthy of notice.

In addition, the state of cannabis is changing, as more jurisdictions are loosening policies and legalizing weed, notably Colorado, Canada, and most recently, Massachusetts. Currently, there are 31 US states that have legalized medical use, and another 31 countries that allow some form of legal use.

Tilray closed Monday at $65.89 per share, and Insys at $4.80 per share.

CalPERS declined comment.

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