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New pot ETF called YOLO cuts the price to invest in cannabis

A new ETF focused on marijuana stocks plans to undercut competitors when it debuts just days before an unofficial pot holiday.

With a ticker of YOLO — "You Only Live Once" — the AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF will charge 74 basis points, according to regulatory documents. That’s 1 basis point less than the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ).

“Launching 1 basis point cheaper than MJ is a bit absurd, but symbolic of the era we are in right now where expense ratio is one of the first things an adviser looks at,” said Eric Balchunas, an ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “This ETF has at least a fighting chance to find an audience.”

The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ), which wagers on the growth of cannabis, has surged nearly 50%.
Bloomberg Best of the Year 2018: A worker inspects cannabis plants growing in a greenhouse at the Hexo Corp. facility in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Photographer: Chris Roussakis/Bloomberg

The fund is poised to make history as the first U.S. ETF to include cannabis in its name, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Issuers have struggled to start funds that directly reference marijuana, in part due to concern among custodians and other service providers over the legality of the business. The SEC is also increasingly asking thematic funds to justify their names.

BNY Mellon will act as YOLO’s custodian, administrator and transfer agent, according to regulatory filings.

The fund plans to list in New York on Thursday, just two days shy of April 20 — aka 4/20, pot-user slang for smoking cannabis.