The world’s first cannabis exchange-traded fund surged past the CAD$1 billion ($758 million) mark this week after vastly exceeding all expectations.

Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETFs launched on the Toronto Stock Exchange in April 2017 and shares have since rallied 124%. Total assets have now broken through the symbolic $1 billion barrier and industry insiders are expecting another spike when weed is legalized in Canada next month.

“When we launched HMMJ in April of 2017, we knew there would be significant interest in a marijuana companies ETF, given the tremendous potential of the sector,” said Steve Hawkins, president and chief executive at Horizons ETFs. “HMMJ’s growth has far exceeded our expectations as investors have strongly supported the sector in anticipation of Canada’s upcoming recreational marijuana legalization.”

The index aims to replicate the performance of the North American Marijuana Index, shining a light on the companies that are prominent in the burgeoning cannabis industry. It chooses companies that are involved in biopharmaceuticals, medical manufacturing, distribution, bio-products and other ancillary businesses related to the cannabis industry. It has grown 162% in the past year and generated strong returns on an annualized basis.

“One of the key drivers of HMMJ’s rapid asset growth speaks to the investor demand and desire for a diversified portfolio of Cannabis companies versus buying individual stocks,” added Hawkins, who scooped the CEO of the Year award at the 2018 Wealth Professional Awards in Toronto in recognition of his record of leading the organization to new levels of growth, corporate performance, social responsibility and innovation.

“While there are clearly leaders in the Marijuana equity sector, nobody knows for sure which companies will truly be successful over the long term or even be swallowed-up. HMMJ’s one-ticket, diversified investment solution has become very popular with investors looking to get broader exposure to the sector while mitigating single-stock risk without being subject to any active management bias.”

Big drinks firms like Diageo, Molson Coors, and Constellation Brands have begun significantly investing in the marijuana industry, and experts credit this news with driving such strong growth in the exchange.

“Canada is breaking new ground in the cannabis sector and, as one of the country’s leading beverage companies, Molson Coors Canada has a unique opportunity to participate in this exciting and rapidly expanding consumer segment,” said Frederic Landtmeters, president and chief executive of Molson Coors Canada.

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