Highs and Lows of Investing in Pot
- by Bruce Blechman
Ask any investor what is the fastest-growing industry in the U.S., and he or she will probably answer “mobile.” That used to be true, but now the marijuana industry has taken over that position.
What is going on here? Remember Prohibition? That was when alcohol was outlawed from being sold to the public. So who made money during Prohibition? The outlaws of course. When Prohibition ended, smart investors like Joe Kennedy, the former president’s father, made a fortune buying up the U.S. marketing rights to all kinds of well-known liquor names like Seagram’s.
Marijuana, like alcohol during Prohibition, has up till now been sold by outlaws. That is all changing. Twenty states now allow the sale of medical marijuana, and two allow the sale of recreational marijuana (Colorado and Washington). Talk about pent-up demand for an industry’s product. The Pew Research Center estimates that nearly half of adults in the U.S. have tried marijuana, yet up till now could only buy it from outlaws. We all saw the lines of customers when Colorado started selling recreational marijuana. Imagine what will happen when the other 48 states come on board. Policymakers in Colorado are expecting first-year sales to be about $600 million. One study cited by the Huffington Post predicts a $10 billion marijuana market in the U.S. by 2018.
How many times in a lifetime does an investor get the opportunity to invest in a brand-new, fast-growing industry at the ground floor? Not many.
So what is going on with marijuana-related stocks? By January alone, some were up 1,700 percent over the past year.
The challenge that investors face is to pick the good companies from the bad, and they have to do it weeding through the dense jungle of incomplete information, or outright misinformation and hype. Some stocks are already elevated well above anyone’s most optimistic predictions.
So what do I suggest to someone considering investing in this wild new industry? First let me say, I am not in the business of touting stocks for any industry. I make my living raising capital for high-growth companies and, yes, some of my clients operate in this explosive industry.
That said, I suggest anyone wanting to invest in this new industry should start by learning a lot about it. There are already newspapers, magazines and newsletters to read. With the Internet at your disposal, all the information you really need is at your fingertips.
There is definitely money to be made in this high-risk play. If you feel, as I do, that the marijuana industry will become an institution in the U.S. as ingrained as alcohol, and that the robust medical market for marijuana is a good place to start, then why not take a chance and buy into companies that look poised to capitalize on the evolution of this new market? Good hunting.