How pot quietly took over the world
Last week I posed a question: would you be willing to invest in legal marijuana?
I was trying to take the temperature.
I know, as a rule, you’re interested in money-making opportunities. And pot definitely ticks that box.
But I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, and share tonnes of research, only to find out you’re disgusted by the idea of investing in legal marijuana, and you’re planning on unsubscribing, and reporting me to the police.
I needn’t have worried. I got about forty emails on the subject, and only one of them was against investing in pot.
So today, I’m going to share a bit more with you. I’ll talk about how we got to this point, where a multi-billion pound business is about to take off overnight.
The benefits of liberalism
It’s hard to notice in the UK. But in the rest of the world there’s been a big change in people’s attitude to pot.
For example, the summer before last I went to California for a month. I covered a lot of ground, from the Sierra Nevada mountains in the east to San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Pacific Coast.
And wherever I went in California, pot was close at hand.
Near where we were staying in Los Gatos, in the hills south of San Fran, there were four or five pot farms. We spotted farms in the Sierra Nevada mountains too.
After we were done hiking in the Sierras we were hitch-hiking back to civilisation, and who picked us up but a friendly marijuana grower. The smell of burning pot was all over the beaches in Santa Cruz. And in LA, the locals compared their favourite pot dispensaries like coffee shops.
Pot is mainstream over there in a way that it isn’t over here. According to my buddies in Vancouver, it’s much the same in Canada.
I know these are all anecdotes — anecdotes derived from a trip to the most liberal part of North America. But the data seems to back me up. According to the UN’s World Drug Report 2016, nearly three times as many Americans as Brits smoke pot regularly. 16.2% of Americans, 12.7% of Canadians smoked pot in 2016, compared to 6.4% of English/Welsh.
In Europe, it’s the same story: pot is much more popular over there than it is here. 11.2% of French, 9.2% of Italians and 18.2% (!) of Icelanders smoked pot in 2016.
These are huge numbers — one in six, one in seven, one in eight people smoking pot regularly. With all those smokers, it’s not surprising governments have eased up on smokers. In the US, 38 states have loosened up marijuana laws in one way or another: legalising it fully, for medicinal purposes, or decriminalising it for personal use. 38 states! That shows pot is accepted in the heartland of America now, and not just in liberal coastal places.
Of course, America is bogged down in culture wars. Conservatives don’t like pot one bit, and they’re doing their bit to keep it banned at a national level.
But Canada isn’t like that. Canadians love pot, and they’re a famously sensible people. So their government decided way back in 2001 to legalise it for medicinal use. It licensed the pot growers and taxed them. It allowed pot dispensaries to operate openly, with advertising and branding and the rest of it.
After legalisation, more people probably started smoking pot (according to a study by the RAND corporation, legalising pot results in more pot use). But pot was legitimised. It was out in the open. And the experiment seemed to work — Canadian society didn’t fall apart at the seams.
So the Canadians decided to take the next step…
They already had pot dispensaries selling it on the streets, pot growers producing it in factories, and pot stocks trading on the stock exchange. So they decided to go the whole hog.
When Justin Trudeau came to power he announced his intention to legalise recreational marijuana use. The legislation is working its way through the system over there. It’s looking like the law will finally pass in mid-August.
That’s the “gold rush” that has me so excited. Growers over in Canada are about to attack a market 10x bigger than the one they’ve previously served. There might only be a few winners, but they could end up absolutely huge. More on that story soon.
Canada’s really interesting not just for its legal pot stocks, but for the trajectory it’s followed…
At first, it was just another country in which pot is popular, like the USA, Spain, Israel or Italy. Then it legalised pot for medicinal uses. That got people used to the idea of pot shops on street corners. It legitimised pot. And it showed that legal pot wouldn’t ruin society. Only then was it ready for full legalisation.
Canada’s trajectory is interesting to me because all over the world, countries are heading down that path. They’re in the process of legalising pot for medicinal purposes all over the rich world. I’d be willing to bet that, having started down the path, they’ll keep going.
Canadian pot growers are well aware of this. That’s why they’re forming partnerships and joint ventures with pot growers in up to 20 countries.
But that’s a story for another day.