VIDEO: What 1920s Prohibition Can Teach Today’s Pot Investors
Welcome to my latest Weekly Weed Report video presentation. Below is a condensed transcript; my video contains additional details and charts.
Booze helped make the Kennedy family fortune. Marijuana can help make your family fortune. Allow me to explain.
The Prohibition Era lasted from 1920 through 1933. Americans kept drinking anyway, even more so because the ban gave alcohol an illicit glamor. Speakeasies flourished; so did the mob. Gangsters such as Al Capone became rich, supplying booze to the masses. It was Prohibition that gave the Italian Mafia its first biggest break in the new country.
Prohibition (aka the Volstead Act) of course was doomed, which is usually the case when the government tries to legislate morality and ordinary citizens thumb their noses at the law. During Prohibition, the term “scofflaw” was invented (a person who contemptuously scoffs at the law).
As the Great Depression got underway and the economy collapsed, anti-Prohibition activists succeeded in winning over even teetotalers to their cause, arguing that the country needed the jobs and tax revenue of legalized alcohol. The Democratic Party gained power in the 1932 elections and Prohibition ended in 1933.
Immediately after Prohibition ended, the sales and stock prices of major distilleries at home and abroad soared. Let’s examine a case study that’s instructive for marijuana investors.
Kennedy’s proactive investment move…
By the early 1930s, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., patriarch of the Kennedy political dynasty, had already made a fortune in Hollywood and Wall Street. Now, like a lot of today’s marijuana entrepreneurs, he wanted to make a killing on an illicit substance that many enjoyed but which remained illegal. In Kennedy’s case, that substance was alcohol.
Ever the shrewd wheeler-dealer, Kennedy saw the handwriting on the wall about the future financial prospects of booze. There are those who contend Kennedy was a bootlegger during Prohibition; this is an urban myth. Kennedy was no angel, but neither was he a bootlegger. The truth is much more complex.
Kennedy knew the incoming Roosevelt administration was “wet” and would honor its campaign pledge to repeal Prohibition.
In October 1933, two months before Prohibition ended, Kennedy secured a franchise with a foreign company to sell booze to a thirsty, post-Prohibition America.
Through his contacts with the British and U.S. governments, Kennedy won an exclusive contract with British-based National Distillers Products Corp. to sell scotch, whiskey, gin, and other spirits to Americans. Booze was legal in Britain.
In December 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified, which repealed the 18th Amendment of January 1919, ending the deeply unpopular nationwide prohibition of alcohol.
By the end of 1934, National Distillers announced that its net profits had quadrupled in a year, largely due to exports to America. The public company’s shares soared in value. Other distillers in business at the time reported similar spikes in sales and stock prices after Prohibition ended.
Joe Kennedy sold his National Distillers franchise in 1946, when his son John was about to enter politics. The father surmised that an alcohol business might prove a public relations liability. Kennedy Senior earned $8.5 million from the sale, equivalent to $122 million in 2023 currency. Let that sink in.
In 1938, President Roosevelt appointed the rich and powerful Joseph P. Kennedy as ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Fast forward to the present day. Americans overwhelmingly say marijuana should be legal for recreational or medical use. Marijuana prohibition goes against the will of the people, just as alcohol prohibition did.
And yet, marijuana remains illegal on the federal level. However, as allowed under our federalist system, the states have stepped in.
As it stands now, 38 states and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of cannabis products. Adult (i.e., recreational) use is allowed in 23 states and DC (see my video for charts).
Meanwhile, several pieces of legislation are pending in Congress to legalize marijuana on the federal level.
From 1932 to 2024…
You see where I’m going with all of this…
In the pivotal election year of 2024, I see parallels to 1932. Instead of alcohol, the substance in question is marijuana. The parallel is even stronger when you consider the jobs and tax revenue at stake with cannabis.
Legal marijuana is a jobs generating machine in both the recreational and medical sectors, further proof that the industry and its publicly traded companies have staying power.
The marijuana stock slump this year has been painful. But those new marijuana-related jobs won’t suddenly disappear. At the same time, state and local politicians are getting addicted to the revenue from marijuana taxes. Mary Jane is employing Americans and balancing state government ledgers.
It’s only a matter of time before marijuana prohibition is removed not just by the states, but also by the federal government. As an investor, the time to act is now, before marijuana Prohibition is thoroughly repealed.
Some cannabis stocks are stellar investments. Many others are not. You need to conduct due diligence.
That’s where my publication, Marijuana Profit Alert, comes in. By applying my proprietary screening methodologies, I pinpoint for subscribers the most attractive plays on the “green rush.” To learn more, click here.
John Persinos is the chief investment strategist of Marijuana Profit Alert.
This article first appeared on Investing Daily.