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Weed, Greed And The Investor Class

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I remember working with a particularly opinionated carpenter who refused to allow his wife to buy a hoe. Eventually he relented with the proviso that it be kept out of sight and that she never ask him to use it. He explained that as a youngster and a teen he had hoed so much tobacco that he swore once he left his dad’s farm he would never even own a hoe. Maybe if my poor friend, Marvin, had been more adequately compensated he would have been more receptive to the joys that hard work and industry bring although, candidly, he was something less than the personification of the Protestant Ethic.
Today, tobacco farmers have fallen on hard times but even in the heady days of the New Deal and the Great Society it was a rough row to hoe. A clever mechanism to raise the price of tobacco was introduced in FDR’s New Deal and it remained in effect until 2014. At the inception of the program each tobacco grower was given an acreage allotment. Said growers were only allowed to plant that allotted number of acres in tobacco. This, of course, created an artificial shortage thus raising the price of the tobacco and ultimately the compensation. As the Carolinas, Kentucky, and Virginia began voting Republican the growers and everyone associated with that industry became morally suspect tantamount to Walmart shoppers and NRA members until that opprobrium was expressed in the cessation of federal largess.
Thursday’s announcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he would no longer participate the the prosecutorial misfeasance so dear to the hearts of his predecessors hit Washington insiders like a snow bomb. “The attorney general of the United States has just delivered an extravagant holiday gift to the drug cartels… ” moaned Rep Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach, California. As idiotic as the Congressman’s comments were they were very much in tune with much of the Twitter hyperbole. The action was called a war on federalism, an attack on state’s rights and of course an assault on all people of color.

Attorney General Session has simply nullified the Cole Memo which more or less withdrew the DOJ for the battle against marijuana. Authored in 2013 by Deputy Attorney General James Cole the memo expressed the desire that states “prevent diversion of marijuana outside the regulated system,” prohibit access to marijuana by minors, and replace the “illicit marijuana trade that funds criminal enterprises with a tightly regulated market in which revenues are tracked and accounted for.”

All of sudden conservatives united with libertarians in their love of ” a tightly regulated market in which revenues are tracked and accounted for.” Of course the alleged medical value was touted but also a consistent theme of grass roots demand for legal weed. One must admit that the has been a push toward liberalizing marijuana laws but how much of that is grass root and how much of that is investor driven? Several times, both online and on television, I heard the astounding claim that legalization of marijuana would create a $40 billion industry and 400,000 jobs. Hmm. That is some industry! It generates $100,000 per employee! Talk about marginal productivity! Poor Marvin was born too soon! Had he been hoeing Mary Jane instead tobacco he would have been a millionaire before he was 30. Of course the grass is always greener in sunny California.

Oh, Uncle Tom, what makes the grass so green?
Horse shit, Little Eva, Horse shit.

Eventually I was able to trace the 400,000 jobs claim to the Aceview Group where cannabis meets capital.
Our Mission: To forge a principled and profitable industry from the ashes of cannabis prohibition.
It is probably accurate to state that Aceview speaks for California’s financial elite. The author O. Henry once described New York City as an aviary overpopulated with jays. He never saw Silicon Valley. If ever there was a group of people so full of themselves. Enough, I’ll let them tell you how smart they are.

“We’ve raised the bar so that only serious players can qualify” How damned egalitarian! As it turns out Aceview is also a political player and smart enough to be bipartisan when it come to handing out cash. It seems Congressman Rohrabacher earns his keep!
Congress                                            Senate

Buck, Kenneth R (R-CO) $1000 Bennet, Michael F (D-CO) $5000
Carroll, Morgan (D-CO) $400 Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-NY) $1000
Cohen, Steve (D-TN) $3000 Harris, Kamala D (D-CA) $1000
Crist, Charlie (D-FL) $1000 Heck, Joe (R-NV) $1000
DeGette, Diana (D-CO) $1,000 McGinty, Katie (D-PA) $2500
Gallego, Ruben (D-AZ) $1,000 Paul, Rand (R-KY) $5000
Grijalva, Raul M (D-AZ) $1,000 Van Hollen, Chris (D-MD) $1000
Heck, Dennis (D-WA) $1,000 Wyden, Ron (D-OR) $6000
Huffman, Jared (D-CA) $1,000
Lee, Barbara (D-CA) $1,000
Lieu, Ted (D-CA) $1,000
McClintock, Tom (R-CA) $3,350
McDermott, Jim (D-WA) $1,000
Murphy, Pat (D-IA) $5,000
Perlmutter, Ed (D-CO) $2,000
Rohrabacher, Dana (R-CA) $5,000
Rosen, Jacky (D-NV) $1,000
Schwartz, Gail (D-CO) $1,000
Sinema, Kyrsten (D-AZ) $1,500
Smigiel, Mike (R-MD) $500
Swalwell, Eric (D-CA) $1,000
Titus, Dina (D-NV) $1,500

Lest you think the Aceview Group is the only player in the investment community let me cite the investment web site, Seeking Alpha.

The cannabis industry has been very event driven ever since legalization began at the start of 2014 in Colorado. The article, “The State Of Marijuana Stocks And What To Look For In 2018,” highlights how industry events have helped shape the market for cannabis stocks. Typically, where we’ve seen political events trigger moves for marijuana stocks, it was industry events that took on the spotlight this year. Beer, wine, and spirits giant Constellation Brands (STZ) made a minority investment into Canadian-based Canopy Growth (OTCPK:TWMJF), which not only triggered a move for the market in general but also more so for Canadian issuers specifically.
Second, and most recently, the first NYSE listed marijuana ETF went live during Christmas week on December 26th. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSEARCA:MJX), which was previously an ETF targeting Latin American real estate, currently invests in 30 different national and international companies involved in the space.
This includes companies that have a hand more closely tied to the plant and others that are more “pick and shovel” style companies. The majority of its holdings are in 12 companies right now with over 60% of these stocks being Canadian listed (and dually listed in the US with the five letter symbol ending in “F”)

So far the pot industry has yet to produce any company tantamount to RJ. Reynolds, Lorillard Tobacco or American Tobacco and it probably never will. Tobacco was grown by dirty, shirtless, men in bib overalls who labored in the hot sun. Legal marijuana is raised in a controlled environment by sissies in white lab coats. The pot industry aims for mass consumption but controlled production, production that is a tightly regulated in which revenues are tracked and accounted for. Kudos to CNBC who cut through the states right and free market sloganeering and delivered a balanced perspective on the business aspect of “big pot”.
In an interview that is not in the library Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Melissa Lee shot down the notion that in order to reap the supposed benefit of medical marijuana large quantities of weed must be grown. They noted that already there exists a huge array of synthetic cannabinoids that can be produced in a lab, negating the argument that Jeff Sessions poses a national health risk.

Kevin Sabet, is a  professor of psychiatry, a former member of the Obama Administration and a contributor to the Huffington Post. He makes clear in this interview that those who should fear Jeff Sessions the most is the investor class.It fair to say his views are close to my own.

Don’t blame Jeff Sessions for enforcing the law.

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