Financial professionals in the U.S., birthplace of the Winchester rifle and Cheech & Chong movies, are far more comfortable with marijuana and gun companies than their peers in Europe and Asia, a Bloomberg Global Poll found.
Almost three-quarters of those surveyed in the U.S. said investing in pot-related companies was acceptable on moral grounds while only half in Europe and 35 percent in Asia were OK with them, according to a quarterly poll of 562 investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers. The percentages were similar for those who found it morally acceptable to invest in gun companies, the survey showed.
In America, social stigmas take a back seat to making money, according to Benjamin Dunn, president of Alpha Theory Advisors in Crested Butte, Colorado, where recreational marijuana use was legalized this year.
- Interactive Graphic: Bloomberg Global Poll
“I don’t think there’s a fund manager alive who wouldn’t invest in something like marijuana unless their investor base said no,” said Dunn, who participated in the poll. “If you can generate alpha in that space, they don’t let perceived morality get in the way.”
Among U.S. respondents, 19 percent said it was unacceptable to invest in marijuana-related companies, compared with 37 percent in Europe and 43 percent in Asia, the poll showed. Only 16 percent of U.S. respondents said it was unacceptable to invest in gun companies, compared with 39 percent in Europe and 45 percent in Asia.
The Bloomberg Global Poll was conducted July 15-16 by Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Americans are changing their minds about pot, as public opinion turns against laws that have banned marijuana since the 1930s.
Recreational use is now legal in Washington and Colorado, and with a July 16 defeat of a proposed amendment in the House of Representatives seeking to prevent marijuana businesses from using the U.S banking system, the time is ripe for investing, said Michael Berger, a Miami-based 25-year-old who left an analyst position at Raymond James Financial Inc. to start Technical420, a research firm for pot stocks.
An index of 17 pot stocks identified by Berger has gained 30 percent from its April low after taking a hit in March when the Securities and Exchange Commission halted trading on several stocks due to suspicious activity. GW Pharmaceuticals PLC (GWPH), which develops cannabis-based prescription medicines for treating cancer and other ailments, has climbed 94 percent to $80.70 this year.
“You only get a few chances in a lifetime to get in from the ground-up level of an industry,” said Berger.