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Leonid Bershidsky

Big Tobacco's Future: Big Pot

As marijuana gradually becomes a legal drug, Big Tobacco is preparing to dominate the market.
The virtues of vice.

The virtues of vice.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You may like technology (who doesn't these days) or the energy sector (where would we be without it) -- but if you're making a long-term bet as an investor, there's a lot going for Big Tobacco. It's not just that tobacco boasts the best historical performance of all U.S. industries. The industry's future seems especially bright. As marijuana gradually becomes a legal drug, Big Tobacco is poised to dominate the market.

According to the 2015 edition of Credit Suisse's Global Investment Returns Yearbook (I thank my Bloomberg View colleague Justin Fox for bringing it to my attention), a dollar invested in tobacco in 1900 would have turned into $6.3 million by the end of 2014, by far the best performance of all the industries that existed at the start of the 20th century: