The Blog

A Change Is Gonna Come

Do you know how much the worldwide trade in marijuana is worth?

In any mature market for fast moving consumer goods, the players are experts that, over the years, have honed their game to sharp elbowed perfection. Every pound is fought over and to increase one's share of it is very difficult to do.

The last thing that came out of the blue and was fought over afresh was the information technology sector.

Youths with bad haircuts and pocket protectors for their pens, came up with ideas that looked ridiculous to financiers. Flash forward ten years and the reliable old school, stiff collar industries are beginning to look shaky, while the new boys are working in offices with slides between the floors and sitting on piles of money that are so huge, they don't quite know what to do with them.

Banks do not do well when asked to envisage and imagine. They are great at balance sheets and certitudes, so some teenager coming to them and asking for money to fund a thing that allows kids to chat to each other by typing must have bewildered them. So they said: "No", and then they regretted that decision as Decca regretted not signing the Beatles.

Other than IT, it is hard to think of a completely fresh and virginal market emerging in living memory. Everything that is worth a lot of money has been traded to death and all that is left is for hugely expensive advertising to persuade people to switch brands, while the vultures pick over the bones.

There is one market that is completely different, however. One that already exists but has no major players in it at all. A market with enormous demand that is worth giant mountains of money and that is ripe for the picking, and that is the market for marijuana.

Do you know how much the worldwide trade in marijuana is worth? It is about two hundred billion dollars every year. That is, a "2" followed by eleven zeros. It looks like this: $200,000,000,000. I thought that I would introduce the number to you rather than just write it out, as I would not have any idea how to say it, so I assumed it would fox you too.

Bankers know how to pronounce it though.

Can you imagine how excited they would become if they could get in on financing a product with an enormous existing demand but without any of the economies of scale, distribution, retail and allied services and products that mark out anything else that generates so much money?

Whoever gets in quick and establishes a brand or product that captures the public's imagination will be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

The market for legal marijuana is a shining pot (!) of gold that is waiting for someone to come and take it.

Already some smart people are setting the foundations of their future fortunes. A far sighted man in America has persuaded Bob Marley's estate to allow him to use the man's name to sell the stuff.

Dope smokers in the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Colorado and Washington DC can now do so legally. When California joins them, the amount of money that will be begging to be taken will sky rocket and the banks will start to get itchy.

They will think: if only there was a change in the law on a national level we could get in while the business is being run by red-eyed hippies and bearded, muesli eating tree huggers.

They will start to mention these ideas to the people in their pay - the politicians.

When States like Arizona see how much tax money is pouring into the coffers of their dope selling neighbour States, then the floodgates in America will finally open and the clamour from Wall Street to be allowed to join the party will become deafening. And when the banks in America are earning so much new and previously untapped money, banks in this country will want to be doing the same.

The politicians' minds will be changed for them by the industry that generously offers them retirement incomes in non-jobs as directors or advisors.

A change is going to come. It will blow in from EC1.