Gambling on Marijuana Legalization: Bet On Pot or Stocks?

How to squeeze green from green?
The beginning of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado -- and the possibility of the same in California -- has left one question on some peoples' minds.

Just how do I make money off of all this?

A fair question, and one that's not immediately easy to answer. Sure, you could go the old-school route -- grow weed and then sell it at gouge-worthy prices. But this being a legal marketplace operating under the auspices of 21st-century capitalism, slanging bags is neither the lone nor best option.

You could also day-trade. Some cannabis stocks gained as much as 80 percent yesterday.

But beware: others have tried this and lost their hemp shirts.

Top-shelf recreational cannabis is currently going for $400 an ounce in Colorado, according to NBC News. And that's not including tax.

That's expensive. But just how expensive? You couldn't spend that much on an ounce today in San Francisco if you tried, with the priciest medical-grade marijuana going for $60 an eighth or $360 an ounce.

Profiteering appeared to be abundant: On the day adult sales were allowed Jan. 1, some shops -- which were medical-only, for Colorado residents only -- jacked up the price of an eighth by almost 300 percent for the out-of-staters' convenience.

There was also talk of increased prices in order to preserve a limited supply. The supply did not run out.

But as any student of Keynes or Marx knows, the way to make money in America today isn't with goods or services -- it's with money. So let's take a peek at the markets.

Some stocks associated with marijuana made big gains on Thursday, Marijuana Business Daily (yes, there is such a thing) reported. However, when your stock is an unlisted stock -- and a penny stock at that -- any gain is a big gain.

There's at least one robust cannabis-associated unlisted stock: marijuana vending-machine producer MedBox, Inc. MedBox's tale is one of opportunity and risk -- but mostly risk, and warning.

After trading at under $3 a share, MedBox's value shot up to $200 a share in the days after voters approved legal marijuana in November 2012 -- before crashing back down to the $20-$25 range, where it was for most of the year before slipping to the teens.

On Thursday, however, MedBox stock doubled again, to $29 a share before settling just under $25.

Which is to say: you could have doubled your money in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, we have never seen an actual MedBox product in operation anywhere (while we have seen an awful lot of weed).

Place your bets accordingly.

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