I hear PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has found a novel way to invest his money?
Yes, you could say that. His venture capital business, Founders Fund, has become the first institutional investor in Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based company that owns marijuana-related businesses.
Marijuana! That’s illegal isn’t it?
Not quite. The drug is now legal for recreational use in four US states – including Colorado – as well as the District of Columbia, although it is more widely available for medical use in other parts of the country.
How much has Founders Fund invested?
We don’t actually know, although Founder’s Fund, which has about $2 billion (£1.3bn) under its management and has backed tech start-up companies like Facebook and Spotify in the past, believes the cannabis industry could be worth “hundreds of billions of dollars” globally.
Yes. Partner Geoff Lewis said: “We are comfortable making investments that look weird to people, such as SpaceX. Our view is that the American public widely support the legalisation of cannabis and we have no reasons to believe that our LP base has a different view of the world than the general public.”
What about Privateer?
Well, it believes that by the time of the next US election in 2016, “six more states will approve marijuana recreational use”. It added: “With this investment they are signalling that they, like us, believe that the end of prohibition and the social harms it causes is inevitable.”