Ayn Rand Would Love Legalized Marijuana; These Companies Would, Too

The push to legalize pot is going more mainstream. A commercial from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana is airing during the Democratic National Convention on CNN and MSNBC. That's in support of a Colorado amendment that would legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol. Already 17 states have legalized marijuana for medical uses.

If it were legal, who would benefit? One possibility is tobacco companies, which have long been rumored to be buying Northern California acreage in anticipation.

RAI Chart

RAI data by YCharts

Tobacco stocks like Reynolds American (RAI), Altria (MO) and Lorillard (LO) are facing lawsuits and possibly more marketing restrictions:

RAI Net Income TTM Chart

RAI Net Income TTM data by YCharts

They’re also dealing with a declining U.S. market for cigarettes. Reynolds American's annual filing calls it a "mature market in which overall consumer demand has declined since 1981 and is expected to continue to decline."

RAI Revenue Growth Chart

RAI Revenue Growth data by YCharts

Teens just aren’t smoking cigarettes like they used to -- and if they don't smoke, they don't form the long-term habit. A CDC report out this summer said 19% of high schoolers smoked in 2009 versus 18% in 2011. That's good news for anyone who appreciates public health.

But the study found teens are smoking more weed – use of that rose from 21% to 23%. And that could be good news for tobacco companies if able to sell in a regulated market.

From the editors of YCharts.YCharts Pro Investor Service includes professional stock charts, stock ratings and portfolio strategies.

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