By Charles Roques
The first generation of baby boomers was a heady and numerous bunch. After the millions of GIs started returning home from WWII in 1945, there were many new romances, marriages, and soon, children. It spiked an increase in the U.S. birth rate the next year that continued into the second and third generations as the troops gradually demobilized.
That first wave of baby boomers graduated from high school in 1964 and finished college in 1968. Along the way some of them, and the following generations also became the hippies of the late 1960s and 70s seeking a different way to live, away from the wars of their parents, racism or the isolation of the suburbs. Rural self-sufficient communes sprang up as an alternative way to form a new society without the traditional rules and taboos. Members shared lovers, food and chores, while children even shared parents. Members renounced materialism. All was for the common good.
Unfortunately, like all utopias, they didn’t succeed. Eventually the communes revealed their underbellies. “Free love” as a notion seems lofty until you replace the words with more down-to-earth synonyms like polygamy or “swinging” which gives it a more sordid quality. Free love turned out to be awkward for some people who had a difficult time reconciling sharing their loved ones, and their belongings. Disenchanted, soon many left to rejoin society.
Some like the famous Hog Farm continued on in benign counter-culture celebration but others devolved into cults, where somehow all the shared possessions ended up in the coffers or the beds of cult leaders.
Cannabis, along with other mind-bending substances, was a large part of the hippie culture, and perhaps unique in that the cannabis use was generation-wide. There were ideals and notions that were associated with that lifestyle and with the cannabis that was consumed. People who used it were more peaceful than the traditional alcohol consumers of their parents’ era. This is one sector that may have more inherent idealism attached to the product than other sectors because of the culture that evolved with it and its connection to that generation, but some of that might be only nostalgia.
Nostalgia was first coined by a 17th-century Swiss medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. It was described as a medical condition—a form of melancholy. Not all diagnoses were based in sound science though. Some military physicians hypothesized that the malady was due to damage to the victims’ brain cells and ear drums by the constant clanging of cowbells in the pastures of Switzerland.
Cannabis may be associated with the peace-and-love lifestyle of the late 1960s, but that is not sound reasoning for investing or holding on to shares in a company, whether you lived it or read about it. It might be better to look back and remember the underside of that lifestyle when considering investing in the cannabis sector.
Holding on to stocks based on hopes and expectations is not rare in the investing world, cannabis or otherwise, and not exclusive to beginners. You can sometimes invest or hold onto shares for emotional reasons based on your perceptions of the company’s progress, but you don’t want your gut feelings propelled for the wrong reasons. If you hold on too long you will lose your sentimentality along with your money. This could be a wonder plant, but it won’t improve your financial health on its own. Companies have to do more than make promises about the potential of the plant. They have to create real products and manage their companies.
Don’t allow nostalgia to play a role in investing or holding on to a stock that has fallen, while ignoring its financials. If you find information that indicates problems, financial or otherwise, be cautious about investing or holding on, no matter what they say about the future. We can remember when the price made us feel good. Cutting the cord can be the hardest part. We tend to forget bad memories and hold on to good memories, like the ideals of the commune, if not the reality.
It can also work both ways. Don’t let negative sentiment keep you from reinvesting if you learn that a company is trying to correct or clean up its problems.
This is a very interesting and promising sector with the potential to develop great products, but investing should be about companies who take care of business, not just promote their ideals or expound on the future of the industry. Evoking nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool. Don’t be sentimental when investing.