Marijuana Entrepreneurs Should Follow Joseph P. Kennedy's Example


"Maybe someday a future U.S. president will owe his or her backing to the marijuana industry," writes Thomas Maier, author of When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys, in a recent Newsday op-ed.  

Maier offers the teetotaling patriarch of the Kennedy dynasty as the model for today's would-be billionaire pot investors. Kennedy laid the foundation for his family's fortune with a combination of investing in British liquor imports and securing the exclusive rights to sell said products in New England. Kennedy owed much of his success in securing these deals to his close relationship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt (for whom he would later serve as Ambassador to England) and other Democratic Party bigwigs.

Donkeys and elephants are passe.
Flickr/Cannabis Culture

Though Maier stretches the point a bit by comparing Kennedy's spot in the inner circle of a presidency to "today's pot entrepreneurs, who often hire expensive lobbyists and publicity experts, or contribute to pro-marijuana candidates," he draws a number of parallels between the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933 and the slow and steady legalization of marijuana in the United States today:

Kennedy began by offering alcohol for medical reasons, just like today's pot entrepreneurs in states such as Colorado where medical marijuana was first sold before it was approved for recreational use. Though he didn't drink, Kennedy made sure in 1929 to get a "Prohibition Service" permit to transport liquor legally for personal use—roughly four cases (12 gallons) of sherry—and became part of a widening circle of distributors who provided alcohol to customers for solely "medicinal purposes."

With legalization comes competition, and Maier also notes that it was vital to Kennedy's economic success to not only be among the first to legally sell booze post-Prohibition, but that his company import only the high-end hooch, separating their product from their competitors in the marketplace:

Like today's marijuana entrepreneurs looking for farms and warehouses to grow their carefully cultivated weed, Kennedy sought a guaranteed supply of top-grade alcohol. Because many U.S. distilleries had closed because of Prohibition, he orchestrated a deal to import British whiskey, gin and other liquor to America.

It may be a while before a presidential election, or even a congressional election, is tipped by the financial influence of the marijuana industry, but there can be no doubt that legal marijuana is big business and growing exponentially

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Joe's grandson and a noted drug addict, has crusaded against pot legalization on the grounds that the "mainstreaming" of the drug would harm the mental health of the nation's youth and lead to the creation of "Big Marijuana." What must he think about the prospect of a political dynasty founded on pot profits?

For more on the creation of Joesph P. Kennedy's post-Prohibition fortune, watch this Reason TV interview with biographer David Nasaw:

NEXT: Former Obama Adviser Admits Gruber Was Behind Obamacare, IRS Wants to Tax British Mayor, KKK and Anonymous Face Off Over Ferguson: P.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Way to spoil the final season of Boardwalk Empire.

  2. my roomate’s mother-in-law makes $66 /hr on the computer . She has been without work for 8 months but last month her paycheck was $21762 just working on the computer for a few hours. take a look at the site here….


  3. Leave the poor woman to drown and sneak back to…oh wait, wrong Kennedy.

  4. Create a sprawling family of increasingly inbred and imbecilic offspring who believe that they have a dynastic right/responsibility to infiltrate the upper echelons of every aspect of American life so they can rule the unwashed masses?

    1. And get appointed ambassador to the Court of St. James!

      1. Which is a position you will never get appointed to. The Kennedys, however they piss people off, will live on in the media of all kinds, while those unwashed masses will disappear into the dustbins of obscurity. All the Kennedys did was seize opportunities and take initiatives while all those unwashed masses did nothing except work for them.

        1. Sevo will never be a crony living a decadent, gluttonous lifestyle paid for by money extorted from peaceful people under threat of deadly force?

          Oh no, the horror!

          1. I take it you don’t like the Kennedy Family? Ha! You must be a Marxist. Ha!

            1. I don’t like anybody.

              Especially, you.

              1. Heroic Asshole

                That’s good. Just think. People can make enemies on the internet with people they have never seen and never met. Isn’t that fucking wonderful. Why don’t we call it CYBERHATE. Ha! Nice posting with you, you fucking moron.

  5. Fuck that. Marijuana entrepreneurs should stick to trying to be decent, honest competitors.

    1. That implies that they haven’t already sold out. Given that many of the current medical dispensaries in CA actively campaigned against legalization when it was on the ballot (for fear it would cut into their market share), I would say such an assumption is erroneous.

      1. If I’m not wrong, the legalization was defeated in Humboldt County, too.

        1. Bootleggers and Baptists all around.

  6. it was vital to Kennedy’s economic success to not only be among the first to legally sell booze post-Prohibition, but that his company import only the high-end hooch, separating their product from their competitors in the marketplace

    Well, not exactly. It was vital to Kennedy’s economic success that he used political pull to secure exclusive distribution rights to that high end hooch.

    Why anyone would discuss this guy as anything but an inveterate scumbag is beyond me. On a personal level, he flaunted cheating on his wife in her face (going so far as to bring his mistress home to Sunday dinner) and had his daughter lobotomized for backtalking him. On a public level, he was a crony who used political connections to enrich himself. On a political level he was a Nazi sympathizer.

    Just a horrible, horrible excuse for a human being.

    1. Oh, and I forgot to mention, he made his initial fortune getting paid by local businesses to get the Irish laborers to blow their paychecks at his wife’s family’s bar to keep them more tractable.

      1. Was Patrick lobotomized too,or,is he really that stupid?

          1. Both? Seems right.

        1. Birth was Patrick’s lobotomy.

    2. He (under another name) was played by John Glover in the TV serial Smallville.

      1. Lionel Luthor is an allegory for Joe Kennedy? So who is Lex then? Bobby? John? How about somebody not shot in the head?

  7. so be a crony capitalist?

    1. Kennedy owed much of his success in securing these deals to his close relationship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt

      Sure sounds that way to me, crony scum.

      1. And the whole family has lived of the fruits of his cronyism since.

        1. Seems to be the recipe for success these days. Get into government, jump on the crony merry go round, steal from the taxpayers, live like royalty.

  8. Somebody needs to point out to Mr. Kenndy that Bug Marijuana already exists, it just does so on the black market. Maybe it wouldn’t be easier to get at Big Marijuana to leagalize pot, but we sure haven’t put a dent in them as matters stand.

    1. Black markets do not exist in their world.Laws are magic,blow back is a fallacy,’broken windows’ works.

  9. I remember reading a childrens’ book about the Kennedys where JFK was a loving patriarch caring for his kids.

    And I wasn’t even Catholic at the time, I was just succumbing to the mythmaking machine.

    So the more I learn about the Kennedy’s *actual* behavior, the more I’m inclined to say, “look, just keep your money and leave the rest of us alone, you bunch of preverts.”

    1. Would that all they were was perverts.

      1. What’s a pervert. Just because some people like to fuck a lot, and are able to do so, does not make them perverts. The truth of the matter is that the Kennedy men liked to fuck a lot, and lots of women wanted to get fucked by them. In their world, fucking is all about money and power anyway. But perverts are in another class all together.

        1. If you’re parading your mistress around in front of your wife at Sunday dinner, you’re a pervert.

  10. One little fact seems to be missing: a portion of the Kennedy fortune came from rum running. Too bad that little fact was overlooked, it does sort of put a different spin on this all.

    1. If you can provide any hard evidence of Kennedy bootlegging during Prohibition, you’d be the first, and I’d love to see it.

      1. Can you provide evidence that he did not? Rich people probably don’t leave such evidence around anyway.

      2. Can you provide any evidence of Al Capone bootlegging during Prohibition? If so, you’d be the first.

  11. my roomate’s step-mother makes $70 hourly on the internet . She has been out of work for 10 months but last month her pay was $19227 just working on the internet for a few hours. original site…..


Please to post comments

Comments are closed.