For one hedge fund, last year was one immense high driven.
Tribeca Investment Partners, a boutique fund manager based, confusingly, in Sydney, Australia, rather than New York, used bets on marijuana companies to help generate a 145% return over the year, the best of over 10,000 funds tracked by data provider Preqin.
According to Bloomberg, 22 percentage points of that, or nearly $20 million of its investment gains in 2016, was due to gains in marijuana stocks, such as Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth. The shares of the medical marijuana producers more than tripled last year.
The ability to make (legal) money out of pot has expanded exponentially in the U.S. as eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of the drug. In addition, over half of the union's 50 states have approved it for medical use.
Bloomberg cited portfolio manager Ben Cleary, who runs the fund together with Craig Evans, as saying he expects the market to grow to $20 billion a year within five years, from just under $7 billion least year.
Last year was a good year for a large part of the fund's universe: Industrial commodity stocks in particular roared back from a cyclical low after paring excess capacity.
But Tribeca, which offers its service to "those who actively seek innovation beyond the mainstream," has a more esoteric investment approach. Besides cannabis, one of its biggest gains came from a constrained market for, of all things, salmon. Demand for the fish has been booming as China starts to develop a taste for it.