Investors And Marketers Get Ready As More States Legalize Cannabis

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On election night voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine legalized recreational marijuana. Ballot measures passed; making marijuana legal for medical purposes in: Florida, Arkansas, Montana and North Dakota. Arizona was the only one to say no to recreational pot. Approximately 60 percent of Americans currently reside in a state in which marijuana is or will soon be legal in one form or another. The marijuana industry is projected to grow at alarming rates considering the use of pot is becoming normal and ma possibly achieve world-wide legalization.
According to Brendan Kennedy, CEO of the marijuana-focused private equity firm Privateer Holdings “Support for legal cannabis was one of the few mandates voters in both red and blue states delivered” Nov. 8th. Following the passage of the eight ballot measures; Kennedy said there is a major increase in interest from investors “who recognize that the end of cannabis prohibition is inevitable.” The market for weed has some attractive qualities that lure investors as well as risk factors. It all boils down to the numbers: The legal cannabis market is valued at approximately $7 billion according to New Frontier and ArcView Market Research.
As per Kennedy, that is nothing compared to the approximate $50 billion (mainly illegal) U.S. market. Legitimate investors and businesses could generate billions of dollars as more states approve legalization. Many obstacles are still present. Although polls reflect approximately 60 percent of Americans are currently in favor of cannabis legalization; it continues to be illegal under federal law which classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug in the same class as heroin or LSD under the Controlled Substances Act. Because of this, the cannabis industry is largely barred from using the banking system.
These issues do not appear to be of concern to the growing numbers of marijuana entrepreneurs. Olivia Mannix, co-founder of the Denver-based marijuana marketing firm Cannabrand, says the “phone has been ringing off the hook” with calls from possible customers since the ballot measures passed.
Mannix said she plans to quadruple her staff during the first quarter of 2017. “I’m not only hiring more employees, but strategic leadership level positions, a strategic adviser for quick growth,” she said.
Meanwhile in Colorado; where recreational weed has been legal since 2014, there is consolidation, mergers and acquisitions taking place among operators. The magnitude at which the cannabis industry is growing has made it more corporate and professional.
There is a huge amount of product beyond the scope of smokable marijuana. Edibles, capsules, gels, lip balm, even THC-infused “personal lubricants.” There are products aimed to relieve sore joints, products to treat chronic diseases as well as edibles made specifically for vegans. Melissa Etheridge (a singer) currently revealed plans to make marijuana products for medical patients in California. “I’m right in the process of branding,” she told Billboard.
Professionals are becoming more willing and eager to help as the industry gains legitimacy and popularity.
“The support around the industry is growing,” according to Adam Bierman, CEO of MedMen, an investment firm for the legal marijuana business. “Accounting firms, legal firms. All the different professional services that because of the position we were in a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, with the stigma around the industry, those people wouldn’t work for us.” Now they do, he adds.
Bierman said the financial backing coming into legal cannabis came from wealthy individuals or companies that manage assets for wealthy families. Discreet, quiet money as opposed to Wall Street or institutional investors like mutual funds although he predicts that will change. “I think we’ll see it in 2017,” Bierman says.

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