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Investment Opportunities Grow in Marijuana Business

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The marijuana market has expanded from an illegal consumer pastime to one with growing investment opportunities.

According to Pew Research, 52 percent of people say marijuana should be legalized, compared to 12 percent in 1969. Expenses are adding up on petitioning efforts on the state level. Almost $145,000 has been spent on lobbying in Colorado this fiscal year, for example, according to an analysis of data from the secretary of state done by a Colorado newspaper. And according to marijuana industry consensus, it’s estimated that it will cost $10 million in order for California to fully legalize marijuana.

Commercial medical marijuana sales are estimated at $1.5 billion per year but are rapidly growing, according to Medical Marijuana Business Daily. Looking forward, projected sales are $3 billion in 2014 and $6 billion in 2016.

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“If you take the whole industry, not just medical but the entire marijuana market in the U.S., you’re probably looking at $40 billion. Some estimates have it as high as $100 or $120 billion,” said founder and CEO of Weedmaps, Justin Hartfield. “If you compare it to the wine industry, which is maybe $10 or $20 billion, it’s at least that size and probably much larger.”

Washington and Colorado have fully legalized the drug and 18 states plus the District of Columbia have either decriminalized marijuana or approved the use of medical marijuana, according to MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.

Pew Research said both Republicans and Democrats are divided over legalization. Seventy-three percent of liberals favor legalization, and about half of conservative and moderate Democrats agree.

In the investment space, Medbox (MDBX) and Cannabis Science (CBIS) are two publicly traded companies. Several venture capital funds, such as Ghost Group, ArcView Group and Privateer Holdings are looking to invest in the industry.

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