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Pot Pushback Goes Up in Smoke: $20 Billion Economy Awaits Marijuana Legalization

Daily Ticker

Approval ratings for marijuana are jumping. For the first time, a clear majority of Americans (58%) support legalizing pot, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Related: “Marijuana Is a Vegetable” and Belongs in the Farmers’ Market: Pot VC

While it’s easy to joke about marijuana, it’s serious business. Annual marijuana sales (including illegal sales) add up to about $20 billion, according to Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron. Commercial medical marijuana sales now average around $1.5 billion a year and ancillary businesses surrounding the industry present a growth area that could easily make big money.

Troy Dayton, CEO of The ArcView Group, an advisory firm that connects dispensers and entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry, says the outlook for the secondary marijuana businesses is high. “Everybody from entrepreneurs who are just interested in the sector and want to put $25,000 to $50,000 to work, all the way up to billionaires and venture capital funds are looking to make investments.”

Related: Budding Business: Is Marijuana the Next Big Commodity to Invest In?

Jeff Macke, host of Breakout, argues that medical marijuana is muddying revenue that the government could be making off of the drug. “What the government is doing by allowing medicinal marijuana in a lot of states but only recreational in some is they’re creating bureaucracy where none should exist…Instead of taxing that and putting kids in school or fixing potholes what we’re doing is creating another office and system where people pretend to have a migraine to get pot rather than just legalizing it so they can walk in and pay some taxes on it. This is ludicrous, grow up America.”

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