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Marijuana: What A Difference Two Decades Makes

Laura Brodbeck

Since the 1990s, marijuana legalization has been in the headlines, but this year the drug has gained popularity among U.S. voters and led to nearly half of U.S. states allowing cannabis products for medical use and a growing recreational market.

While the marijuana trade is still in its infancy, many investors believe that growing favor among the public is a sure sign that more marijuana legislation is on its way.

Green Revolution

A General Social Survey out this month showed that 52 percent of the 1,687 respondents were in support of marijuana legalization.

The figures reflect a shifting perception among the American public as this year's survey marks the first time the majority of those polled supported of marijuana reform.

In 1990, only 16 percent were in support of legalizing the drug and in 2005 just 33 percent were in support of the industry.

Caught Up In Legislation

For traders eager to jump on board the growing industry, there is a distinct lack of investment options.

Two pharmaceutical companies, Insys Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: INSY) and GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ: GWPH), are currently the only blue chip stocks with any interest in cannabis products.

However, since both companies are simply developing drug treatments including some components of marijuana, they don't provide exposure to the budding recreational market or any of the marijuana products currently sold in the medical market.

Related Link: Colorado's Marijuana Sales Under Fire From All Angles

The main reason that the marijuana industry is lacking a big-names is the conflict between federal and state level legislation regarding the drug.

At the moment, marijuana is still a criminal substance in the federal government's eyes, making companies dealing in cannabis products exposed to changing political tides and unable to perform simple operations like opening a bank account.

What Does It Mean For Investors

The new survey could signal an open door for new legislation. With more and more voters in support of expanding the marijuana industry, it will be difficult for lawmakers to ignore the contradicting state and federal laws much longer.

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