Growing cannabis industry

by Jody Barhanovich

Cannabis isn’t just growing in the literal sense of the word; it is growing as an industry as well. Cannabis industry research firms predict that if Proposition 64 becomes a law on Election Day, California’s marijuana industry will grow to nearly $6.5 billion by 2020. That has Silicon Valley venture capitalists pouring into cannabis startups. Nationally, the cannabis industry is expected to grow into a $40 billion business by 2020.

American Growth Fund has already launched the first cannabis-focused mutual fund. With more states passing or considering legislation that allows medicalor recreational marijuana use, the firm has decided to revise a mutual fund it launched in 2011 to invest at least 80 percent of its assets in cannabis-related business activities.

Dubbed the California Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the ballot proposition, if approved by voters, is expected to generate new sales tax revenue estimated at $1 billion per year, which will be used to pay for the enforcement of the new law and to fund substance use treatment for youth, environmental restoration, research on implementation and medical marijuana, local governments, and re-entry programs in communities harmed by the war on drugs.

A diverse and somewhat surprising coalition is backing Prop. 64, including California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Medical Association, the California NAACP, the California Democratic Party, and the ACLU of California.

Laws banning medical use of the drug have been overturned in 23 states and Washington, D.C., since 1996, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. State laws in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have been overturned to include the legalized sale and distribution of marijuana for adults 21 and older, though its use is still considered an offense under federal law.

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