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Cannabis is the fastest growing industry in the US, but California’s potential lagged

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez |

According to a new report from Bay Area-based investor network ArcView Market Research, the legal cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry in the United States. Marijuana in America grew 74 percent in 2014, ArcView found, from $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion.

And although the report has been doing the rounds on the net since Monday, a tidbit caught our eye here SF Evergreen: The growth of the cannabis industry in California has been stunted.

“California’s regulatory structure continues to limit market potential,” the report authors wrote.

Limited market potential, however, is a relative term. Despite this handicap, the Golden State was still raking in gold winnings. Medical cannabis sales in California still accounted for half of all marijuana sales in the country: $1.2 billion in 2014.

This easily surpasses the fully legalized states of Colorado and Washington, but if all goes according to plan next year, California could see recreational legalization too.

The cannabis industry is at a crossroads in California. The state nurseries and pharmacies still operate in a legal gray area, with no government bureaucracy in charge of this billion-dollar baby. Multiple attempts to regulate the industry by Councilman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) failed during his six years in Sacramento. This year, other lawmakers will try again. There’s political will somewhere: A frontrunner for the governor, former San Francisco mayor Lt. gov. Gavin Newsom, is a proponent of legal marijuana.

“These are exciting times, and new millionaires and potentially billionaires are about to be created,” ArcView Group CEO Troy Dayton wrote in the report.

“At the same time,” he said, “society will become safer and freer.”

ArcView report, The State of Legal Marijuana Markets 3rd Edition, predicts a major push for recreational legalization in California in 2016. Advocacy groups such as The Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance are expected to lead the way.

This would mean big green dollar signs in the Golden State.

Medical cannabis sales in California account for nearly half of legal marijuana sales in the US.

Medical cannabis sales in California account for nearly half of legal marijuana sales in the US.

“Should an adult-use legalization initiative succeed in California in 2016,” the report authors wrote, “the entire industry could quickly double in size.”

The report summary is part of a more in-depth $500 report available to the public. The release comes on the heels of ArcView’s two-day investor conference in San Francisco, at the Fairmont Hotel.

And just Monday, Tesla and Uber financiers Tao Capital Partners announced investments in marijuana tech company MJ Freeway, according to local cannabis blog Smell the Truth. MJ Freeway aims to track seeds as they mature into plants, a massive electronic product tracking system.

“As evidenced by MJ Freeway’s consistent revenue growth and widespread adoption, the company is clearly leading the market in the development and implementation of legal cannabis business solutions,” said Joby Pritzker, Managing Director of Investments for Tao Capital Partners, in a statement.

The investment may be one of the many early signs of the fusion of the tech boom with the cannabis boom. And in California, the merger of the state’s two fastest-growing industries could only mean more of the green stuff (cash and kush) for everyone involved.

Uber diesel, anyone?

[h/t ArcView Market Research]

Medical marijuana sales in California last year totaled $1.2 billion.

Medical marijuana sales in California last year totaled $1.2 billion.

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