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Marijuana Legalization Viewed as a Pot of Gold by California Businessmen

Marijuana Legalization Viewed as a Pot of Gold by California Businessmen
Political operative and father of four Daniel Conway has already staked his future on the legalization of recreational marijuana in California even though there is no guarantee that California will vote to legalize it in November.
According to a recent Reuters report, Conway is helping to start the marijuana investment company Truth Enterprises after having left his job as chief of staff to Sacramento's celebrity mayor, former Phoenix Suns NBA basketball star Kevin Johnson.
Conway is just one among hundreds who are already pushing ahead with plans to enter a market experts say will be worth $4 billion by 2020 in the most populous U.S. state.
"I'm someone of an age and of a demographic that sees the legalization and normalization of marijuana as inevitable. This was a chance not just to build companies but to build an industry," said Conway, 35.
California already has the United States' largest legal marijuana market. Legalization of recreational pot would generate an estimated $1 billion in additional taxes per year with a population of nearly 40 million people, and a thriving medical marijuana trade legalized 20 years ago.
Joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, as well as the District of Columbia, California would be the fifth U.S. state - and by far the largest - to allow marijuana for recreational use if voters in November approve a measure to legalize and tax marijuana that qualified last Tuesday for the ballot.
Recent polls show strong support for legalization even though a similar ballot initiative failed in California in 2010. Mainstream leaders including Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who helped negotiate the regulations and taxes it would impose, is backing the latest effort.
Recreational or medical marijuana proposals are headed for 2016 ballots in eight other states including Nevada and Maine. A decision by its voters to legalize marijuana could accelerate the trend elsewhere because of California's sheer size as the world's 6th largest economy.

"I don’t believe there will be any precedent in the United States that can compare to it except for maybe the Gold Rush," said Leslie Bocskor. Electrum Partners – Bocskor’s Nevada-based private equity firm advises and invests in marijuana-related businesses.
Bocskor said that thousands of people are jostling for position as the lure of wealth in an uncharted industry is great.
Deputy Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, Taylor West said that aince January, 115 new California companies have joined the body bringing total membership in the state to 330.
He said that cultivators, dispensaries, laboratories, law partnerships, accountants, software developers, insurers and more are queuing up for memberships.
Setting up of infrastructure for a business that is not yet legal is their challenge. For example, farmland in Northern California has been purchased by Conway and his business partner, General Hydroponics CEO Ross Haley that they hope to use to grow marijuana but would not say where before the measure is passed.
While building a legal business within the state's medical marijuana marketplace, which has annual sales of $2.7 billion, Newport Beach-based Terra Tech is trying to prepare for recreational sales. CEO Derek Peterson said that its Oakland dispensary was renovated to look more like a high-end lounge than a drab medical clinic at a cost of more than $800,000. Instead of dispensing marijuana in prescription bottles, the company has also developed colorful packaging for it.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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