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Venture Capital Eyes Legal Cannabis Sector—Warily

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It is certainly a sign of the times that a partnership of major California media—led by Bay Area News Group, owner of the San Jose Mercury News—has launched a website entitled The Cannifornian, dedicated to reporting on the fast-growing cannabis sector in post-legalization California.

An April 25 offering, “Venture capital investors betting big on cannabis,” notes that financial consultancy firm New Frontier Data is predicting that nationwide legal cannabis sales will balloon to more than $24 billion by 2025.

“It’s a completely untapped market with huge opportunity,” said Tusk Ventures founder and CEO Bradley Tusk, an investor in San Francisco-based cannabis delivery service Eaze.

But the report admits venture capitalists are “keeping one eye on President Donald Trump’s administration, watching for signs of a federal crackdown that could derail the burgeoning industry.”

The Santa Barbara Independent meanwhile reports on the Institutional Capital and Cannabis Conference held in late March at the Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose’s Silicon Valley. The ICCC event was jointly organized by New York-based Information Management Network and MedMen Capital of Los Angeles, named as “one of the leading investment companies in the cannabis space.” The New Cannabis Ventures website notes various cannabis-sector start-ups plugged at the confab.

An April 20 (note symbolic date, 4-20) report on CNBC, however, warns that the U.S. is falling behind Canada where investment in the cannabis sector is concerned.

Right now, Canada boasts the world’s second largest cannabis market, at $500 million. But once Canada’s new national legalization law takes effect, those numbers are estimated to increase to $618 million in 2018 and $22 billion in 2020. As CNBC writes: “This means a country with one-tenth our population, that ranks 10th in GDP, will own an equal market share to the U.S., where California alone is the world’s sixth largest economy.”

While the report predicts that President Trump “will leave marijuana as a states’ rights issue,” it’s hard to believe that the intolerant noises being emitted from the White House are not bottlenecking investment.

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