LEGALIZED POT: Our Exclusive Look Inside America's Emerging Marijuana Industry

In Denver, Colorado, something is happening that has not occurred on U.S. soil for decades.

A hot commodity that many people love is completing the transition from a black market to a medicalized market to a fully legal market, something unseen in the United States since the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.

40-two per cent of Americans have used it. Prominent doctors are enthusiastically endorsing it. The substance is not chemically addictive and has demonstrated medical uses.

Plus, smoking it is considered quite fun by enthusiasts.

We’re talking of course about Cannabis.

Media coverage of the marijuana business and legalization effort has relied on lame puns, tired jokes, or totally modern references to a 1936 film about marijuana. Stories are typically accompanied by a picture of a person smoking the largest joint you’ve ever seen.

But let’s get down to brass tacks.

In Colorado, the market for direct sales of cannabis is estimated to be approximately $US600 million in the first year of legalization.

That doesn’t factor in the booming sector of business services — security, software, capital investment, advertising — working on the sidelines and catering to the people directly involved in selling marijuana.

In essence, the levity that tinges the coverage of marijuana makes people forget that this is a huge market. Colorado anticipates a $US130.1 million increases to state revenue because of marijuana legalization, which is nothing to smirk at.

I flew out to Colorado a few weeks ago to see what it’s like to build an industry from the ground up.

I talked to the the entrepreneurs who are defining what a well-regulated legal marijuana market can achieve.

I talked to the activists and lobbyists who were there every step of the way to legalization.

I spoke with startups and established brands, with businesses that have attracted the attention of Wall Street as well as those that handle marijuana on a daily basis.

To see an emerging market up close and in action, you no longer have to fly to a BRIC country. All you really need is a ticket to Denver.

Over the next several days, we’ll take you on tours of the facilities growing and selling marijuana. We’ll show you how state-of-the-art scientific techniques are being used to analyse the marijuana on the market on a scientific level.

Heady glass colorado denver blowing Walter Hickey / BIWater pipe production at Heady Glass

We’ll have interviews with entrepreneurs who are making marijuana possible, like Canna Security, the security company that make the industry safe, or Weedmaps, the internet startup that plans to be the ESPN of pot.

We’ll also look back and see how marijuana became legal in Colorado — a shining example of involved democracy that should make you proud to be an American — and were the people working on it see marijuana coming next.

I spoke to attorneys who left cushy corporate jobs to become the legal resource that an industry in this growth phase desperately needs, and agriculture specialists who view growing the best marijuana on the market as their next big goal.

We’ll also look into some of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs in the Colorado marijuana industry — production issues, banking restrictions, how exactly people who sell marijuana for a living pay taxes.

We’ll also talk about the marijuana that the entrepreneurs smoke, how they name it, and how to get a job in the business.

We’ll also talk about the heartbreaking stories of marijuana patients, and the generous philanthropy the kings of Denver marijuana organise.

What’s happening in Denver is something very special, something that we’re not going to see again in a long time.

Entrepreneurs built an industry from nothing, dragging it from illegitimacy to the point that it’s easier to buy cannabis than Sudafed.

What comes next after legalization is something this country hasn’t seen in generations. Colorado, for the first time in 150 years, is about to have a gold rush. Let’s see how they’re preparing for it.

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