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by Alexander Cain

Headlines focused on legalizing both medicinal and recreational marijuana have been swirling around for the past few years. Small doses of medicinal marijuana have been legalized in some states such as California, however the idea of legal marijuana hasn’t been accepted throughout the country. While the associated health benefits are still being researched, many people are thankful for the chance to be able to use this medication to treat their various medical conditions. Amongst the small amount of states who have legalized medical marijuana, there has been a surge in the amount of entrepenuers looking to tap into this industry.

As reported in SmartMoney, the medicinal marijuana industry is booming. Currently, fifteen states and the District of Columbia allow medicinal marijuana with three states approaching approval by 2011. With 43,000 estimated dispensaries spread throughout the United States, many people are interested in tapping into this market early in the hopes of catching all the profit if marijuana is legalized.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 44 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizalition of the drug, doubling the total percentage from 15 years ago. Popularity of  the drug is soaring and what’s at stake has many venture capitalists and investors interested: $36 billion dollars, the estimated worth of the marijuana illegal industry. Many states are examining the legalization and taxation of marijuana as a way of coping with growing deficits. While the marijuana industry could potentially offer investors great returns, the industry is volatile due to government regulation’s influence.

As part of the decision to allow for medicinal marijuana, all dispensaries are required to file as non-profits instead of for-profit industries. This means dispensaries are facing tougher restrictions on profit-sharing and face greater expectations for community outreach. Many current dispensaries offer community outreach including addiction counseling and offer free weed to the ailing poor. Marijuana is still a very unstable industry and is only one government intervention away from disappearing, but the profit is still there.

Smale Deangelo, owner of a small dispensary in Maine, estimated his earnings as much as $50,000 a day. Many people anxiously wait for marijuana to be legalized. While there doesn’t seem to be any signs of legalization within the next two to three years, there are signs of progress. Marijuana will continue to thrive as part of a sub-economy throughout the United States.  Illegal or not one thing is for certain, someone will continue to profit from this plant.

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