COLORADO: The convention floor at Denver Airport’s Crowne Plaza this sunny Tuesday afternoon in April could be the trade show for any well-established industry — gray-haired execs in conservative suits mingling with office park dads in polos and fresh-out-of-college types in brand-emblazoned T-shirts. Only this is a new kind of business conference with a special Colorado theme: legal weed.
As states and cities follow Colorado’s lead and consider legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, the cannabis market looks less like a music festival and more like a Silicon Valley confab, upscale, data-driven and focused on investors.
Vendors and potential financiers at this month’s Marijuana Investors Summit say the current market for legal marijuana is more than $3 billion in the 23 states that have already legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use. Expanding that market, they say, will require not just drug reform legislation, but also a consistent infusion of capital at a time when the marijuana economy still exists in a legal gray area — one where the drug is permitted in some states, but still outlawed at the federal level.