Californians Already Making Plans To Capitalize On Marijuana Legalization

There is no guarantee California will vote to legalize recreational marijuana in November, but political operative and father of four Daniel Conway has already staked his future on it.

Conway left his job as chief of staff to Sacramento’s celebrity mayor, former Phoenix Suns NBA basketball star Kevin Johnson, to help start the marijuana investment company Truth Enterprises.

He is one of hundreds in the most populous U.S. state already pushing ahead with plans to enter a market experts say will be worth $4 billion by 2020.

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“I’m someone of an age and of a demographic that sees the legalization and normalization of marijuana as inevitable,” said Conway, 35. “This was a chance not just to build companies but to build an industry.”

With a population of nearly 40 million people, and a thriving medical marijuana trade legalized 20 years ago, 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.

If voters in November approve a measure to legalize and tax marijuana that qualified last Tuesday for the ballot, California would be the fifth U.S. state – and by far the largest – to allow marijuana for recreational use, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, as well as the District of Columbia.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Dave Warden, a bud tender at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, displays various types of marijuana available to patients on October 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new guidelines today for federal prosecutors in states where the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is allowed under state law. Federal prosecutors will no longer trump the state with raids on the southern California dispensaries as they had been doing, but Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley recently began a crackdown campaign that will include raids against the facilities. Cooley maintains that virtually all marijuana dispensaries are in violation of the law because they profit from their product. The city of LA has been slow to come to agreement on how to regulate its 800 to 1,000 dispensaries. Californians voted to allow sick people with referrals from doctors to consume cannabis with the passage of state ballot Proposition 215 in 1996 and a total of 14 states now allow the medicinal use of marijuana. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

A similar ballot initiative failed in California in 2010, but recent polls show strong support for legalization. The latest effort is backed by mainstream leaders including Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who helped negotiate the regulations and taxes it would impose.

Eight other states, including Nevada and Maine, also have recreational or medical marijuana proposals headed for their 2016 ballots. California’s sheer size as the world’s 6th largest economy means a decision by its voters to legalize marijuana could accelerate the trend elsewhere.

“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, whose Nevada-based private equity firm, Electrum Partners, advises and invests in marijuana-related businesses.

The lure of wealth in an uncharted industry is so great that thousands of people are jostling for position, said Bocskor.

Since January, 115 new California companies have joined the National Cannabis Industry Association, bringing total membership in the state to 330, said Deputy Director Taylor West.

New companies include cultivators, dispensaries, laboratories, law partnerships, accountants, software developers, insurers and more, she said.


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Daniel Enisan is a content writer at With a degree in mass communication, Daniel is a full breed journalist. Daniel is a realist, loves the use of sarcasm, a movie and music junkie. He is also a poet and a good listener.

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