Originally published July 13, 2015. Original text below:
"The legalization of cannabis is way bigger subject than just I can carry cannabis and not go to jail," says Kyle Kushman, an expert medical marijuana cultivator and owner of Pure Life Veganix nutrients. "It's about changing the future of the world."
Marijuana may have a way to go before changing the world, but sales of legal cannabis are beginning to change the face of business.
No longer is hemp just for hippies—blue chip investors are now putting their money behind legal weed. Since recreational sales began in Colorado and Washington last year, the number of publicly traded cannabis companies has grown from 13 to 300—and sales of legal marijuana reached $2.7 billion dollars last year.
Greg Levy, who runs food packaging company Point Five Packaging hopes that his business can capitalize on the new earning opportunities from legal marijuana. "The two people that get rich in a gold rush are the miners and the people that sell axes," says Levy. "Our packaging comes in the form of axes."
Entrepreneurs aren't the only ones waking up to pot's profit potential—even politicians see big opportunity in promoting legal weed. Sen. Rand Paul became the first presidential candidate to raise money from the cannabis industry when he held a private fundraiser for summit attendees.
"Four years ago you had to chase down the presidential candidates and really nag them to talk about marijuana," says Mason Tvert, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "Now we're seeing all of the candidates being asked about it all the time and being open about. It's hard to ignore at this point. You have business owners. You've got employees. You got a base of tax revenue. You really have to start treating this like any other legal industry."
Reason TV traveled to Denver, Colorado, for the National Cannabis Industry Association's second annual Cannabis Business Summit to find out how legalization is driving innovation and growth in the thriving—and legal—marijuana economy.
Produced by Alexis Garcia and Alex Manning. Music by MK2. Additional b-roll footage from the Drug Policy Alliance.
Approximately 4 minutes 30 seconds.