by TONY PUGH – McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — The medical marijuana industry is beginning to show its age.
After humble California beginnings in 1996, 15 states and the District of Columbia now have legalized marijuana use for ill patients who have a doctor’s recommendation.
Medical marijuana has been found to help with chronic pain, nausea and other symptoms of diseases including cancer, muscular dystrophy and AIDS. Nearly 25 million Americans are medically eligible to buy marijuana.
Sales are expected to hit $1.7 billion this year. Just last week, a San Francisco-based outfit, the ArcView Group, formed the industry’s first investment network to link cannabis entrepreneurs to qualified investors with “seed” money.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this industry is growing and that there are untold riches to be made here,” said Troy Dayton, the chief executive of the ArcView Group.
In coming months, Arizona, New Jersey, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia will launch programs, joining eight states where medical marijuana is sold legally. Those states are California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico.
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