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Ina Fried/Axios

With recreational marijuana legal in eight states and medicinal use approved in 20 more, investors are seeing the potential to produce a different kind of green.

Why this matters: The cannabis economy is seen as the fastest growing big business in America, increasing 30 percent last year, to $6.7 billion, according to Arcview Market Research.

Enter Oakland-based Gateway, a startup accelerator that invests in cannabis-related startups with potential for high growth. The accelerator just graduated its second class of startups, which range from those that make their own marijuana edibles to hardware companies focused on developing better plant trimmers and vaporizers, to Field, a software startup looking to match growers with workers who know how to trim marijuana plants, a high-demand and hard-to-find skill.

For its first $2 million fund, Gateway gave companies $30,000 in exchange for a 5 percent stake. A new fund, which has yet to close, will offer $50,000 in exchange for the same 5 percent stake. It also runs a co-working space near Jack London Square in Oakland. Like traditional technology accelerators, Gateway aims to pair founders and mentors, offer business coaching, and help startups go from an idea into a real business.

"Although it is a huge and growing industry, there aren't a lot of the normal resources like there are for traditional tech startups," Gateway co-founder Carter Laren told Axios at its demo day, held Tuesday at the Palo Alto office of law firm Morgan Lewis. There, investors heard brief pitches and had a chance to hear more about the companies, ask questions and, in a couple cases, sample the wares.

One potential investor was particularly intrigued by Somatik, which aims to blend cannabis with coffee, partnering initially with Ritual, a popular San Francisco company, on a cold brew. "Whenever I smoke I always drink a shot of expresso," the investor said into his cell phone just outside the event.

Good Co-op aims to offer edibles with consistent, low doses and a taste that rivals non-enhanced baked goods.Ina Fried/Axios

The downside: In addition to the usual risks with investing in startups, cannabis companies face the added risk that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level nationwide, with the current administration seemingly less inclined to look the other way. For a great look at all the complications, I'd point you to John Oliver's recent Last Week Tonight segment on this topic.

Go deeper

15 mins ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

47 mins ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.

Stuck jet stream brings blowtorch December in Lower 48, frigid Alaska

Short-term climate outlook for Dec. 13-19, 2021, from the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA. (NOAA/CPC)

The Lower 48 states have seen record-shattering warmth so far this December, with temperatures running as high as 35°F above average for this time of year. The warmth has been so pronounced that during the weekend, brush fires broke out in a snowless, unusually mild Denver metro area.

The big picture: The jet stream, which is a river of air that rides at about 30,000 feet along the temperature contrast between air masses, steering storms as it goes, has been stuck in a position well north of the continental U.S., keeping storms and cold weather at bay.