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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The cannabis industry is poised to undergo another major change as Colorado's House Bill 1090 takes effect next month, providing investment opportunities for publicly traded companies, venture capitalists and private equity firms, which were previously barred.

Why it matters: The law will push cannabis into a new phase of development and foster considerable consolidation in the industry, creating new businesses and driving out others.

  • Wall Street, venture capital funds and private equity firms will now have the opportunity to enter a fast-growing industry and provide the funds to scale at a new level.
  • "We are moving to a national, even international economy in marijuana," Jim Burack, director of the Colorado Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division, tells Axios.

The big picture: Colorado is opening up right as investors have begun to sour on publicly traded pot stocks, which have seen their once massive valuations cut in half over the course of the year.

  • "There was too much exuberance and froth in the markets," Emily Paxhia, managing director at cannabis investment firm Poseidon Asset Management, tells Axios.
  • "Anyone who was prudent about valuing the market saw this coming from 10 miles away. Now there will be a shift to operational efficiency in many of these businesses. That's a healthy innovation for any market."

Between the lines: While Canadian companies like Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth have drawn massive valuations, investors have been eager to find a way into the U.S. market, which has a much larger and richer consumer base.

  • Investors will now have access to a U.S.-based mature marijuana market that includes businesses ranging from restaurants and property development to advertising and wellness.

Yes, but: The industry's growth prospects remain restricted by the fact that it is federally illegal, making many traditional avenues for growth impossible.

Still, Colorado's deregulation of the industry and the potential for access to banking services through the SAFE Banking Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives, could be game changers.

  • The new law "opens up funding opportunities that we have really not had available to us before," Nancy Whiteman, CEO of edibles company Wana Brands, tells Axios.
  • "Having more and more cannabis companies that are operating in multiple states and some of them with very large, deep pockets, it's changing a lot about how the industry operates."

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.