✌️More and more Americans are smoking, selling, wearing and making money off weed. So we are doing a Deep Dive on Pot, Inc.
🎬 Today's special report — by Felix Salmon, Dan Primack, Kia Kokalitcheva, Michael Sykes, Courtenay Brown, Jessie Li and Jennifer Kingson — looks ahead to tomorrow's episode of "Axios on HBO," 6 pm ET/PT.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Venture capitalists are investing record sums in marijuana startups, growing twice as fast as 2018, Dan writes.
Why it matters: These investments are a bet that marijuana will be legalized in the U.S. at the federal level, as it has been in Canada.
By the numbers: The weed sector grew to $1.3 billion for this year through mid-June — up from $1 billion for all of 2018 and $370 million for 2017, according to PitchBook Data.
There's a catch: Legalization would expand the market for growers, but could render the related startups obsolete: Why would growers need cannabis-specific transportation companies if FedEx began working with them?
The bottom line: Some services brands would survive legalization, just as wine stores persist in areas where wine is sold in supermarkets.
But many would disappear, making these days look like peak weed.
Most Americans support legalizing marijuana nationally (63%), and a quarter want to buy it (26%).
🍟 Fun fact: 16% of the elderly want to get baked.
Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Gummy candies, soft drinks, dog treats, body lotions — these days, everything under the sun is available with CBD, or cannabidiol, an ingredient derived from a non-psychotropic part of the marijuana plant, reports Kia.
The numbers that matter: In 2018, the U.S. cannabinoid market, including high-THC products with small amounts of CBD, totaled about $10.5 billion, according to a report by Arcview, a cannabis research and investment group.
Cannabis stocks are jumpy: On Aug. 1, Tilray — a Canadian company that calls itself "one of the largest and most sophisticated producers of premium medical cannabis in the world" — was worth $1.66 billion.
The big picture: The marijuana sector as a whole, as valued on mostly Canadian stock exchanges, is not only enormous but pretty stable in size.
The 8 largest companies, collectively worth $39 billion today, have been worth somewhere between $36 billion and $44 billion pretty much all year.
Demonstrators in New York City seeking to end racial bias in marijuana arrests. Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
With states rapidly legalizing marijuana, concerns are growing among social justice advocates that people of color — who have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs — don't have equitable access to the burgeoning cannabis industry, Felix writes.
"Axios on HBO" spoke to Kika Keith, a community organizer and applicant to L.A.'s social equity program, who has been paying rent on an empty storefront for almost a year — but is still waiting for a license to open her business.
Pot means a potential windfall, at least for the few:
More banks are offering checking and savings accounts, wire transfer services and even loans to marijuana companies, Courtenay reports.
The Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — FinCEN — tracks banks that serve what it calls MRBs (marijuana-related businesses).
Wiz Khalifa onstage Aug. 25, 2018 in Austin, Tex. Photo: Rick Kern/WireImage
Barely a day goes by without another trade show where cannabis entrepreneurs gather to tout their products — with creatively named brands like Schnazzleberry, Lucky Charms and Train Wreck, Michael reports.
You don't have to smoke, eat or vape it. Now, you can smear it on your body, Jessie writes.
The bottom line: One study found cannabis seeds extract cream helped men with acne while another found some anti-inflammatory effects. But there haven't been any large-scale human trials on the efficacy of CBD in skincare.