Score one for the stoners: The pot industry is poised to be gigantic as more states embrace legalization. And, if you want to get in on the ground floor, several advocates say now is the right time to bet big on marijuana.
"Overall public opinion of marijuana has changed," said Dan Humiston, president of the International Cannabis Association. "The stance has just softened. With time as the population ages, a lot of the generations that were really opposed to it are being replaced with the generations that are comfortable with it."
The Wall Street Journal reports that the cannabis industry had a market capitalization of $3 billion as of April. There's currently more than 50 publicly traded pot-related companies. Twenty-four states have legalized medical marijuana, and recreational use for adults has been approved in Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
With more companies going public every day, the still illegal industry is growing rapidly. New Frontier Financials, a big data shop that focuses on the marijuana industry, estimates that the industry will reach $15.2 billion by 2020. At least seven states are expected to have marijuana legalization initiatives on their 2016 ballots.
Humiston believes that as more states come on board, the hysteria that was overvaluing companies has died down, so prices are more realistic.
It also helps that the stigma of being in the weed business is quickly fading away thanks to celebrities like Tommy Chong creating their own weed brands and high profile investors like Peter Thiel, said media and public relations expert Cheryl Shuman. In January, the PayPal co-founder's Founders Fund took a minority stake in Seattle's Privateer Holdings. The company runs a medical marijuana growing operation in Canada and a pot review site called Leafly.com, among other marijuana-related businesses.
Michelle Castillo is a staff writer for CNBC Digital, covering advertising and digital media. Previously,she was a digital media reporter for Adweek, and has covered media and entertainment for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Time magazine. Castillo graduated from UCLA and received her master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.