Thousands are expected to show for the Marijuana Business Conference and Expo kicking off Monday in Orlando. The conference is focused on the dollars and cents of the growing marijuana industry.
This is not a farmer’s market for marijuana, said conference organizers. It’s a business conference looking at the tools to grow, track and package marijuana.
A leading industry research firm predicts the legal marijuana market will reach $7.1 billion in 2016, and expects it to surpass $22 billion by 2020. To put that into perspective, the NFL hopes to bring in $25 billion by 2027.
Conference organizer George Jage said it’s a market on the move as more states pass laws legalizing medical marijuana. “The bigger picture here is that the black market has been estimated at around $40 to $50 billion,” said Jage. “And this is where it is such a unique business space that you’re seeing – this is a black market moving to a white market.”
Jage noted that many people who have operated in that black market will not be able to transition over into the white market because they’ve operated illegally, in some cases racking up felonies preventing them from running a business.
Floridians will vote in November whether to allow medical marijuana for those suffering from debilitating medical conditions such as cancer. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
Catherine Welch is a reporter with WMFE in Orlando. WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.