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Legal marijuana sales forecast to hit $23B in 4 years

By: Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
March 20, 2016 Updated: March 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm
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photo - Carl Thomason looks over a case full of marijuana possibilities at the new recreational marijuana store in Manitou Springs on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Maggie's Farm is the first recreational marijuana store in El Paso County. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)
Carl Thomason looks over a case full of marijuana possibilities at the new recreational marijuana store in Manitou Springs on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Maggie's Farm is the first recreational marijuana store in El Paso County. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett) 

DENVER — Marijuana is rapidly becoming a big, semi-legal business across the country, with $5.7 billion in sales last year and tens of thousands of people working and paying taxes as they cultivate, package and sell cannabis.

Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington state and Washington, D.C. have all legalized adult recreational use, and 23 states and the District of Columbia permit some form of medical use. That’s despite the fact that marijuana remains an illegal drug and Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level.

Across the country, thousands of people are rushing into the industry, struggling to work within a conflicting patchwork of state laws and local regulations, all the while operating largely without accounts at banks, which are fearful of running afoul of federal drug-trafficking laws.

Read more on usatoday.com.

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