Billions of greenbacks could go to pot

America's state-based legal marijuana industries operate outside of federal law, but Washington chooses to turn a blind eye. That lack of regulation places billions of dollars at risk of a dot.com style blow-up.

There is a budding industry taking off in the US which is confounding investors, business and governments.  In as many as 20 US states, plus the nation’s capital, Washington DC, it has become legal to manufacture, distribute and purchase marijuana for medical purposes. Unsurprisingly, it was the Californians who started the green rush in 1996 by passing the first of those laws. At the federal election last year, Washington state and Colorado took things a step further and voted in favour of legalising recreational use of marijuana, so those over 21 can grow up to six plants for personal use or buy up to 28 grams (an ounce). But the deal is that you can no longer just hit up an old university friend, you have to purchase it from a licensed seller.

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