Investors, marijuana entrepreneurs discuss pot industry

SEATTLE -- Investors are eyeing millions of dollars in potential profit as Washington transitions into the marijuana business.

Some of those investors met up with start-up companies on Monday to hear pitches from entrepreneurs hoping to profit from the sale of recreational pot.

"A geyser is about to go off. This industry is about to totally explode," said Troy Dayton, CEO of the Arcview Group.

When voters approved Initiative 502 in November, it turbocharged marijuana into a legitimate business. That is unless the federal government sues to halt the law, which it can do.

But Dayton has found investors willing to take that risk. As many as 360,000 people are projected to buy pot at state licensed marijuana shops when they open in December. That would create an instant billion dollar business.

"Up until this point in the cannabis industry, I think some people have the perception of hippies with dreadlocks and tie dye selling hemp bracelets, and really that's not what it is today," said Jason Levin, who's pitching investors to buy his Uptoke humidifiers.

In the past, investors have bought software management systems for marijuana and websites that offer pot reviews of dispensaries. The big risk will be for those who invest in retail stores in the Seattle metro area.

The stores can't be near parks, child care facilities, schools, youth centers and video arcades. As it stands, the stores can be near transit centers and libraries as long as they're zoned properly.

"I don't think we should see adult-use cannabis stores on every other corner," said Betty Aldworth, the deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Dayton thinks a quote by Mark Twain is especially relevant today.

"He said, 'During a gold rush it's a good time to be in the pick and shovel business,' and that's very true right now," Dayton said.

The business world has had its eye on Washington to see how people will profit from pot, and Dayton predicts a gold rush will be on in the pot business by the end of the year.

On Monday night, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn will speak to the National Cannabis Industry Association.