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Cashing In on Cannabis

Use of the plant marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law, but it has been legalized for medical or personal use in 23 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

This has attracted investors and created a boom for many businesses. Last year, almost $3 billion dollars worth of the drug marijuana was legally sold in the United States.

Investors and businesses in the marijuana industry met in Los Angeles last week.

Products used in the cannabis, or marijuana, industry were displayed at the LA Convention Center. The products included fertilizers and hothouse lights. Those lights help grow the plant indoors. Companies were also selling devices that extract oils from the cannabis plant.

Robert Burns works for the company HempMeds. He said his company offers cannabis creams for skin, or drops of the oil that can be placed under the tongue.

“Let it sit there for about 30 seconds and just let it dissolve in your body that way,” he said.

Products like cannabis chocolate, marijuana-flavored wine, and cannabis sweets were also for sale at the trade show.

Business boom

The increase in marijuana sales is also a major business boom for companies that make packaging. Peter Tadlock is with AmeriVacS, a company that makes vacuum packaging. That packaging keeps the product fresh for a longer time. He said his company gets orders from Washington State, Colorado, Florida, and California.

Training courses were offered for people new to the cannabis industry. Michael Garcia attended one of the courses. He works for a small company that makes and sells vegan foods. He hopes to expand his line of products.

“I want to start putting marijuana in my food products because of the health aspects,” he said.

Benefits and effects debated

Kyle Turley is a professional American football player. He believes marijuana helps with sports-related injuries. He spoke at the conference, and hopes to make marijuana use legal in sports.

However, opponents of marijuana use say the long-term effects of the potent – or strong – marijuana sold today are still unknown.

Some U.S. government officials do not support the spread of marijuana use. They consider it a “gateway drug” to more dangerous drugs. But for now, they are taking a hands-off approach, and the cannabis industry continues to grow.

I’m Jim Tedder.

Michael O’Sullivan reported this story from Los Angeles. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

cannabis - n. a drug (such as marijuana or hashish) that comes from the hemp plant

extract - v. to remove (something) by pulling it out or cutting it out

business boom - n. a period of time in which business increases

packaging - n. material used to enclose or contain something

potent - adj. very effective or strong

hands-off - adj. allowing people to do what they want to do without bothering or stopping them

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