The gold rush is on.

Voters don’t head to the polls for another 60 days, but businesses are already acting as if the results are a foregone conclusion. Proposition 64, they are betting, will be approved and recreational marijuana will become legal in California.

When passed, proponents argue, the legalization of nonmedical marijuana for adults over 21 will result in more than $1 billion in tax income for the state, plus an additional $100 million in savings from the reduction in legal and incarceration costs.

That $1 billion estimate comes from a 15 percent excise tax baked into the measure and supposes Californians will eventually transact just shy of $7 billion worth of pot. Those estimates are by some accounts low – one estimate has recreational pot sales generating up to $100 billion in revenue down the road.

Amid all this activity, Southern California is poised to become, as the chief revenue officer of High Times said in this week’s issue, the largest legal cannabis market in the world. (See page 1.)

Whether its $100 billion or closer to $7 billion in statewide economic activity, it’s nothing to sniff at (though some perspective is needed – the state’s manufacturing sector, long in decline, still generates more than $500 billion in economic activity, about a quarter of the state’s total output), and it’s not just marijuana merchants and head shops that will be cashing in.

High Times has signed a deal with United Talent Agency for representation across all media. Think High Times-branded TV shows, internet programming, and consumer products. It will open an L.A. office next month staffed with as many as 10 people – housed in a building that boasts a cluster of cannabis-related businesses.

When office landlords and Hollywood talent agencies start touting their links to pot-related businesses you know which way the pendulum has swung. Money talks, and these days the money is saying it’s time to bank on the new green economy.

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