HOUSTON, Tx. -- When it comes to capitalism in Texas green could become the new, well, green. And investment firms throughout the country want in on the ground floor. That's why Boston-based hedge fund Dutchess Capital Management is sponsoring a first-ever marijuana investment conference in Houston -- with the hopes that if and when pot becomes legal in Texas, they'll be sitting pretty as the backers of all the businesses that come with it.
"Our plan is to form an analytical laboratory in Colorado and then provide lab testing services for producers," says Erol Bakkalbasi with startup laboratory company Cannametrix. Like many small business managers at the conference, he's looking for capital backing for his company. And when you think marijuana conference you probably think head shops and stoners, right? Well, think again, these are serious investors looking for real marijuana, hemp and cannabis-based businesses to take them into the future.
"We call it a startup industry for cannabis but it's unlike any before it because for the first time, we don't have to prove the market, we already know people are consuming cannabis says Michael Blunk," a business development manger with Archview Investment Group. He's here looking for promising businesses to invest in. And in a state driven by agriculture and capitalism, folks here say it's not a matter of if marijuana becomes legal, but when.
"Right now there's some legislation that's in the works to be introduced in the 2015 state legislature for medical marijuana," explains Katharine Neill a Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy at Rice University. "I would love to see some movement on that in 2015 but I think more realistically it will be 2017 where you'll start to see some movement in Texas."
Meaning that depending what Texas lawmakers do, the guys at this conference could be the next Texas wildcatters.