In the two decades since California became the first U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana, 30 states have enacted laws allowing medical or recreational use. REUTERS/Chris Helgren
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Two years ago, Alan Gertner was head of Google's Asia-Pacific sales team in Singapore, handling more than $100 million in business.Two decades after the first legalization of medical marijuana by a U.S. state, pot-based businesses are professionalizing their operations by luring top talent from other industries and billions of dollars in investments from Wall Street firms.In 2017, there have been at least 27 investments by venture capital funds in cannabis companies, compared with just 10 deals in 2016 and nine deals in 2015, venture capital data provider CB Insights said.The influx of capital helps finance the paychecks of 150,000 workers in the legal U.S. pot industry, representing job growth of 20 percent from a year ago, according to an estimate from the cannabis website Leafly, a marketing firm for dispensaries and other cannabis firms.Cannabis investment is still dominated by wealthy individuals, but that is changing as the industry grows, attracting venture capitalist and equity investors who until recently were reluctant to finance cannabis firms.Hippeau Ventures earlier this year joined a $3 million funding round for LeafLink, a business-to-business platform that provides a market for dispensary owners to buy inventory.
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