Business

Will Big Tobacco Become Big Marijuana?

In this Feb. 7, 2014 file photo, a worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. Colorado is poised to award more than $8 million for medical marijuana research, a step toward addressing complaints that little is known about pot's medical potential. Among the research projects poised for approval on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, are one for pediatric epilepsy patients, and another for children with brain tumors. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
In this Feb. 7, 2014 file photo, a worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY

 
DENVER (USA Today)—While federal law makes their entire industry illegal, many marijuana store owners, growers and retailers fear something completely different: Big Tobacco.

Today, most legal recreational marijuana operations are small, limited to a single state and barred from ever getting large by regulators who want to keep a close eye on the fast-growing industry. But those small operators struggle to get bank loans for expansion, often produce an inconsistent product and sometimes have no idea how to balance supply and demand for their crops.

And many fear that tobacco companies, with their deep pockets, longstanding experience dealing with heavy government regulation, and relationships with generations of farmers will jump into the burgeoning marijuana market. At marijuana business conventions and in private conversations, it sometimes seems like everyone has heard a rumor about Big Tobacco getting in.

 

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