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Legal Marijuana Businesses Tap Texas Investors

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Investors who want to buy into the legal marijuana industry are gathering this weekend in Houston. Organizers say it's the first marijuana investor conference in Texas. 

Even though marijuana is illegal in Texas, it's not necessarily against the law to invest in aspects of the business in one of the 23 states that have permitted it for medical or recreational use.

"If you are touching the plant, and you're in Texas, you may have a problem," organizer Doug Leighton says. "If you're doing the ancillary businesses and products, then I think you have a clear pathway to invest."

About two dozen businesses will be seeking investors. The companies range from grow operations to a cannabis beverage maker to a social media network for marijuana users.

"This is not like a pet rock where you have to invent a product and then create a market need for it," says Leighton, a managing partner with the Boston-based hedge fund Dutchess Capital Management.

"This is an industry that already exists. It's just been serviced illegally," he says. "In my 25 years of investing, I've never seen that [kind of] opportunity." 

The legal marijuana market in 2014 could exceed $2.4 billion, according to ArcView Market Research. It could grow further after November, when three states and the District of Columbia are set to vote on loosening marijuana restrictions, Vox reports

The investor conference in Houston is happening Sunday and Monday and costs $595 for one person or $995 for two.

Meanwhile, Harris County is set to reduce penalties for marijuana possession on Monday, reports the Houston Press.  People caught with less than two ounces of marijuana could prevent the charge from appearing on their records by completing eight hours of community service or an eight-hour class. 

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