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Shark Tank Investor Bites Into Marijuana Industry

In a speech at The Marijuana Investor Summit in Denver, entrepreneur Kevin Harrington said he's looking to get in on the ground floor of what he expects will become a $200 billion industry.

When there's money floating around a promising business like marijuana--it's a $2 billion industry in Colorado alone--it attracts sharks. In this case, serial entrepreneur Kevin Harrington, one of the original investors on ABC's Shark Tank. Harrington gave the keynote speech at the Marijuana Investor Summit on April 21 in Denver to a room packed with audience members looking to enter the market.

"Marijuana is here and it's here to stay for many, many years," he said. "By 2030, the industry will be worth $200 billion, and I want to get my share of that."

The Marijuana Investor Summit, which featured educational seminars, a pitch session, and a trade show, is thought to be the largest conference of its kind. With dozens of companies, entrepreneurs, and investors attending the three-day event, which was organized by the website Marijuana Investor News, the summit offered an inside look into early-stage businesses and investment opportunities.

Right now, the national marijuana industry is worth $50 billion, according to the latest industry figures. While most of that is still in the black market, the potential for above-board profits is drawing scads of investors. But with any nascent industry--especially one with a core product that is illegal on the federal level--there is a lot of risk involved.

Harrington, who says he has helped build 500 brands, said that despite the legal and regulatory issues there is a big opportunity for entrepreneurs who play it smart. Although the product, cannabis, is at the center of the industry's growth and excitement, Harrington stressed that pot sales don't have to be the basis of the most successful businesses in the space.

"The Gold Rush peaked in 1852, with billions of dollars in precious metal. But the majority of the money wasn't made selling gold; it was made from all the ancillary businesses that supported and surrounded the gold industry," he said. "That's where the money will be made in this industry."

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