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Investment firm that specializes in marijuana businesses opens local office

Dec 1, 2015, 2:16pm CST

A private equity fund management firm that specializes in investments in marijuana-related businesses is opening a Chicago office.

First Harvest Financial said it's opening an office at the Chicago Board of Trade Building, 141 West Jackson Blvd., to fund companies in the medical cannabis market.

"We are fortunate to be an early entrant in the legal cannabis capital markets, which allows us to seek and fund the best proven companies in the cannabis space," said Kevin Gillespie of First Harvest Financial, in a statement.

 

In April, the Chicago Business Journal ran a list of investment tips for those thinking of investing in the marijuana industry, and noted that "the U.S. market for legal cannabis grew 74 percent in 2014 to $2.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2013."

Marijuana has a long way to go in Illinois before it reaches the status of states like Washington and Colorado, which voted to approve recreational use of marijuana by residents.

Medical marijuana use was approved by Illinois voters two years ago, but the state's been pretty slow about implementation. Only eight dispensaries have opened ( as of Nov. 9, according to the state), even though 60 are allowed by law.

And only 3,200 people have been approved as medical marijuana patients. "The industry has been slowed both by cautious regulators and timid demand since legalization in 2013," the Chicago Business Journal reported in November.