The Marijuana industry is the fastest growing industry in the United States.

A new report from The ArcView Group projects that the cannabis industry’s total annual output will rise to $40 billion in 2021.

The industry experienced a 34% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2014 to 2016. Propelled by legalization in 29 states, the market will expand with a CAGR of more than 16%.

The report also forecasts that medical marijuana will be legal in 35 states by 2021.

Also, cannabis will emerge as an engine for new job creation, creating more than a quarter of a million jobs.

These numbers reflect marijuana’s march towards the mainstream as it emerges from the shadows to become a legitimate above-board industry that is fostering new business opportunities and creating a strong domino effect across the nation.

Cannabis is Now a Fully-Grown Service Industry

The weed market has sprung up and made its place like any other sector and has grown like the cannabis plant itself.

Cannabis seed-to-sale cycles are now equipped with advanced inventory systems and sophisticated infrastructure. The weed business is data-driven with specialized professionals.

The industry is witnessing a lot of innovation in biotechnology, marketing, consumer goods and more, paired with an influx of outside talent. New technologies like 3-D printing, odorless packaging are being introduced and developed.

Startups to Watch

A burgeoning tech sector has sprouted up around the fast-growing cannabis economy.

These outside-the-box tech startups are re-shaping the weed business. They are tackling everything from business intelligence to social media and automation.

Printabowl – These innovative Washington entrepreneurs crafted designer-sculpted marijuana-smoking bowl with 3-D printers.

LeafLine – focuses on cultivation, extraction, and packaging medical marijuana. This company has built a 42,000-square-foot-indoor farm in Minnesota for harvesting cannabis.

New Frontier – This D.C.-based startup is empowering cannabis entrepreneurs with the information they need to be successful. They aggregate and analyze weed-related business data.

GrowBuddy – is “built for growers by growers.” This app is a portable farming manager. It helps to track and scrutinize cannabis cultivation from seed to the final product.

PotBot – This ”Virtual Budtender” app claims to make medical marijuana smarter with technology. It helps medicinal marijuana users to find the perfect strain match and connects them with a highly-rated local dispensary.

The Funding Platforms

Wealthy investors across the country are pouring millions into the booming marijuana industry to capitalize on the gold rush.

They’re backing the development of new research around cannabis, from farming to new medicinal products, such as cannabis-infused transdermal patches, high-tech and high-quality vaporizers and “budtender” apps.

Among the noted investors is PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who recently invested millions in Privateer Holdings, a Seattle private equity firm that backs research into medical marijuana products, among other cannabis-related ventures.

According to sources, the weed-loving rapper Snoop Dogg is also putting together a fund specifically to invest in cannabis start-ups.

Though investors are drawn to its double-digit returns, the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule I regulated substance, prone to abuse and having “no accepted medical use.”

At the moment, most large and publicly-traded venture funds, pharmaceutical and biotech companies are deliberately staying away from the cannabis industry for this very reason.

But, the big investors are finding their own way to engage in the industry and monetize marijuana.

The Road Ahead

The pot industry is certainly controversial, yet booming opportunity.

Though Federal regulations are keeping a lid on market growth, for now, we can expect this to change soon.