This Boston investor is rushing after marijuana gold

It was 2012, and Douglas Leighton wanted to pour some money into marijuana.

Leighton, the co-founder of a Boston-based hedge fund called Dutchess Capital, had done his homework. He saw public opinion shifting in favor of cannabis. Laws had already begun to follow, including the legalization of medical marijuana in Massachusetts.

And as the legal landscape changed, a $50 billion black market was about to emerge into the sunlight—marking a major investment opportunity.

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Plus, he admitted, he just enjoyed smoking pot.

“It’s what got me interested in it, definitely,” Leighton said.

Since 2012, recreational marijuana has become legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. Several other states—including Massachusetts—are likely to vote this fall. Medical marijuana, meanwhile, is now legal in 23 states.

The cascade of legal change has created an industry gold rush. And Leighton has emerged as an archetype of the capitalists...

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