Big-name tech investors pour millions into marijuana — both medicinal and not

BERKELEY, CA - MARCH 25: One-ounce bags of medicinal marijuana are displayed at the Berkeley Patients Group March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified a ballot initiative late Wednesday to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana in the State of California after proponents of the measure submitted over 690,000 signatures. The measure will appear on the November 2 general election ballot. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

From the website Stat (www.statnews.com)
OAKLAND, Calif. — The storied Silicon Valley venture firm Benchmark Capital has launched a slew of tech companies: Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, Instagram. Now its search for the next big thing has led it to … pot.

Benchmark recently invested $8 million in Hound Labs, a startup here in Oakland that’s developing a device for drivers — and law enforcement — to test whether they’re too buzzed to take the wheel.

And that’s just the start. Wealthy investors are pouring tens of millions into the cannabis industry in a bid to capitalize on the gold rush that’s expected when California legalizes recreational marijuana on Jan. 1. They’re backing development of new medicinal products, such as cannabis-infused skin patches; new methods for vaporizing and inhaling; and “budtender” apps like PotBot, which promises to scour 750 strains of cannabis and use lab research, including DNA analysis of each strain, to help customers find the perfect match.

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