About That Joint: Marijuana Start-Ups Pass

Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018

The streets of San Francisco have always smelled of marijuana. Yet it’s worth noting that the city doesn’t seem to have gotten much smellier in the new year, after the recreational use of marijuana became legal in California under a law approved by voters in 2016.

Well, obviously: because nobody smokes marijuana anymore. Everyone’s vaping it. Or eating, drinking, sipping, dabbing, sucking on lozenges, chewing on gum, applying unguents or administering a drop or two of a cannabis-infused tincture under one’s tongue, where it is absorbed into the sublingual artery, within minutes producing an invisible, odorless, private high.

These are a few of the inventions of an increasingly sophisticated set of marijuana start-ups, which argue that by pushing the industry past smoke, they can make cannabis convenient and ubiquitous — the drug of the future, and the next great American bonanza.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and it is legal for medicinal use in 29 states. The drug remains illegal under federal law, and the Justice Department has signaled a crackdown on the business. Yet growth of the legal marijuana industry keeps beating even its biggest boosters’ expectations; customers in North America will spend more than $10 billion on legal marijuana in 2018 and nearly $23 billion by 2021, projects the ArcView Group, a cannabis-focused research and investment firm.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B 1 of the New York edition with the headline: I’m Good: Pot Start-Ups Pass Up the Joint . Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe