Pot of gold? Cannabis-infused soda and lotions
Colorado's newly legal pot economy is barely a month old, but the nascent industry is already making marijuana brownies look stale.
In fact, infused-marijuana products—ranging from lotions to chocolates—could make up more than half of Colorado's lucrative pot market this year, a cannabis entrepreneur told CNBC on Wednesday.
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Tripp Keber, CEO of Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, specializes in marijuana-infused products at his Denver-based business. He deals in everything from lotions and balms to truffles and soda—all containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. He sees products like his playing a big role in the fast-growing marijuana market, which could hit $2.34 billion in 2014, according to the ArcView Group, a marijuana industry investor network based in San Francisco.
The market could reach $359 million in Colorado alone, ArcView claims.
"This is growth that is faster than the smartphone industry," Keber said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "We're really dealing with what I would describe as hockey-stick growth."
Keber's products come in packaging usually reserved for gourmet snacks and specialty balms. He sells THC-infused chocolate truffles, mints and carbonated drinks. Aside from edibles, he deals in concentrated THC liquid droppers, pills and other delivery alternatives to smoking.
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Colorado residents who want THC-infused lotions from Keber's company won't feel the same effects as smoking or consuming marijuana, but he says they can be used for pain relief.
"It does not typically provide any euphoria but it does allow for an individual to receive the medicinal benefits of marijuana," Keber said. "It's basically absorbed through the skin subcutaneously and it provides a very effective way for patients to both medicate and/or recreate."
Keber said his company marks its products with prominent labels explaining their effects and the time it takes for users to feel the active ingredients. He likened the products to prescription medicines and weapons, calling for users to take responsibility to keep them from children.
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"It's important for both consumers and patients alike to understand the power of these products, just like parent or an adult would be responsible for protecting opiates or tobacco or even a handgun," Keber said. "They're specifically designed for adult use here in the state."
—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."