Colorado's legal marijuana industry is blazing ahead with annual sales now in excess of $1 billion dollars.
According to data from Colorado's Department of Revenue released last Friday, business at the state's recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries hit $1 billion for the first nine months of 2015, including a combined $100 million in September alone. That was the highest monthly total since sales began there in January 2014.
With just 48 hours to go before CNBC's presidential debate in Boulder this Wednesday, the declared candidates remain strongly divided over the issue of marijuana use in the United States.
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According to CNBC's John Harwood, "There are those candidates who who support medical marijuana but not recreational use, those like New Jersey governor Chris Christie who want the federal government's prohibition laws enforced. And finally, those like Rand Paul that have a "states' right" mentality."
Norton Arbelaez, owner and general counsel of River Rock Wellness, the largest dispensary in Denver, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" Monday he hopes the candidates will eventually back the individual rights of states to sell marijuana unimpeded by federal law and remove it from the federal government's list of Schedule 1 controlled substances.
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"At the end of the day, Donald Trump and Ben Carson are pragmatists, said Arbelaez. "If they look at what's happening in the state of Colorado, with an estimated $8 billion in sales by 2016, and how medical marijuana is helping thousands heal, they will come on board. The economic ripple cannot be denied,"