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Company aims to be a publicly traded pot business

Reported by: Vicki Gonzalez
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Updated: 6/03 11:17 pm

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Clark County will hold public hearings this week for potential medical marijuana business owners, and one company plans to break ground on the stock market.

Public trading already exists in other branches of the cannabis industry, but if Terra Tech gets approval, it could be the first public company to hold a medical marijuana license.

Terra Tech has been in Nevada since 2010 as a hydroponic farming company, and currently is traded on the stock market.

"Tarragon, basil, oregano, parsley. You name it, we cultivate it across the United States," says Terra Tech CEO Derek Peterson.

Peterson has experience with medical marijuana. He privately owns a dispensary in Northern California.

The Obama administration is respecting state laws and public opinion is warming up, which has created a climate for his latest venture.

"Nevada is starting a program in a much friendlier environment right now," Peterson said.

Four medical marijuana licenses were filed in Clark County through Terra Tech subsidiary Medifarm. Two are dispensaries; one is for cultivation, and the fourth is a production facility that would give the company a direct hand in seed to sale.

"The property was probably to me the most challenging part of the process," say Peterson.

The proposed dispensary location hugs the Las Vegas Strip, and has seen its share of facelifts, going from a bank to a radio station, and now a medical marijuana business. A good amount of construction is needed.

Peterson makes it clear that growth and sales will be at separate locations.

"We want to make sure that the bulk of the product is never housed near retail for safety and security reasons," Peterson said "We have a different entrance for that particular product coming in."

How much could Terra Tech potentially make? Peterson says cultivation in California goes for upwards of $3,000 a pound wholesale. That pound can sell for up to $7,000 retail. If Terra Tech produced 50 pounds a week-- which is realistic -- it could stand to earn over $20 million a year.

Is it worth it?

UNLV business and economics professor Steve Brown says it would be a risky investment. Banks refuse to hold medical marijuana business accounts. But a cannabis company opening itself to the stock market may serve as a detour.

"You might be able to sidestep all of the regulations facing the banks," Brown said. "Changes the model to one of seeking credit from the public as a whole."

That benefit may even extend to future stock holders.

"You have an opportunity of getting in on the ground floor and maybe the risk is worthwhile," Peterson said.

Peterson says if approved, between construction of the property and actually cultivating marijuana, the business would take about a year to get up and running.

Its public hearing with Clark County begins Wednesday.

Terra Tech closed Tuesday at 66 cents -- up 2 cents per share.

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