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Forget Stoners. The Real Money Is in Medical Marijuana

More doctors are warming up to marijuana’s medical benefits—and companies are angling for a piece of a market that could reach $50 billion by 2025.

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Illustration: Cesar Pelizer for Bloomberg Businessweek

Three years ago, Dr. Lydia Hatcher had a straightforward answer when chronic-pain patients came into her clinic in Hamilton, Ont., asking for marijuana: no. Since then, whispers and research in the medical community about what the drug can do have sparked a change of heart. She’s now prescribing pot and seeing the benefits in patients who have exhausted other options. One wheelchair-bound 97-year-old woman was able to get up and dance after receiving treatment for arthritis.

“When you see results like that, it makes you feel there’s something more to this,” Hatcher says, noting that more than 10 percent of her patients use only cannabis to treat their pain and related symptoms.