As the New York Legislature considers a bill to allow medical marijuana, a couple of Rhode Island business journalists are reaping the profits.

Anne Holland and Ron Perry founded Medical Marijuana Business Daily two years ago in Providence to cover the emerging industry of legitimate marijuana sales, as total black market business continues to represent the single largest cash crop in America at more than $35 billion.

The trade in illegal marijuana - mostly for recreational use - trumps the second-largest cash crop, corn, at a mere $23.2 billion, of which $4.5 billion worth is exported from America's breadbasket to the world.

According to the business publication, the legal trade in marijuana amounted to $1.2 billion last year with projections of $1.5 billion this year and $3 billion next year, compared with a more static $1.4 billion for tobacco, America's original drug crop.

Though many publications exist for the black market grower, there was a dearth of information for the legal marijuana farmer and wholesaler. "We realized there was nothing but lifestyle press and evangelists who are trying to change the politics," Holland said. "There really wasn't anyone reporting on the business end of it [and] we found there was a huge need to provide numbers business people could trust."

Thus far, marijuana remains illegal on the federal level but 18 states and Washington, DC, allow medical marijuana to varying degrees, with a handful of those states honoring medical marijuana licensure from other jurisdictions. Eleven other states, including New York, are presently considering bills that would allow health care providers to prescribe marijuana as treatment for medical ailments.

While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo opposes the bill, saying potential harm outweighs the good, Sen. Diane Savino, a democrat from Staten Island, said she'd press for a vote before the end of the legislature's session in June.

"We felt it was important to get the bill in so we could start the discussion," Savino said, given that previous efforts to pass such legislation failed in the state's republican dominated state house.

Holland is helping to fuel that discussion with seven full-time employees located in Providence, Boston, Denver and North Carolina, publishing business e-books, hosting business seminars and even producing an "annual" trade show. Last year, the National Marijuana Business Conference, held in Denver, attracted some 450 attendees from 27 states, and would be held again in November in Seattle.

Co-sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a democrat from Manhattan, the bill would allow a taxable industry intended for "seriously ill" patients. On Monday, Cumo said. "However, a spokesman for Cuomo reiterated the governor's position today: No.