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Risky Business: Evolution of Marijuana Laws Still Uncertain

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

The cannabiz is set to boom ... although it is difficult to say when that will happen with states taking very different approaches to marijuana cultivation and consumption. This week, California's San Francisco Bay Area residents will encounter "the nation's first multichannel marketing campaign for [artisanal] pot," reports Mother Jones. Meanwhile medical marijuana was just approved for very limited use in Philadelphia.

All businesses involve risk, and often the greater the risk, the greater the potential reward. The marijuana business is no different -- entering the thicket now means more confusion and possible losses but also likely more eventual opportunity for reward. Whether it's worth doing depends on you, your state, and the landscape of its marijuana regulation.

California, for Example

In many states that have legalized marijuana -- to whatever extent -- regulators try to minimize the number of growers and grant licenses to organizations that will be able to widely distribute. But in California, where medical marijuana has been legal for years and citizens will soon vote on a wider legalization initiative, regulation is moving in another direction.

California's marijuana farmers want to ensure that venture-backed corporate growers don't take over the industry. The California Growers Association vigorously lobbied to ensure that these concerns were reflected in the law, and for the first five years after passage, small growers will be protected in that state.

But the protections won't remain in place beyond that period and California Growers Association director Hezekiah Allen is concerned that small growers -- the people behind the ad campaign beginning in California this week -- will be pushed back into the shadows again after a brief moment in the sun.

Allen is concerned that once corporate interests takes over cannabis cultivation in California, small growers he represents will go back to doing business illegally ... for however long they can survive. "With the spread of legalization to other states," writes Mother Jones, "growers might eventually go the way of Appalachian moonshiners, rendered irrelevant by a regulated marketplace."

Talk to a Lawyer

If you are considering marijuana as a business, definitely speak to a lawyer and make sure you do a lot of research before you invest. While legal pot promises to be lucrative, the range of approaches to its legalization and distribution across the US means that it is still a very risky business to enter. Consult with an attorney before you begin and throughout the process. Get guidance.

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