Mindfully Navigating Through the Confusion of Marijuana Legality

The debate surrounding marijuana is not just confusing for Americans voting for new laws or for potential presidential candidates developing an informed stance, it is confusing for those living in states with already-legalized marijuana. From trying to figure out what’s a legal investment to what may be a potential crime, marijuana legalization can seem like a minefield.


Washington as Case Study

Recently, confusion reared its head in Washington when teenagers in Asotin County were charged with felony possession for a small amount of marijuana. The culprit of this misunderstanding was in the reading the recently passed Senate Bill 5052. Ostensibly, it says that anyone possessing marijuana illegally is guilty of a class C felony. Previous to the bill’s passing, underage possession of marijuana was a misdemeanor and called for a maximum $1,000 fine and up to a 90-day jail sentence.

However, there’s a revision in the Washington law that was overlooked during the charging of the minors, RCW 69.50.4014. It states that a small amount, less than 40 grams, is only a misdemeanor. As of Sept. 22, 2015, the charges were reduced to misdemeanors.

Regarding the incident, Asotin County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Nichols said, “The state of Washington and maybe the whole country is dealing with how to fit marijuana into our mindset. The status of marijuana has changed. It’s no longer this horrible drug that’s illegal in every situation.”

This is where all points of confusion surrounding marijuana come from: how to fit marijuana into the mindset of a country that has vilified it for so long.

Something that was seen as an evil drug is now not only legal to use, possess and grow in some states, it is decriminalized in others, while also proving to be lucrative for savvy investors.


Shifting Landscapes

There are currently 18 states that have decriminalized marijuana possession offenses, and two more that have dates set for its decriminalization. Typically, this means that the offender faces no jail time and minimal fines if charged with possession, stipulating that the amount was small and there was no intent to distribute or sell.

Where money comes into play, there is even more confusion when moving out of the realm of purchasing and selling and into the issue of what a marijuana shop can do with money once it is collected. Because banks are federally regulated and marijuana is federally illegal, many banks are hesitant to offer services to state-legal marijuana shops. This is despite the Department of Treasury saying legitimate enterprises will not be prosecuted.

This directly ties into investing, as not only banking and shifting legality causes concern, but the legitimacy and longevity of investment opportunities are something to question. Steve Gormley, the chief business development officer at OSL Holdings (OTCQB: OSLH), explained to U.S. News & World Report that while there is ample opportunity for investment, the marijuana market is much like the dot-coms of the 90s. Gormley added, “There are also predatory scam artists and black marketeers who will fleece uninformed investors dazzled by the prospect of huge returns.”

Services are offered through groups like CannaVest (OTCQB: CANV) and the American Cannabis Company (OTCQB: AMMJ) that can help mitigate these risks.

Whether it be how to consume cannabis, how to handle a business or how to handle your money, the important thing to remember is to stay up-to-date with the law and your due diligence. Investing in the time to research opportunities and to learn local laws could save your money and your arrest record.

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