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Three developments signal a new regulatory regime is on the way.
- The US Department of Justice announced it will not interfere with marijuana retail sales as long as all state and federal rules are followed and all taxes are paid.
- The US Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued formal guidance to US banks on how to do business with marijuana firms.
- The president of the United States mentioned marijuana and alcohol in the same sentence.
An enormous, quasi-dormant underground economy is awakening, and large components are coming to the surface. Taylor West, deputy director of the 440-member National Cannabis Industry Association, said, "There is a whole canopy of products that goes beyond plants." He cites cannabis-infused foods and drinks, cannabis oils, butters, tinctures, and salves.
New regulatory demands will spark other opportunities, such as laboratories to test for impurities and software systems to track product from seed to sale. But make no mistake about it: Some investors in some of the publicly held cannabis-connected companies will lose money.