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Marijuana and Other Highly Regulated Businesses

Prior to 1996, when California became the first state to legalize the medical use of cannabis (or marijuana), the idea of a "legal" marijuana business was unheard of. But as more states loosen their adult use drug laws, allowing for medical and even recreational use of the herb, the cannabis industry has grown exponentially. The main caveat, of course, is the federal government's drug laws, which still classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug. 

For now, the marijuana industry legalizing cannabis use is beholden to a tangled web of often contradictory federal, state, and local laws. But for entrepreneurs willing to wade through the confusion and take on additional risk, the rewards are potentially huge. This article covers the basics of setting up a cannabis business, relevant state laws, how to obtain financing, the basics of licenses and permits, marijuana-related tax issues, compliance with public health laws, and more.

Starting a Marijuana Business: Overview

There are a few main types of marijuana businesses that actually handle the drug, each with their own challenges, costs, and regulatory requirements. These include cultivators, manufacturers of cannabis-infused products, law enforcement or security at labs or production plants, retail sales, and delivery services. Other types of businesses include testing facilities, specialized equipment, and technology. After deciding which type of business you want to start, you will need to consider the following:

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