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Professional colleagues of mine discussing investment strategies often mention the bright line they draw to avoid backing marijuana-related businesses. For some, it is an ethical or philosophical decision, for others, a purely legal one. Still many respected individuals look at this growing market as an inevitability, akin to alcohol or tobacco sales.

This space is not intended for the medical, ethical, or philosophical arguments for or against marijuana legalization. Instead, we will focus on the challenges facing business managers as they seek to comply with federal laws, protect their organizations from money laundering and other financial crimes, and adequately screen their customers, partners, and employees with thoughtful risk mitigation programs.

This will not be an isolated issue. As the following CNN article discusses, marijuana legalization impacts other drug laws and even “sanctuary city” policy.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the Justice Department is examining ways to work toward a “rational” marijuana policy. The attorney general added that he views pot as “detrimental” and noted that consumption is still a federal violation.

“We’re looking very hard on that right now,” Sessions said about the department’s stance toward marijuana. “I don’t want to suggest in any way that this department in any way believes that marijuana is harmless … people should avoid it.”

Sessions holds the power over the federal enforcement arm of criminal laws, such as the Controlled Substances Act.

The marijuana industry currently benefits from a legal memorandum issued by the Justice Department in 2013 that essentially adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws, so long as they don’t threaten other federal priorities, such as preventing the distribution of the drug to minors and supporting cartels. But a Justice Department with Sessions at the helm has the ability to rip this up and simply issue a new memo.

Sessions, a fervent critic of so-called “sanctuary cities,” emphasized that believes they are a safe havens for drug dealers, adding that their impact is being felt “across state lines.”

“I think sanctuary cities are a detriment to enforcing our drug laws and it just reaffirms my view that this is a very, very bad policy,” he said.

Read the full article at: www.cnn.com

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