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Legalizing pot doesn't make everyone happy

By Dian Vujovich

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has changed his mind about the effects of medical marijuana with respect to one’s health. Over the past four years he’s gone from a non-believer to an endorser of weed as he has seen some of its positive effects.


NORMAL, the acronym for the non-profit organization for the legalization of pot, has been pushing the benefits of weed for decades and sees lots of value in this hugely popular recreational drug.


And even though MarijuanaPolicyProject.org reports that our last two presidents— Clinton and George W— along with President Obama, Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sarah Palin and all sorts of radio, television, music and movie stars have taken a hit (or any number of them) of the stuff, it is still considered an illegal drug by the feds. Which is hugely stupid when you really think about it. But hey, there are lots of things the feds do that fall fit under stupid.


That said, given the potential health benefits of pot, the fact that it’s now legal in 20 states, the popularity of marijuana across all age groups, genders and races in America and the potential of the federal government legalizing it seems as though everyone wants a piece of the profits from this plant. Particularly, investment scammers.


This year, there’s been such a rush from some unscrupulous publicly held companies touting sky high profit opportunities  that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) had to issue one of their Investor Alerts.


From their Marijuana Stock Scams Alert warning potential investors about “pump-and-dump” schemes comes this: ” One company, for example, promoted its move into the medical cannabis space by issuing more than 30 press releases during the first half of 2013. These releases publicized rosy financial prospects and the growth potential of the medical marijuana market. The company was also touted on the Internet through the use of sponsored links, investment profiles and spam email, including one promotional piece claiming the stock “could double its price SOON” and another asserting the stock was “poised to light up the charts!” Yet the company’s balance sheet showed only losses, and the company stated elsewhere that it was only beginning to formulate a business plan…”


While there are all sorts of highs one can experience from pot, one huge downer is losing money to a slick stock scam that even Cheech and Chong wouldn’t buy into.


FINRA suggests these tips for avoiding pot stock scams:  Ask: “Why me?”; consider the source; do your research; know where the stock trades; read a company’s SEC filings, if available; be wary of frequent changes to a company’s name or business focus; and to check out the person selling the stock or investment.


The full  Marijuana Stock Scams Investor Alert is at: http://tinyurl.com/kxcdg29 .

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