Want to make money off of Canada’s medical marijuana program? You might want to move to Canada.
According to Reuters, which broke the story, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has been keeping an eye on American investors looking to put their money into Canadian medical marijuana – no doubt waiting for the right time to file charges of violating the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.
According to DEA officials, they are “most interested” in investments made in legal marijuana businesses both in states where pot is legal as well as international businesses, like the companies in Canada chosen to produce cannabis for the country’s medical pot program. Investors have been eyeing Canada’s program due to it’s size and scope. Officials say that legal medical cannabis is going to grow into a $1.3 billion (Canadian) industry by 2024.
Some companies, like Privateer Holdings in Seattle, have opened up Canadian branches to take advantage of the law changes. Others, though, are doing things from the U.S., which raises the eyes of the DEA. Mostly, the DEA says they are looking for money laundering and drug trafficking, but with marijuana considered a federally illegal substance, even those supporting otherwise legal businesses in Canada could still face prosecution here in the states.
“That is two violations of U.S. federal law,” Timothy White, national risk specialist for Banker’s Toolbox Inc., told Reuters. “I don’t see there is any way around that.”
A former DEA agent interviewed anonymously for the story said that any American investors putting their money into Canadian pot have been severely ill-advised.
“If they sought legal advice on this, they were grossly underserved,” the anonymous agent said.
Instead, some say that the potential windfall of cash they think will come with legal pot blinds investors.
“Some investors look at this and think, ‘I’m getting in on the ground floor. I’m going to be part of the next Facebook of marijuana, and timing is everything,'” said Hilary Bricken, a Seattle-area lawyer. “‘I can buy in low and eventually sell super-high when legalization hits.’ That day may never come.”