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Federal inaction spells bad news for marijuana business

FORTUNE — The extremely slow pace at which the federal government is moving toward its inevitable legalization of marijuana is creating two major problems, one short-term and one long-term.

In the short term, an industry that most Americans want to see legitimized is severely hampered by the fact that what it does is a still serious federal crime. In the long term, the lack of federal oversight now, in the industry’s nascent stages, will almost certainly end up with the pot business consolidated in the hands of a few big companies with enormous political and economic power, to the detriment of its own customers, people who work in the business, the environment, and our social well-being.

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