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Lauren Downes, left, an employee at the Seattle area's second recreational marijuana retail store, Herbal Nation, sells $99.64 worth of weed to customer Matt, no last name given, at the store's "soft launch" Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Bothell, Wash. (AP Photo/, Jordan Stead)

Legal or not, the pot business is still wacky

NEW YORK — Legal or not, the business of selling weed in the U.S. is as wacky as ever.

The tangle of rules and regulations that govern whether and how it can be grown, bought and sold create complexity and ambiguity that cause major headaches for marijuana businesses — and enticing opportunities for those who want to exploit it.

Marijuana is a gray market industry, mainly because the nation hasn’t decided whether marijuana is a dangerous illegal drug, a medicine, or not much worse than tobacco or alcohol.

There are legitimate new businesses proliferating in the 23 states where pot is now legal. But there are also shady public companies trying to lure investors, consultants with little experience trying to elbow into the industry and wild claims about pot’s medicinal benefits.