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By Dan Mitchell
February 18, 2015

There are many bits of stock-trading wisdom that, simply because they are both wise and obvious-sounding, have become clichés: “Buy low, sell high.” “Don’t catch a falling knife.” “Nobody ever went broke by taking profits.” The list goes on.

Now we might have a new one, thanks to the folks putting on an event for would-be investors in the newly emerging legal-pot business: “Be wary of marijuana companies that don’t exist.” So advises a press release touting the Marijuana Investment and Private Retreat.

“The average consumer hears all day long how the increasingly legalized cannabis industry is booming and a Mecca for aspiring marijuana business owners,” according to the release. “What they don’t hear, however, are ways ordinary citizens (e.g., non-millionaires) can also capitalize on this new industry by investing in marijuana stocks.”

Any seminar that had only the interests of “the average consumer” in mind would stop there and say, “Don’t invest in marijuana stocks at all unless you have a little cash that you’re totally OK with losing.” But that wouldn’t make for much of a retreat—it would be over before the mid-morning munchies set in.

To their credit, the event sponsors say they’ll “teach investors how to invest without falling for the many fraudulent stocks and scams that come with investing in a new industry,” and note that many pot stocks trade over the counter, and in some cases aren’t even backed by assets, much less revenue streams (that’s what they mean by companies that “don’t exist.”) Such stocks represent nothing more than ideas, if that. That includes nearly all pot stocks at the moment.

Keynote speaker Alan Brochstein, identified in the press release as a “certified cannabis financial analyst” and founder of 420 Investor, said: “Even those companies that file with the SEC have red flags that include complex capital structures, non-viable business plans, a lack of industry experience and leadership, and many other potential pitfalls.”

Other scheduled speakers are: Tripp Keber, founder of Dixie Elixirs; Wanda James, president of Cannabis Global Initiative; and Christie Lunsford, a consultant and a veteran in the marijuana business.

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