Think business advisorsThe trend toward the legalization of marijuana has led to an expansion in businesses that sell cannabis. However, it is of utmost importance that those planning to start such businesses have a full understanding of cannabis policy at the local, state, and federal levels.

Cannabis can today be legally used by adults in the District of Columbia and in 15 states that include the entire West Coast and others in the Northeast and Midwest. The use of cannabis for medical purposes is allowed in 19 other states, including New York, Pennsylvania, and the rest of those that comprise the American Northeast, in Florida, and in a line of states in the central part of the country stretching from Minnesota to Louisiana. Cannabis remains illegal in the rest of the states, from Wisconsin in the Midwest to Georgia and Texas in the South.

The federal government has for more than 80 years classified marijuana as an illegal substance. Although the U.S. Justice Department generally does not interfere with state marijuana regulations, there are many local rules governing cannabis properties. Zoning laws and other rules must be followed for a business to legally sell cannabis articles.

Whether you’re just starting to develop a medical marijuana cultivation business plan, or in the process of growing your current marijuana consulting firm there are certain cannabis business resources all owners should be aware of and utilize. The cannabis business is just like any other industry in many ways, but there are unique properties to take advantage of and protect yourself from. Here are three of the most important cannabis business resources for any fledgling company.

1.) Legal: Laws and regulations are complex and extensive across the business world, but the differences between states, local, and federal government rules regarding cannabis vary greatly. For example, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This makes enlisting the help of the right lawyers one of the most crucial cannabis business resources. If you don’t know and follow the laws you will find yourself in a very detrimental situation quickly.

2.) Medical: The evolution of the way cannabis is viewed in the healthcare community has been one of the biggest cannabis business developments. The stigma attached to marijuana has come a long way since the days of reefer madness. Currently, 66% of doctors approve of marijuana for medical use. In 2012 there were more than 20 cannabinoids being studied for medical use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The trend is clear, but you need experts in the industry to keep you updated and informed on new developments, findings, and research in terms of medical properties to be a leader in the industry.

3.) Marketing: Advertising and branding are vital to any business and the cannabis world is no different. A quality marketing strategy can set you apart from the plethora of similar shops that are popping up across the country. If you’re not experienced in the advertising world it’s important to find an expert or company that can help you with medical marijuana business branding.