Is it legal to invest in cannabis companies?

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

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With the legalisation of medicinal and recreational cannabis in Canada and certain states in the US, the industry has become big business in these countries.

So it would be unsurprising for investors in the UK to be interested in getting involved, but is this a good idea?

According to Katie Stephen, a partner at the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, you could risk breaking the law if you invest in a cannabis firm, because of the way that UK money laundering legislation works.

"If there’s a Canadian business that is operating entirely legitimately in Canada doing cannabis-related activities, if those activities would give rise to an offence in the UK, any proceeds from that business could be treated as proceeds of crime," she explained to BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"[Investors] need to be very cautious, particularly buying and selling shares, obtaining the proceeds of that by way of dividends or sales of shares, [or] becoming involved in transactions with businesses."

She said that it was unlikely for the UK to legalise cannabis "anytime soon", and that authorities still consider transactions involving the plants to be serious offences.