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Last year was a busy time for small business owners. Between federal action on tax and immigration to state action on minimum wage and family leave, it might've seemed like you spent more time trying to keep pace with legal updates than running your small biz.

Well, here's the bad news first: 2018 isn't likely to get any simpler. But the good news is we're here for you, highlighting the new laws and legal trends you'll need to keep an eye on this year.

If you were just getting your cannabiz off the ground, yesterday's news might've been quite the buzzkill. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded several Obama-era directives curtailing enforcement of federal prohibitions on the possession and sale of marijuana.

The memo directs U.S. Attorneys to "enforce the laws enacted by Congress and to follow well-established principles when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana activities." So does this mean the feds are going to be raiding sellers in weed-legal states?

When most of us think "human trafficking," we think of semi trucks loaded with immigrants, some tragically not surviving the journey. We're generally not thinking about $700/night Ritz-Carlton hotels in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

But human trafficking has many different faces, requiring many different people to be vigilant in the fight against it. Recently, the focus has turned to training employees and managers in restaurants, hotels, and others in the hospitality industry to prevent, spot, and report human trafficking. Here's why:

Chicago pizzeria and beer garden Bottled Blonde first gained notoriety with a page-long dress code outlawing, among a litany of items, "plain white tees, long tees, denim, flannel (not even around one's waist) or zippers on shirts," "Jordans, Nike Air Max or Air Force Ones," or sports jerseys, and "Hawaiian, tie dye, floral, skull prints or anything else obnoxious."

The restaurant/bar/nightclub is now getting headlines for its fight against the city's liquor commission, claiming the revocation of its liquor license contravened state laws, which Bottle Blonde also contends are unconstitutional.

Just because your state legalized it doesn't mean it's going to be smooth sailing all the way to the bank for your cannabiz. First, there are the hundreds of pages of state rules and regulations for recreational pot sales. Then come the racketeering lawsuits.

Bloomberg reports that individuals, businesses, and even states frustrated with the teeming weed industry have turned to federal RICO statutes for help, including neighbors of a medical marijuana shop in Massachusetts.

Perhaps it's the holiday spirit; maybe it's the political state of the world; or it could be that you are just a generous and considerate entrepreneur. Whatever the reason, small business owners are looking for more ways to be charitable and give back to their local communities. And there's evidence that giving locally as a small business can mean getting a lot back in return.

So if you want to make sure your small business does good at the same time it does well, here are three ideas.

Just about every small business has some sort of Black Friday event or deal. From flash sales to door dashes to bargain bonanzas, there are myriad ways to take advantage of the nation's premier shopping holiday.

But with all this focus on consumers, make sure you don't forget about your biggest asset -- your employees. Here are three ways to take care of your employees on Black Friday.

Most entrepreneurs dream of getting their small business off the ground, and growing it into a self-sustainable enterprise. Other employees will take over the day-to-day operations and sales while you think big picture. They'll rise through the ranks, hire their own employees, and you'll be further removed from much of the work and the grind, but still sharing in the success and the profits.

Multi-level marketing puts a slightly different twist on that idea. Also known as MLM or network marketing, multi-level marketing is a sales system in which independent salespeople or distributors sell consumer products supplied by a specific company. Distributors get paid based on what they sell, and are encouraged to build their own sales force by recruiting, training, and supplying others to sell products, thereby earning a percentage of those sales. Done right, it's perfectly legal; done wrong, it's an illegal Ponzi scheme.

Startups and small businesses are often early adopters of cutting edge technology. And any technology that makes it easier for businesses to get paid by their customers is even more likely to get embraced by business owners.

From chip readers to cryptocurrencies, there are more alternative payment technologies than ever looking to replace cash transactions at the register. But, as with any new tech, those payment methods may carry some risks. Here's what you need to know.

When you're employing more than a handful of people, it can often be tempting to try to save a few dollars per employee, per day, whatever way possible. However, there's a difference between being more efficient and cutting legal corners. A recent federal lawsuit filed against Facebook is a good example of one big legal corner to avoid cutting.

The Facebook lawsuit alleges that the social media giant misclassified several types of employees as managers, and thus paid them as exempt employees (or more aptly, didn't pay them). Per the plaintiff's class action complaint, the company did so in order to avoid paying overtime to a large number of employees across the company. And if you think that as a small business owner, you can plead ignorance and be forgiven, you probably haven't had much experience dealing with the legal system.