Thursday, February 28, 2013

Medical Pot to be Taxed Three Times, If Washington Law Passes

Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would apply a 25 percent tax at each of the growing, distribution and selling levels involved with medical marijuana.

Steve Schechter, owner of a dispensary, told the The Everett Herald that a an ounce of pot currently going for $280 in his shop would go up to $350 if the new law goes into effect. Schechter added that the price hike would price medical cannabis out of the reach of those who need it the most.

There's also no guarantee that the revenue will be put toward any research regarding pot, rather than being absorbed into the larger state budget.

The taxes are being proposed on cannabis flagged for medical use because without it, pot sold in dispensaries would be cheaper than marijuana sold for recreational use. Local and state sales taxes would also be charged.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oregon Congressman Puts Name on Legislation to End Pot Prohibition, Allow Standard Business Deductions for Dispensaries

While many congressmen say something should be done about marijuana, Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer is taking up the cause of actual federal reform of marijuana laws, Politico reports.

Blumenauer, along with 13 other co-sponsors, introduced legislation that would allow medical marijuana use at the federal level and allow dispensaries to take deductions other business are allowed to take.

Though many states have OK'd the medical use of pot (most by popular vote), the federal government continues to shut down dispensaries on the grounds of violating drug laws and despite promises made by President Barack Obama that he would not make medical marijuana prosecutions a priority.

The IRS has ruled dispensaries are not eligible for standard business deductions such as rent and payroll. Without these deductions, a dispensary's tax rate could hit 75 percent.

"Frankly, the people in the federal hierarchy are in an impossible position," Blumenauer said. "[This bill] gets the federal government and the Department of Justice out of this never-never land."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pot Sells Out — MBAs Poised to Invade Legalized Marijuana Industry

Though the popular image of the medical marijuana grower and dealer is of a hippie eschewing anything to do with "the man," button-down Ivy League MBAs — for better or worse — are becoming the new face of legalized cannabis.

Seattle NPR affiliate KPLU profiles Privateer Holdings, which developed the Leafly website (known as the Yelp of medical marijuana). With the passage of legalized pot in Washington, the company's partners, Yale MBAs, have employed lobbyists to push legislators to allow large scale grow operations.

But that's not all — Privateer Holdings wants the cannabis industry to start taking cues from more mature agricultural markets. "If you go Nebraska, if you go to Lincoln, Nebraska and you look at corn there’s corn banks and corn insurance and agricultural supply houses and corn associations and high fructose corn syrup and there’s hundreds of sub industries around corn and all of those opportunities will exist in the cannabis industry," Brendan Kennedy, one of the partners, said.

However, other aren't so thrilled with the prospect of marijuana becoming King Cannabis.

Alison Holcomb, who spearheaded the Initiative 502 effort that legalized recreational pot in Washington and Drug Policy Director for the ACLU of Washington stated in a letter to the liquor control board, "Large industries that have large overhead and are interested in maximizing their profits are going to target their advertising in ways to promote marijuana use, not simply meet current demand where it currently exists."