Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tax us PLEASE: Marijuana Industry Pleads to Capitol Hill

"Tax us PLEASE"
That's the message that the marijuana industry and their backers want the federal government to hear. Since marijuana remains illegal under federal law, Washington's newly legalized marijuana industry wants the federal government to consider taxing it like alcohol and adding billions to the federal treasury. Not a bad proposal for a government looking for some extra cash. They're also hoping to cash in on some much-needed federal tax deductions in the process. 

The marijuana industry wants to be treated like every other legitimate business. They want to tax their product and take tax deductions for income like other small businesses. The idea is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill and has many legislators salivating over the extra revenue that taxing legalized marijuana could yield.

In the House of Representatives, there are already two pieces of legislation pending. The first would legalize marijuana, tax it, and regulate it nationally. Unfortunately, most in Washington do not expect this to pass anytime in the near future.

The other bill is called the Small Business Tax Equity Act and this would allow the IRS to give marijuana businesses some much-needed breaks on federal income taxes. If it passes, they could deduct their rent and other business expenses from federal taxes.

Marijuana advocates argue that if marijuana businesses are not treated like other businesses across the United States, then they are doomed to fail.

Since Attorney General Eric Holder has yet to announce how the federal government will respond to states like Washington who have legalized marijuana, marijuana sellers, growers, and distributors risk prison sentences or having their assets seized. In fact, federal DEA agents raided four medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington just last month.

“There’s not really any other industry in the country – let alone one that can bring in tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue – that’s standing up and raising its hand and saying we’re ready to step up to the plate and help the country solve its problems, but we are. We hope that Congress will hear us.
---Steve DeAngelo, Executive Director of the Harborside Health Center Marijuana Dispensary

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Washington State Braces for Possible Federal Lawsuit

It has been six months since Attorney General Eric Holder told us that the Justice Department's response to Colorado and Washington's legalization of marijuana was coming soon.  No word has been received yet, so the State of Washington is preparing for the worst-case scenario: a federal lawsuit.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has said that they are preparing for a federal lawsuit while at the same time moving forward with implementing the new legalized marijuana law. The regulatory framework is being finalized and should be finished by the end of the year. Rules are being worked out and everyone has been hard at work determining when and how to issue licenses to growers, distributors, and sellers.

The police in Seattle even got in on the mix when they handed out bags of Doritos to thousands of citizens who attended Hempfest this past weekend.

"We have a legal team, and I've asked them to prepare for a worst-case scenario, which would be a lawsuit. Again, we want to avoid that. I communicated that to Eric Holder earlier in the year, but we want to prepare for whatever eventuality may come along."
                                    ---Bob Ferguson, Washington Attorney General

Until the federal government responds to Washington's legalized marijuana law, the state will continue moving forward to uphold the will of the voters. Will Washington D.C. respect states' rights to legalize marijuana or will they dig their heels in and continue to fight? While no one knows for sure—we'll be prepared just in case.