National Cannabis Industry Association lobbies Washington for federal marijuana business law reform


Dozens of state-legal marijuana business owners and representatives from all over the country converged on Washington D.C. yesterday to pitch The Small Business Tax Equity Act to members of the U.S. House and Senate.

The bill – a brief, single page addendum to current tax laws – fixes current tax laws in the United States to allow for medical marijuana businesses to take the same deductions as other legal businesses are allowed to take on their federal returns. Currently, they are stuck paying the entire bill, which some say nearly doubles what they should really owe the government.

“You can’t deduct rents, payroll, so it’s been a tough sale for us to come out and get capital from investors,” Pete O’Neil, a partner at C&C dispensary in Seattle tells Slate writer David Weigel.
The pitch was part of the larger day of action by the National Cannabis Industry Association, their third such day in as many years. With marijuana legal in some form or another in 21 states and Washington D.C. itself, there are hundreds if not thousands of cannabis business out there affected by current tax codes.

Washington D.C.

The bill even has the backing of conservatives like Grover Norquist, who said the bill would correct some grave mistakes not foreseen back in the Reagan era when the tax laws were changed (known in tax land as code 280E) to make it easier to prosecute criminals for tax evasion.
“In an attempt to deny tax deductions connected to the illegal drug income of street dealers, Congress accidentally imposed a gross receipts tax on legal cannabis dispensaries a generation later,” Norquist wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
But not all conservatives are on board, of course. Weigel pitched the bill himself to Texas Rep. Joe Barton, a man who is about as Texas Reagan-Republican Conservative as it gets, and gets the tired old answer from the 64-year-old lawmaker.
“I don’t think marijuana helps people,” Barton said. “I think it hurts over time. I don’t want Congress to pre-empt the state of Colorado. If the banks won’t take the money, well, good for the banks. If inadvertent regulation of banks prevents people from using marijuana, I’m for preventing people from using marijuana.”