Marijuana Business Magazine - February 2018

Q&A Five Questions with US Sen. Cory Gardner M embers of Congress have made several attempts in recent years to roll back the 280E provision of the federal tax code for state- licensed cannabis businesses. U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, tried again in the waning days of 2017, attaching an amendment to the Senate’s version of the GOP tax bill. He was unsuccessful. Gardner, a first-term senator, represents a new breed of conservatives. Unlike U.S. Attorney General Jeff Ses- sions – known for his war-on-drugs attitude toward can- nabis – Republicans like Gardner adhere to more classic GOP principles of states’ rights, low business taxes and following the will of voters. That means allowing states with legal marijuana programs to operate and giving MJ businesses a fair shake at paying federal taxes. It’s why Gardner is also co-sponsoring the Small Busi- ness Tax Equity Act, which would make state-licensed cannabis companies exempt from 280E. In an interview with Marijuana Business Magazine, Gardner said he’s not done pushing the issue in Congress. (Note: This interview was conducted before U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked Obama-era protections for states with legal marijuana industries.) Why wasn’t the 280E amendment included in the tax bill that passed the Senate? We had two amendments we put forward. We were trying to allow business deductions to occur for busi- ness expenses, and we were pushing for a score (an estimate of the revenue impact). That’s a process-y way of saying, in order to get a bill considered without having to have a 60-vote threshold, we had to get a score from the Joint Committee on Taxation. We didn’t get that score in time, which meant it was a 60-vote threshold. And we were afraid that if we pushed it, and we didn’t have 60 votes, we’d lose. And we were afraid Congressional Cannabis Update By John Schroyer that would hurt our efforts to try to push it in the confer- ence committee. Do you think a version of that, perhaps one of the versions of the Small Business Tax Equity Act, has any real chance of passing in the next 12-24 months? We’ve got a lot of education to do. What I discovered through this process, we had some members of the Senate who were supportive. We had some who were very up to speed on the need for the legislation. But we had others who were just clueless. In fact, I had one unnamed senator make a joke to me. He said, “While you guys may have potheads, I have Baptists.” So you can see the kind of work we have to do, because there’s a lot of education that has to take place. 16 • Marijuana Business Magazine • February 2018