February 23, 2012

Medical Marijuana Pros, Cannabis Business Leaders Focus on Crucial MMJ Industry Tax Issue

Medical pot updates, cannabis dispensary news and marijuana developments

Several prominent medical cannabis professionals have banded together to form a new group that will focus on one of the most pressing issues facing the marijuana industry: Taxes.

The newly created 280E Reform Team is set to launch a nationwide campaign aimed at ratcheting up the pressure on the Internal Revenues Service, which the group says is trying to “turn back the clock” on medical cannabis by denying MMJ dispensaries the ability to deduct standard business expenses from their federal taxes.

“These denials result in astronomical back tax bills for the affected dispensaries that, if not changed, threaten to destroy the financial viability of every medical cannabis dispensary in the country—thereby ending safe and affordable access to cannabis for legally qualified patients,” the 280E Reform Team wrote in a press release about its efforts.

The group is named after a section of the tax code that the IRS uses as justification for its position. Under 280E, businesses that are engaged in the “trafficking” of controlled substances cannot claim tax deductions for expenses such as payroll and rent. It was crafted nearly three decades ago, long before states started approving the use and distribution of medical marijuana.

Some well-known names in the cannabis industry are behind the effort, including Don Duncan, the co-founder of Americans for Safe Access; Amir Daliri, co-founder of the California Cannabis Association and president of CannLobby; and Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center, a California medical marijuana dispensary.

The group is pushing for changes in the tax code that would allow dispensaries and other MMJ companies to deduct the same expenses that every other type of business in America can claim on their federal tax returns – similar to the type of legislation a Congressman introduced last year that would exempt medical marijuana businesses from 280E.

“We are going to challenge this tax code to make sure that patients all over America have the ability to safely fill their health care needs with safe access from medical cannabis providers who are operating clearly with state laws,” Henry Wykowski, the team’s lead tax attorney, said in the release. “This is a public safety issue and a healthcare right.”

The 280E Reform Team will hold a workshop entitled “The IRS is Coming! Are You Ready?” from 1 to 6 p.m. this Saturday in the main ballroom at Just Dance, 2500 Embarcadero, in Oakland, California; and from 1 to 6 p.m. on March 10 at the Courtyard Marriot, 925 Westlake Ave. N, in Seattle. You can register online at http://www.280Ereform.org or call 206-466-1766.

The group also hosts an open phone conference every Friday at noon pacific time to provide updates on its progress. You can access the calls by dialing 209-647-1000 and entering the password 154639.





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