Proposals Would Help Legitimize Medical Pot, Ease Financial Pressures on Marijuana Dispensaries

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You’ve got to be happy to see this development: Federal lawmakers submitted a proposal in Congress this week to “allow medical marijuana dispensaries to take the full range of business expense deductions on their federal tax returns, just like other legal businesses are permitted to do under the law,” according to an article in the Colorado Independent.

And that’s not all. Another bill would allow banks to offer financial services to medical marijuana centers and related businesses, and yet another proposal would essentially shelter pot businesses adhering to state laws from federal drug prosecution, according to the Associated Press.

The proposals address three very important issues for the industry. Several dispensary owners I’ve spoken with have cited their frustration with the fact that they can’t claim deductions, which can amount to a good chunk of change. At the same time, most U.S. banks refuse to work with medical marijuana dispensaries, citing the fact that the businesses are illegal under federal law. That makes it hard for new entrants to get loans and difficult for existing dispensaries to obtain financing for growth or daily business needs.

The importance of the last proposal goes without saying. It would be a watershed development, allowing responsible dispensary owners to go about their business without fear of a raid.

Just as importantly, these would go a long way toward fully legitimizing the industry. Think about it: Although medical marijuana would still technically be illegal under federal law, the government would in effect tax it like every other business, allow dispensaries to open accounts and obtain loans through banks, and defer to state drug laws covering the industry. Sounds pretty legal to me.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This will be a tough slog, as there remains plenty of opposition among lawmakers to the legalization (or anything that resembles it) of medical marijuana. So don’t break out the party joints, er, hats just yet.