Congress Introduces Three Bills to Help Growing Marijuana Industry
The marijuana lobby used to be considered a fringe group, made up of pot smoking college students handing out fliers. Today, the marijuana industry is a multi-billion dollar chunk of the US economy, with its own political lobby, fundraising, and even PACs. The lobby has been so successful in gaining political support that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have introduced three different bills aimed at helping marijuana businesses thrive in their newly legal standing.
The first bill is the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act which would allow marijuana businesses like medical dispensaries to get bank loans and credit card accounts. Currently, all marijuana retailers are only allowed to perform cash transactions. The bill has growing support with 24 cosponsors including two Republicans – Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman and California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
The second bill is the Small Business Tax Equity Act which would allow marijuana businesses to write off expenses like rent and supplies on their tax returns just like any other business. Drug related tax write-offs have been specifically banned since the 1980s when a drug dealer tried to write off a yacht as a business expense. Because marijuana businesses can’t write off their expenses, they have an effective tax rate of 87.5 percent, compared with regular businesses that have a tax rate of 35 percent.
The third bill is the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act which would stop the federal government from enforcing federal anti-marijuana laws and raids in states where the drug is legal. The bill would also prevent the federal government from prosecuting anyone buying or using marijuana in states where it’s legal. The bill has 20 cosponsors, four of whom are Republican.
Now a legitimate industry, marijuana businesses are among the most rapidly growing markets in the US. According to the ArcView Group, legal marijuana-related profits are expected to increase by 64 percent in 2014, to a grand total of $2.34 billion. With Colorado and Washington serving as test cases, the marijuana lobby is now pushing for legalization in states like Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Oregon. Alaska will have a voter initiative on marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2014.
(Image courtesy of Laurie Avocado)