Marijuana industry could grow fast with tax bill
As marijuana businesses expand in Washington State, a bill being debated in Olympia could prompt the industry to grow even more.
Producers, processors and retail shop owners are closely watching HB 2136, which would rework some of the current regulations and change the tax structure. Some marijuana businesses say it's nearly impossible to make any money under the current tax structure.
"We've learned a lot since I-502 passed," says Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), the bill's primary sponsor. "This is an update, and a modernization of the current initiative."
Right now, marijuana laws apply a 25 percent excise tax on each level of the system: producer to a processor, processor to a retailer, and retailer to the customer. In addition, B&O taxes on the production and local retail sales taxes apply.
For those who operate as a producer and a processor, a common business model, they're hit with three taxes.
HB 2136 would collapse the tax burden, into one, 37 percent excise tax.
Large scale producer/processors, like OMG Sykes in Snohomish County, say simplifying the tax structure will allow businesses to more easily operate, and make money.
"With where the prices are in the market, it's very tough to compete," said John Knutsen, co-owner of OMG Sykes, one of the largest operations in the state.
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The cause of medicinal marijuana seemingly took a step forward in Tennessee this month when Gov. Bill Haslam signed a measure making an extract of marijuana legal for use in treating intractable epileptic seizures.
Initially, the legalization of non-intoxicating cannabidiol oil (CBD) was sought for child victims of particularly severe forms of epilepsy, but the final version of the bill has made CBD available for anyone suffering from debilitating seizures.
There is enough evidence of CBD’s effectiveness to convince former opponents like Dr. Sanjay Gupta and local leaders like physician state Sen. Mark Green.
However, many Tennessee families are still in the dark about whether CBD is available, what the procedures are for legally obtaining and using it, and how the process of determining eligibility is supposed to work.
Adding problems these families don’t need are questions as to whether CBD is still illegal under federal law and whether out-of-state providers are violating the law. The answers are important because CBD cannot be made in Tennessee.
Unfortunately, with the issue of medical marijuana in flux and subject to a confusing number of laws at different levels of government and at cross-purposes, the answers are far from clear.
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