Norquist Endorses Federal Tax Fix for Marijuana Dispensaries

by Betsy Woodruff

Sources confirm to National Review Online that Americans for Tax Reform is teaming up with the National Cannabis Industry Association to push for changes in the tax code that would help marijuana dispensary owners. Grover Norquist will appear at a joint press conference this week with representatives from the group.

Currently, the tax code keeps dispensary owners from writing off their business expenses, which means they face a much heavier tax burden than other businesses. As a result, they have to charge more for their product than they would otherwise. And that makes it easier for black market marijuana dealers to undercut their prices. That, in turn, undercuts one of the benefits most touted by marijuana-legalization advocates: that legalized sales will put black-market dealers out of business.

Reforming Section 280 of the tax code is one of the top short-term priorities for advocates of legal marijuana. At a hearing regarding Colorado and Washington’s marijuana laws in the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) asked Deputy Attorney General James Cole if the Department of Justice has a position on changing that section of the tax code.

Cole responded that it does not.

“That’s something that the United States Congress should probably, in its wisdom, take up and debate,” he said.

In June, Norquist joined Students for Sensible Drug Policy to push for marijuana decriminalization.