Business Owners of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Los Angeles Not Treated Fairly

While medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles aren’t completely banned from applying for bank credit, they’re probably not going to get approved for it when they do. This is because anti-money laundering statutes are set up to stop illegal drug dealers. It is these statutes that are making banks hesitant to do business with legal dealers. Ironically, businesses that create and distribute products that have been proven to kill Americans are able to gain credit.
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Late last month, Democratic congressmen, Jared Polis of Colorado and Pete Stark of California, introduced bills to remedy the federal government’s bias against the owners of medical marijuana dispensaries, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Representative Polis’s bill would permit medical marijuana sellers to borrow from banks. Congressman Stark’s bill would allow them to deduct business expenses from their taxes.

Our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys believe that no small business owner should be denied access to financing. They shouldn’t be held to unfair tax rules either just because they run a kind business that some in government may not like. We must join together to fight for equal rights for our medical marijuana industry.

“It is simply wrong for the federal government to intrude and threaten banks that are involved in legal transactions,” said Polis.

The government needs to create a level playing field for business owners of all kinds. This is why Polis has decided to introduce his bill.

It’s not fair to the operators of medical marijuana dispensaries. They are up against a law that is designed to root out illegal drug dealers, terrorists, fraudsters, and money launderers. The government only uses this as a back-door way to make life difficult for company owners in the pot industry.

It’s simple. If Congress disagrees with state medical marijuana laws, it needs to challenge the legality of these laws directly rather than throw rules and impossible obstacles at them.

Consumers are not the concern of the government. For example, we have two business owners. One sells a product that researchers have concluded to be a major cause of health problems, from cancer to heart disease. The other business provides a medical treatment that doctors prescribe for glaucoma, pain, the side effects of chemotherapy and a number of other conditions. Surprisingly it is the first company, or the seller of cigarettes, that can apply to borrow from a bank and deduct expenses on income tax returns. The medical marijuana operator is shunned.

Ironically, the federal government continues to support the sale of cigarettes, a product that kills Americans. These are the same products that cause cancer, yet they continue to discourage the sale of medical marijuana, a product used to manage the side effects of a number of conditions.

Medical marijuana laws, from the state and the federal government, have created a fuzzy area for the public and law enforcement as the two rulings have left some citizens free to use the drug as they wish and others are left facing prosecution.

“It used to be black and white: Pot’s illegal. Period,” said Kelso Police Chief Andy Hamilto. Now, he says, it’s “maybe” OK to grow and smoke pot.

The medical marijuana industry is currently estimated as a $2 billion industry. It is expected to reach nearly $9 billion in the next five years. That’s just about the same size as the dry cleaning industry and laundry service industry. Ed Orcutt, an 18th District State Representative, says that pot is slowly becoming more accepted by the public.

By opposing the medical marijuana industry, the federal government is passing up a chance raise taxes in one of the few areas where such actions would face little opposition by business owners.

A 2005 study by Jeffrey Miron, then a visiting economics professor at Harvard, concluded that government spending could be cut by nearly $8 billion and tax revenue increased by more than $6 billion if marijuana sales were legalized and taxed at the same rate as tobacco and alcohol. This would equal a $14 billion improvement in the government budget.

This surely seems like objectives that government officials should be striving for when introducing bills into Congress.

A number of marijuana advocates say that the public is starting to see eye to eye with the industry, saying that pot can provide more benefits to patients with fewer side effects than some of the highly addictive opiate pain killers that are currently available and legal. Now all that’s left is to get the government to join our perspective.

“You’re starting to see a generation or two of folks who may have at one point in their lives experimented with marijuana and so they have direct experience with it,” said 19th District Rep. Brian Blake, D-Raymond, who voted for the Legislature’s medical marijuana dispensary bill. “It’s almost become mainstream.”

The CANNABIS LAW GROUP is a law firm dedicated to the rights of medical marijuana patients, collectives and growers and has built a reputation for high-powered, aggressive legal representation of the medical marijuana industry in Southern California. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Don’t Undermine the Medical Marijuana Industry, by Scott Shane, Bloomberg Businessweek
Attitudes shifting about marijuana as medical uses gain legitimacy, Ganja.com

More Blog Entries:

Yet Another Tax Aimed at Medical Marijuana Dispensaries — This Time in San Francisco, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, June 8, 2011

New Bill to Hold Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Los Angeles, Marijuana Lawyer Blog,June 16, 2011