Politico.com’s Bernie Becker has this on Code section 280E’s tax disadvantage for marijuana:
THE CASE FOR 280E: As we’ve noted here previously, the five states that have a chance to legalize recreational marijuana next week could nudge Congress into rethinking some of their positions on pot. Among the potential debates: whether to end the current provision barring legal marijuana dealers from deducting many of their normal business costs.
The case for exempting legal marijuana dealers from section 280E of the tax code — which is aimed at drug traffickers — is pretty simple: The current setup is unfair to businesses that are otherwise following state and local law. (Side note: The semi-regular news conference about legislation to allow pot dealers those deductions, featuring the odd couple of Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, is one of Morning Tax’s favorite Capitol Hill events.)
As for the case for keeping 280E for even legal pot sellers, Pat Oglesby, a former Capitol Hill tax hand, maintains that the tax code section could be the most effective way to limit marijuana advertising, thus reducing the exposure to teenagers. “Maybe laws can’t stop marijuana marketing, but taxes can slow it down,” Oglesby wrote at Brookings last year. “While marketing feels the pinch of 280E, production doesn’t. So the impact of 280E’s tax policy is focused even within the marijuana industry. By hitting selling costs, 280E hurts primarily stores, not farms. That is, growers don’t suffer much; retailers do.”