RSS Marijuana Investing News
  • Marijuana News Is Moving December 19, 2018
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  • Rights Groups, Unions Call for Ending Marijuana Prohibition December 14, 2018
    A coalition of major civil rights organizations, labor unions and other groups is calling on Congress to completely remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and divert revenue to communities that have been harmed by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition.   “Pass legislation de-scheduling marijuana with racial equity and justice reform components,” reads one recommendation […]
    Marijuana Moment
  • How Trump Government Shutdown Threat Could Affect Marijuana December 13, 2018
    President Donald Trump is threatening to shut down the government if Democrats refuse billions of dollars in funding for a border wall — but the consequences of that action would extend far beyond border security. WASHINGTON (AP) — Trump threatens gov't shutdown in heated meeting with Dem leaders over border wall, squabbling over election results. […]
    Marijuana Moment
  • Elon Musk Confesses: ‘I Have No Idea How To Smoke Pot’ December 12, 2018
    Elon Musk got himself into a bit of trouble after smoking marijuana during an appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast in September 2018. The move reportedly led to NASA launching an investigation into his company SpaceX’s “workplace safety” and “adherence to a drug-free environment.” But now, in a new interview 60 Minutes, the Tesla founder indicated […]
    Marijuana Moment
  • Cannabis May Qualify for Study Grants as ‘Natural Product’ December 11, 2018
    Federally funded research into marijuana seems to be escalating, with one government agency recently posting a roundup of current “cannabinoid-related funding opportunities” for studies investigating the plant’s therapeutic potential. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) on Dec. 8, 2018, shared a list of four research grant opportunities for studies on “natural products” […]
    Marijuana Moment
  • Surgeon General: Schedule I Hinders Researching Marijuana December 7, 2018
    U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the federal government should rethink how it classifies drugs like marijuana Dec. 6, 2018, voicing concern that the plant’s current status as a strictly controlled Schedule I substance inhibits research. Adams, who’s previously expressed interest in expanding research into the use of cannabinoids for therapeutic purposes, made the comment […]
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  • Colorado County Considers Canceling Cannabis Convictions December 6, 2018
    BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Prosecutors in a Colorado county are preparing to dismiss and seal thousands of marijuana possession convictions after state voters legalized the use and sale of cannabis in 2012. The Boulder Daily Camera reported that the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office as part of a “Moving on from Marijuana” program has identified […]
    Associated Press
  • GOP House Leader Calling for Legal Marijuana in Rhode Island December 5, 2018
    The Republican leader in Rhode Island’s House of Representatives thinks the state should fully legalize marijuana. But while that news would typically bode well for reform efforts in state legislatures, the problem is that the Democratic speaker isn’t quite on board — and the House is dominantly controlled by Democrats. In an interview with Rhode […]
    Marijuana Moment
  • ‘Compromise’ Medical Marijuana Bill is Made Into Law in Utah December 4, 2018
    Utah lawmakers approved a controversial medical marijuana bill in a special session Dec. 3, 2018. There’s your final vote on the medical marijuana “compromise.” #utpol pic.twitter.com/w9Ip3KQE8E — Robert Gehrke (@RobertGehrke) December 3, 2018 During the Nov. 6, 2018, election, Utah voters passed a separate medical cannabis initiative, Proposition 2, that would allow patients with certain […]
    Marijuana Moment
  • Study: Vaporizing Flower Produces A More Intense High Than Traditional Smoking Methods December 4, 2018
    Vaping marijuana flower gets you higher than smoking it, according to a new study published in an American Medical Association journal. To test the difference, researchers started by recruiting 17 people who’d consumed cannabis in the past year but had abstained for at least one month. Each individual participated in six sessions that lasted 8 1/2 […]
    Marijuana Moment
mentor36 April 15, 2019

Editor’s Note: This is the second piece in a two-part series delving into tax issues. Part one discussed tax code 280E as it pertains to cannabis businesses. Part two will go into research and development credits, 199A and a discussion of risk as it relates to Qualified Opportunity Zones. 


While 280E is the most influential code section for the cannabis industry, structuring never happens in a vacuum. There are many open questions that each business must answer for themselves without court adjudication. We believe that among the riskiest of questions is whether a cannabis business can claim research and development credits.

There is no clear legal authority that either allows these credits or disallows them but certainly utilizing such credits comes at great risk. At the beginning of this article we talked about Congress and the purpose of 280E. Congress’s intention was to make sure that only the minimum required tax deductions were available to Schedule 1 and 2 sellers. A cannabis business receiving a research and development credit would not be with the intension of Congress. While the credits would be computed based on COGS expenditures, at this time we do not believe that a cannabis business should take this credit. Disallowance of COGS would create a constitutional challenge which is why Congress allowed the COGS deduction. Disallowance of Research and Development Credits does not open up the same constitutional issue since the credit is not part of COGS although calculated based on COGS expenditures. 280E states very clearly that credits arising from other code sections are disallowed in the entirety.

More recently the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) opened up new issues for cannabis companies that are still unfolding. Two of the most publicized are Qualified Opportunity Funds and Section 199A, the 20% deduction (Qualified Business Deduction).

The 199A deduction allows eligible pass-through entities to claim an additional deduction of 20% of the income (subject to certain limitations) at the individual level potentially lowering the tax rate from 37% to 29.6%. While the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and others have asked the IRS to clarify if 280E would make a cannabis business ineligible, the final regulations on the subject did not address this issue. There are other significant limitations and hurdles in 199A regulations that any business would have to first pass to be considered for the rate deduction. If a cannabis business meets all other eligibility and limitation criteria, should the pass-through income to their investors be qualified income under 199A? The answer will depend on whether the courts will treat this “deduction” as falling under the general prohibition of 280E.

We believe that there is a reasonable chance that the courts will allow the 199A deduction for cannabis companies. That does not mean, however, that we advise cannabis companies to claim this on their pass-through returns as Qualified Business Income. Much like everything else, it depends on the particular business and the risk profile that management is willing to tolerate. This is one area of tax law that is sure to be challenged in court. The more risk-averse business should pass on claiming this deduction on their returns, but monitor development with an eye to amending at a later date if favorable precedent emerges. If the amounts are large enough, consideration should be given to applying for a Private Letter Ruling, but that also has its own tax risks.

Another new tax incentive that was in the TCJA was Section 1400Z or Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZ). The incentive allows for the deferral of capital gains until December of 2026. The use of 1400Z also results in up to a 15% decrease in capital gains tax- and tax-free appreciation if all requirements are met. While the IRS has only released proposed regulations and we anticipate significant changes to them when they are released as final, there was nothing in the proposed regulations limiting cannabis businesses from using Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOF) in their structure. It is interesting to note that the TCJA and proposed regulations did list other types of businesses that could not make investments under 1400Z along with all its benefits. Liquor stores, golf courses and sun tan parlors were among those listed but cannabis growers and dispensaries were not.

As the industry continues to mature, new issues and precedents will require CPAs and attorneys to find new solutions to best serve the industry.Using Opportunity Zones to entice investors sounds like a great opportunity, but there are significant risks. The first risk is that the proposed regulations, while currently proposed, may not be final. There is always a chance that the IRS will take a different position when the final regulations are released and add cannabis to the type of businesses that do not qualify. Another risk, and one that was previously mentioned as part of 199A and other areas of structuring, is that the IRS and the courts can always disagree with the taxpayer’s position. This is a new area of tax law and will eventually be litigated. The loss of the Opportunity Zone benefits can significantly change the return to the investors and lead to other issues.

All of these issues come into play when structuring businesses in this industry. These issues must be evaluated as they pertain to the business needs. This can be very complex and requires a great deal of research for each business opportunity. We have found that professionals operating in this industry like to know about all of their options. The most important thing we can do for the industry is to continue to educate the professionals working in it.

Accountants should be available to assist their clients and their clients’ attorneys with structuring techniques aimed at asset protection and minimizing 280E disallowances. Accountants should also be ready to speak to the questions outlined above and be prepared to explain the risks associated with each choice. As the industry continues to mature, new issues and precedents will require CPAs and attorneys to find new solutions to best serve the industry.

© 2018 Highline Media Group