The OC Register recently published an interesting article on the growing medical marijuana business, focusing on the fact that several celebrities, including most recently Roseanne Barr, famous for her long-running sit-com Roseanne. Other celebrities include B-Real of Cypress Hill, noted hemp-wearer Woody Harrelson, and Snoop Dogg. Although Medical Marijuana can be legal in California and dispensaries can operate if they follow state and local guidelines, there has yet to be a corresponding legalization under Federal law. However, the Obama administration has not been shutting down all of these businesses operating in plain site despite the violation of Federal law.
Because of the violation of Federal law, marijuana dispensaries navigate a “hazy” path in tax compliance. Joseph Wilson, with whom the author of this post works with at Wilson Tax Law Group, has an excellent series of articles on the subject, and the second of that series on this point can be found here.
Many counties and cities, including Santa Ana, have been moving to create both incentives and regulatory regimes to encourage responsible medical marijuana dispensaries to open up. Hoping to be on the cutting edge of the industry, these counties may increase sales tax revenues and revenues through permits and fines, and perhaps employment. As I have discussed in a prior post, Santa Ana has struggled with revenues compared to wealthier Orange County cities like Newport Beach.
Daniel Layton, the author of this post, is the principal of Tax Attorney OC.