California Bill Would Give Tax Credits to Cannabis Retailers

A California Senate proposal would create new tax credits for state-licensed cannabis retailers to lift some of the financial pressures off legal operators.

Full story after the jump.

A bill introduced in California aims to create tax credits for the state’s cannabis retailers as lawmakers seek to help the industry compete with the unregulated market. State Sen. Scott Weiner (D) said the proposal is necessary due to the high taxes imposed on the industry which leaves legal operators unable to compete.

Under the legislation, legal cannabis businesses would receive a tax credit equal to the amount of the following qualified business expenses: employment compensation, safety-related equipment and services, employee workforce development, and safety training. The measure has the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council.

“Our legal cannabis businesses are facing hard times, and it’s time we stepped up to support them. By ensuring their success, we can keep employees working for fair wages in good conditions, we can stop illegal and illicit sales from dominating the market, and most importantly, we can keep cannabis access equitable for all Californians.” – Weiner in a press release

This bill would establish a carryforward cannabis tax credit that is equal to the amount of the qualified business expenditures paid or incurred for in a taxable year, including employee compensation that is equal to or above 150% of minimum wage including benefits, safety-related equipment and services, and workforce development and safety training for employees.

Amber Baur, executive director for the UFCW Western States Council, said the union is backing the bill because it “aligns with that long-held vision by ensuring legal cannabis employers invest in their workers and provide safety for consumers and communities.”

Weiner’s office estimates that legal cannabis sales in California are about half of the $8 million realized in the unregulated market. Due to federal prohibition, cannabis businesses are unable to file for tax deductions and credits related to normal overhead expenses.

The bill, which was introduced last month, is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

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