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The smoke slowly clears on marijuana laws


The electorate obviously have spoken, and shortly leisure marijuana shall be broadly bought right here in Massachusetts, following a gradual and ongoing rollout of medicinal dispensaries. As it has in different states, the budding new trade will include many regulatory complexities, and along side them, the lingering factor of the government status at odds with state legislation. CPAs doubtlessly attractive shoppers within the marijuana trade have extra assurances that they’re legally secure however will have to remember that the bottom may just abruptly shift.

Already the Massachusetts legislature has greeted the possibility of marijuana constitutionality with some warning, delaying the overall implementation of the legislation whilst additionally bearing in mind amending the citizen referendum in different ways, together with expanding the marijuana excise tax. Thus the legislation itself stays a piece in development as a legislative committee convenes to suggest amendments.

For suppliers of professional services and products bearing in mind running within the marijuana trade, in Massachusetts or some other state that allows it, warning is also a smart method, for the felony war nonetheless lingers: The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration has stood by means of its August determination that marijuana remains to be in probably the most restrictive class for U.S. legislation enforcement functions. And the brand new management taking form in Washington very most probably gained’t calm down the DEA’s stance. Incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a vocal critic of the constitutionality of marijuana, despite the fact that at his affirmation listening to he didn’t draw a troublesome line on states’ rights to create and put in force their very own marijuana regulations. The excellent information for the felony marijuana trade is that Sessions appeared to recognize that useful resource constraints would require the government to seem the opposite direction as states proceed to come to a decision their very own marijuana destinies.

More reassuring is the inside track that state governing our bodies of professional services and products, together with accounting, have moved to explain that execs gained’t face repercussions for offering services and products to the marijuana trade. For example, in Massachusetts, the Board of Public Accountancy in February issued a observation assuring accountants that it wouldn’t take motion towards folks and companies that paintings on felony marijuana shoppers. It cautioned, alternatively, that corporations nonetheless chance being at odds with federal legislation, however the board made crucial transfer by means of in impact serving to to appease the worries of the Massachusetts accounting career.

A marijuana-growing industry

Bloomberg News

It’s now not transparent crusing, alternatively. Many banks stay cautious of taking up marijuana industry. They have deferred to laws underneath the Cole Memo, which lays out 9 standards for state-chartered banks to apply that might permit them to just accept deposits from marijuana companies with out worry of prosecution. However, with few exceptions, bankers in Massachusetts and in other places are anticipating additional directions from the Division of Banks.

All the similar, the danger of federal intervention obviously is diminishing because the marijuana trade expands. marijuana introduced in an estimated $6.7 billion in gross sales remaining yr and 29 states have legalized medicinal marijuana. Eight states permit leisure use. It would seem the pony is out of the proverbial barn, however with a brand new president in position desperate to flex political muscle, a powerful display of federal keep an eye on at the factor isn’t past imagining.

As the marijuana trade launches in Massachusetts and in other places, there without a doubt shall be an in depth regulatory focal point and ongoing hurdles, together with hurdles felony and fiscal, to transparent. And there’s no query that a complicated trade dealing with a raft of legislation requires the intensity of revel in and professionalism that CPAs convey.


Amy Pitter

Amy Pitter

Amy Pitter is president and CEO of the Massachusetts Society of CPAs.



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