Cannabizness: Supporters, with No Opposition, Testify at Senate Tax Bill’s Hearing in Annapolis

By Van Smith

Baltimore, Jan. 17, 2019

Cannabis businesses, like all other legal enterprises in Maryland, would be able to write off standard business deductions on their taxes if state Sen. Ron Young’s Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) makes it into law. At today’s hearing on the bill before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, the lack of controversy over such a proposal was apparent: no naysayers came to testify, and the supporting testimony prompted no questions from committee members.

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State Sen. Ron Young (D-TK District, Frederick County) after giving testimony today in support of his tax bill to allow cannabis businesses take standard business deductions. (Photo: Van Smith)

Young stressed to the committee that Maryland medical cannabis growers, processors, dispensaries, or independent testing laboratories comprise the “only business in the state that is not allowed to take business deductions,” and the added cost “affects the price of cannabis.”

Young told two stories – one of a family with twins, now nine years old, whose survival of a form of fatal childhood epilepsy is attributed to cannabis; and another about his family dog, who was starting to show signs of age until “we put him on cannibis, and he’s acting much younger now.” – before casting SB 9 as “a matter of fairness” to a “growing business” that is “helping a lot of people” and “employing a lot of people.”

Carissa Cartelemi of Baltimore’s Starbuds dispensary – billed as “the first Starbuds location in Maryland” for the Colorado-based company – told the committee that her business is “really struggling” from not having the tax write-downs like other Maryland businesses, a situation she characterized as “a punishment.” Passing SB 9, Cartelemi added, “helps the thousands of patients who rely on us.”

The two lobbyists who spoke – Ashlie Bagwell for the Maryland Medical Dispensary Association and Joseph Bryce on behalf of the Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannibis Trade Association – stressed that, as Bagwell put it, SB 9 “does not create any kind of special treatment” for cannibis businesses, while Bryce said, “very simply, this is not a special break.”

 

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