Sen. Wyden co-sponsors bill for legal marijuana on tax issue

Legitimate pot businesses would get equal federal tax treatment and easier access to banks.

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Legitimate pot businesses would get equal federal tax treatment under a plan co-sponsored by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.

The ranking Democrat in the Senate Finance Committee also aims to make it easier for banks to deal with pot retailers, reports.

The Oregon senator, appearing at a Portland press conference with Portland Congressman Earl Blumenauer and other marijuana legalization supporters, wouldn’t say how he voted on last year’s measure in Oregon to allow recreational use of pot. But he made it clear that he paid attention when it passed with 56 percent of the vote.

“My personal ballot is not the issue,” said Wyden, who is up for re-election next year. “The question here as a legislator is making sure the will of the people of Oregon is carried out.”

The bill would replace a law enacted in 1982 that prohibited anyone dealing in controlled substances from claiming deductions after a drug dealer wrote off a yacht and weapons as business expenses.

The Associated Press  reports on Wyden and Blumenauer’s uphill fight:

The Republican-led Congress has largely opposed marijuana legislation, and President Obama, at a town hall in Jamaica, said: “I do not foresee anytime soon Congress changing the law at a national basis.”

Wyden and Blumenauer said the IRS rules are unfair and burdensome to marijuana business owners, who face tax rates of 70 to 90 percent. Many illegally take the deductions or go out of business, they said.

Lucrative Seattle-based pot investment firm eyes Oregon

Privateer Holdings, a Seattle equity firm that focuses on marijuana, completed a $75 million funding round.

The company has previously lobbied in Salem to ease restrictions for out-of-state investments in the state’s new legal pot market.

But their efforts may be for naught, Willamette Week reports.

Oregon Liquor Control Commission officials testified last week to the House-Senate committee on legal weed, saying that the agency’s statewide town halls on pot discovered consensus on setting residency requirements.

The OLCC said it found “overwhelming support for favoring small, existing, in-state marijuana growing operations in the licensing process over new, large, out-of-state ‘agri-business’ grow operations.” It also described “overwhelming support for issuing marijuana licenses to Oregon residents (two-year residency requirement) only.”

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