Cannabis-Related Businesses In Pro-Pot States Face Hurdles

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Without a law of the land in place, confusion is bound to crop up and this is exactly what cannabis-related businesses in the U.S. are dealing with. States are taking the initiative to decriminalize marijuana and/or approve use for the medicinal or recreational sectors. However, those new laws stop at a state’s geographic borders – and some neighbors might not be so welcoming. Even as awareness and acceptance increases, major opportunities like the Super Bowl are being missed and the Cannabis World Congress Business & Exposition (CWCBExpo) wants all attendees to be on the same page.

From the commercial perspective, Cannabis Business Times raises a few pertinent points: The industry as a whole was worth $11 billion in 2018 and “66 percent of Americans now support marijuana legalization.” Still, a blanket federal-level approval of cannabis-related ventures has yet to be seen and this means applicable rules will vary as we crisscross the country. CWCBExpo is well aware of these hurdles and the tri-annual event gives guests the chance to share insight and suggestions on how to keep pushing ahead as inevitable legalization inches ever closer.

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What are cannabis-related businesses facing in the current fiscal, advertising and legal climate?

  • Acreage Holdings is a medicinal marijuana company and Bill Weld, a member of the company’s board, was a CWCBExpo speaker in Boston this past fall. The company hoped to show a commercial during this year’s Super Bowl game on CBS. While the television network didn’t give Time magazine a comment as to why they shot the idea down, Acreage hoped to “create an advocacy campaign” for the legalization of medical marijuana.
  • A “cash-only” cannabis business in a legalized state sounds like a fool’s errand. According to the Deseret News newspaper of Salt Lake City, Utah, “banks and credit unions don’t want to work with cannabis-related businesses and risk running afoul of regulators.” Now, lawmakers are learning that there’s no easy fix but something needs to be done to spare tax offices from having to process proceeds paid in cash.
  • While decriminalization in California was a major step that took effect in January 2018, tax revenue came in well under what was projected and lawmakers have had to mull a tax break on the product as to “help [legal businesses] thrive and better compete with the underground market.”

Until an all-encompassing solution is presented, business owners and those looking to enter the industry are going to need to deal with a hodgepodge of hurdles. CWCBExpo, which will hold 2019 events in New York City, Los Angeles and Boston, giving cannabis-related businesses that attend a place to discuss their challenges and learn from those navigating these hurdles what has worked elsewhere.

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