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Cory Gardner seeks some tax equity for pot purveyors

November 16, 2017 Updated: November 16, 2017 at 8:24 am
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Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner signed onto legislation that would allow pot entrepeneurs to utilize some common business deductions. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A lot of the workaday tax credits and deductions that businesses routinely use to trim Uncle Sam's take are still off-limits to Colorado's legal marijuana enterprises. That would change under legislation Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner signed onto this week as a co-sponsor.

As noted in a press release from Gardner's office, the legislation, introduced by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, would "ensure marijuana businesses legally operating in Colorado and other states that have legalized the sale of marijuana are able to utilize common business tax deductions and credits, such as those for normal business expenses or for hiring veterans."

The legislation underscores the continued rift over legal marijuana between the Trump administration and states like Colorado, and it highlights once again the irony of conservative Republicans like Gardner moving to shore up states' rights on the matter in the face of opposition from conservative Republican U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Despite the administration push-back, Gardner, quoted in the announcement by his office, comes across as an unflinching champion of free-market marijuana who might as well be saying, "Jeff who?"

"Our current tax code puts thousands of legal marijuana businesses throughout Colorado at a disadvantage by treating them differently than other businesses across the state . Coloradans made their voices heard in 2012 when they legalized marijuana and it's time for the federal government to allow Colorado businesses to compete. This commonsense, bipartisan bill will allow small businesses in Colorado and other states that have legal marijuana businesses to grow their operations, create jobs, and boost the economy."

The press release also notes bipartisan accolades for Gardner's embrace of the legislation:

"I commend Senator Gardner for fighting for Colorado's small businesses," said Sal Pace, former Democratic Leader in the Colorado State House and sitting Pueblo County Commissioner. "By sponsoring S.777, Senator Gardner is saying that he wants to put millions of dollars back into Colorado's economy. This is a watershed moment. We don't hear of a lot of bipartisanship these days. But, this Democrat wants to publicly thank Senator Gardner for his leadership."

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