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Medical Marijuana, Taxation, and Internal Revenue Code Section 280E

Douglas A. Kahn and Howard Bromberg

Abstract:

Congress enacted § 280E of the Internal Revenue Code in 1982 to punish businesses engaged in illegal drug trafficking, including marijuana. Section 280E denies all credits and deductions, including ordinary business expenses, from gross income of businesses illegally trafficking in a Schedule I or II controlled substance. This provision violates the principle that the tax code should foster a consistent treatment of income, regardless of source; and that the income tax is ill-used for punitive measures. Now that marijuana has been legalized in some form in at least 46 states for therapeutic purposes, this federal tax penalty transgresses principles of federalism. Recent scientific studies that have established the medical effectiveness of marijuana for certain conditions, further demonstrates that § 280E serves little legitimate purpose.

Citation

Douglas A. Kahn and Howard Bromberg (2020), Medical Marijuana, Taxation, and Internal Revenue Code Section 280E , National Tax Journal, 73:2, pp. 593-616

DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17310/ntj.2020.2.09