Detail of cannabis leaf over american dollar bill – medical marijuana stock market conceptMore
Investors could get a tax break if they put money into companies with cannabis dispensaries in distressed economic areas, according to some legal experts, following the final release of Opportunity Zone regulations on December 19.
The Opportunity Zone program, created in 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, allows investors to defer or waive capital gains tax on investments in distressed economic areas. The program was designed to draw investment dollars to low-income communities in the U.S. And so far, there still isn’t any language excluding cannabis investments from the program.
“The idea that it [that cannabis investors might not be eligible for the program] is a point of controversy is just not true… It’s very uncontroversial as far as we’re concerned,” said James Mann, partner at Greenspoon Marder LLP tax practice. Mann has six clients with funds dedicated to investing in cannabis companies located in Opportunity Zones in California, Nevada, Georgia and Massachusetts.
Regulations explicitly banned a list of “sin” businesses, like liquor stores, massage parlors and gambling halls, since the program began in 2017. Cannabis was missing from the list, but the absence of finalized regulations created an uncertain investing atmosphere. Any doubt about whether cannabis would be excluded has disappeared with this final iteration of the Opportunity Zone regulations, said Mann. But not everyone agrees.
Some advise caution
Cannabis investments in Opportunity Zones are still a point of controversy, despite the growing confidence of cannabis-related lawyers and investors. Cannabis could be excluded from the program because it is federally illegal, just as cocaine dealers are not a part of the exclusions, said David Shapiro, partner and co-chair of tax, compensation and benefits at Philadelphia-based law firm Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP.
“I don’t think we’re going to