Should smoking weed be permitted in the Garden State?

In next month’s election, New Jersey voters will be asked on a ballot question if they think pot should be legalized for adult recreational use.

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A new survey finds the majority of Certified Public Accountants think a cannabis industry would benefit the Garden State – financially speaking.

About 66% of CPAs in the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants agree that having a commercial cannabis industry would help the state’s economy.

Melissa Dardani, leader of the NJCPA Cannabis Interest Group, said the survey also finds 68% of CPA’s either strongly agree or somewhat agree that New Jersey lawmakers should take steps to mitigate the impact of federal regulations on the cannabis industry, such as the inability to deduct business expenses.

She said if recreational pot moves forward in New Jersey, there are banking issues that would need to be addressed. She noted for businesses dealing in the sale of cannabis products, accepting payments from customers and depositing that money in a bank would be problematic.

“Federal banks don’t want to take that money,” she said. “They say that money has been earned through the trafficking of an illegal substance.”

She said another issue that would need to be addressed is tax deductions, because under IRS Code Section 280E, “you being in the business of selling an illegal substance, from a federal perspective, you’re actually not entitled to take any ordinary or necessary business deductions.”

The New Jersey Society of CPAs has proposed that New Jersey "decouple" from the tax code section and follow its own rules. Dardani said this would give tax breaks to cannabis businesses.

She stressed the results of the poll should not be taken to mean most CPAs think it’s a good idea to smoke pot, and it does not mean the the industry association supports making marijuana legal.

She added that considering the way the political winds seem to be blowing, “it is very likely that this may be something that we have to consider for our clients going forward.”

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