Nov 22, 2016 12:00 PM

Alaska Cannapreneurs Face New Challenge: Paying Taxes

Although recreational weed became fully legal in Alaska over a year ago, local marijuana entrepreneurs were not able to start selling their product to non-medical users until this fall. But even with the official start of the recreational cannabis sales, the number of challenges that marijuana businesses are forced to face is only growing bigger. And one of the biggest questions that bother many marijuana business owners in Alaska is how to pay taxes?

A controversial policy

Most marijuana businesses across the country do not have bank accounts and work only with cash. It is quite uncomfortable for both customers and business owners, but this is the current reality of the cannabis industry in the U.S. The problem is that even though recreational marijuana is fully legalized in certain states, it still has a status of an illegal substance under the federal law. Therefore, most financial institutions are too afraid to take additional risks and refuse to work with cannabis-related companies.

But marijuana growers, manufacturers, and retailers still have to pay their taxes. And since simply singing a check is not on the table for them, the only option they have left is to pay everything in cash.

Each of the states where recreational cannabis sales are now a real thing offers marijuana entrepreneurs a different scheme. In Alaska, you can basically use one of the two options: send your money via registered mail or drop them at an in-person drop site for cash payments in Anchorage. Although technically, you can also pay marijuana taxes by wire transfer or electronically.

Fines for operating with cash

While dealing with cash tax payments seems to be an inevitable evil for Alaska marijuana businesses, at least for now, other states make some interesting improvements is this field. In Washington, for instance, many banks and credit unions are not refusing to work with cannabis businesses. So, the local authorities decided to encourage cannapreneurs to cooperate with financial institutions and started fining those who chose to pay their taxes in cash.

In Oregon, on the other hand, the local regulators try to encourage banks and credit unions to work with cannabis businesses by giving them an option to check whether a particular weed business is authorized to operate in this state.

However, as long as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, banking issues will be one of the greatest pitfalls of the cannabis industry.

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