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This is a tax blog. Stay with me – it’s short.

While marijuana advocates celebrate the potential rescheduling of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III, the taxman has made clear that marijuana remains a Schedule I substance subject to Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code. For those who aren’t cannabis tax specialists, 280E provides that:

No deduction or credit shall be allowed for any amount paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business if such trade or business (or the activities which comprise such trade or business) consists of trafficking in controlled substances (within the meaning of schedule I and II of the Controlled Substances Act) which is prohibited by Federal law or the law of any State in which such trade or business is conducted.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance and is subject to the limitations of the Internal Revenue Code. As we previously reported, the Justice Department recently published a notice of proposed rulemaking with the Federal Register to initiate a formal rulemaking process to consider rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act.  That change would remove marijuana from the purview of 280E.

Predictably, a number of cannabis operators couldn’t help themselves and began filing amended returns seeking to avail themselves of what they apparently felt was a change in the law. The response from the IRS is clear:

Taxpayers seeking a refund of taxes paid related to Internal Revenue Code Section 280E by filing amended returns are not entitled to a refund or payment. Until a final rule is published, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance and is subject to the limitations of Internal Revenue Code Section 280E.

The reasoning is simple – marijuana is a Schedule I substance until it is not.  While there is currently in place a process that could lead to the rescheduling of marijuana, it has not actually been rescheduled.

Cannabis operators can dream of a time when they will not be subject to the ravages of 280E, but for now that remains just out of grasp, albeit tantalizingly close.

As usual, stay tuned to Budding Trends. We’ll be monitoring all the impacts of rescheduling, including tax implications like this one.