NJ accountants skittish about dealing with legal marijuana
Despite some concerns over an attached stigma and complicated tax rules to get used to, a small majority of New Jersey's certified public accountants are in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey.
In a survey from the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJCPA), 53 percent said the drug should be legalized for recreational use — a move Gov.-elect Phil Murphy said he'd make within 100 days of taking office in January.
When asked why, the most-cited reason was the anticipated uptick in tax revenue for the state. Two-thirds said the move would allow law enforcement to redirect their resources elsewhere.
Those opposed (47 percent) cited marijuana as a possible gateway drug, insisted the state could find other ways to bring in money, and were comfortable with only the medical use of the drug.
Marijuana is still illegal on the federal level.
If a legalization bill is signed into law by Murphy, industry experts say it could be another year or two before residents could legally purchase and smoke pot.
In the survey, just 22 percent of CPAs said they anticipate serving the recreational marijuana industry. Thirty-nine percent said they don't believe they would, and another 39 percent were unsure.
"The issue is a complicated one for the state and its residents, both on an individual basis and regarding business opportunities," said Ralph Albert Thomas, CEO and executive director of NJCPA, in a news release on the survey. "Traditional accounting services would be needed for any new business but thoughtful consideration will have to be given to the many ramifications involved in legalizing marijuana."
Concerns among survey respondents include the stigma attached to firms who work with cannabis industry, sales tax issues and the industry being a cash business.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.