From a business and economic standpoint, how would Ohio be affected if residents vote to legalize marijuana? How would companies navigate the challenges of working with a product considered illegal under federal law?
Ohio Wesleyan University will address these issues in a panel discussion, “CannaBusiness: Hurdles and Successes in the Marijuana Industry,” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 in Gray Chapel inside University Hall, 61 S. Sandusky St. The event, exploring business and economic issues only, will be moderated by Justin Breidenbach, OWU assistant professor of accounting.
Breidenbach’s current academic research involves studying the creation of a marijuana industry, including taxing, state licensing, financial sustainability and leadership issues. He has met with owners in the industry and toured growing, processing and retail facilities. In addition to moderating the panel discussion, Breidenbach will speak as a panelist regarding tax regulations and their implications.
“The legal state marijuana industry is dealing with unique business factors that are unknown to the general public,” said Breidenbach.
“There are many misconceptions about how this industry operates,” he continued. “Many believe this industry is a new-age gold rush. While some companies are doing well, there are just as many that are struggling to keep their doors open. If Ohio is to legalize marijuana, it is important for people to understand how this industry will operate and navigate the many hurdles to stay afloat.”
Those hurdles, Breidenbach said, include producers not being able to deduct many “routine” expenses from their federal taxes as well as struggling to find banks willing to handle their accounts.
Additional “CannaBusiness” panelists are Washington state-licensed growers Steve Walser of Buddy Boy Farm and Rachel Cooper of Monkey Grass Farms. Both have Tier 3 licenses, the largest-scale license in the state, and both were among the earliest license holders when Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.
Walser has more than 40 years of experience in large-scale organic vegetable, fruit, grain and hay farming. He has a strong handle on the agricultural side of the product and understands how to grow and harvest efficiently.
Cooper comes from the corporate world with a background in marketing and promotions. She serves as chief operating officer for her company and understands the many issues involved with doing business in the marijuana industry.
The Oct. 27 panel discussion is organized by Ohio Wesleyan’s Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship.
Information for this story was provided by Ohio Wesleyan University.