Budding Cannabis Industry is Fraught with Many Issues

About 60 men and women attended an Oct. 28 panel discussion on the cannabis industry at Impact Hub.

After Jan. 1, 2018, California will begin the process of regulating marijuana products, but the budding industry will face quite a few problems. 

Testing, taxes, banking, distribution and security are just some the issues a panel of experts on the recreational cannabis industry Oct. 28 at the downtown Impact Hub before a crowd of about 60 people. 

“You are going to be under a microscope,” said panelist Avis Bulbulyan, of SIVA Enterprises. “Have back-up banking accounts.” 

Even though some 29 U.S. states and 29 other countries have some sort of legal cannabis laws, the federal government and the banking industry are not welcoming the industry with open arms.  

Panelist Adrian Sedlin, of the Canndescent, which distributes cannabis products, said,  “Have additional accounts. Don’t break up deposits. Don’t get into money-laundering.” 

The third panelist, Sean Donahoe, founder of Operative Campaigns, a marijuana advocacy group, said, “The city you’re in might say it’s impossible for you to have a bank account.” But he said that’s not true, so long as the company complies with the law. 

Donahoe said cannabis companies in California will have to pay a 15 percent state tax on top of local and federal taxes. Municipalities stand to gain a great deal of revenue from these companies, panelists said. 

The panelists advised pot companies to become friends with city, county and  state officials and local law enforcement. 

A Santa Barbara resident now, Bulbulyan said he was talking to Mayor Helene Schneider recently and she expressed concern about security around shops because of the amount of cash and product kept on site. 

But Bulbulyan said a large, longtime downtown jewelry store would keep a comparable amount of money on site. So, the panelists strongly suggested each cannabis shop hire private guards. 

The panelists raised the chance that the Drug Enforcement Agency or Department of Justice might step in. 

“You have to be an activist or you can’t be in this business,” Sedlin said. “You have to know the local cops.” 

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