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Grover Norquist wants "tax equality" for marijuana industry

Aaron Task
Editor in Chief
Daily Ticker

Politics make strange bedfellows...and then there's the issue of legalized marijuana. Conservative icon (and GOP kingmaker) Grover Norquist has turned out to be a surprising ally for the burgeoning marijuana industry.

"I have endorsed legislation that would remove the tax penalty for someone who ran a medical marijuana dispensary," Norquist says. "Right now you're not allowed to take normal exemptions like paying your staff -- and you should be able to."

On the surface, it would seem strange that Norquist -- President of Americans for Tax Reform  -- would advocate policies that allow the federal government to tax anything, in this case marijuana dispensaries. But rather than supporting taxation per se, Norquist says he is in favor of "tax equality" for marijuana-related businesses that can now operate legally in 24 states.

Related: Marijuana will be the single best investment idea of the next decade: Todd Harrison

Indeed, Norquist's stance on this issue is consistent with his support for states' rights, a bedrock of conservative politics. The rules currently prohibiting legal marijuana dispensaries from taking normal business tax deductions stem from a Reagan-era law aimed at drug kingpins masquerading as legit businesses. Norquist is opposed to the current situation wherein the federal government is penalizing businesses which are operating legally in those states where medical marijuana (or recreational in the case of Colorado and Washington) is legal.

"I'm for tax equality so you treat someone who sold medical marijuana the same way as someone who sold cigarettes or liquor...treat them like a normal business," he says. "You don't tax them differently than the corner grocery story."

Related: Pot Pushback Goes Up in Smoke: $20 Billion Economy Awaits Marijuana Legalization

And for the record, Norquist claims to have no opinion over whether marijuana should be legal or not and he didn't miss the opportunity to take a shot at the Obama administration, as you'll see in the accompanying video.