Voegeli Discusses Marijuana Legalization Issues

Photograph: Jonathan Voegeli.The Business and Transactional Law Center and Tax and Estate Planning Association hosted Jonathan E. Voegeli, '11, on October 16, 2015, for the Lunch and Learn presentation "Legal and Taxation Issues Caused by Marijuana Legalization." This presentation discussed the historic and current legal treatment of marijuana. Voegeli spent his first several years after law school navigating the complicated ins-and-outs of defending marijuana growers and dispensaries in California, where medical marijuana use is decriminalized, but medical use can be used only as a defense to conviction, not arrest and seizure.

Voegeli highlighted the tremendous breadth of legal issues that the various current state approaches to marijuana decriminalization have raised. Many of these issues involve finance, banking, contract law, bankruptcy, non-profit status, and tax. For example, because raising and selling marijuana is illegal under federal law, companies who engage in the marijuana business face being cut off from financial services and forced to rely exclusively on cash. Operating on a cash-only basis creates multiple problems, ranging from the logistics of tax payment and reporting to difficulties qualifying as a non-profit. In addition, large stores of cash money attract and invite theft, and marijuana businesses end up relying on self-help to address this risk rather than enlisting police aid because the involvement of law enforcement likely leads to seizure and forfeiture.

Voegeli's presentation raised student awareness of how a new criminal defense or change in criminal status can create both financial incentives for, and legal challenges with, a responsive shift in business models. He is a partner with the Law Offices of Slape & Howard, Chartered, in Wichita, Kansas.

Photograph: Audience at Jonathan Voegeli lunch and learn presentation.