Wa legislators are currently suffering backlash from the pending Wa Cares Fund created to provide long term care benefits such as paying for assistance with daily living activities to their constituents. Confusing right? Why would anyone be upset by the implementation of a program that was widely voted for by those same constituents?! Well once again Wa regulators take a fantastic and largely beneficial concept i.e. legalize cannabis then undermine it with poor regulation writing. Hey I502 cultivators and old heads of the Wa medical game… How y’all doing? Hopefully you’re still fighting the good fight!
So why do we care over here at T.B.C.? To pay for the new fund, Wa legislators added a new payroll tax that will go into effect starting January 2022. When you mess with our pockets and thus our ability to chief tough, we’re going to find out why. As millennial business owners, this investigation led us to conclude a few overarching thoughts about life insurance and the cannabis industry.
Firstly, a cannabis industry worker is unlikely to be approved for a life insurance policy should their place of employment not provide a plan. There are a plethora of plans available by various companies but few insurance companies want to risk their federal backing to issue a new policy to a cannabis worker. According to life insurance companies it’s easier to decline offering a policy than it is to determine if federal guidelines will be broken. Also if one is provided the cannabis companies’ life insurance policy might not be as beneficial as purchasing your own private policy. Considering the needs of you/your dependents are a must before enrolling.
Secondly, this taxation plan was destined to fail when it provided the opportunity for the individuals to opt out of said tax. Clearly the rich would be some of the first to ensure they don’t receive such a tax as they likely have their own life insurance policy & financial advisors. Then we wondered who will likely end up paying into this policy? Will the tax revenue earned from this smaller portion of constituents be enough to provide long term care for those eligible? The short answer is no, it appears that laborers will pay 0.58% of their total pay per paycheck, which if you’re a minimum wage($15-$18 per hour) worker as most in the cannabis industry are, is a small sum to be deducted. Said payroll tax will provide financial assistance with a maximum benefit of $36,500 with annual increases based on inflation or approximately $100/day of care.
Thirdly, as a cannabis worker with an industry that is going to go national soon, Who is going to stay within a state’s established industry when that state (ie: Washington) is so resistant to change? Therefore these workers are going to be taxed for something they will likely not be able to benefit from. Thus their already minimum wage paycheck is now smaller for naught! Statistics should be gathered at not only the amount of cannabis related jobs being created yearly but how many laborers transition out of the industry. This could aid in creating an industry that isn’t plagued by the current issues that well established industries such as restaurant/service or veterinary are facing.
So what can be done about it? Unfortunately the cut off to opt out of taxation is Dec 1st 2021 and you had to have a long term care policy in place by November 1st. Thankfully it’s likely to undergo changes once legislators reconvene in January or a decision is reached in the federal lawsuit filed against the Wa Care Fund. Otherwise, cannabis workers, be prepared for your checks to get a little smaller.
It’s clear that past and present representatives struggle with drafting legislation that actually benefits the basic needs of their constituents. This state’s cannabis industry needs a dramatic overhaul and injection of true equity however we’re unsure the current position holders are capable of providing enough industry experience to achieve it. Our aim at TBC is to continue to discuss and be the voice of the cannabis community to said legislators.