Topic: General Posts

Subject: Cannabis Industry
Matt Hannigan
Member: 2010
Posts:8
Submitted on 12-08-17 2:58 pm
Message:

Hello Fellow Members,


Has anyone heard anything about CPAs getting into trouble for working in the cannabis industry?


A cannabis company is talking with me about being their Controller. Cannabis (or any other recreational substance) is not my personal cup of tea. But I have no judgements on people for whom it is. 


My concern is whether I could get into legal problems (with the Feds), or lose my CPA license, for working in the cannabis industry. My understanding is that cannabis is legal in CA, but not legal with the federal government. (Hmmm . . ?)


I'm checking the Google hits now. But if any of you can share any personal observations, stories, experience, advice, it is much appreciated.


Thanks,


Matt Hannigan, Santa Rosa, CA

 
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Replies
Janna Blanter
Member: 2004
Posts: 1

Subject: Re:Cannabis Industry

Submitted on 12-10-17 11:54 am.
Message:

I have faced similar dilemma here in Colorado.  I have found industry is still in a legal limbo - particularly when it comes to handling revenues which come in the form of cash or barter since accessing the banking system legally is still not an option.  In my initial interviews I found it impossible to fully understand the cash management processes, except for most eye opening fact that state taxes are paid in cash by security transport to the state department of revvenues.  The whole thing left me nervous and I chose not to pursue it any further.


 

 
Matt Hannigan
Member: 2010
Posts: 8

Subject: Re:Cannabis Industry

Submitted on 12-11-17 12:20 am.
Message:

Thanks Janna.


I came to the same conclusion. My personal research indicates that the federal government views cannabis as the same as heroin. As long as that is the federal government's position, I cannot go anywhere near that industry. End of story.


Here is a post that tells a true story that is very on point (and a bit chilling):


https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/03/robert-duncan-marijuana_n_4877072.html


Best,


Matt Hannigan, CPA

 
Bob Samuels
Member: 2011
Posts: 1

Subject: Re:Cannabis Industry

Submitted on 12-20-17 12:45 am.
Message:

a: That article looks old (2014), I suspect the environment in 2018 is quite different, when recreational cannabis will be legal in California.


b: Also, the article speaks about a grower.  I am interested in filling the needs of the California cannabis industry from an accounting/compliance standpoint. 

 
Matt Hannigan
Member: 2010
Posts: 8

Subject: Re:Cannabis Industry

Submitted on 12-20-17 12:28 pm.
Message:

Hi Bob,


Good point, and thanks for posting.


Personally, I have no strong feelings about the cannabis industry, and I wish you the best if you decide to service that business sector.


My point is that cannabis is still officially illegal per the federal government. If you are a CPA or finance professional, it is just too risky to go anywhere near it. The Feds could come after you any time they decided. Just too much risk. That is my personal call, for me. Of course, others are free to decide as they see fit. Each to his own.


Best,


Matt

 
Robert Moskovitz
Member: 2002
Posts: 1

Subject: Re:Cannabis Industry

Submitted on 12-30-17 8:18 pm.
Message:

Cannabis is legal in, I believe, 30 states.  And the number is growing.  Your CPA licence is issued by your state.  I would surmise that if you have a license in a state where the activities are legal you would be ok.  From what I know industry is quite regulated in those legal states.  So like any opportunity the character of those you wish to associate with is key.  They should provide you some comfort to the quality of their operation.  But I will say I have heard some resistance from national firms to perform audits. Have you consulted with teh AICPA ands or yoru state CPA group.  Additionally there are many lawyers who specialize in Cannabis.  I suggest you also consult with them too.  


You may have a wonderful ground floor opportunity in front of you. 

 
Matt Hannigan
Member: 2010
Posts: 8

Subject: Re:Cannabis Industry

Submitted on 12-31-17 5:10 pm.
Message:

Thanks Robert! Excellent points. I concur with everything you've said. Especially the "ground floor" issue which is really the exciting point with this industry. The wild card in all this is the federal government. In my experience, it all comes down to what some bureaucrat in some government office decides to do. And that decision is not based upon what is right or wrong, but is instead based upon what that individual person feels will best boost his or her personal career. So, it's a total wild card. 

 
Jim Hirchak
Member: 2011
Posts: 7

Subject: Re:Cannabis Industry

Submitted on 01-04-18 11:53 am.
Message:

See the story about AG Jeff Sessions reversing Obama's policy on fed law versus state law.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding a policy that had allowed legalized marijuana to flourish without federal intervention, the Associated Press reports. The decision comes after California began allowing recreational marijuana.

More on this: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/04/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-to-end-policy-that-let-legal-pot-flourish.html

 
Matt Hannigan
Member: 2010
Posts: 8

Subject: Re:Cannabis Industry

Submitted on 01-05-18 11:08 am.
Message:

Hi Jim,


Yes, I was just looking at this same story on Yahoo. Yahoo, of course, adapted the article to be a Trump-bashing piece. But, the point still holds.


 


https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/heres-one-industry-trump-harming-194437152.html


 


My personal sentiment is that anyone participating in the cannabis industry is at the mercy of the capricious winds of federal politics. If you're sitting across a table from a federal district prosecutor, and technically you have broken federal law, then they have complete discretion to prosecute you. And there is nothing you can do about it. Huge risk.

 
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