Cannabis legalization is sweeping the nation with no signs of slowing down. The market is expected to grow from $9.2 billion to $47.3 billion in North America within the next ten years, making it one of the most lucrative and rapidly growing industries in the United States. The market creates an opportunity for a diverse range of industries; among those in high demand are accountants, bookkeepers, and compliance officers.
No matter the vertical you operate (grow, extract, food, products and retail), every company will need a qualified and trained Cannabis accountant to ensure complete compliance to IRS, state, OSHA, and federal rules. The perpetual changes in regulations inadvertently creates room for errors, misinformation, and mismanagement. Thus the need for an accountant with an expertise in cannabis regulations is imperative to the survival of a cannabis business.
For many start-ups and entrepreneurs transitioning from the black market to the legal market, one can face many financial issues that one is not prepared for. A common misunderstanding by CEOs related to tax code IRC Section 280E, is that it there are ways to “beat this code” using strategies of complex entity structure, non-canna divisions, and overstating Cost of Goods Sold. The IRS is very aware of these strategies, they are very difficult to implement correctly, and recent court cases are all being won by the IRS.
The cannabis industry has been left with limited financial management resources due to their inability to integrate with federally-regulated financial institutions. Federal financial oversight and regulations on banks, merchant providers, and payroll service providers have rejected services to cannabis-affiliated companies due to its federal illegality. Its current status has constrained the industry to operate on cash with limited banking. With large amounts of cash, comes the need for qualified Accountants to manage and reconcile day-to-day transactions. The upkeep of a businesses finances and accounting by a qualified accountant will reduce the risk of heavy fines, penalties, or being shut down when IRS auditors arrive
Within the industry there is currently no proven all-in-one software solution system for financial management. Common bookkeeping systems like Quickbooks and Xero, which help record monthly, quarterly, and yearly reporting do not integrate well with “seed to sale” cannabis tracking software required by most states. Even the most popular “seed to sale” systems on the market are newly developed, prone to bug issues, feature malfunctions, and still need improvement. No matter if your business is a startup or established, every cannabis company needs their Cannabis Accountant to assist with managing your various financial software technologies and reconciling the systems monthly.
Therefore, in order to develop a sustainable, long-term business, and avoid costly fines, it is crucial to invest in an accountant with an expertise in cannabis regulations. Properly managing the financial books of a cannabis business and knowing the ins and outs of the unique cannabis industry as a qualified accountant will keep a company audit, lender, and investor-ready.
Author Bio: Naomi Granger, CPA, MBA, Co-Founder and Owner of DOPE CFO is a former “Big 4” accounting professional, with over 12 years of experience in both public accounting and industry accounting. She has managed large global teams responsible for planning, performing and managing audits of financial statements and internal controls over financial reporting. Naomi recognized a void in the cannabis industry and co-founded DOPE CFO in order to bring proper accounting and bookkeeping practices to cannabusinesses. DOPE CFO provides educational tools for accountants and financial professionals to enter into the cannabis industry for untapped professional potential. Naomi was was featured in the January 2019 issue of MJBiz Magazine's "Women to Watch".