Committee Blog: The Importance of Skilled Cannabis Accountants

Committee Blog: The Importance of Skilled Cannabis Accountants

by Sevana Janian, Green Plus CPA
Member of NCIA’s Cannabis Cultivation Committee

Managing finances and complying with complex regulations in the highly regulated cannabis market can be challenging for business owners. For this reason, it’s crucial to have a competent cannabis accountant. In this article, we will discuss four major reasons why a good accountant is essential in the cannabis market, grouped into distinct categories.

Mitigate the risk

Having specialized professionals, such as a cannabis accountant, can bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to your business. They understand the unique challenges and regulations associated with the cannabis industry and can provide guidance and support to help you make informed decisions and navigate potential risks. By leveraging their expertise, you can ensure the success and stability of your business in this rapidly evolving industry.

Accountant who has experience working in volatile and new industries is well-equipped to handle the risks that come with operating in such environments. By regularly identifying and measuring these risks, the accountant can help mitigate them and ensure the stability and success of a business.

At the early stages of starting a business, it’s critical to bring on board a competent cannabis accountant and attorney. Don’t let the simplicity of creating an entity mislead you into missing out on getting proper counsel on the appropriate entity type. Stay attentive to accounting and legal concerns and make informed decisions. If the chosen entity type does not align with your business goals, a knowledgeable cannabis accountant will discuss the potential consequences of each option. This will enable you to make an informed decision.

Given the ongoing discourse surrounding entity type and its status as a commonly asked question, I deemed it worthwhile to introduce this information. It should be noted that a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is not officially classified as a tax entity by the IRS. The taxation of an LLC can vary and may be classified as a single-member LLC, a corporation, or a partnership.

One of the biggest risks in the cannabis industry is the risk of failure and the accumulation of a large tax debt. The cannabis industry is heavily regulated and taxed, which can present significant financial challenges for businesses operating in this field. In order to mitigate this risk, it is important for cannabis businesses to have a strong understanding of the tax laws and regulations applicable to their operations, and to have a robust system in place for tracking and reporting their financial transactions. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced cannabis accountant can help ensure that tax laws are applied correctly and that businesses stay in compliance with the regulations, reducing the risk of financial failure and tax debt. The establishment and enhancement of robust internal controls, coupled with diligent monitoring, can also significantly contribute to mitigating potential risks as well.

It is noteworthy that individuals who own cannabis businesses are known for taking risks. As a result, it is essential to have accountants and attorneys who are skilled in evaluating and reducing these risks. Selecting your advisory team carefully is of utmost importance.

Aligned Mission and vision

It is necessary for the business owner and accountant to have a clear and transparent understanding of each other’s needs and goals, in order to create a win-win situation. The highly regulated and complex cannabis market can be challenging, and having an accountant who is passionate and aligned with the business owner’s mission and vision can help smooth the business cycle and avoid conflicts. An accountant’s mission is to help their clients manage their financial resources effectively and efficiently. This involves tracking the financial performance of the business, providing advice on financial decisions, and ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. In order to carry out this mission effectively, an accountant needs to have a deep understanding of the business owner’s goals, objectives, and overall strategy.

When a cannabis accountant’s mission is aligned with a business owner’s, they can work together to achieve common goals. This alignment helps the accountant understand the business owner’s financial needs, which enables them to provide more targeted advice and recommendations. It also helps the business owner understand the importance of financial management and how it can contribute to the success of their business. It also helps the business owner feel more confident in their accountant’s advice and recommendations, which can lead to collaborative and effective working relationships and more successful outcomes.

Experience or training in the cannabis industry

The cannabis industry is new and constantly evolving, and it is important to have an accountant who is trained and up-to-date with the latest developments. Many CPA firms are now specializing in the cannabis industry, giving business owners more options to choose from. A cannabis accountant should be familiar with 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, which can be a monster in terms of tax for the industry. They should also have knowledge of cost accounting and inventory management, which are crucial for producing accurate financial statements. Cannabis accountants with a background in manufacturing industry can bring their expertise to the industry and be of even greater value.

The use of the word “trained” is intentional in highlighting the fact that the cannabis industry is new and constantly evolving. Even though accounting firms with decades of experience are doing their best, when they have a high volume of clients, they may not be able to provide timely service and may lack time for innovation and data analysis. There are many cannabis think-tank groups and programs that can give trained accountants the same advantages, or even more, as experienced ones, as technology has revolutionized all industries, including accounting.

Analytical Reporting 

A knowledgeable cannabis accountant should be able to provide financial statements and analyze them to help the business understand its financial position and take actionable steps towards its goals. They should be able to simplify complex financial analysis and provide key performance indicators and ratios that can help the business stay on track. They also have the responsibility of managing cash flow, which is key for the success of any business, especially in a competitive market. Many businesses fail because they run out of cash, not profit.

An insightful analysis takes the information one step further and presents the data in context in a way that identifies the necessary actions to be taken to maintain or improve the organization’s operations. Reports that allow managers to do their jobs better and make better decisions will be highly valued.

In a competitive market, the role of accountants and CFOs becomes increasingly important.

Ultimately, conducting business is a spiritual pursuit that involves the right mindset, effective communication, and teamwork. A business will flourish and make a positive impact if it brings together a team with a strong cultural alignment and a growth mindset.

We have great respect for those who work in the cannabis industry, as they often put their lives or licenses on the line. Let us strive for greater compliance and work towards creating a better world for all.

Sevana Janian is a Certified Public Accountant in California with more than 17 years of experience in tax and accounting. She is a member of the Cultivation Committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) for the year 2023. She is also a member of AICPA and CalCPA organizations. Sevana enjoys traveling with her family and playing the piano during her leisure time. She is committed to networking with others to expand her personal and professional knowledge. Sevana is passionate about inspiring and motivating the younger generation to succeed.

Green Plus CPA aims to offer a world-class automated tax and accounting solution nationwide for CEOs and business owners in the cannabis industry who seek accurate financial statements. Established in 2022, we are deeply interested in the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant and firmly believe in its potential to heal. We are enthusiastic about supporting and serving this industry that has been overlooked.


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