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First AICPA Cannabis Conference Paves the Future for the Industry

As states across our country continue to legalize Cannabis every year, CPAs, bookkeepers, and accounting professionals are steadily encountering new clients who want to serve the Cannabis industry. The AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants} has now recognized the need for providing guidance and support to accountants who may support the quickly growing Cannabis market. 

Calling on industry leaders, the AICPA held its first 2-day Cannabis education conference, the AICPA and CIMA Cannabis Conference, on November 8 and 9, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Among the Cannabis accounting and tax leaders that presented at this conference are DOPE CFO Founder Andrew Hunzicker, CPA, along with DOPE CFO students Paula Collins, Molly Mayfield, and Carlos Vela. 

Read on for highlights of the DOPE CFO member’s presentations.

Conference Overview

The AICPA and CIMA Cannabis Conference 2021 provided CPAs with proper guidance, instruction, and support to serve the flood of Cannabis CEOs entering the space on a daily basis. With ever-changing requirements within the niche, and marijuana’s federally illegal status, accountants must follow much stricter regulations and processes than they would with traditional businesses to ensure compliance. The IRS is keeping a keen eye on businesses trying to “beat” 280E (which states Cannabis companies cannot take deductions or credits) and the tax courts are winning almost every case. 

At this two-day conference, participants learned key industry insights on taxation, along with updated information for the IRS and special sections that cover how to comply with 280E. 

Also covered was how to build a Cannabis practice, guiding Cannabis clients through audits, and how to become an expert in the industry.

DOPE CFO Students Leading the Country in Cannabis Accounting Education

We’re proud of our DOPE CFO Founder and his students that lead discussions at the AICPA Cannabis Conference 2021. DOPE CFO's curriculum is designed to provide the most thorough and accurate education for Cannabis accounting professionals in the nation. AICPA’s request for Andrew to help plan and lead the conference, as well as inclusion of our students as speakers is testament to the fact that DOPE CFO is the premier source of education for the nation’s Cannabis accounting and tax professionals. 

One of the hottest topics in Cannabis right now is social equity. DOPE CFO’s own Paula Collins, Molly Mayfield, and Carlos Vela  joined forces to discuss social equity in Cannabis. 

Establishing social equity in Cannabis is essential now that so many states are legalizing the substance. Thousands of opportunities for CEOs and consumers are popping up all around the country, but not all opportunities are created equal. BIPOC business owners and consumers are still facing issues connected to drug stigmas and the “war on drugs” dialogue, creating segregation issues in an industry that should be equalizing. 

Vela and Mayfield have already spoken on our DOPE CFO podcast about social equity. Vela is a CPA and founder of Mindful CPAs in San Francisco, a firm that provides accounting and advisory services for Cannabis companies. He has been trained to help Cannabis CEOs apply for social equity programs. 

Mayfield is a CPA and owner of Greenflex Financial in Chicago. During her recent appearance on the DOPE CFO podcast, she talked about how she applied to and was accepted into an Illinois nonprofit that helps Cannabis businesses apply for social equity programs. She’s passionate about helping guide people who want to establish equality in the industry and finds this cause central to why she works in this niche. 

Paula Collins is an enrolled agent, MBA, lawyer, and education specialist in Manhattan, NY, who provides legal, tax, and accounting services to Cannabis and hemp/CBD clients. She also is a board member of Elevate Northeast. She specializes in banking regulations, taxation, contract, and constitutional law and is passionate about helping Cannabis and hemp/CBD companies and accountants navigate the tricky ins and outs of the two industries. 

During the social equity session at the conference, the three focused on discussing social equity initiatives that exist in licensing requirements. Participants learned why social equity initiatives are important, the requirements in some states for establishing greater opportunities in Cannabis for marginalized communities, and how to assist social equity Cannabis license holders.

Andrew Hunzicker, CPA and founder of DOPE CFO, led two sessions at the AICPA Cannabis Conference 2021: Navigating the Challenges and Hurdles of 280E in the Cannabis Industry and Cost Accounting 101 for the Cannabis Niche. Both of these sessions covered two of the most misunderstood and critical aspects of Cannabis accounting. Andrew dove into what tax code 280E is, which deductions a Cannabis company can and cannot take under 280E, and how to prepare a Cannabis company for a tax-based audit. 

Cost accounting is imperative to help prepare Cannabis accountants for inevitable audits and to properly subtract inventory for Cost of Goods Sold (the only way Cannabis companies can legally take deductions under 280E). Andrew also provided an overview of cost accounting for Cannabis, how to properly set up entity structures, day-to-day and month-end processes for various sub-niches, and much more. 

The inaugural AICPA Cannabis Conference was an immersive educational experience where attendees walked away with a well-rounded understanding of the Cannabis industry and how to pursue business opportunities in this booming market. DOPE CFO was proudly represented, and we already can’t wait for next year!

For more information on social equity efforts in the Cannabis industry, check out our YouTube video.


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