about the bank issues, the operational issues, what products do these people sell, what issues do they have, what are the politics of it, what’s going on with the laws and the regulations.”
Not just growers and sellers
“The cannabis industry is much bigger than many people understand,” said Zach Gordon, a senior manager at Janover. “There are so many businesses that fill in the gaps, from trucking and security to light bulbs and everything in between.”
From plumbers, electricians and security, to real estate, lighting equipment, chemical extraction, and professional services, cannabis involves a huge array of ancillary businesses beyond the farms and dispensaries. That ecosystem is in need of accounting and tax services — and beyond them, there is a universe of investors looking for help in this area from accountants. Janover, for instance, offers a wide range of services to marijuana companies, from bookkeeping up to corporate structure, but it also works with investors in the space, particularly family offices looking to judge the quality of potential investments in the industry.
While generally skewing to smaller, less financially sophisticated companies, the industry also includes businesses of all sizes and levels of experience.
At Silicon Valley-based Roseryan, which launched its cannabis solution this spring, “We decided to focus on all segments of the industry, but the area that I feel has made us popular out there right now is clients looking to scale,” explained vice president of business development Maureen Ryan, who spearheaded the firm’s initial exploration of the space four years ago. “They’re growing rapidly, and they don’t have the talent to scale their operations. Our people are extremely operational — when a company is in hyper growth mode, you need the ability to plug and play. What you need isn’t always known, and may change in the next 12 months.”
A growing community
Mature industries come complete with long-established networks; those are still evolving in the cannabis space.
“Most of Roseryan’s ecosystems weren’t playing in the cannabis space, so we have to develop another ecosystem to service it — attorneys, auditors, tax, payroll, insurance — everything you can imagine you’d need to run a business,” explained Ryan; her firm actually began establishing its contacts long before it launched its services officially last spring.
There’s also a strong sense of community in cannabis that is significantly bolstered by the fact that, for many, it’s more than just a business opportunity.
“Get involved in your local community — every major city has cannabis advocacy groups, and they have meetings and events,” urged Hunzicker. “If you want to pick this as your niche, get involved in this movement — it’s more than a niche, it’s a movement.”
Working with that movement can also have a marked impact on accountants.
“I was told I’d become an advocate for cannabis, and I didn’t think that would happen,” recalled Ryan. “And yet, the more you’re in the industry, the more you’ll become an advocate. It just happens. You learn a lot more about the industry, versus the preconceived notions, and all the hypocrisies and inequities that surround this — and you become an advocate.”