At the 2019 Accounting & Finance Show L.A., we met up with cannabis accounting experts, Bruce and Thomas Andersen to learn some of the ins and outs of accounting for cannabis, and talk about the insanity that is California's assorted layers of cannabis tax, licensing requirements for cannabis businesses, from cultivation to retail, not to mention the state's nonsensical tax-reporting requirements. Tom and Bruce also share some advice for would-be cannabis accountants and bookkeepers on the best approach to learning all things cannabis and providing exceptional service in this niche segment.
- 01:17 – The Cloud Accounting Podcast is gonna smoke Marijuana Daily in the iTunes charts, after this episode!
- 01:44 – A blunt history – how Bruce and Tom got started in the cannabis-accounting realm
- 02:50 – Bruce speaks to some of the challenges cannabis businesses face, when it comes to accounting
- 03:37 – The tables have turned when it comes to the types of clients served in a cannabis accounting firm
- 04:28 – How can accountants use cloud technology to help cannabis clients?
- 04:46 – Come hail or high water, Tom prefers hosted (cloud) solutions, such as QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise to keep client data safe.
- 06:00 – One way to store your cannabis currency – PotCoin? | Vox
- 06:16 – Bruce explains some of the many layers involved with reporting for cannabis clients.
- 08:26 – Since every move you make, as a cannabis business, needs to be tracked, the most efficient way to do so is with specialized seed-to-sale or track-and-trace software
- 09:18 – How to get your Metrc on … | SoftwareConnect
- 11:10 – Is there a QuickBooks Cannabis Edition out there?
- 11:16 – A few of the front runners in the seed-to-sale software space: Proteus 420, BioTrackTHC, and LeafLogix
- 12:38 – There are separate licensing requirements for each phase of the cannabis industry, from cultivation to distribution
- 13:19 – Cannabis taxation - harshing your accounting and bookkeeping mellow, from the municipal to the state level.
- 14:46 – The full operation - seed to sale - has the most tax benefit for local agencies in California.
- 15:33 – If you want to set up shop in L.A, the city's Department of Cannabis Regulation Pre-app instructions and zoning tool will give you some direction
- 16:02 – One retail roadblock could get in the way - LA DCR only has another 150 retail licenses to offer, all with a preference toward social equity ...
- 16:27 – Another huge downside in the LA cannabis market is fierce and seemingly unfettered, or at least unlicensed, competition
- 17:07 – Is California's black-market cannabis winning the race?
- 17:32 – California takes a nearly 50-percent cut for assorted cannabis-related taxes, hanging cannabis businesses out to dry
- 19:10 – The CDTFA is more than happy to guide you through all the ways they'll take a hit off your revenues as a cannabis business owner
- 19:43 – Bruce breaks down the taxation and reporting process - from distribution to retail
- 21:06 – There's zero method to California's cannabis tax reporting madness, and no official guidance, either
- 22:22 – Cannabis users take note! If you're using for medicinal purposes, be sure to bring proof when you visit a retail cannabis store
- 25:23 – Accountants, do your cannabis clients a favor - learn, understand, and offer the tax piece, too! | Cannabis Industry Journal
- 26:14 -- Get some help - with the constant changes in the cannabis industry, with laws, regulations, taxes, and requirements, you need qualified, competent support for your cannabis accounting
- 28:32 – Cannabis accounting and bookkeeping skills are probably not as portable as other types.
- 30:14 – Who needs Starbucks, when there are pot brownies to be had?
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Bruce Andersen: Now, what happens is, once a quarter, now you have cannabis tax reporting. What's interesting is you think you're done because you have the two pieces - you have a cultivation side and you have a retail side. Oh, but there's more. What happens is that, when you do the reporting, they also wanna know how much is for medical use and how much is for adult use. You think to yourself, "How in the world do I get that information?" Because [00:00:30] the cultivator has no clue, when he sells that product, okay?
Blake Oliver: Welcome to the Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
David Leary: I'm David Leary.
Tom Andersen: I am Tom Andersen.
Bruce Andersen: I'm Bruce Andersen.
Blake Oliver: We are live at the Accounting & Finance Show Los Angeles at the L.A. Convention Center.
David Leary: When in L.A., or when in California, what better topic other than cannabis to speak about?
Blake Oliver: Yeah. Thanks, Bruce; Thanks, Thomas, for joining us. This is my very [00:01:00] first cannabis experience in terms of podcasting. I know nothing- like almost nothing about it, from the CPA perspective, from the accounting world. So, I'm eager to hear from you everything I need to know in the next 30 minutes.
David Leary: The only thing I know is-
Blake Oliver: No pressure ...
David Leary: -on the iTunes top podcast charts for business news is us and Marijuana Daily keep exchanging who's the best - 40, 41, 42 - they're right there, neck and neck. So, hopefully with this episode, we'll pass [00:01:30] Marijuana Daily in the iTunes charts.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, maybe we could do a crossover episode at some point. This'll get their attention.
David Leary: Yeah, that's possible.
Blake Oliver: So, Bruce, why does it, here on your business card, say Bruce@cannabisCPA.tax? What was the deal with going all in on cannabis?
Bruce Andersen: The situation that presented itself was that Tom had been involved in the cannabis space since 2005, 2006, 2007. The laws changed in 2017, so in 2018, [00:02:00] he came to me and said, "Are you in?" We then started thinking about the positioning of the business. If you notice, our business cards actually have two sides to them-
Blake Oliver: Oh, okay ...
Bruce Andersen: We have one, which is a traditional card, and then we have specialized with a practice area specifically for cannabis. That way, it identifies that we're basically in it from a standpoint of specializing in and providing services in that area.
David Leary: Niche ...
Blake Oliver: Niche. Yeah, and David, of course, has been telling [00:02:30] people for years that if you wanna be successful as an accountant these days, you really need to find a ... Well, I like to say "nitch" ... But we can agree to disagree on that.
Bruce Andersen: Niche. Boutique, maybe.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, boutique. What are the biggest challenges that cannabis businesses face, and how are you helping them solve those challenges?
Bruce Andersen: I think the interesting part about it is that this is a new industry for legalized cannabis. Therefore, there's a lot of really good operators [00:03:00] that have been in the business for years, and years, and years. Yet, them to be now faced with taxation is a huge, big thing. You also have those that have come in from just the investment standpoint or other industries, and they're coming in and saying, "Wow, this is a really cool thing. I'm gonna make my gazillion dollars at it," and it's a situation where, if they're not schooled well and managed properly, they're gonna really fall on their face. The biggest thing is - and I'll leave this to Tom - really the [00:03:30] local municipal tax is such a huge thing, and the licensing. If you don't have local licensing, you're not in business.
Tom Andersen: Also, I would like to add that in 2005, '06, '07, 90 percent of the people I was dealing with were street gangsters, mafioso types, organized crime syndicate types. If you fast forward to current time, there's maybe five percent of those types of folks in the business; the other 95 percent are advanced-degree holders - chemists, [00:04:00] PhD holders, MBA holders - folks that have been given higher education, so they really know what they're doing. They're not just winging it. They're the ones that have the business acumen to acquire those licenses, where some of these street guys just don't know how to do it.
Blake Oliver: This is a podcast about cloud accounting ... How do you do cloud- How do you do technology [00:04:30] in an environment where I understand banking is very difficult to come by, and it's still very cash-based, or is that different?
Tom Andersen: Well, that's two questions, if I understand it. One is how do we do the accounting-
Blake Oliver: Yeah, how do I do the accounting?
Tom Andersen: -and the second half is what do we do with money now that we've accounted it? The first part is simply ... I prefer hosted. I don't prefer having servers onsite. Fire, flood, theft; great, whatever, but, for example, with QuickBooks Online, or a hosted [00:05:00] QuickBooks Enterprise are my two preferred go-tos, provided the client goes along. As far as what happens with the cash, now there are third-party ... What was the specific term, again?
Bruce Andersen: Non-bank financial institutions.
Tom Andersen: Thank you. Nonbank-financial institutions. It's like PayPal-esque type operations with little quirks for each one. Effectively, [00:05:30] that way, you can convert your money into that currency, if you wanna use the term 'currency,' purchased from the vendor. Then, at that point, that vendor now has it has it in their account. They transfer it to their standard bank account.
Blake Oliver: Sorry, are we talking about cryptocurrency in this situation, or are these just like Venmos, or what?
Tom Andersen: Mostly Venmos, but you mentioned crypto. I smile, because I think of Dennis Rodman flying to North Korea on all his [00:06:00] money he made from crypto, from PotCoin.
Blake Oliver: I must have missed that one-
Tom Andersen: Yeah, he went and met with-
Blake Oliver: I didn't know that was crypto.
Tom Andersen: Yeah, he funded that expedition on crypto.
Blake Oliver: Wow. That's amazing.
Bruce Andersen: I think if you go back to your issue about cloud accounting, it's a very important feature that you understand the layers associated with the cannabis space. So, with the permanent licensing that now is in place in some [00:06:30] of the clients within California and some of the license holders, now there is Metrc to report to, which basically has about 18 touches to it. It starts with cultivation and goes completely through to retail and includes waste. Therefore, it's 18 touches to report. So, anytime the product moves in the cannabis space, it has to report. The problem is, though, that if you're not a permanent license holder, then you don't have to report yet, but that'll change as we go [00:07:00] down the line.
The second layer down, then, is what we call seed to sale, or cannabis software layer. The important feature there is that really is the operational piece of software that's involved. It just depends if you're micro, or if you have a particular vertical. If you're a dispensary, maybe you're a point of sale only; if you're cultivation through distribution, then you're gonna have those components that are part of your currency-to-sale software.
The important thing is that operators [00:07:30] of literally any size need to have that seed-to-sale software, because there's gonna be ongoing auditing that will occur. If you don't have a nice seed to sale, then what's gonna happen is you're going to be defending yourself against records you don't have, because the state's gonna come in, and have reports, and you won't have the associated amounts.
Blake Oliver: I wanna make sure I understand this. When you say 'seed the sale,' you're saying every time the product is ... It's like tracking [00:08:00] inventory through a manufacturing process?
Bruce Andersen: It's inventory control.
Blake Oliver: That sorta thing? Okay. I remember that from my cost accounting class. Every time we move inventory, we add to it, we have to track that. So, we're doing that with the cannabis products.
Tom Andersen: Four points. If you create a product, modify product, move a product physically from one bin or location to another and then to store.
Blake Oliver: Got it. So, there's specialized software that has been developed for this industry?
Tom Andersen: Yes. There are approximately 60 or 70 programs [00:08:30] called seed-to-sale, or track-and-trace programs. I went through quarter three last year, and literally called every single one of them up, surveyed them with a 119-question survey and a few open-ended questions just to see how they fielded them. Immediately off the bat, I knocked anybody off who did not have ... I'm gonna rephrase that. I removed from my list anybody who did not have an API connection.
David Leary: I was thinking that myself, as you described this. If [00:09:00] a grower's using App A, and a seller's using App B, but you have to track that data moving across, then you have to have API, so I was thinking that-
Tom Andersen: The API is the best way to go. The reason I say that is that Metrc is notoriously slow. I'm attributing it to bandwidth-
David Leary: Can you define Metrc?
Tom Andersen: Metrc is a program produced by Franwell Incorporated. Franwell made their bones by tracking and tracking blueberries, and E. coli, and other agricultural [00:09:30] bacteria, so on, so forth. Franwell then also produced Metrc, which is- it's an acronym for marijuana enforcement tracking reporting compliance. Now, that is the government side of the software. . There are three layers of software. You've got, let's say, your QuickBooks or financial-accounting layer. Then, you've got your seed to sale, which some folks will refer to as manufacturing [00:10:00] program or whatever. That, in turn, reports to the state.
Blake Oliver: The API will allow it to report ... Integrate-
Tom Andersen: That's right.
Blake Oliver: Oh ... wow.
Tom Andersen: Now, I've personally experienced a 10-hour latency putting in a single sheet of 50 transactions into Metrc before. So, the reason I mentioned that, that's the horror stories that you'll hear from other operators. Now, in this [00:10:30] instance, this was about a year, year-and-a-half ago, when some of these programs were still, I would say, in puberty; not quite fully grown up. At this juncture, however, I would not try doing any manual Metrc entries at all. I would just use API and let it go.
Blake Oliver: You mentioned there's like 60 or 70 of these programs out there, but you've narrowed down the list because you eliminated anyone without an API.
Tom Andersen: I didn't wanna put my name behind a recommendations [00:11:00] and have a potential multi-million dollar client fall on their face.
Blake Oliver: Is it one app that has risen to the top for you guys that you recommend that you use?
David Leary: Is there a QuickBooks of the cannabis world?
Blake Oliver: Yes, or is it a handful, or ... What's it look like?
Tom Andersen: Good call. It depends on the vertical. If you're looking at a full microbusiness, meaning cultivation all the way through sales, then there are, I would say, three or four that I would point out. One would be BioTrackTHC. One would be Proteus [00:11:30] 420. Another one will be LeafLogix. Then, if you're talking-
David Leary: Those would be for growers that they grow, and they sell their own product [cross talk]
Tom Andersen: This actually would go through all three stages of agricultural accounting, manufacturing accounting, and then sales accounting. It would track and trace the seed, to the yield, to the conversions; if it's made into an extract, that tracking, as well. Everything has a UID, or a unique [00:12:00] identifier, which is a 26- or 28-digit identifier. Therefore, everything gets traced all the way to the point of sale to the consumer.
Blake Oliver: Those apps will do it all?
Tom Andersen: Those apps will do it all, yes.
Blake Oliver: You were gonna continue with a different ... There's more than one type, right, or [cross talk] one vertical?
Tom Andersen: -my focus has always been, until the last two years, in distribution and retail. I've always looked those programs. However, now, the [00:12:30] shift seems to be going towards the whole microbusiness model, where they have three or four licenses, from cultivation through distribution.
Blake Oliver: Oh, and those are separate licenses that you have to have ... Okay.
Tom Andersen: They are all separate licenses. Yes, sir.
Blake Oliver: Wow. Do you help your clients apply for those licenses and get those licenses? Is that part of what you do?
Tom Andersen: In the past? Yes. But in more common times, I've been advised that it's probably best to have an attorney do that. Simply so, it's not like your practicing [to have a] license.
Blake Oliver: Right. Got it.
David Leary: Bruce, if [00:13:00] you could speak to this, obviously, because dot-tax is your domain name now, the reason all these states are legalizing cannabis is the taxes. They wanna collect taxes.
Bruce Andersen: Yes.
David Leary: Is that a simple ... How is this taxed? How are they gonna collect the taxes? How does this all break down?
Bruce Andersen: It's an interesting area, because, first of all, you start with municipal taxes, and you have to have a municipal license before you can move upstream to get your state license. At [00:13:30] the state level- sorry, at the local level, you're gonna have different prices, or costs associated with each of the licenses, based upon the prevailing local area that you're in. For example, in Long Beach, if you're cultivator, it's done by square foot. If you're in Los Angeles, then it's based upon a percentage of the overall sales associated with that [00:14:00] particular area.
The other interesting thing about local taxes is that if you have a micro, then you're taxed at the last touch point of that business entity. For example, if you only are cultivating, and you invoice there, then you're gonna have a cultivation tax. If you have cultivation to distribution, then the cultivation has nothing, and distribution gets taxed. If you go right through to retail, then you escape all taxes until you get to [00:14:30] retail, and then you get popped with taxes at the retail level.
Blake Oliver: If I do the whole thing, soup to nuts, or-
Bruce Andersen: Seed to sale?
Blake Oliver: Seed to sale ...
Bruce Andersen: Good one.
Blake Oliver: If I do the whole thing, seed the sale, then is there a tax benefit to doing that, or is it [cross talk]
Bruce Andersen: It's a tax benefit to the local agency because a local agency is gonna be taxed either five or 10 percent at the retail level, or it's one or two percent at the earlier levels.
Blake Oliver: So, I live in the San Fernando Valley, and I understand that [00:15:00] we have a lot of empty warehouse space in the Valley, and that's part of the reason why we have lower taxes on cultivation. Is that correct? Have I heard right? I'm just curious ...
Tom Andersen: I guess that might be by default, not by design. However, that being said, the issue is not necessarily that the empty warehouse space is as a result of this industry. It could be simply zoning. Zoning is a huge issue. [00:15:30] There are certain areas in ... I shoulda brought a map for you. There's a map - L.A. City DCR - Department of Cannabis Regulations - has put out that would show areas that have bubbles, which are basically like here's a school, here's a church; can't have a dispensary nearby, versus, for example, industrial parks, where you might have a cluster. Then, there's the other rule, which is they have to be 650 feet apart, I believe? It fluctuated- [00:16:00]
Blake Oliver: Each one has to be 650 feet apart from the other-
Tom Andersen: That's right, so there's no oversaturation. There are two other parts I wanna mention. One is that the L.A. City DCR only wants to issue another 150 retail licenses, and those are all going to have preference toward social equity. That's gonna take a little while because city council's dragged it out til November. So, right now, it's almost a freeze on retail.
Then, in closing on that, you have [00:16:30] a drive- a shift of folks who wanna stay in the industry, but they can't make any money on retail. Too many competitors, and too many, as I call, black ops or fly-by-night ops, which are basically unlicensed shops that look licensed, but they're not. Those are the guys that are undercutting because they're not paying any taxes. It creates quite a conundrum and quite a lot of confusion.
Blake Oliver: Do you have an [00:17:00] idea as to how much of the business is legitimate versus black market?
Tom Andersen: The statistics I continue to hear, it's 88- to 90-percent black market.
Blake Oliver: Really?
David Leary: Wow!
Blake Oliver: That's because of the ... Well, it sounds like there's a lot of complexity in the [cross talk] and the expense-
Tom Andersen: I call it the Italy model. See, in Italy, they have some of the highest tax rates in the world, but they also have the highest black-market activity in the world.
Blake Oliver: Right.
Tom Andersen: If you look at that model, and you find other countries with high tax [00:17:30] rates, it's the same. So, now here we have California, which is almost its own country at this point, and they're talking about what was it? 49 or 47 ... 49-percent total, after you've paid corporate tax, sales tax, excise tax, local tax, everything ... Half your money is gone. Some operators who are not as savvy are getting washed out of the industry; others are holding on, but ... I hope that gives [00:18:00] you a little perspective.
Blake Oliver: Being a Californian, it doesn't surprise me that we would legalize an industry, but then make the cost of compliance so high as to drive the legal operators out of business. That's essentially what seems to be happening here, right?
Tom Andersen: Yes. There was a motion in the assembly, in the lower house, in the assembly ... Five assemblymen, two from L.A., had actually proposed that we drop the excise tax from 15 to 11 percent. [00:18:30] I thought that was great; a wonderful way to stimulate the legal economy, but that got shut down. So, we'll see what's the next piece of legislation that comes through.
David Leary: The legislation is the local cities, right? Municipalities-
Bruce Andersen: Local.
David Leary: Then you've got the counties, and then you've got the states.
Bruce Andersen: Counties are not involved in the process.
David Leary: Counties are no, okay.
Bruce Andersen: At the state [00:19:00] level, then, you have an interesting series of splits, where there's actually three different taxes paid at the state level. All are through CDTFA, which is the old Board of Equalization group, which now has a fancier title, which then is split into two pieces. One is a traditional sales tax you pay on anything, and then, for the other part, they call it cannabis tax. But then, because [00:19:30] of the misunderstanding about how that's defined, then they actually have two pieces of excise tax. One is on the cultivation side, and one is on the distribution side.
What happens is cultivation has three splits to it, and it's paid by the ounce of product. Just think about that - by the ounce of the products that are being put into the market. That's on the cultivation side, and that [00:20:00] is when products are being sold from cultivator to distributor. Who is the remitter of that tax is the distributor. What happens is when the cultivator's selling the product, he also has to pass along- he or she has to pass along the tax, because the cultivator can't remit the tax. He's not does not have a license just for that. That's on half of the state cannabis tax, as they call it.
Now, what happens is the product is repackaged; [00:20:30] may go through manufacturing; other situations; then it goes from the distributor to a retailer. That's another excise tax. Now that tax is at 24 percent of the wholesale price or 15 percent of the retail price, which is a ratio that the state selects. Now, what happens is, once a once a quarter, now you have cannabis tax reporting. What's interesting is you think you're done, [00:21:00] because you have the two pieces. You have a cultivation side, and you have a retail side. Oh, but there's more. What happens is that when you do the reporting, they also want to know how much is for medical use and how much is for adult use. Now you think to yourself, "How in the world do I get that information?" Because the cultivator has no clue when he sells that product, okay?
Blake Oliver: That makes no sense.
Bruce Andersen: It makes no [00:21:30] sense. Absolutely no sense at all. Then, when you go to even the last step, which is the distributor to the retailer, it's the same product. There's no packaging differential at all with that. So, basically what happens is you have this goofy component to the tax reporting, which basically makes no sense, and there's no guidance for that.
Blake Oliver: How do you advise your clients on reporting that ...? [00:22:00]
Bruce Andersen: You have to just be consistent in the way you do that. If you're a micro, then what I use sometimes as a guide is what was a ratio in which the retailer sold the product between medical and adult use? Then I just push it back through the system-
Blake Oliver: You just push it back through the system.
Bruce Andersen: Yeah.
Blake Oliver: Got it.
Bruce Andersen: There's no clarity on that at all.
Tom Andersen: Also, one other thing to note is that when you walk into a retail establishment now - brick and mortar retail, not delivery - they [00:22:30] will generally just assume that you're rec, and you have to bring out your paperwork and show that you are medicinal, and you're registered with the state agency, so on and so forth.
Blake Oliver: Oh, so the same retail establishment will sell both adult use and medically-
Tom Andersen: Yes, that's correct.
Blake Oliver: Okay, I wasn't [cross talk]
Tom Andersen: -they pair the licenses. See, this all comes back to that whole slippery slope argument, but it's pairing licenses and eventually merging.
Blake Oliver: So, you get a different price if it's medical versus adult?
Tom Andersen: Five percent less tax. [00:23:00]
Blake Oliver: Okay, got it. That's like my Costco card or something.
Bruce Andersen: They don't sell yet.
Blake Oliver: Not yet.
Bruce Andersen: Yeah. We're waiting for the Walmart of Weed. That's all ...
David Leary: How does the average accountant, or bookkeeper that has a client come in that's in the cannabis industry, and they're gonna engage that client ... Is this something they should do? Should they punt them? Should they go find you? What's somebody supposed to do, because this sounds so overly-complicated, and it's changing. It's probably not [00:23:30] even the same environment it was 18 months ago.
Tom Andersen: It wasn't.
Bruce Andersen: I have news feeds which basically show articles ... Like you guys are recapping the news ... If everybody doesn't know that, you guys recap the news once a week-
Blake Oliver: Hopefully.
Bruce Andersen: I have news feeds; Tom has news feeds which are basically stuff coming in every day.
David Leary: It's the Marijuana Daily podcast ...
Bruce Andersen: New stuff every day.
Tom Andersen: I'll give you an example. What I do is whatever jurisdiction my current active client is in, I'll go subscribe to [00:24:00] the city council feeds, get the minutes, find out when they're having their agendas, what they're discussing, who is voting on what. Call this stalker-ish, if you will, but I'll find out who the city council people are - their religion, their race, do they have a family, do they not? Are they conservative? Are they liberal? So on and so on and so forth ... And build profiles such that we can then lobby.
Bruce Andersen: Back to your question about what does the new person entering the market as an accountant that wants to be in this space ... I [00:24:30] think they have to really contemplate how they want to proceed in the area. If you talk about just doing accounting work, bookkeeping work, it can be comfortable, and it can be maybe not overwhelming.
At 4:00 today, we have a cannabis accounting session, and we talk about some of the uniqueness of the area. There does not appear to be a lot [00:25:00] of activity with regards to a book you can go to get this kind of information, at this stage. I think that the other part of it, which is absolutely critical, is I think that you're gonna do a disservice to your client, if you're looking at accounting without tax. If you don't understand the tax piece, that's such a significant component to booking entries in the accounting books.
For example, excise tax to a retailer is a cost of goods sold deductible item, [00:25:30] where typically you think of all taxes and licenses as other administrative expenses, which in the cannabis space, 280E ends up being a situation where those tax and license activities would generally be non-deductible. Therefore, now you have a situation where that excise tax is not only deductible, but it also is a reduction from gross sales. Therefore, there's some very interesting adjustments that you have to make with your thinking about how you want to be able to [00:26:00] enter the market providing services to this space.
Blake Oliver: If I'm a bookkeeper or an accountant who just provides accounting services and not tax, I should definitely pair up with a tax expert in this space, such as yourself.
Bruce Andersen: It makes a lot of sense that way. The other thing that I encourage our clients, generally, to do is to have some bookkeeping support themselves-
Tom Andersen: On-site.
Bruce Andersen: On-site because there's just so ... This is an extremely dynamic industry. There's [00:26:30] so many things that are going on, day by day by day, whether it's creating manifests, which is a whole new term for accountants, which is actually a traveler that says product is moving. That's a whole new thing that should be done. There's things happening every day, and to outsource the bookkeeping well, it's hard to do in a cannabis environment, is my opinion.
Tom Andersen: What I find that's best is that the on-site bookkeeper will have a [inaudible] desktop connection [00:27:00] to the program that they're working in, such that they can then do their duties, but with minimal risk of errors, omissions, so on and so forth.
David Leary: How portable is skill set? What I mean by that is Illinois just passed legalization. Can you just fold up shop here and go open there, or do you have to start from scratch, because the laws - the way they're going to treat [00:27:30] it, and handle it, and track it - is gonna be so far from what California is doing?
Tom Andersen: The latter, not the former. It will be a lot more difficult to go into a new territory. I have a map of L.A. County, what areas we service and what areas we can't service. When I say, "Why can't we service them?" It's because there's already somebody firmly in place there, or people that are firmly in place there providing that service. To be a switcher and try to switch their services to ours would be near impossible. [00:28:00]
However, the areas that we do target, they are areas where there are higher net income individuals and higher net income demographics, so those folks are willing to shop two, three, four, five accountants and then pick. Our number-one source is those folks will go to their attorney, and their attorney is their greatest advisor, who will then say, "Talk to these folks right here." More often than [00:28:30] not, we close those deals.
Bruce Andersen: From the portability, state by state, I think it's a very difficult task because, as I've mentioned, the taxation is rooted at the local level. Also, the way in which micros are defined in California is different than the way micros are defined in other states and so forth. So, therefore, you have to have somebody that really is well entrenched for the local kinds of activities, from [00:29:00] a standpoint of a general setup of an accounting system, compliance with 280E, which is what's deductible/what's not. Those kinds of things are somewhat transportable from state to state, but again, to do a complete job, you really have to have a good understanding of whatever is going on locally.
David Leary: That's interesting, because a lot of cloud accountants, one of the benefits is if I wanna only do bike shops, I can take bike shops all over the country, all over the world, and there's not a problem. But it sounds like this, it's very localized. [00:29:30] You can't build that same kind of business model.
Tom Andersen: It was intentionally built that way, I believe, on the simple basis of keeping big pharma out for a good what's been now 20-some-odd years.
David Leary: Interesting.
Tom Andersen: The reason being, if you follow from 1996, the Conditional Use Act, through 2003, it was patients. The way you "paid" was donations. 2003 came around [00:30:00] and opened up the doors for more retail storefronts. That's where you kind of saw that explosion. I don't know if you followed in the news, in 2007, there were more pot shops than Starbucks.
Blake Oliver: Well, definitely on my street. I live on Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley. It used to be a Starbucks every block, and now it's a pot shop every block or two, yeah ...
Tom Andersen: Interesting stuff.
Blake Oliver: Well, Thomas [00:30:30] and Bruce, thank you so much for joining us today. It was really great to have you on the show. I learned a lot. I think David did, too.
David Leary: I had a really good time, absolutely.
Blake Oliver: If people want to reach out to you, and connect with you, and learn more about what you're up to, where's the best place for them to do that online?
Tom Andersen: Well, I would say the best thing to do is to email me either at: Thomas@CannabisCPA.tax, or Bruce. Bruce is at: Bruce@CannabisCPA.tax. [00:31:00]
Bruce Andersen: Yeah, we'll be filling out through the social media areas, as well. Our website is up right now, so that's a good place to start.
Blake Oliver: All right. Sounds great.
David Leary: Perfect.
Blake Oliver: And as always, you can follow me on Twitter. I'm @BlakeTOliver. How about you, David?
David Leary: I'm @DavidLeary.
Blake Oliver: We'll see you again another time. Thanks. Thanks, everyone.
Tom Andersen: Thank you, guys. Appreciate the opportunity.