Cannabis’ growing state protections in the medical market are creating indecision in Arkansas accountants. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are now facing the choice of whether or not to serve cannabis businesses and possibly risk future legal issues with the federal government.
Recently the Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy decided that providing professional services to medical cannabis businesses will not be perceived as lacking “good moral character” and providing services won’t be “an act discreditable to the profession.” However, the board at that time also pointed out that it will act against accountants convicted of crimes, since cannabis is still illegal under federal law.
Now, major firms in Arkansas are weighing their options whether or not they will serve cannabis companies. However, not all accountants are willing to jump at the chance to assist the industry, due to the common concern that it could negatively affect their careers. “It’s a risk analysis each CPA is going to have to do,” said Executive Director for the State Board of Public Accountancy Jimmy Corley. He also noted that although other states are more lenient due to more well-established medical cannabis laws, Arkansas has fewer protections for those who want to be involved in the industry. “The firm does not want to be recognized publicly yet,” Corley told 5 news. “We still are unsure of the public’s perception. So there is about a 50/50 chance of having someone support or not support the industry. In time, we feel the industry will be viewed more favorably and become more acceptable by most.”
Another Accountant Robert Clock also said that CPAs who are wishing to service the medical cannabis industry in Arkansas need to educate themselves carefully. “CPAs that want to service this industry need to educate themselves on the rules and regulations surrounding this industry,” Clock said. “They need to follow the industry as legislation unfolds in Washington, D.C. This is not a four- or eight-hour course you can take and know everything you need to provide accounting services to this industry.”
Fifty-three percent of Arkansas voters approved the use of medical cannabis in November 2016. As of September 16, an estimated 1,182 applications have been approved in Arkansas. Although the program is still working on approving applications for dispensaries and cultivation facilities, it will one day soon become easier for CPAs to help serve the medical cannabis industry.