Fiona Ma, CPA, serves on the California Board of Equalization and is seeking ways to better regulate the cannabis industry in the state. Earlier this year, she stated: “Our goal is to encourage this industry to come out of the shadows, to register, to become legal, and that is where we must find a balance for the future of our state.” Ma supported WeedMaps founder Justin Hartfield’s Cannabis Business Council, a California legalization effort that was formally announced earlier this week. She recently visited Denver and shared her perspective upon her return.
California is too big to fail and other states are banking on the successful and safe integration of this industry into our economy. This is why it is critical that we learn from the other states and get it right. There are five key lessons that we need to understand as we move forward.
- The federal government needs to prioritize and proactively work on this banking inequality. We need to get cash off of the streets and track all financial transactions
- California community banks and credit unions should look to Colorado for best practices, and California medical cannabis dispensaries should be proactive in working with local financial institutions to achieve some level of financial services.
- California needs to be a catalyst in finding an intermediate-term financial institution for medical cannabis dispensaries. California should look into a state-chartered depository institution to provide, at the minimum, basic merchant services to allow businesses to pay their taxes and payroll via check or electronic funds transfer.
- California needs to take advantage of the provisions in AB 266 that allow us to set up a world-class regulatory financial tracking system using the latest technology platforms to provide real-time, safe, functional transactions which would enable tax agencies to receive sales tax revenues at the end of each business day (instead of waiting for a quarterly filing and hoping the money comes in).
- California needs to ensure that any ballot initiative legalizing recreational use of cannabis in 2016 includes provisions that allow the State of California to establish a state-chartered credit union for the cannabis industry pending federal action.
Read Ma’s full article “Colorado’s Cannabis Industry Growing Pains Provide Lessons Learned for California”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fiona-ma/colorados-cannabis-industry_b_8248272.html
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