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OSCPA prompts move to protect CPAs handling cannabis business

Written on May 1, 2020

OSCPA staff report

At the urging of The Ohio Society of CPAs, Ohio lawmakers this week added language to the latest version of the state’s budget bill that would protect the licenses of CPAs handling business related to medical marijuana.

Marijuana was legalized for medical use in Ohio in 2016. However, it remains classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 narcotic. That makes banking and medical research in cannabis a dicey proposition, and in fact the Accountancy Board of Ohio has not ruled out taking disciplinary action against CPAs who do marijuana-related work should the federal government start enforcing the law.

Lawmakers took a step to address that issue this week when – at OSCPA’s request – they added language to Substitute House Bill 166 that specifically states that CPAs are not committing a crime and shall not be subject to discipline by the ABO solely because they provided professional services to a person or business licensed to provide medical marijuana services.

Barbara Benton, CAE, the Society’s vice president of government relations, said the move will help remove both CPAs and the ABO from a difficult position.

“Marijuana is legal in Ohio for medical purposes, yet as a state regulatory agency the ABO was potentially going to be between a rock and a hard place because of conflicting federal laws,” Benton said. “We appreciate the efforts of Speaker Larry Householder and House Finance Committee Vice Chair Gary Scherer, CPA to address that inconsistency and allow CPAs to provide their business expertise where it is sorely needed for these emerging businesses.”

This move was just one in a bevy of recent developments on the biennial budget, which must be passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the end of June. Watch OSCPA news sources in the coming weeks for continuing updates.