Accounting Aims to Serve Cannabis Businesses

by RaeAnne Marsh

Rebel Rock Accounting provides cannabis businesses nationwide with specialty accounting solutions, tax services, CFO/controller services and business system implementation, filling what CFO Melissa Diaz describes as “a clear void in the fast-paced, ever-evolving industry.” From grow operations and seed-to-sale businesses to dispensaries and beyond, she says she and her fellow co-partners Liz Mason and Katie Kane founded Rebel Rock earlier this year to help cannabis operations “achieve success-driven management while working within the stringent regulatory environment.”

To do this, the team utilizes the latest cloud-based technologies in ways that make sense for each client to improve business efficiencies, ensuring best practices are implemented with accounting, records management, accounts payable, expense reporting, receipt tracking and full-cycle reconciliations. “We do research to find the best possible tech solutions for each of our individual clients.”

One of two primary inspirations for starting Rebel Rock came from a close friend who was a general counsel to multiple cannabis companies. “He expressed to us that the industry really needed legitimate accounting if it was going to grow sustainably.” Cannabis companies needed a lot of help with their cash flow, inventory management, audits and taxes, yet the partners saw only two accounting firms at MJBizCon Vegas, the cannabis industry’s largest trade show. One offered only audit and tax services, Diaz relates, while the other was only a little more robust. “There wasn’t a firm that cannabis businesses could go to and have all their accounting needs met. We realized the industry had a huge gap that we could help fill.”

The other impetus? “The cannabis industry is extremely male-dominated. We wanted to change that!”

Gaining credibility in the cannabis industry they found to be a big hurdle. Explains Diaz, “There are many people in the industry who have been working with cannabis well before it was legalized, and they have a lot of skepticism when it comes to lawyers, accountants or the IRS. There’s a perception that those in the professional industry don’t know what’s going on.”

In the legal CBD space, cashflow, merchant processing and banking can be expensive, hard to figure out and take time, according to Diaz. “Other industries don’t have it as hard, so it’s been about collaborating closely with business owners to find solutions that work for their long-term financial goals,” she says, adding, “We’ve developed some really strong, rewarding professional relationships in this industry — even if it took a little more work to gain trust initially.” With an interest in helping the industry expand legitimately and sustainably, Diaz says of Rebel Rock Accounting, “Ultimately, we want to help eliminate the stigma surrounding cannabis, because the industry has a ton of positive potential.”

Crediting valuable advice to be consistent regarding their own business’s internal requirements, Diaz says, “We wanted to make sure we were helping businesses whose philosophies aligned with ours; we didn’t want to help those who are only in it to get rich and get out. Cannabis can be messy and difficult to manage, there are tons of stringent regulation, and a lot of accounting systems simply aren’t built for the industry. So, we must work with people we trust and can collaborate with on a day-to-day basis. We don’t waver from our initial intent when starting Rebel Rock — and having a clear vision of who we are as a company has paid off every single time.”

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