Medical Marijuana – Fact or Fiction: What “Good” is an Accounting System?


Voters in State of Arizona passed proposition 203, enacting legislation defined as Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act. The Medical Marijuana Act authorizes the establishment of nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries (“dispensaries”). These dispensaries are to be licensed, tightly regulated, and inspected and are intended to provide medical marijuana to qualified patients, with their doctor’s approval, or their designated caregivers.

Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act is governed under Title 36, Public Health and Safety, Chapter 28.1 – Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. Arizona’s Department of Health Services (“DHS”) has enacted “draft” rules governing the program which are contained in Title 9, Health Services, Chapter 17, Department of Health Services – Medical Marijuana Program.

Draft rules issued by DHS contain regulatory requirements over the financial accounting operations of all dispensaries. The draft rules require financial accounting submissions to DHS to be in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), specifically defined in R17-101 – Definitions. DHS rule R9-17-315 requires an inventory control system and monthly internal audit(s) of the dispensary’s inventory in accordance with GAAP. The draft rules also require annual financial statement audit conducted by an independent Certified Public Accountant. The requirements are contained in R9-17-307(3) and (4).

Our goal is to provide general guidance to entities that are anticipating submission of an application and receipt of an Arizona medical marijuana dispensary license. Due to the anticipated changes in the draft rules as a result of the public meetings and comment occurring during February, 2011, the likelihood of additional or amended final rules should be anticipated.

Small Business Accounting System

Many new small business owners and entrepreneurs consider accounting and bookkeeping, a necessary evil; forced upon them by various federal, state and local governments. In this case, an Arizona Medical Marijuana dispensary’s perpetual existence will be closely related to how well the accounting system provides Arizona’s Department of Health Services the financial accounting information they require.

Accounting is an essential component of business, and evil or not, it is a critical business function that cannot be avoided. Remember, noncompliance with statute and regulation will eventually collapse an entity, with an entity’s officers possibly being subjected to civil fine(s), penalties and forfeitures. The accounting system is how a business tracks assets, liabilities, equity, revenues and expenses as a mechanism to evaluate if the company is financially successful. A well designed accounting system is:

Organized set of computerized and manual accounting methods, procedures, and controls established to gather, record, classify, analyze, summarize, interpret, and present accurate and timely financial data for management decisions.

It is an information system that should be embraced by small business owners and entrepreneurs as a means of providing a “snapshot of the business”, through the production and analysis of periodic and timely prepared financial statements. It’s also one of the most important management decision making tools used in any business.

Accounting System – Practical Considerations (more…)