Skip to Main Content


  • Article
    Cannabis as Legitimate Medicine see more

    Medical cannabis has taken the country by storm; thirty states in total have implemented the broad legalization of either medical or recreational use of cannabis. That being said, some states not included within the thirty are working towards a full-fledged medical program, while allowing access to patients on a special case basis. Some of these states include, North Carolina, Missouri, and previously, Oklahoma. The state of Oklahoma has recently legalized medical marijuana, and according to Paul Moines at the Oklahoma Watch, The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, under the Oklahoma State Department of Health, started accepting applications for medical marijuana licenses by Aug. 27” 2018.





    This is a huge win for the state of Oklahoma, because it allows patients like Sophia Gibson, access to the treatment they need. Sophia, a seven-year-old Netherlands girl who suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy that causes up to 100 seizures per day. According to Lauren Harte at the Belfast Telegraph, it took Sophia’s parents three and a half years to get special case access to cannabis oils that would replace her prescribed synthetic drugs and aid her condition. After a few months of regularly using CBD Oil, Sophia’s parents say her seizures have reduced by around 80%. These results are nothing short of miraculous, and such success stories aren’t all that uncommon. Jackson Leyden, Washington D.C., Sam Volgelstein, UK, Brooke Adams, California, Rebecca Sewell, Florida, Ashley Surin, Illinois, and Vivian Stagg, Arizona all suffer from traumatic seizures, and all have had success using medical cannabis.

    It is definitely fair to say that medical cannabis has helped those who suffer from seizures. What about patients who have other needs? According to The Washington Post, medical director Mikhail Koga, of the George Washington University Center for Integrative Medicine prescribes “high-CBD strains of cannabis regularly to patients with epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, autoimmune disorders, autism and insomnia”. The post goes on to mention that German researchers found in 2012, “giving CBD to schizophrenic patients reduced psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and disordered thinking”. Furthermore, The Post reports two researchers at a Medical Research Center in San Francisco, California, recently found “CBD can block cancer cells from metastasizing”. If what the researchers discovered can be successfully tested with a patient, it would be groundbreaking for the medical field.

    Dr. Sanjay Gupta, American neurosurgeon, and activist for the legalization of medical marijuana shows, “for 3,000 years marijuana was a legitimate source of medication” and, “it could potentially help people who really need it and it’s not being offered” because, “we have been terribly and systematically mislead for nearly 70 years in the United States”. Though medical cannabis is still illegal in parts on the United States, there’s no denying its legitimacy. The number of illnesses it is recognized to treat may be small, but the potential for it to grow has never been larger. If the words of Dr. Gupta don’t convince you, you might want to take a look at the patent the United States government has on Cannabinoids as means for Antioxidants and Neuroprotection. The patent, otherwise known as, no.: US 6,630,507 B1, was granted to the US Department of Health and Human services in October of 2003. According to Alicia Wallace at The DenverPostspokeswoman Renate Myles, of The National Institutes of Health (NIH), an organization employing around 6,000 Ph.d credited scientists, “Researchers discovered that non-psychoactive compounds in cannabis may have antioxidant properties that could be beneficial in the treatment of certain neurological diseases” and that “This patent describes the therapeutic potential for cannabinoid chemical compounds that are structurally similar to THC, but without its psychoactive properties, thereby treating specific conditions without the adverse side effects associated with smoked marijuana,”.

    With this much evidence supporting cannabis as medicine, readily available to the public, it would almost seem naive to not consider it as a legitimate form of medication. We strongly encourage everyone to research medicinal cannabis in their state, especially if there’s potential for an industry to emerge and for patients to get a medical benefit that traditional pharma may not be able to provide. There’s no reason this treatment should be unavailable to those who are seeking it out, and hopefully upon further research, you’ll feel the same way.

     August 25, 2018
  • Article
    The Minimum Every Cannabis CEO Must Understand About Finance see more

    Running a cannabis business is tough. There is a lot to learn, especially if it’s also your first business. The financial side of things, in particular, can be really scary. You might even be tempted to ignore it until tax time. Protip: That’s generally a bad idea. But you know that, or you wouldn’t be reading this. You can’t go too far the other way either, though. You’ve got better things to do than trying to worry about every single tiny detail. So, here is my quick primer on the absolute minimum that you need to understand about the financial side of your business if you want to be successful. Because, that’s what we all want, right? We all want to be successful and grow our businesses….and maybe a little green too.  So, what do you really, and I mean really really, need to know about finance in order to have a chance at success? Let’s start with a general one:



    1. Financials Drive the Business, Not the Other Way Around

    It’s easy to get lost in the motions of running a business: Plant, grow, harvest. Source, process, distribute. Order, stock, sell. Whatever it is for you and your business. You spent a lot of time and effort creating these processes, and now that you’ve got them going, you want to keep them going. Like that guy spinning plates, you can’t step too far away or it might all come tumbling down.








    Keep Spinning!

    Babysitting these processes seems like the most important thing right now. But, it turns out, that’s the worst possible thing you can do. The most successful business people don’t get deeply, intricately involved in the running of their businesses. Or when they do, they don’t stay there.

    That’s because it’s a heck of a lot easier to make decisions if you can see the whole picture at once. And you know the best way to see the whole picture??? Financial statements! ….You thought I was going to say something sexier, didn’t you? Sorry.











    Not that sorry, though.

    Financial statements give you big picture information on your business. You can then use that information to make informed decisions. And later, after everything has settled, you can use the changes that show up on your financial statements to find out if you goofed or not. You wouldn’t drive without looking at your car’s instrument panel, so why would you make decisions about your business without looking at its dashboards first? Of course, that’s true for any business. You also need to know the ways the cannabis industry is different from others. The biggest way is 280E.

    2. 280E

    What is 280E? It’s a small part of the IRS code that states that any business involved in the “trafficking” of a schedule I or II controlled substance cannot deduct its expenses the way that every other business can. And unfortunately, as of this writing, this includes all “legal” cannabis businesses.  Yes, it sucks. But, “luckily” there is a small loophole hidden in 280E. Personally, I suspect that it was accidental and would have been too tough to fix, so they left it. But, they did leave it, which means we get to use it. Yay!? Should we be happy or not?










    The loophole is that you can still deduct something called your “Cost of Goods Sold” (hereafter referred to as COGS, because that’s fun to say).

    What are COGS? COGS are the costs specifically related to buying or producing the product that you are selling. So, if you buy something for $5, spend $10 processing it, and then sell it for $50, your COGS was $15 and your profit was $35.

    You, as a cannabis business owner, get to pay taxes on that full $35. Every other business in the country gets to deduct any other business expenses they have. They only pay taxes on the true profit of the business. That’s not fair!  Having to pay more taxes than any other business sucks, but at least you still get to deduct COGS. And, we can make it suck less by calling as many of your expenses COGS as possible. Now obviously you can’t do this with everything or 280E wouldn’t suck. So how do you know which expenses you can call COGS?


    3. COGS

    Who gets to say what you can include in COGS and what you can’t? Well, the IRS thinks they can, for some reason. There are two different parts of the tax code that list what you should include in your COGS: 263A and 471. Most businesses use 263A because the list in it is longer. But, as we all know, cannabis businesses aren’t most businesses. It turns out, 263A was written after 280E. So, if 280E applies to you, you don’t get to use 263A…boo. ?It’s a non copyright violating Boo. ?

    Also, 263A has some language in it that the IRS has interpreted to mean that you can’t use it as justification to deduct something that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to deduct. So, even though 263A specifically lets you include certain costs, if 280E says you can’t, you still can’t, no matter what 263A says. That means cannabis businesses have to look to the older 471 section of the code to figure out what you can include in COGS. The code has sections for different types of businesses. Your cannabis business can be a ‘producer’ who grows or processes product and then sells it to a reseller/distributor (471-3 and 471-11 applies), or it can be a ‘reseller’ who sells product directly to the public (471-3 applies).

    You and your cannabis financial expert will need to sit down to review the code and create your personalized plan, but as a rule of thumb:

    • You can always include any costs directly related to producing, acquiring, or processing the product you are going to sell – seeds/clones/flower, growing supplies, labor to prepare product for sale, etc.
    • You can pretty much never include any costs directly related to the actual selling of the product – sales labor, marketing, advertising, etc.
    • You can sometimes deduct costs associated with generally running your business – licensing costs, insurance, executive salaries, etc.

    The real magic comes from finding expenses in that third category and figuring out how to include them. You’ll want to sit down with a trained financial professional (à la moi) to create your plan, though, so that you end up with something that is both legal and workable.


    4. C.H.A.M.P.

    There has to be a way to deduct more than just your COGS, though. Right?!? Well, maybe not. But if you are a reseller, and you sell both cannabis and non-cannabis products, there may be something else we can do.

    A business called “Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems” (CHAMP, get it?!?) went to court with the IRS over their deductions. CHAMP argued that while they did indeed sell cannabis, and thus would not be allowed most of their deductions due to 280E, they also sold another product, an entirely legal product: the care and training they provided to their clients. So, the IRS allowed them to separate their business into essentially two businesses, one that sells cannabis and one that provides treatment. AND the treatment part of the business was allowed to take all of the regular deductions! That’s huge!








    Care and training, FTW!


    There are a few requirements that you’ll need to meet if you want to take advantage of this strategy, though. The non-cannabis part of the business has to be able to stand alone as a real deal business. You have to prepare regular financial statements that show you treat it as such. And, you’ll need to have a written, justified reason for how you divide any costs that impact both parts of the business.

    A few cases that went to court have gone against businesses that tried to do this because they didn’t do a good job of keeping up their bookkeeping. So, if you decide to go this route, make sure you’re going to do it right or it might all be a waste.


    5. Uncertain Future

    We all know that there are risks involved with the cannabis industry. At the least, you’re risking that your business won’t be profitable enough to pay the taxes it owes.

    That right there is a higher burden than any other business has to carry. But, the whole industry has a very uncertain future. And, I’m not just talking about what if the feds decide to crack down. Though, there is still the chance that could happen.










    It’s just weed, man!

    Probably not, though. It’s looking like federal legalization is going to come at some point. But, there are several paths it could take, and most of them have some significant downsides.

    For example, a first step many suggest is moving cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule II controlled substance. That would allow for more research to be done on the health benefits of cannabis. But, the real world result would be that current businesses would see an increase in the amount of federal regulation…and it wouldn’t even get rid of 280E!?!

    What if they remove it from the controlled substances list entirely? That would get rid of 280E. But, cannabis will still be regulated as something…a drug? A food additive? It’ll be something. And that is going to come with additional regulations and requirements you will have to meet. Are you ready for FDA audits? This industry has an uncertain future at the moment, and you need to be fully aware of that. If you’re not comfortable taking the risk that things might go terribly awry before they get better, this might not be the right industry for you just yet.

    6. Audits

    Speaking of audits, you also need to know that an IRS audit is a real risk for a cannabis business. For most businesses, audits are relatively rare and often are triggered by specific suspected violations, but not so much in the cannabis industry. There are a few reasons for that. Due to banking issues, many cannabis businesses deal with lots of cash, which is always a red flag for the IRS. Also, you’re dealing with 280E, so you’re already admitting to doing something illegal (in their eyes at least). It’s not cool, but it does make sense that you’re going to get a little more scrutiny than other businesses. So, since the odds of getting audited are much higher, you need to have a plan in place to help you get through. Just in case.












    His name’s Justin … that’s his case …

    What’s the best way to get through an audit? Have all of your ducks in a row. That means having documented processes, following them rigorously, and keeping everything up to date.

    I know that might sound too simple. And you might be the type that thinks I’m a sucker for even suggesting such a thing. But, I assure you, the one real trick to surviving an audit is to already be following all of the guidelines that you’re supposed to and have proof that you do. That takes more than just figuring out the right numbers at the end of the year, though. That means you need to produce the monthly statements. You need to save the receipts. You have to really and truly justify all of your expenses. That might seem like a lot of busy work. But, if (when) you do get audited, you’ll be glad that it’s already done. There are lots of other great benefits to having your financials all lined out, too. Should you find yourself in a situation to sell your business, you’ll be all set. And, of course, you get to use the financial statements to make informed decisions for your business in the meantime.



    Running a cannabis business does have its quirks, but at its heart, it is a business like any other. You need to use accurate financial information, in addition to your gut, to make decisions. If you don’t, you’re just guessing at the best moves to make.

    But you’ll also need to understand the specifics of the industry. Particularly, 280E and how it screws you. If you understand it, you can make use of the legal ways to compensate for it. And in order to do that, you’ll also have to understand how to determine what you really can and can’t include in your COGS.

    And, if you’re a reseller, you should understand the C.H.A.M.P. decision and how you might be able to leverage that in your own business. But, remember, don’t try to do it if you aren’t going to back it up with documentation and processes that you’ll actually follow.

    While the future in this industry is uncertain, the chance of getting audited isn’t. But, if you’ve been creating, documenting, and following your processes all along, you’ll get through it just fine. And, maybe, your business will be one of the ones that succeeds and blazes a bright future in the industry.

    If you’d like some help taking your business to the next level by setting up, streamlining, or maintaining your financial systems, let’s talk. 

     September 21, 2018
  • Article
    This is a guest blog post by Michael Wellington – Speaker, Author, Athlete, Patient, Advocate see more

    This is a guest blog post by Michael Wellington – Speaker, Author, Athlete, Patient, Advocate

    Here is some truth for you: in January of 2001, I was 23 years old and correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder by a doctor in Ft. Myers, Florida. I was born and raised right in the middle of the United States in St. Louis, Missouri. I was certainly not a rich kid, but I didn’t grow up poor either. I went to a quality high school and turned that into a collegiate golf scholarship.

    At the time of my bipolar diagnosis, I was 23 years old and one month removed from finishing college. My college experience in the great state of Alabama was filled with a few constants: drinking, late nights, working for the school newspaper, playing competitive golf for my college golf team and more drinking. If you knew me in college, my behavior was defined as “outgoing”. When I got outside of the friendly surroundings of college life and into the real world, my behavior was given a different name: “bipolar”.

    That behavior in the real world caused my friends to contact my parents because it was obvious that my words and actions were a bit more than just “outgoing”. So, my parents came to visit me at my new apartment in Florida, just a three-hour flight from my hometown in the Midwest. They brought me to a doctor who laid out a piece of paper on the table in front of me with a list of traits and actions that are associated with bipolar disorder. I may not have come from a lot of wealth but I was wealthy in my education. My high school and college years had taught me well in many areas. So, when I saw this list, I knew that this was me. No doubt about it. I knew in my heart and my mind at that exact moment that I had bipolar disorder. There was no denying it. My biggest problem was that I had never heard of bipolar disorder. I truly did not know what it was or what it was capable of doing to the human mind. But I would find out quickly. That doctor would prescribe me a bipolar medication. I was never in denial about having bipolar. I was in denial that I needed to take medication to manage it.

    If there is one single piece of advice that I wish my 40-year-old self could give to my 23-year-old self is to take your bipolar medicine EVERY DAY. It took me five and a half years to figure out that important piece to my health puzzle. In those five plus years, I learned hard lessons and wound up in places like police stations, emergency rooms, psychiatric wards, on the side of an interstate highway in Illinois bleeding from my hands and arms after taking a baseball bat to my own car, passed out on the stairs to a church in Columbia, Missouri and on a meaningless car ride through Florida in search of a golf match with Tiger Woods.

    I wound up in all of these places because I refused to take my bipolar medication and by not doing so, the intoxicating manic behavior caused by my illness owned me and ran my life. But I couldn’t tell. The mania was a blind spot to me. It was like a fever that I didn’t notice. While my friends and family had a front row seat to what was happening to me, I just thought this was regular life as it happened, business as usual. Every single time that I wound up in a less than desirable place there were two common denominators. I was either skipping my medicine or drinking or both.

    I grew up in the city that was the home of Budweiser. Drinking was glorified as the cool thing to do since the time I was fourteen years old. I was fooled at a young age into thinking that drinking was cool.

    Here’s some more truth: if you have bipolar disorder and you don’t take medication and you drink on top of it…good luck, because you’re fucked. My ride with bipolar disorder was so wild that in October of 2011, I decided to quit drinking and write a book about my competition against bipolar disorder. No A.A. meetings, no thirty-day treatment, no sixty-day sober living house. I just stopped drinking and began to write. My hangovers were causing a suicidal depression that was simply too much for me, so I had to take alcohol completely out of my life equation. I had to make this change or the combination of my bipolar and drinking was going to kill me. Candidly, I was lucky to still be alive.

    From 2006 to 2011, I had been able to put a better harness on my bipolar mania because in the early summer of 2006, I was the center piece of not one but two interventions. These weren’t interventions to get me to stop drinking or doing drugs. These interventions were planned and executed by eight of my best friends who informed me that they couldn’t be in my life anymore unless I began to take my bipolar medication EVERY DAY. If I were to continue skipping or being inconsistent with my meds, I would lose all eight of those incredible friends. I decided that bipolar disorder was not going to rob me of friendships that I valued.

    So, in that five-year window, I was able to slow down my mania because I became diligent about taking my pills every morning when I woke up after brushing my teeth. The mania had caused so many issues over the years that it was good to find some solid footing by keeping the mania at arm’s length with consistent medication usage. But now that I had put the mania in check, I began to experience the other ugly side of bipolar disorder: Depression. Specifically, suicidal depression. Even though I took my meds each day, my drinking was causing my hangovers to produce the most lethal form of depression. Alcohol is a natural depressant so using any booze was like pouring gasoline on my own bipolar fire.  The key to living productively with bipolar disorder is to find that “middle ground” and by that, I mean five steps up from depression and five steps below mania. That’s the sweet spot. It took a seventeen-year case study on myself to successfully locate that middle ground.

    It took me ten years to figure out the correct recipe to keep the mania out of my life. That recipe turned out to be very simple: take your meds every day and don’t put alcohol in your body.

    After a lot of trial and error in defeating the mania, I had a new challenge that came to me in early 2012. I now had to figure out a way to keep my depression at bay. When I do public speaking appearances, I refer to this as “playing defense against bipolar depression”. There are some fundamental things that aid in fighting depression and I have used all of these at different times: exercise, music therapy, proper sleep conditions, proper sleep amounts, strong diet, yoga, massive hydration (water intake), transcendental meditation and cryotherapy. No one is exempt from depression. It can hit you when you lose a job, it can wreck you when you go through a divorce and it can pain you when a loved one dies. As a person who has lived through many different bouts with depression, I can confidently say that I know the feeling and will do just about anything to escape what the feeling of depression creates

    From 2012-2016, I used all of these different techniques to try and stave off my depression. There were many days when I had to force myself to go to the gym and exercise. Other days were a challenge because I didn’t understand how to sleep enough or how to sleep in the correct atmosphere. I learned how important drinking lots of water is because proper hydration fights off fatigue and fatigue is a major catalyst for depression. I changed how I ate and I took transcendental meditation classes. And at the beginning of 2017, I decided to add something new to my health recipe. Cannabis. That’s right. You may know it as marijuana, grass, pot, dope, Mary Jane or green. I reached out to a friend of mine in Colorado in January of 2017 because I was doing many of the activities that I knew worked well against depression but no matter what I tried, I felt sluggish and suicidal.

    My friend in Colorado recommended a type of Cannabis called Sativa which is known to provide a boost of energy. I was pretty desperate because of how I felt. I had used Cannabis in the past but only recreationally. This was a concentrated effort to find out if Cannabis could be a useful tool in the battle against bipolar and depression. I would have to break the law in order to execute this experiment but I didn’t care because my feelings of suicidal depression were so overwhelming.

    I decided that I would use this Sativa strain of Cannabis for six months straight and monitor my suicidal thoughts. My (illegal) package arrived in the mail to me during the last week in January of 2017. And it really couldn’t have gotten to me fast enough. I was easily in the deepest darkest depression that I had ever felt. During that February, I experienced an enormous turnaround. My sluggishness melted away. I had been working out every day before I got my illegal package and now I was still working out every day but my sessions at the gym were longer and more productive. I was sleeping better through the night. I was sharper and more productive with all of my work and competitions. I simply had so much more energy each day and the drag of depression lifted its foot off of my head. February erased all of the ugly depression that I felt for the three months prior. March was great, April was the same, May was really strong and productive while June was a positive month as well. My mood and outlook weren’t good only because of Cannabis. I was using other pieces of the puzzle like exercise first thing in the morning, taking my bipolar meds, listening to lots of music that I liked, monitoring my sleep, taking time for meditation, eating clean and of course, no alcohol anywhere near me. In July, things started to change.

    Toward the end of that month, I was traveling a lot and I ran out of my Cannabis. But I kept all of the exercise, medication, strong diet, music therapy and all other positives in play but the Cannabis was the only piece that I changed on purpose because I wanted to monitor myself without it in my system. By mid-August, I was in a dark place. I was waking up every morning at 5:30 to drive to the local high school track where I would stretch, run, run stairs and do burpees. It was an explosive release of endorphins to start my day. Which is the way all people who battle depression should fight against it: rustle up the endorphins! Even though I began my day with this intense exercise, my depression was gripping me again. It was a dark feeling. I felt like I needed to stick to my plan and stay away from the Cannabis and give this test a full research.

    Bipolar depression has a deep, dark, invisible and sinister pull because the most intense bipolar depression is definitely suicidal depression. Very recently, I saw an interview Jane Pauley did with actress Glen Close and her sister, Jesse. Jesse had been diagnosed bipolar at age 50 and had the most accurate explanation that I had ever heard in defining bipolar depression. She explained the depression as “beyond blackness”. She said that the disorder and the depression combined to feed her brain a message over and over: “kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself”. This was a train of thought that I had experienced many times myself. It’s not fun to admit it, but when trying to exterminate these depressive feelings and improve ourselves, we must identify exactly what is going through our minds.   That ugly train of thought clearly explains why so many people that have bipolar disorder commit suicide. This interview conducted by Pauley with the Close sisters truly helped me connect the dots and see more clearly that you can never have too many weapons in fighting suicidal depression.

    As I got into the middle of September in 2017, the depression was still there. I was eating right, exercising at an extremely high level, taking my meds and doing everything I was “supposed” to do. I wasn’t using Cannabis and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go without breaking the law again and reaching out to my friend in Colorado who could send me another illegal package. I think the stigma associated with Cannabis helped me to hold out longer on making another order. There are so many stigmas associated with mental illness and bipolar disorder. The stigmas of Cannabis are out there too. Somehow, I made it through October, November and December. By the start of 2018, I was fighting each day against suicidal depression. I was fighting that battle without Cannabis. But I was losing the battle.

    By February of 2018, I had had enough. The thoughts that I was experiencing were so dark that I had to break the law and send for an illegal shipment of Cannabis. Such a shame that I have to severe the law in order to experiment for optimal health. I needed to again incorporate Cannabis into my daily routine along with my daily practices of intense exercise, taking bipolar meds, eating well, music therapy, keeping a gratitude journal and drinking an obscene amount of water all while keeping a close eye on my sleep habits. On March 1st, I placed the illegal order. Is it weird or correct that I would have to commit a crime to fight off suicidal depression?!?

    The point of this writing is to help the blind people out there see that Cannabis is a medicine that helps many different people for many different reasons and I know for a fact that Cannabis aids in the fight against depression. Some may say, “well, why don’t you take an anti-depressant pill to combat your depression?” The simple answer to that is that anti-depressant pills have a tendency to spike mania for people that live with bipolar disorder. In short, the Cannabis is simply safer for me than an anti-depressant pill cocktail. Cannabis buffers the sting of depression.

    Fighting depression isn’t just as simple as one pill or one joint. Fighting depression is a series of orchestrated activities, techniques and exercises that are proven to fend off depression. If you’re only doing one thing to combat depression, you will probably lose the battle. There are many ingredients that go into the salad of the science well-being. And I know this because I’ve almost lost it all. My bipolar disorder has put my life in jeopardy on more than a half dozen occasions. In order to live a reasonable life, I had to become a professional depression fighter. Cannabis helps the fight. And anyone who can’t figure that out needs to head back to the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. That’s the truth. Welcome to 2018.


    Michael Wellington is the chairman for Birdies4Bipolar and is the Author of “Birdies, Bogeys & Bipolar Disorder” Foreword By David Feherty. The book can be found on

    Michael lives in St. Louis, Missouri and is a professional speaker and golfer. He can be reached at or

     October 29, 2018