It’s positive almost every way you look at it — the economy, jobs, medicine, ending illegal markets, even social justice,” enthused Andrew Hunzicker, a CPA and CEO and co-founder of Dope CFO, which provides accounting services to cannabis companies, as well as teaching accountants how to serve the burgeoning industry. “I think we will all look back on 2020 and say, ‘What a mess of a year’ — it’s been pretty bleak, but this is a little bit of a bright spot.”

Already growing strongly before 2020, cannabis has continued to thrive even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But while Schmidt noted that there is speculation that cannabis companies benefited in particular from the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments the federal government distributed to taxpayers early in the pandemic — “You did see a spike in sales as those checks were being passed out,” she said — they were also shut out of federal stimulus funding such as the Paycheck Protection Program because the federal government considers marijuana an illegal drug.

“Newer operators didn’t have an emergency fund, and you should have six to eight months of cash,” she explained. “There’s real estate, licensing fees, and much more to pay for — it’s expensive. It takes a lot just to get up and running, so that’s a big barrier, particularly if you don’t have banks to get loans from.”

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