August 30, 2015

Bridging The Marijuana Financial Gap

August 30, 2015
investing in marijuana
investing in marijuana
(image via

If you are in the marijuana industry, I hope you participate in the research project below. I have been talking to Justin via e-mail, and I can’t wait to see what his academic research finds out:

By Justin P. Breidenbach, MAcc, CPA, CFE

What makes a successful marijuana business? Depending on your position in the market, this question will bring up a multitude of answers. To me, as an academic and accountant, success for a business in the marijuana industry is one that can produce a reasonable and sustainable profit. If a business can continue efficient operations in the future it ensures products for customers, a paycheck for employees, and a return of profits to owners.

It is this idea of success that began my journey into the marijuana industry. As an experienced accountant, and inquisitive academic, I was (and still am) curious as to how successful marijuana businesses can be moving into the future. Will there always be hurdles that are just too high to jump, or will a handful of players win the game at the end of the day? This is always a hard question to answer no matter what the industry, but it becomes especially hard if there is a lack of objective data.

Not a day goes by that I don’t remind my students why accounting is important. Accountants are the individuals that provide useful information to decision makers – cue superhero music and pan to an accountant confidently standing up and looking to the sky with a calculator in hand. All joking aside, I take my role as an academic and accountant seriously as I have often been the point person to provide data to business professionals to better understand operations.

For this reason, I traveled around the United States this past year to meet with marijuana business professionals to better understand their hurdles and gain valuable insights on industry data. My travels have allowed me to meet outstanding people who work in the areas of production, processing, and retail. While grit and determination are definitely not lacking in these business professionals, I have been surprised by the lack of data or benchmarking available to the overall industry.

Don’t get me wrong, I have come across market research or support service organizations that collect data on the industry. However, it has appeared to me that this data comes with a steep price tag to access, limited data points are used, or data is presented in a way that doesn’t present the entire picture and appears to drive market participants towards a monetized product or service. Are these types of practices limited to the marijuana industry? Absolutely not! As with any “gold rush”, if you aren’t the one mining for gold then you might as well be providing the pickaxes.

It’s my belief that this is where the role of academics and research can bridge the financial gap that is significant in the marijuana industry. This is an opportunity to provide assistance in mining data, evaluating trends, and determining how success is being gained and sustained. My goal as an academic and accountant is to never stop seeking knowledge and continually investigate the business world around me. The endgame being that my research may intellectually stimulate my colleagues, my students, and stakeholders within and surrounding the marijuana industry (or having aspirations to do so) in order to achieve personal and professional success.

It is at this time that I offer collaboration between the industry and the world of academics to create this bridge. From an academic perspective, I am working to gather financial data from marijuana producers, processors, and retailers. Participants can be of any size and from any region. This will provide an opportunity to better understand the industry through numbers and provide information relating to trends, operational efficiencies, taxation effects, and other unique business metrics. The best part is I am not looking to be a provider of pickaxes for a fee. My goal is to obtain data and provide information back to stakeholders in a non-monetized format as that is what knowledge is all about.

Justin P. BreidenbachPlease feel free to reach out to me ([email protected]) if you would like to discuss this research further along with opportunities to participate.

Justin P. Breidenbach, MAcc, CPA, CFE serves as an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Ohio Wesleyan University (Delaware, Ohio). Justin instructs courses relating to financial accounting, taxation, and audit & assurance services. Additionally, Justin has had extensive professional work experience in public accounting and has provided services to organizations operating in the fields of agriculture, manufacturing, distribution, service, and not-for-profit.


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