Bruce Jolliff: Jumping into Cannabis Head First

Portrait of Bruce Jolliff

“I want to help these people save money on taxes, so they can use it to build their business.”

By Liz Gold

Bruce Jolliff is turning his attention to cannabis clients.

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A CPA and a forensic accountant who spends a majority of time providing outsourced controller and CFO services, Jolliff is jumping head first into cannabis. And he’s ready.

He has five objectives when he works with entrepreneurs:

  1. clarify your direction,
  2. strategize your actions,
  3. upgrade your skills,
  4. optimize your environment and
  5. master your psychology.

And he plans to apply those to cannabis clients.

Based in San Diego (but currently working from Redmond, Oregon), he’s a firm believer in the remote office and says it’s the best way to build out a cannabis practice. He decided on cannabis because, well, it caught his attention.

“I’ve been doing a lot of research and talking with many people in the industry and the positive effects from cannabis are undeniable,” he said.

Jolliff has been concerned about the environment for years and sees hemp as a viable alternative to trees in creating paper, for instance. If he can help cannabis companies run their businesses successfully with the value of sustainability, that would be ideal.

“There’s been a huge improvement, but we aren’t there yet,” Jolliff said. “There are a lot of people who don’t want to get involved in any of this quite yet. The federal government is still hanging it over our heads because it is a Schedule 1 narcotic. We should be making all of our paper products from hemp instead of the forest, but the government hasn’t stepped in and made it easier for people to get involved. Right now, there’s still a risk.”

Though Jolliff doesn’t work strictly with cannabis clients (he’s been consulting for more than 20 years across a spectrum of industries including private investigating, electrical engineering, retail, manufacturing, processing and restaurants), his marketing efforts now are focused on the industry. He said he sees a strong need among cannabis companies for financial expertise to help with IRS Code 280E and navigating the complexities of calculating cost of goods sold.

“Entrepreneurs generally are not accountants and they are going to find out that either they pay a professional to help them do it right the first time or run the risk of serious problems with the IRS down the road,” he said. “It’s an awareness thing and I want to help cannabis businesses become aware of the proper way to set up their books and records and pay only the amount of taxes they are legally obligated to.”

Jolliff’s experience working with cannabis companies extends to helping operators develop a grow facility and assisting startups looking for funds and creating an investment structure to develop a processing plant.

As a certified fraud examiner, Jolliff brings additional skills to the table – especially as they relate to internal controls. He said the two integral parts of the industry – cash and marijuana – are both highly desirable and easily concealed, so there’s an opportunity to do forensic work, especially when you are setting up a system or process.

Jolliff said his ideal client is legitimate (aka not on the black market) and has a relaxed lifestyle and philosophy. He values fun and wants his clients to be comfortable and collaborative while still maintaining a competitive edge.

“I want to help these people save money on taxes, so they can use it to build their business,” he said. “I want to help them run their business efficiently, so that the business isn’t running them. I want us all to have fun while we’re growing a viable and profitable business.”

As for whether that client is a grower, processor, dispensary owner or lab, Jolliff doesn’t have a preference – though he does say the biggest opportunity for tax breaks would be with those companies that have cost-related operations, such as growers and processors.

“In the next year, I’d like to be working with a few select growing facilities, maybe young cannabusinesses,” Jolliff said. “Businesses that are on an upward path, they are growing, they have a plan and they are working on their plan. I want to be an integral part of that.”