Editor’s note: high finance

CPA Magazine’s Editor-in-chief, Okey Chigbo, introduces the features in the September 2016 issue.

Marijuana has a long history. According to a document on illegal drugs on the Parliament of Canada’s website, the cannabis plant has been used in many ways since the Middle Stone Age. One of its more interesting — and macabre — uses was achieved by twisting the fibre from the plant into a thick rope for the hangman to necklace the damned. Beyond death dealing, there were other historic practices: the leaves and buds also had a life-affirming medicinal and recreational application that goes back some three thousand years.

The earliest record of its use for medicinal and hallucinogenic purposes is found in the book Pên-ts’ao Ching, written about 2000 BC in China. The book warns against excessive indulgence, since it makes the user “see devils” and “communicate with spirits.” It is amazing that recent studies repeat similar warnings about what we moderns describe as psychosis — they suggest that in people with a genetic propensity for schizophrenia, marijuana use can contribute to the development of the illness.

Perhaps in part because of this new research, marijuana use remains controversial in North America, and it is possible that this is why the Canadian government is taking a year to consider complete legalization. The Trudeau government is nevertheless expected to go ahead with its election promise to make recreational marijuana legal.

There is no doubt that when legalization does come, many small, medium and large companies will step in to take advantage of business opportunities. Of course, this will create opportunities for CPAs as well. In “The new green economy”, writer John Lorinc investigates the current marijuana business, much of which is medicinal, and the coming boom in the recreational sector, which some speculate will be embraced not only by businesses, but also by liquor boards in the provinces.

The industry, Lorinc reports, “will grow to $5 billion to $10 billion a year, and include some very large corporate players, both on the retail and manufacturing ends.” He continues that it will be a sector “that attracts investment capital and entrepreneurs; produces profits and jobs; creates spinoff service industries as well as exports; and garners large windfalls in tax revenue.”

As for CPAs and other professional service providers, George Smitherman, a former Ontario cabinet minister now on the board of a medical marijuana producer, says, “Making money in regulated marijuana will have a paperwork burden that will in turn be a boon for professional services.” This engaging story is a must-read.

Our cover story for this issue is about Nandini Jolly, who is founder, president and CEO of CryptoMill Technologies, a data encryption company based in Toronto. Jolly and CryptoMill are creating revolutionary ways of protecting data and preserving privacy. In “Passion and purpose”, writer Mary Teresa Bitti profiles this exciting company.