By Frank Byrt
In what may represent an early example of a growing industry opportunity for accountants, Medical Marijuana Inc. , which trades on the over-the-counter market under the ticker symbol MJNA, said that it has hired the accounting firm of Anthony W. Imbimbo CPA & Associates to be its auditor.
Medical Marijuana, based in San Diego, said it "does not grow, sell, or distribute any substances that violate United States law or the Controlled Substances Act."
Rather, it says "our mission is to be the premier cannabis and hemp industry innovators, leveraging our team of professionals to source, evaluate, and purchase value-added companies and products, while allowing them to keep their integrity and entrepreneurial spirit."
Medical Marijuana is a holding company that owns a group of businesses involved in industrial-scale plant cultivation; the extraction of substances such as THC from the plants; and retail consumer products made from hemp, which is a variety of the cannabis plant that contains less than 1.0 percent THC. The company also has a unit that develops and manages medical marijuana clinics in locations where it is legal to do so.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, while two states, Colorado and Washington, legalized it for recreational use in the November elections.
After the November vote by the two states to approve recreational use, Medical Marijuana said in a press release that "the winning vote in Colorado now positions medical marijuana even more so as a critical issue facing the country. It also encourages additional states pursuing legalization efforts to forge ahead with their propositions."
"This decision marks quite an exciting achievement for the medical marijuana industry," said Ted Caligiuri, Medical Marijuana's president and CEO. "For MJNA, the legalization in Washington, decriminalization in four cities in Michigan, and new medical marijuana law in Massachusetts will open new business opportunities and licensing partnerships for our portfolio companies, as well as bring awareness and acceptance to the industry in general. That is surely a benefit to us as we continue to focus our main attention on branding our hemp-based products."
Nevertheless, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, although much of the pharmaceutical and agricultural research is legal.
The US Department of Justice has reiterated that marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and after the November elections, it said it "is reviewing the ballot initiatives."
Anthony W. Imbimbo CPA & Associates, also of San Diego, will perform the audit of the firm's financial records beginning with its fourth quarter 2012, and then for the full fiscal year.
"This is an important milestone for MJNA and is consistent with the plan we previously described to begin the audit process after year-end," said Michelle Sides, COO of MJNA, in a press release.
On January 22, Medical Marijuana had a market capitalization of about $88.47 million, and its shares traded at twelve cents.