By Connor Greth
AB 1525 (Jones-Sawyer), as amended August 21, 2020, adds Chapter 24 (commencing with section 26260) to Division 10 of the Business and Professions Code to establish a safe harbor under California law for financial institutions and accountants that provide services to the cannabis industry. Specifically, as it relates to the accounting profession, new section 26260(d) provides that an individual or firm that practices public accounting pursuant to Chapter 1 of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code “does not commit a crime under California law solely for providing professional accounting services . . . to persons licensed to engage in commercial cannabis activity.”
At its September 26–27, 2019 meeting, the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) voted to support a previous version of AB 1525 if amended to more expressly cover all of the Board’s licensees—including “public accountants, certified public accountants, accounting firms, and out-of-state individuals and firms authorized to practice pursuant California’s mobility laws”. It submitted a letter to the author, [Agenda Item X.B.3.e.; Attachment 2] setting forth CBA’s proposed amendment on September 26, 2019.
On January 16, 2020, the bills’ author amended AB 1525 to include the CBA’s proposed text, which was maintained until the bill was passed. On September 10, 2020, CBA sent a letter of support to Governor Newsom, requesting his signature on AB 1525.
Governor Newsom signed AB 1525 on September 29, 2020. (Chapter 270, Statutes of 2020).