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Cannabis Financial Issues Topic of Symposium For CPAs, Lawyers, Bankers Advising Sellers

August 4, 2017

OAKLAND, California — What are the risks and opportunities for financial professionals serving cannabis industry clients?

The California Cannabis Industry Symposium will explore that question August 11 at the Radisson Oakland Airport as well as via webcast. Register for the conference at

The symposium, conducted by the CalCPA Education Foundation, will cover such topics as the sales, use and income tax laws that apply to the cannabis industry, liability issues and the complications of working with an all-cash business, as major banks and credit card companies avoid marijuana businesses because of money laundering fears.

“The sale of marijuana for recreational use will be legal in California beginning in January,” noted Greg Burke, CPA, symposium chair. “But federal law makes it difficult for cannabis businesses to operate in the same manner as other businesses. Our symposium will help those advising cannabis growers, distributors and sellers understand the complex legal and financial concerns.”

Burke added that regardless of one’s opinion of Proposition 64, which legalizes recreational use of marijuana in California, it is important for financial advisers to understand the legal ramifications and the differences between recreational and medical use.

Fiona Ma, CPA, member of the California Board of Equalization and of the California State Treasurer’s Cannabis Banking Working Group, will address cannabis industry tax issues and the need for a banking solution during her keynote luncheon address.

“It is vital that we find a workable solution for this new industry,” Ma said. “We need to figure out how we can open access to the banking system so that retail and medicinal cannabis business owners can effectively participate in commerce.”

The symposium is designed for CPAs, attorneys, bankers and others who anticipate advising cannabis industry clients. It is available both live and via webcast at a cost of $325 for members of the California Society of CPAs and $425 for nonmembers. Continental breakfast and lunch on both days is included in the registration for the live presentation.

The symposium provides up to eight hours of continuing professional education for CPAs and as much as six hours of MCLE credit for attorneys.

About CalCPA Education Foundation

Headquartered in Burlingame, California, the CalCPA Education Foundation is the nation’s largest CPE provider associated with a state CPA society and offers more than 1,400 live courses, conferences, webcasts and on-demand self-study courses annually. Visit for more information.

Okorie Ramsey Named President of CalCPA Education Foundation

June 30, 2017

Okorie RamseyLAS VEGAS — Okorie Ramsey, CPA, CGMA, PMP, has been elected president of the California Society of CPAs ( Education Foundation for 2017–18 by the CalCPA Council at its meeting at the Encore Hotel. Ramsey has served on the board since 2010 and most recently held the position of first vice president.

The Foundation, which has 45 state partners, offers more than 1,400 live and webcast continuing professional education (CPE) courses to CPAs and other financial professionals.

In accepting his new position, Ramsey said that educating young and seasoned accounting and finance professionals is undergoing unprecedented change. How and where they take training to keep their clients, companies and firms updated is evolving rapidly, he noted. He said the Foundation is “developing innovative products and services to meet and exceed the needs of our customers in an extremely competitive environment.”

He said that the Foundation continues to devise options and methods to deliver quality and compliant CPE. These include creating products such as 10-minute learning units called nano and exploring additional curriculums to provide more strategic and engaging learning opportunities for finance and accounting professionals.

Ramsey is vice president, finance compliance officer & SOX leader for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in Oakland, California. He represents California on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Council and is a former chair of the Accounting Career Awareness Program for high school students in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ramsey is a lifetime member of the National Association of Black Accountants and serves as an adjunct professor for the MBA program at San Francisco State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration (accounting emphasis) from San Francisco State University and a Kaiser Permanente Executive Leadership Program Certificate from Harvard Business School.

About CalCPA Education Foundation

Headquartered in Burlingame, California, the CalCPA Education Foundation is the nation’s largest CPE provider associated with a state CPA society and offers more than 1,400 live courses, conferences, webcasts and on-demand self-study courses annually. Visit for more information.

New CalCPA Chair Stresses Diversity, Financial Literacy, Student Outreach

June 29, 2017

LAS VEGAS — As she becomes chair of the California Society of CPAs ( for 2017–18, Kathy Johnson, CPA, says she will devote her term to three things:

  • Bringing more minorities into the accounting profession,
  • Expanding CalCPA’s financial literacy outreach, and
  • Reaching out to both college and high school students to encourage them to consider accounting as a career.

At her inauguration at a meeting of the CalCPA Council at the Encore Hotel, Johnson noted that as the first black chair of CalCPA, she aspires to be a role model for others of diverse backgrounds. She hopes to work with such organizations as the National Association. of Black Accountants and the Association of Latino Professionals “to inspire young minorities to give them an opportunity to see themselves as a CPA.”

She also emphasized to her fellow CPAs the importance of CalCPA’s efforts to improve the financial literacy of Californians: “I would like to shine a spotlight on these programs that are increasingly needed in all sectors of our economy,” she said. “No one is too young or too old to focus on financial literacy.”

Johnson noted that CalCPA’s Campus Ambassador Program, which currently reaches into 40 California college campuses, has significantly increased student involvement in CalCPA. The society also provides scholarships and mentoring for accounting students. Johnson hopes to extend CalCPA’s outreach to high school students to make them more aware of career opportunities in accounting.

“There are opportunities for everyone in this profession, and I really want to take advantage of this opportunity and platform to communicate that message, as well as be a role model,” she said.

Johnson previously served as CalCPA’s first vice chair. She is a forensic accountant and owner of CPA Forensics Plus, San Bernardino, California.

About CalCPA
Headquartered in Burlingame, California, the California Society of Certified Public Accountants ( is the nation’s largest state accounting organization and the largest CPA association in California. It serves more than 43,000 members in public practice, private industry, education and government. Through CalCPA Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, CalCPA members provide financial literacy programs to high schools and community groups.