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Ownership of a Legal Marijuana Business: Obligations of a Certified Management Accountant

Rick L. Crosser
January 1, 2017
North America
Strategy & General Management, Accounting & Finance, Ethics & Social Justice
4 pages
IMA statement of ethical professional practice, ethics, marijuana, controlled substances, recreational marijuana
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.69)
Average rating: 

This critical incident was about a major dilemma facing a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and member of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) with majority ownership of a recreational marijuana business in Colorado. Ownership of this type of business, that involves marijuana possession, production, and sales, was legal in specific states. At the same time, the business remains illegal under federal law; yet, federal prosecutors have stated a hands-off approach to certain state-level legal enterprises. Is the accountant violating ethical principles of the IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice? This incident provides students opportunities to dig into the IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice (the IMA Statement). Discussion questions lead students to compare federal and state law concerning recreational marijuana possession and sales. Also, students are put into the position of providing a resolution to the dilemma as if it was their dilemma. There is no right answer. It provides critical thinking and reasoning opportunities because students cannot simply provide textbook answers to their instructors.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Explain the tension between federal and state law on the topic of controlled substances.
  2. Evaluate an ethical dilemma when incomplete information is present.
  3. Internalize an ethical dilemma.