How CJBS Helps Windy City Cannabis Make Quick and Experience-Driven Decisions 

January 24, 2024

In the early days of Illinois medical cannabis legalization, licensed cannabis retailer Windy City Cannabis needed assistance in setting up their business for success during the growth of the medical market, and eventually, the launch of the state’s adult-use market. 

Windy City’s former parent company–while growing rapidly–didn’t have a dedicated in-house finance department, so they turned to CJBS for financial, accounting, and tax support in 2016. 

Those conversations early on were instrumental for foundation-building for the company’s overall success, says the company’s Chief Financial Officer Mark Lee. 

“They were able to step in as a subject-matter expert and provide great guidance on setting up our entities, as well as our policies on tax and accounting,” Lee adds. “They know the history. They know the business just as well–if not better–than you do, sometimes.” 

Lee says that in cannabis, service providers must understand the industry because of the strict regulations and heavy tax burden. Accounting firms who don’t specialize in cannabis just don’t have the expertise to get down in the details and understand how certain decisions affect your profit & loss statement, he adds. 

A Seamless and Productive Working Relationship

Lee says the ability to get to a “yes or no” quickly with CJBS is one of the best parts of their working relationship. “I’ve had other relationships with accounting and tax firms, where maybe you’re working with someone who is really good, and has the best intentions, but frequently the answer might be, ‘Well, let me talk to my manager.’ And maybe 10 days later they’ll come back to you. 

With CJBS, it’s like we have better access to the people who can make decisions.” 

The rapport that Lee and his team have built with CJBS has also been important to Windy City. “What I appreciated about them back then (and still do) is that when you ask them for advice, they make you basically feel like you were talking to a coworker,” Lee says. He adds that he appreciates that you can pick up the phone, ask them a question, and they immediately understand the nature of the issue and can provide you with an answer. 

“They’re good people. It’s not just an arrangement where we pay them and they only chime in when we’re paying them. They ask how I’m doing and we care about each other,” Lee says.  “They can sympathize with whatever we’re going through. They know it’s tough because they’ve been there. For all those reasons, they’re some of my favorite people to call.” 

Ongoing Support 

Today, Windy City Cannabis is on its own, operating six medical and adult-use dispensaries throughout the state, and CJBS is still a tax and accounting partner for the company today. 

That’s because the cannabis industry is still nascent, is constantly changing, and operators today frequently need to consult with their accounting teams for support. “There is no playbook; they’re helping us write our playbook,” Lee says.