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Knowledge & Insights

Restructuring Cannabis Businesses: An Examination of Receivership


The cannabis industry, while brimming with potential, is fraught with unique challenges and complexities. Over the past decade, the legalization of cannabis for recreational or medicinal consumption in 37 states and four territories in the United States has spurred a burgeoning industry. However, as the industry matures, some businesses encounter financial difficulties that necessitate a strategic restructure to remain viable.

For cannabis businesses in financial distress, bankruptcy is not an option due to the federal government’s designation of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance. Instead, these businesses may opt for receivership, a state-supervised process that can help companies navigate financial difficulties and recover.

This article will delve into the intricacies of receivership as it applies to cannabis businesses, including its benefits, drawbacks, and impact on various stakeholders.

Understanding Receivership

Receivership is a legal process that comes into play when a business cannot meet its financial obligations. A court-appointed receiver—a neutral third party—takes control of the business’s assets and operations to protect stakeholders’ interests and preserve the business’s value. The receiver typically has the authority to manage the business, sell assets, enter new agreements, and repay creditors.

The Role of the Receiver

Like a bankruptcy trustee, the receiver has a primary duty to protect the interests of all stakeholders, including creditors, employees, and investors. They are tasked with managing and preserving the value of the receivership estate, often with the assistance of a team of professionals such as forensic accountants, lawyers, and operation specialists.

In regulatory receiverships, the receiver may also cooperate with regulatory bodies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The court determines the scope of the receiver’s powers and may include:

  • Managing the business to improve its financial standing.
  • Liquidating assets to repay debts.
  • Entering into new contracts or agreements.

Why Consider Receivership?

Receivership can provide several advantages for a struggling cannabis business. It offers neutral and professional management, which can help maintain business operations while satisfying creditors. The receiver can also facilitate liquidating non-licensed assets, such as real estate or equipment, which can provide essential capital for business continuity.

Moreover, receivership can provide a platform for potential investors. Distressed assets can be attractive to investors who see an opportunity to acquire assets at a reduced cost or to pick up a stake in an underperforming business with the potential for recovery.

Pros and Cons of Receivership

Pros of Receivership

  1. Stress Relief for Business Owners: Receivership can alleviate the immense stress on business owners. By stepping in to manage the business, the receiver relieves the owners of the burden of meeting their obligations and dealing with creditors.
  2. Asset Liquidation: The receiver can sell off non-licensed assets to generate capital. This could turn a struggling business into a solvent one.
  3. Investment Opportunities: Receivership can attract investors who see potential in distressed assets. This can bring in additional capital and possibly new management to revitalize the business.

Cons of Receivership

  1. Cost: Receivership can be expensive. Receivers typically charge a fee based on the proceeds they disperse, and the costs could be assigned to either party in the litigation.
  2. License Transfer Restrictions: Transferring cannabis licenses can be challenging due to state regulations, which can affect the value of licenses during receivership.
  3. Potential Loss: In a worst-case scenario, the business could be liquidated completely, leaving the owners with nothing or, worse, outstanding tax liabilities.

Evaluating Your Cannabis Business for Receivership

Before considering receivership, it is crucial to conduct a thorough evaluation of your cannabis business. Consider factors such as operating capital, tax obligations, assets, and upcoming debt payments. If your business is on the brink of insolvency, receivership is a viable option to preserve what you have and recover.

Remember, receivership is not about giving up—it’s about taking control of a difficult situation and making strategic decisions to give your business the best chance of survival and recovery.


The cannabis industry is a rapidly evolving landscape with unique challenges. For businesses facing financial distress, receivership can provide a lifeline, allowing them to navigate their difficulties under the guidance of a court-appointed receiver.

While receivership comes with its share of challenges, it can also present business recovery and growth opportunities. By understanding the intricacies of receivership and carefully evaluating their situation, cannabis businesses can make informed decisions to secure their future in this dynamic industry.

Need expert advice on receivership for your cannabis business? Contact GreenGrowth CPAs at 800-674-9050 or visit our website to request a free consultation. Our team of seasoned professionals can provide you with the guidance you need to make informed decisions for your business’s future.

Request a Free Consultation & learn how GreenGrowth CPA’s can help your business grow.

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