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401(k) Plans for Hemp, CBD, and Cannabis Industry: ERISA Compliance, 280E, and Other Tax Issues


Oct. 21, 2020
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EDT

Note: CPE credit is not offered on this program

This webinar will provide ERISA counsel guidance for structuring 401(k) plans for hemp, cannabis, and cannabidiol (CBD) companies. Our panelist, a legal expert who works in specifically the Cannabis & ERISA / Tax space, will discuss critical components for ERISA compliance, tax issues and methods to overcome them, the controlled group rules and pitfalls to avoid, and other essential items of structuring and ensuring compliance for 401(k) plans for hemp, CBD, and cannabis industry clients.

This isn’t just a repeat of an earlier presentation on this same topic. Learn from a legal expert who works in specifically the Cannabis & ERISA/Tax space. She’ll bring you up to speed about what’s happening in the trenches.

Understanding how Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code impacts cannabis, hemp, and CBD companies is confusing. Implementing 401(k) plans for hemp and CBD companies can be equally complicated. The 2018 Farm Bill and the Internal Revenue Code expressly permit and give hemp / CBD companies access to 401(k) plans and related tax deductions so long as there is strict compliance with ERISA and other associated regulations.

Cannabis-related statutory changes under the 2018 Farm Bill recategorize low-THC cannabis products such as hemp and CBD as industrial hemp, rather than as controlled substances under the Controlled Substance Act. This allows hemp and CBD companies to take full advantage of available retirement plan structures and the related tax deductions they provide. While subject to the 2018 Farm Bill regulations, producers of hemp and CBD companies are no longer committing federal trafficking crimes and can claim standard business deductions without being subject to Section 280E of the Code.

However, hemp and cannabis company employers engage in activities illegal under federal law, even if legal at the state level. Counsel must be knowledgeable of complex rules and regulations impacting the hemp and cannabis industry to avoid penalties.

Listen as our expert panelist discusses how to work with 280E of the Code and, in addition, the legal and regulatory challenges of 401(k) plans for hemp, CBD, and cannabis companies, ERISA compliance, tax issues, controlled group rules, and pitfalls to avoid in structuring and ensuring compliance.


  • What does Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code restrict?
  • How to work with 280E
  • Impact of the 2018 Farm Bill
  • Considerations for ERISA compliance
  • Tax challenges and methods to overcome them
  • Controlled group rules and pitfalls to avoid
  • Best practices for ERISA counsel and plan sponsors

The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How do companies work with the 280E restrictions?
  • How must companies be structured to maximize what can be done under 280E?
  • How does 280E impact production, distribution, and dispensing?
  • What are the critical components of the 2018 Farm Bill affecting hemp, CBD, and cannabis companies?
  • What are the regulatory concerns in implementing retirement plans for hemp, CBD, and cannabis producers?
  • What are the tax issues in the implementation of retirement plans for hemp, CBD, and cannabis companies?
  • What are the best practices to ensure federal and state regulatory compliance?
  • Are these cannabis companies more at risk for IRS audit?

Faculty: Jewell Lim Esposito, Partner, FisherBroyles

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