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

Note: CPE credit is not offered on this program

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, October 17, 2019

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide ERISA counsel guidance for structuring 401(k) plans for hemp, cannabis, and cannabidiol (CBD) companies. The panel 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.


Understanding how Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code impacts cannabis, hemp, and CBD companies are confusing.

Implementing 401(k) plans for hemp and CBD companies can be complicated and equally confusing. 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 companies 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 panel 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.



  1. What does Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code restrict?
  2. How to work with 280E
  3. Impact of the 2018 Farm Bill
  4. Considerations for ERISA compliance
  5. Tax challenges and methods to overcome them
  6. Controlled group rules and pitfalls to avoid
  7. 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 affect production, distribution, and dispensing?
  • What are the critical components of the 2018 Farm Bill impacting 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?


Brummitt, James
James Brummitt, JD, CPA

Brummitt Advisory

Mr. Brummitt focuses on pass-through taxation, purchase accounting, business financial planning and analysis, data...  |  Read More

Esposito, Jewell
Jewell Lim Esposito


Ms. Esposito has 25 years of practice in employee benefits and tax law and emphasizes fiduciary compliance, tax...  |  Read More

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