How a little-known tax auditing firm became ‘kingmakers’ of California cannabis

(Editor’s note: Welcome to In Focus, our new series of occasional special reports on issues facing the cannabis industry. This is the first of a three-part report on HdL Cos., a tax auditing business that’s become a dominant force in California’s marijuana industry as a consultant to roughly 125 cities and counties. Wednesday’s installment looked at how HdL used pre-existing relationships to build a stronghold in the sector; on Thursday, we’ll examine how its work has created a divide among stakeholders in the legal marijuana industry.)

On April 10, in a cozy private basement room at the upscale Firehouse Restaurant in Sacramento, California, about 60 state elected officials, policymakers and government staffers gathered at a reception to relax, network and discuss the business of regulating marijuana.

The head of the state Bureau

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