Member Blog: PPE and Staff Efficiencies – How Much Do the Quality of Your Disposable Gloves Matter?

by Justine Charneau, Eagle Protect

Single-use nitrile gloves are a required necessity of personal PPE in the cannabis industry. But cheap, ill-fitting gloves can lead to workplace injuries, the most common of which include restricted hand mobility, occupational skin disease, and even reduced dexterity. Aside from promoting hygienic practices, quality gloves can reduce, limit, and even prevent repetitive motion stress injuries that can lead to further disorders and damage to the hands and fingers. 

In the cannabis industry, problems such as cuts, pinches, and sprains occur during the intricate trimming actions undertaken during the harvesting and processing stages. These hand-related cultivation stages typically include wet trimming, dry trimming, and pre-harvest trimming. While it’s true that machine-based automated trimming is a faster option, some cannabis cultivation operations prefer hand trimming, which they believe produces more attractive-looking buds and flowers for the final presentation. Speaking strictly from a hygienic perspective, gloves offer and provide two-way protection – helping to prevent cross-contamination from user to product. But quality gloves also protect the wearer from dermal exposure to THC, fertilizing chemicals, and pesticides used in the growing process. 

Below is a list of common disorders that the use of cheap disposable gloves can cause. 

Occupational Skin Diseases (OSDs)

Occupational skin disease, such as dermatitis, is one of the most common non-trauma related occupational illnesses in the U.S. Just how common are these concerns? Each year, among all industries, approximately 1.8 million American workers suffer from OSD at a total annual cost of up to $2 billion. The hand is the most common site affected by OSD, and protective gloves were found to be the most common primary cause. 

Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs)

As noted, the cannabis cultivation process includes worker safety considerations to prevent injury from awkward posturing, as well as the excessive, repetitive effort necessary during the trimming process. These repetitive motions can lead to strains of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even damage to blood vessels. These undesirable outcomes are all classified as work-related musculoskeletal disorders, or WMSDs. According to industry studies of on-the-job cannabis injuries, occurrences involving the fingers and hands happen with the most frequency. But these maladies aren’t just common in the cannabis industry. In the food industry, the median time away from work for repetitive-motion WMSDs associated with grasping, holding, carrying, or turning objects was 17 days. Considering all industries combined, $90 million in indirect costs (hiring, training, overtime, and administrative costs) are incurred annually in the U.S.

Other Common Hazards of Poor Quality Gloves

When cannabis cultivation operations select cheap disposable gloves over a more quality product, there are six primary hazards of concern. These include glove failures and inconsistencies such as ripping and tearing (a common complaint), glove contamination risk, glove waste/disposal costs, hand injuries, WMSDs, and even reduced productivity. At the heart of the issue is the inclusion of poor quality raw materials and cost-cutting in the manufacturing processes, both reducing the quality of products available to customers. 

The primary cause of OSDs, WMSDs, and other common hazards related to the use of poor quality gloves is directly attributable to the raw materials used in the glove manufacturing processes. Simply put, cheap toxins and chemicals in gloves can leave users more susceptible to skin irritations and dermatitis. In many cases, because these raw materials are so poor, the manufacturer must produce thicker gloves to prevent ripping and tearing. But in the majority of cases, the increased thickness won’t make much of a difference, and leads to glove bulkiness and reduced flexibility, causing unnecessary muscle stress and strain among users. 

What are the consequences of OSD and WMSD-related injuries? While the specific data isn’t as commonplace within the cannabis industry, workers in the food-handling industry with OSD take much longer periods to return to work than in other glove-wearing professions. It’s estimated that 40% of all worker’s compensation claims involve problems related to exposed skin. As much as 65% of those claims involve hands or upper extremities, with 25% of these workers affected missing up to 10-12 days of work annually. WMSDs account for one-third to one-half of all occupational injuries and illnesses and $15-20 billion in workers’ compensation costs each year.

Cannabis cultivation operations must put more thought and consideration into the gloves they purchase for their workforce. Rather than purchasing decisions based solely on pricing, disposable glove providers should be thoroughly vetted and reviewed. To reduce the risk of skin irritation, good quality gloves that meet the improved standards for low chemical and toxic exposure should be used. Due to the high quality of materials found in the new tech lightweight gloves, the wearer will find that they can be more durable than their thicker counterparts. In the end, the quality of glove you choose to purchase may end up saving you up-front costs but could wind up costing your product budget and staffing needs dearly on the back end. 


Justine Charneau is the head of cannabis industry sales at Eagle Protect, a disposable glove supplier dedicated to the responsible sourcing of quality products that ensure customer safety and impact reduction, ultimately mitigating customers’ risk. Eagle Protect is the only global PPE supplier that is a Certified B Corporation, a designation that a business has met the highest standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency. She can be reached at justine@eagleprotect.com

Service Solutions | 7.13.22 | Scarcity Shouldn’t be Scary – How to Fund Your Growth

NCIA’s Service Solutions series is our sponsored content webinar program which allows business owners the opportunity to learn more about premier products, services and industry solutions directly from our network of established suppliers, providers and thought leaders.

In this edition originally aired on Wednesday, July 13, 2022 we were joined by e2b Teknologies whose team of leading integration & technology experts discussed some easy steps to prepare your business for funding and accelerated growth. As you all know, competition was stiff for funding prior to 2022 but with the current economy and rising interest rates, capital is much harder to acquire today. You should be taking steps get noticed and get the MONEY you need to grow your business now.

Presentation Slide Deck: [View Here]

After viewing you’ll walk away with a better understanding of:

• How to leverage a team properly
• What’s most important – It may not be what you think.
• What’s necessary in terms of reporting, compliance, and record-keeping
• Evaluating potential technology partners

Sit back and settle in for an informative and timely program outlining the challenges facing operators and how you can position yourself for success with the right tools to help succeed at scale.

Panelists:

Joshua Gilstrap
Marketing Manager
e2b Teknologies

Mary Jo Mahood
Practice Manager
e2b Teknologies

Lynne Henslee
President
e2b Teknologies

Tyler Evinsky
Sales Manager
e2b Teknologies

Sponsored By:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to know more about the products and services offered by e2b Teknologies? Head to https://thecannasuite.com/ to learn more today!

Committee Blog: Everything You Wanted to Know About Cannabis Facilities but Were Afraid to Ask Field Guide – Part 5 – General

by NCIA’s Facilities Design Committee
Jacques Santucci, Brian Anderson, David Vaillancourt, and David Dixon

Continuing our five-part series on the behind-the-scenes workings of the legal cannabis industry. This series focuses on all of the inner dealings and industry advice from established professionals to craft this unlimited How-to-Guide to assist you in setting up your own facility. These articles cover cultivation, extraction, infused products, and retail facilities as well as support activities. In general, remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations and contact a licensed contractor and industry expert. 

Part Five, General: Top Things to Consider When Planning Your Support Area for Cannabis Facilities 

All parts of a facility are important when you are planning and designing your project, including cultivation, extraction, and retail. And let’s not forget the general services and the core structure of the facility. Your design must account for safety and security as well as employee relations and administration. Listed below are a number of guidelines that an operator should consider from a general standpoint as they are in the process of designing their operation. Always remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations. 

Employee Lockers

Production and facility lockers need to be separate for male and female and it will have a minimum square foot per employee requirement. Knowing your employee count and the number of shifts will allow you to calculate the minimum space needed.

Employee Break Room and Locker Space

Consider a break room that can host all employees for breaks and lunches, with a sink, fridge, microwave, and tables and chairs. This will help employee productivity and retention. Where the break room is located is important to keep employees separated from internal business practices while eating and resting. This area can also be a space for coat hangers and small bag lockers when a specific locker is not required or available. The gowning area is used as the dividing line in a mix-used facility. 

Employee Access Control

You need to limit doors access and key sets for employees as part of your overall security plan. Additionally, do not forget about appropriate labels for doors and the need for access to space only. The idea is to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing the extraction space and complaining about the local regulatory body. 

Safety and Injury Handing

An adequate number of First Aid and Burn Kits should be fully stocked and readily available to all of your employees, at all times. Ideally, these kits will be within a 10-15 second walking distance from workstations. 

IT Rooms and Setup

Regardless of the facility type, you will need appropriate secured areas for servers, security equipment, and other IT racks, as well as camera systems with specific features for night, license plate reading abilities, and more. Specific HVAC might be needed for this room.

Safety and Employee Showers

Emergency showers are determined by code and the type of activities performed at the location. Eye wash stations may also be required or suggested.

Emergency showers are located in the facility where corrosives and skin irritants could pose harm to employees and require immediate remediation. It could be considered as a benefit to employees so they can eliminate any odors as they leave the facility. Calculate the number of employees and determine based on the code requirements for the number of showers needed.

Emergency Eye Wash

Eye wash stations are to be located within 10-15 seconds’ walking distance for a potential risk area. Check local requirements for additional needs.

Security Entrance: Facility Safety

Consider the flow at the entrance of your facility, to optimize not only security but also the comfort of the visitors and employees as well as environmental control. And think about the comfort of your employees as they enter the facility, such as awnings. Create a separate mantrap-style entrance to allow for better safety at the entrance point, to monitor visitors as well as avoid weather-related issues (i.e. wet areas due to rain or snow, temperature variance due to heat, etc.). Check for compliance with local rules and regulations.

Security Camera: Minimum Area of Coverage

You should have 100% minimum security coverage; any area where cannabis products will exist. And keep in mind it is best that the security room has its own dedicated HVAC system.

Security Camera: Minimum Data Storage

The basic security footage storage requires are 90-days of on-site storage, then five years of off-site storage. Off-site data storage for future legal needs is 1080p minimum. 

Security Alarm: Monitoring

Make sure a reputable company is monitoring your facility’s security. Redundancy might not be needed. In compliance with local rules and regulations.

Office Space

Do not forget that your employees, at least at the management level and above will need space to do paperwork and hold staff meetings. Plan to have a minimum of 90 square feet of office space available for each manager and meeting space. Try not to underestimate the need for administrative space (i.e. payroll, human resources, accounting, marketing, etc.) and plan for general storage space. Your basic corporate services need the appropriate space to run the business efficiently, in a confidential manner.

Parking

When it comes to parking, consider the flow of the employees and your customers as you design your facility so you have adequate parking for all, in a safe and secure manner. Remember to reserve spaces for handicapped drivers as well as motorcycles.

Janitorial and Facility Maintenance

Keep in mind how you will keep your facility clean and in working order at all times. Avoid dusty surfaces, standing water, and all environmental and other hazardous issues. Consider enough storage for janitorial and facility maintenance items, including a workbench if necessary.

Landscaping

Remember considerations for the environment around your facility. Certain plant types and species are known to both harbor insects and pests that may be beneficial or harmful to cannabis plants. This will result in long-lasting effects on your plant health. Proper considerations of landscape design can become beneficial to your overall integrated pest management program and to your operation. Material used around your cannabis facility will also have an impact. We recommend using crushed stones around a building for example. 


Check Out These Related Articles for More Top Things to Consider When Planning:

Cannabis Cultivation Facilities
Cannabis Extraction Facilities
Cannabis Food Production Facilities
Cannabis Retail & Dispensary Facilities

 

Positioned for Success – Highlights from the Insights & Influencers: NY Opportunity Tour

Any cannabis insider knows that New York is poised to become the next cannabis epicenter since legalizing last year. As such there is naturally incredible interest in learning about the business opportunities, how to best position yourself for success, as well as networking with potential future partners and clients. To meet these needs for our members and supporters, NCIA hosted the “Insights & Influencers: NY Opportunity Tour”, a weeklong series of events across New York featuring stops in Rochester, Albany and Brooklyn in partnership with founding members Canna Advisors, a trusted advisor to cannabis entrepreneurs who are starting or expanding a cannabis business.

(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.

Returning with our first in person events of the year, we couldn’t have been more thrilled to meet face-to-face with nearly 150 attendees who were either current or prospective business owners operating in New York and interested in expanding their operations or trying to break into the industry. With stops in Rochester, Albany, and New York City, the events brought together attendees from across the Empire State to not only learn about the developing regulatory landscape and opportunities to get involved with the burgeoning cannabis industry, but also the latest developments with NCIA’s work on federal cannabis policy.

(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.

Speakers were NCIA CEO and co-founder Aaron Smith and representatives from Canna Advisors including ​​Bob Wagener, Vice President of Real Estate Development; Sumer Thomas, Director of Regulatory Operations; and Vincent DiMichele, Regulatory Content Manager. During the hour long presentation, numerous topics were covered that were relevant to business owners in the cannabis industry such as:

• The possibility of federal legalization and the work NCIA is doing to ensure small — or “main street” — cannabis businesses have a seat at the table as legislation is written

(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.

• Benefits of starting the license application process early and the importance of community engagement efforts

(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.

• Understanding zoning requirements and ensuring your business can operate in the best location possible

(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.

• Developing staffing needs and protocols so the team behind your operations is positioned for success and growth

• Engaging in public comment periods including the New York Office of Cannabis Management’s (OCM) current 60 day comment period open now through August 15 surrounding regulations for packaging, labeling, marketing, advertising, and laboratory testing of adult-use cannabis

Throughout the tour, representatives from the OCM were on-site to chat with participants, answer questions that attendees had, and generally get to know those interested in owning or operating a cannabis related business in the state. We are proud to facilitate those connections at our events time and time again, so that regulators and business owners alike can meet in person to build relationships which in turn helps break down the barriers to communication down the line.

Nevillene White, Manager of Community Relations and External Affairs for OCM, joined our Albany gathering right next door to The Egg performing arts venue located inside of Empire State Plaza. Throughout she was able to supplement the presentation by providing comments directly to crowd feedback during updates on the licensing process in the Capitol.

(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.

Trivette Knowles, Press Officer and Manager of Community Outreach for the OCM, was present in Brooklyn and commented ”We need more events like this to show people that cannabis touches all walks of life,” he said. “It’s part of the culture.”

(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.

NCIA’s Aaron Smith closed out each of the events with a final call to action for everyone in the room: Contact New York’s U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to urge them to support the SAFE Banking Act and bring it to the floor for a vote. As the Majority Leader in the Senate, Sen. Schumer has the power to allow the legislation to be voted on but has not done so, stating a preference for more comprehensive legislation. Smith also discussed the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), which addresses federal legalization on a broader scale. A final version of that bill is still yet to be introduced however, and passage of the SAFE Banking Act would provide protections to financial institutions working with cannabis business and would have a positive impact on the cannabis industry while support for CAOA and comprehensive reform builds in Congress.

Of course we encourage anyone reading to take this call to action even further, and plan to join NCIA at our upcoming 10th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days from September 13-14 in Washington, D.C. Find out more details and register online here.

We can’t thank all our members and supporters who attended the events on our “Insights & Influencers: NY Opportunity Tour” enough, as well as our co-hosts, Canna Advisors, for making these events possible!

 

 

For additional coverage, be sure to check out the piece published by Honeysuckle Magazine, our exclusive media partners for the events.

(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.
(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.
(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.
(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.
(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.
(C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc.

Interested in attending our next in-person event this Summer? Register now for the Colorado Industry Social taking place on Thursday, July 28 in Denver, CO.

Want to know how you can sponsor events like these? Please contact our Events Team at events@thecannabisindustry.org to explore possibilities.

Member Blog: The 6 Technology Tools Every Multi-Location Dispensary Needs

by Tommy Truong, CEO at KayaPush

As a multi-location dispensary owner, you know that the industry is expanding quickly. With more people choosing to buy and enjoy cannabis and there’s no sign of this trend slowing down. And as the demand increases, so does the opportunity to scale single-store dispensaries, into multi-location establishments. 

Dispensaries like Tokyo Smoke and Cookies now have multiple locations in different countries and states, and lesser-known Mom and Pop cannabis retail stores are here for the expansion and boom as well, but if you own or operate a multi-location dispensary, you will need specialized tools to stay compliant, lean and effective.

What is a multi-location dispensary? 

A multi-location dispensary is a marijuana dispensary with at least two locations. In other words, it’s a chain of dispensaries. 

Multiple dispensaries serve more people by increasing convenience and accessibility. These dispensaries have branches in other cities, states or countries, or even different locations in the same city.

The benefits of having multiple locations over traditional single-location dispensaries are numerous. You can: 

  • Offer your services to more people
  • Increase your brand awareness by being present in more places 
  • Streamline processes like billing and payroll across multiple locations
  • Reduce overhead costs by not having to maintain as much human capital in each place

What are dispensary technology tools?  

Dispensary technology tools, or dispensary software, are the software and hardware that help dispensaries manage their business.

This could include inventory management, an e-commerce website, POS systems, and finally, people management tools like dispensary payroll, HR, scheduling, and time tracking to manage their employees and staff. 

Why do you need unique tools when running a multi-location dispensary?

When you’re running a multi-location dispensary, it’s more important than ever to stay organized. You need tools that can help you manage people and systems, inventory, and finances in a cohesive way.

It’s also helpful to benchmark things across your locations and gain insights into each market’s uniqueness.

For example, let’s say you have two locations – one in California and one in Colorado. You can use your analytics tool to see which products are more prevalent in each state or even which days of the week are busier for each location. 

You could also compare how much inventory you have at each location and see if there are any patterns between them. Maybe one place sells out of product more quickly than another? The information will help you make better business decisions about where to open new dispensaries or how to improve existing ones.

Here are the top 6 tools we recommend for any multi-dispensary operator. 

1 –  A POS system that works across multiple dispensary locations.

 A POS system that works across numerous dispensary locations allows you to manage your business from a centralized location rather than log into each place individually. With the system, you can track inventory across your sites and make sure everything stays in sync.

And while most POS systems have some level of integration with other applications, here are three key integrations to look for:

  • Track and trace: The ability to track a product from origin through distribution, so you know exactly where it is at any given time.

  • Dispensary workforce management: The ability to view employee hours and schedules across multiple locations. The feature will ensure that everyone is working as efficiently as possible.

  • Dispensary payroll software: A payroll application that integrates with your existing POS system so that employees can clock in from anywhere with just a few clicks!

What is a dispensary POS system?

Dispensary POS systems are the backbone of any multi-location dispensary. They help you track inventory, manage employee hours and shifts, and keep track of customer purchases.

They’re also the first step in creating a successful business by enabling you to do things like:

  • Track product inventory across multiple locations
  • Manage employee pay, hours, and shifts
  • Keep track of customer purchases in real-time (to see what products people buy)

Many dispensaries use POS systems to track medical and recreational marijuana products and their sales metrics. A good dispensary POS system will keep track of inventory levels across all your locations. It will also monitor customer traffic at each location.

What to look for in a POS for multi-dispensary locations.

When you run a multi-location dispensary, it’s crucial to have a POS that can handle the unique needs of your business. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when shopping for a POS.

Easy to learn

When running a multi-dispensary location, you need software that’s easy to learn. It should be intuitive, with clearly labeled buttons and a simple interface. There are many options out there that meet this requirement. Some even come with a training program or video tutorials.

Compatible with the current system

You will want to make sure the new POS software is compatible with your current system. It saves you the additional work of switching over. The POS software should integrate with your existing POS hardware and provide real-time data transfer between devices.

Integrates with a payment processor

A good POS will be able to integrate seamlessly with your payment processor. It should have features that process transactions quickly and easily without any hassle from either the seller or buyer.

Customer support

When you have multiple locations, it’s vital that your customers can quickly call or email customer support if they have an issue—and that the support team is responsive and helpful.

Support for multiple currencies

If you’re operating in multiple countries, you’ll want to find a merchant solution that supports multiple currencies so you can accept payments from overseas customers with ease.

2 – Consistent payment systems.

Consistent payment systems are one of the most important things to have in place for a multi-location dispensary. The first thing you need to do is decide the types of payments you will accept. 

The payment system can be as simple as cash or debit card, or it could include ACH transfers and cryptocurrencies. The key is to choose available options in all of your locations, so customers can pay no matter where they are.

It also helps to ensure that all locations have the same system for accepting payments. If one accepts cash-only, but another accepts debit cards and credit cards, this can create confusion and frustration for customers who travel between locations.

Finally, it’s essential to ensure that each location has access to its accounts to process its sales and deposits without having to go through a central office or owner each time there’s an issue.

Here are some examples of options for consistent payment systems:

  1. Cash: some dispensaries only accept cash as a payment method. If you only accept cash at one of your dispensaries, then make sure there is an ATM nearby because it may not be convenient for customers to drive elsewhere to use an ATM.

  2. Debit/Credit Card: Debit and credit card transactions are fast and easy for customers because they don’t have to wait for their bank account balance to transfer into their checking account before purchasing.

  3. Cryptocurrencies: Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) are often used by dispensaries because they offer high levels of privacy, security, and anonymity for users worldwide. Because these ‘coins’ don’t require any middlemen to oversee their transactions, they are ideal for businesses that want their payments kept secret from third parties.

  4. ACH transfer: This electronic system allows you to transfer funds from one account to another without physically moving money or checks through the mail. It’s usually an automated process, so you don’t need any specialized training or experience with the system to use it effectively.

  5. Point of banking: A Point of Banking system allows you to accept credit cards through a single point of sale (POS) terminal located at each location. This means that your customers can pay with their credit card wherever they go — no matter which place they visit.

3 – HR software for multi-location dispensaries.

Dispensary HR software is vital for hiring, onboarding, and retaining great people.

It is essential for multi-location dispensaries as they often hire across multiple locations. It’s necessary to have an HR for multi-location dispensaries that helps you manage your hires to make sense and keep everyone on the same page.

To keep track of employees, you might want to find out who has worked at which locations during a particular period. This information will help you keep track of your company’s workforce and ensure that former employees are not applying for jobs at new locations.

Another benefit of this type of software is that it will help you share information more efficiently among managers by storing essential documents like applications or resumes in one place. 

Finally, with dispensary HR tools, you can utilize systems like applicant tracking tools to hire for one dispensary, and not the other. You can also set up alerts when someone applies for your dispensary who has previously worked at a different location, and was let go. 

4 – Workforce management to save time and money.

Workforce management software can save you a lot of time and money by allowing you to manage your staff at each location better. It allows you to track your employees’ performance, schedule shifts and vacations, view employee information, send messages, and more.

Here are other reasons you need a workforce management software for your multi-location dispensaries:

  1. Dispensary scheduling software will integrate with your point-of-sale system to forecast your schedules via machine learning. It helps you better plan for staffing needs in the future.
  2. Scheduling software can integrate with facial recognition time tracking technology, providing alerts to business owners when employees clock in outside of assigned work hours. 
  3. Scheduling for multi-location dispensaries with a lot of employees is complex. However, scheduling software can easily sort out staff on multi-location shifts, so that they show up at the right place at the right time.
  4. Easy toggling between locations to manage staff: if you use integrated multi-location dispensary technology, it’s easy to manage many locations, and time clocks, from the same laptop by toggling between locations.  Providing you with a birds eye view and helping you automate your operations. 

5 – Inventory management that is consistent yet flexible.

Inventory management is a crucial component of the success of any multi-location dispensary. It’s vital to track what’s happening at each dispensary location. 

However, you should be able to review items that sell better at specific locations and see how they’re performing overall. This way, you can ensure you’re not stocking too many (or too few) of each item. With this feature, your customers will have the best possible experience no matter where they go.

Inventory tracking software is one of the essential tools that any dispensary needs. It’s a great way to ensure that all locations use the same naming conventions for their products. It helps you offer your customers the best possible experience no matter where they go.

For example, suppose you have an edible called “Banana Bread” in one place and “Cinnamon Roll” at another location. It may be difficult for employees or customers to know what they’re getting when they order the product by name alone.

The best inventory management systems take into account the needs of your business and your customers. They can be used on a small scale or scaled up to manage massive amounts of products across multiple dispensaries. 

6- Payroll software for multi-location dispensaries.

Managing payroll for multi-location dispensaries is a tough nut to crack. You need to keep track of all the employees at each location, their hours worked and paid, benefits and compensation, and their taxes.

The good news is that there is specific payroll software built for cannabis dispensaries that can help you manage all those details without too much trouble. 

One recommendation would be to choose a payroll provider with service in all the geographic locations you have your dispensaries. This way, you can pay staff across the board instead of manually. The automation will help ensure your payroll tax and overtime calculations are accurate.

Many companies are turning to dispensary payroll software that integrates with HR, time tracking, and scheduling software, to help streamline processes and save time.

What do the experts say?

The most important thing to consider when choosing a dispensary solution is how you want to run your business. However, many multi-location dispensary experts advise keeping it simple. A simple system lets you track sales and inventory. As time goes on, you can add more features.

The best way to simplify your dispensary operations is to use a dispensary POS system that integrates with your dispensary payroll, HR, and workforce management for streamlined operations.

In addition, choose a technology that works for everyone in your organization. Make sure everyone is comfortable with whatever product or service you choose before moving forward with implementation plans.

For more tips on choosing a tech solution for your multi-location, check out the key things that the owners of 100 dispensaries recommend.


Author Tommy Truong is the CEO at KayaPush; the cannabis software helping dispensary owners manage their employee HR, scheduling, and payroll. KayaPush also integrates with leading dispensary POS systems. Tommy loves hot sauce, fried chicken, and running with his Boston terriers.

Optimize your operations with KayaPush. We hope this article has helped you learn about different dispensary software tools and tech for managing multiple locations and the different ways you can overcome the challenges with multi-location dispensary management systems. If you are looking for a compliant and integrated solution to manage your multi-location dispensary chain, check out KayaPush. 

KayaPush delivers a more innovative, unified compliance solution that meets payroll and HR needs without compromising speed and accuracy. Implementing KayaPush will save you time and money and help eliminate the financial risks associated with non-compliance.

 

 

Member Blog: Reflections On Banking Reform For Cannabis Operators

by Joshua Gilstrap, e2b teknologies

Isn’t it crazy to think that the legal cannabis industry could be worth $57 billion by 2030? Or that nearly half of the country’s adult population (49%) has tried marijuana, the largest number ever recorded.*

At the time of this article, nineteen states, two territories, and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use. With more than two-thirds of U.S. states that have legalized the sale of both adult-use and medical cannabis and nearly half the population of potential cannabis consumers – it’s safe to say the cannabis industry is thriving. 

But can it continue to grow without banking reform? 

Cannabis businesses have a hard time accessing traditional banking options because the plant is still federally illegal. This means that banks are hesitant to work with cannabis companies for fear of retribution from the federal government.

This lack of banking options creates a difficult environment for cannabis businesses to operate in. Since they can’t deposit money or write checks, they have to operate on a cash-only basis, which can lead to security problems.

Cannabis operators also have a hard time securing financing because most traditional lenders are unwilling to work with them. This leaves them struggling to get the capital they need to grow and scale their business.

When cannabis businesses lack financing options for basic business growth, a banking system more ideal for cannabis operators is needed.

The Federal Law Guides Everything

Despite the growing opportunities in the cannabis industry at the state level, many prospecting business owners are stalled by a lack of capital. Businesses in the cannabis industry might celebrate legalization in their respective states but still deal with the challenge of accessing banking services.

Cannabis dispensaries that run cash-only operations are forced to confront security challenges in a new way. Online ordering, credit and debit card processing, taking business loans, and accessing other revenue-driving financial services are denied to cannabis businesses due to their federal status.

This shows an immediate need for financial reprieve in the cannabis industry.

Getting Financial Reprieve

The House of Representatives has passed several bills supporting the cannabis industry. Some of these bills include:

  • Bill to decriminalize marijuana
  • The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act
  • Legalization of adult-use cannabis
  • Legislation for medical marijuana programs
  • Legislation to reduce barriers to cannabis research
  • Approval of measures for adult cannabis use

One such bill that focuses on banking reform is the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which aims to reduce the banking services challenges in the cannabis industry. If the SAFE Banking bill passes in Congress, financial institutions can open their services to cannabis businesses without the fear of violating anti-money laundering (AML) laws.

In return, cannabis businesses reduce the risk of theft and employee welfare by transitioning from cash-only services to banking services. However, this financial reprieve doesn’t address the cannabis tax code that prevents cannabis businesses from deducting business expenses from the gross income as per the Controlled Substances Act

Nonetheless, the SAFE Banking bill is a step in the right direction. The remaining concern is whether these financial reprieves will pass in the Senate and legalize cannabis businesses at the federal level.

Another financial option expected to reform the cannabis industry is crypto. The authenticity and security of blockchain currencies like Bitcoin are becoming a lucrative consideration for financial reprieve in the cannabis industry.

Currently, there are cryptocurrencies like PotCoin and CannabisCoin mined to cater to various needs within the cannabis industry. However, the uncertainty in the crypto world makes it challenging for the cannabis industry to settle on using crypto as a financial banking solution.

Granted, some crypto technology like blockchain technology is used to transact sales in the cannabis industry, where buyers make cashless payments, and the dispensaries convert this into crypto. But these transactions are not fully transparent.

Notwithstanding, there is hope for the cannabis industry as the number of banks willing to work with cannabis businesses increases. This could result from the increasing support of cannabis banking reform at the state and Congress levels.

But Is The Banking Industry Prepared For This Reprieve?

Financial institutions are gathering more courage when working with the cannabis industry. In 2021, 755 banks showed working relationships with cannabis clients. However, this comfort is more prevalent at the state level than at the federal level, where cannabis is yet to be legalized.

But since support from the federal government is anticipated, banking institutions must equally prepare for the capability to host cannabis businesses legally. Banks must stay compliant with the anti-money laundering (AML) laws.

Banks should conduct due diligence on cannabis businesses that want to use their services. Since federal legalization of cannabis is still pending, some cannabis operations might be illegal. Therefore, it is prudent for banks to start preparation by ensuring any new partners are not lawbreakers.

This means checking for legalization and registration licenses and conducting due diligence on employees and angel investors. Business transactions are also an excellent indicator of whether a cannabis business is involved in illegal activities.

For instance, a cannabis business in a state that frowns upon international shipments shouldn’t have any international transactions. Avid AML monitoring controls should quickly identify legitimate cannabis businesses.

In a nutshell, every business that partners with a cannabis business should be prepared to support its decisions with factual claims. In case of any suspicious activity, the bank should be ready to give an account of their due diligence procedure and the findings.

Creating relationships with federal regulations is also prudent since they help make the regulation process easier. Regulators also help ensure that banks remain compliant with the Federal cannabis laws, which protect their banking operations.

Cannabis business owners must also prepare for the possibility of using open and traditional banking services for their operations. If, or when, cannabis is Federally legalized, the cannabis industry will streamline its operations throughout the U.S.

This means added investments in research, cultivation, marketing, production, and sales of cannabis and cannabis products, whether medicinal or recreational. And the added boost of a legal banking system would further increase employment and boost the economy.

Cards On The Table

Does the cannabis industry need a banking reform? Absolutely. The challenge, however, is that, despite the willingness of the House of Representatives to support the SAFE Act bill, among other proposed banking reforms for the industry, approval in the Senate is still in question. Cards on the table, bank financing in the cannabis industry will propel businesses into more growth, which, in turn, should pragmatically influence the overall U.S. economy. But this starts with active congressional action.

FAQs

What is the current cannabis banking system?

The current cannabis banking system is not ideal for cannabis businesses because the lack of Federal legalization keeps banks from offering traditional banking services to cannabis businesses for fear of violating anti-money laundering (AML) laws.

What are the challenges of using non-FDIC banking options?

Non-FDIC banking options are not secured by the FDIC, meaning businesses that operate under these banking services are not protected by the Federal laws against theft or failure.

What can a banking reform do for the cannabis industry?

A banking reform allows banking institutions to offer cannabis businesses the same banking services they offer other businesses, like capital loans, online bill payments, and debit and credit cards. 


Joshua Gilstrap is the Marketing Manager for e2b teknologies, in addition to his marketing responsibilities Joshua leads business development for e2b teknologies emerging Canna Suite product line. A business graduate with a focus in marketing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, he joined the e2b team in the Fall of 2019. Josh brought with him a wide array of business and practical experience in planning and execution. Since coming aboard he has led multiple project’s including website hosting and theme standardization company wide, marketing automation streamlining the efficiency of the customer journey, and sales automation where he is changing the conversation from promotion to education, from pitching to catching, and from push to pull in order to keep up with the shifting tides of a digital transformation.

Committee Blog: Do’s and Don’ts of Cannabis Influencer Marketing on Social Media

By NCIA’s Marketing and Advertising Committee,
Helen Mac Murray, Mac Murray & Shuster LLP, and Dan Serard, Cannabis Creative Group

The requirements and restrictions surrounding paid advertising on social media are hardly a secret. Cannabis businesses have to tread carefully to avoid getting shut down or banned completely from online platforms.

However, there is one popular way to leverage the power of social media without risking your account: Influencer Marketing

An influencer is any public figure, celebrity, creator, or individual that has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with the audience. Influencers are typically content creators that actively engage in a select niche online, such as Lifestyle, Fashion, and even Cannabis.

Influencer marketing is a fantastic way for cannabis brands and dispensaries to leverage the power of social media without getting tangled up in the mess of rules and regulations. However, that doesn’t mean there are no rules and regulations for influencer marketing. 

Here are some do’s and don’ts of cannabis influencer marketing on social media:

DO select your influencer partners carefully.

Marketers and business owners can be quick to forget that influencers are not just marketing tools, but rather, people as well. In that regard, influencers are their own brand. Their entire digital presence is curated carefully to align with their unique values and interests.

This means that when cannabis brands are interested in working with influencers, they have to be extremely careful who they choose. Not only does their character reflect on your brand, but also because it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.

Therefore, focus on building meaningful relationships with influencers and popular creators. Add value to their community and don’t view them as a tool in the toolkit. When you manage these relationships the right way, you turn one-time influencers into long-time brand ambassadors.

If you are partnering with someone who will be making claims about your brand or promoting your product in any way, be sure to:

  • Examine their credentials
  • Make sure they actually use and love your product
  • Evaluate whether their values align with your brand’s values
  • Check that their engaged audience is your target audience

One of the biggest benefits of influencer marketing across industries is that it is a relatable way to sell products. If your influencer partners or brand ambassadors do not actually use and love your product, the partnership will lose its value. Both your brand and the influencer will lose credibility.

When selecting influencers to partner with on campaigns, take time to do your research. Observe their regular social media activity as a follower, be patient during the agreement phase, and understand that this is a long-term partnership. 

DON’T run or re-run any paid influencer ads without consent.

After the Borat debacle in Massachusetts, cannabis brands have (rightfully) become paranoid about using influencers or celebrities in their marketing campaigns. 

While memes on social media are perfectly fair game, a disclaimer or two never hurt anybody if you want to cover your tracks. However, paid ads are a completely different ball game.

For those who are wondering what you can and can’t do when it comes to using a celebrity or cannabis influencer’s image or likeness, here’s a general rule to keep in mind: Do not run or re-run any paid advertising with a public figure without express legal consent. 

When it comes to influencers, this means you need to be very specific on the terms of your engagement. For instance, if you are simply looking for a one-time product endorsement on their own channels, you can share these assets from their account to yours. However, you are not allowed to take those assets and use them in future campaigns, especially paid ones, unless you have explicit permission from the influencer. 

In other words, if you want to be able to run any cannabis advertising campaigns with partner content, be sure to let the influencer know during the agreement phase, and prepare your budget accordingly.

DO make sure your influencer partners disclose your relationship with their audience.

Disclaimers are extremely important on social media and other marketing platforms when working with influencers. They provide your audience with transparency and protect all parties from any legal backlash. 

If you have any relationship with a cannabis influencer of any kind (celebrities, bloggers, etc.), make sure they disclose that to their own audience when engaging in formal partner campaigns with your brand. 

These disclosures should be clear and unambiguous and made directly within the endorsement content. Some ways they can do this are by:

  • Using a descriptor in the caption or image, like #ad
  • Disclosing any paid travel, stay, or product exchanges
  • Add disclaimers in both the text and the media

Disclosing material connections with a brand is an important requirement for influencers, but brands are also liable for influencer posts that violate the law. You never want your cannabis brand to be associated with anyone that might find themselves in hot water, so be sure to make these terms clear when partnering with influencers.

DON’T run ads without proving your product claims.   

This may go without saying, but when it comes to paid advertising in cannabis, throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks isn’t really a good idea. When you’re running ads – whether it is on a traditional medium, like a billboard, or a digital medium, such as pay-per-click ads – it is important to do your due diligence.

Don’t wait to prove your product claims until after the ads have run. Not only will this get you in trouble with the FTC, but you will appear deceitful to your customers and quickly lose their trust. 

Instead, ensure you have third-party lab testing, credible experts (like cannabis doctors or budtenders) able to speak to your specific product, and/or the receipts to back up your claims if challenged. 

DO be cautious when using consumer testimonials about your product.

Existing customers are the best marketers for your brand. Using reviews to show social proof of your product is a great idea. In fact, any cannabis marketing professional will tell you that it is encouraged to show off testimonials on social media, websites, email lists, and more.

However, do be cautious when using these testimonials to sell your product.

Only use the words of your customers if you have express permission to use them on other channels, or if they are already posted in public forums, such as Google Reviews. 

It is also highly recommended that you only use testimonials if they reflect the results of most of your customers. You can’t use consumer testimonials if you do not have substantiation that the endorser’s experience is representative of what consumers will generally achieve unless the advertisement clearly and conspicuously discloses the generally expected performance in the depicted circumstances, and the advertiser must possess and rely on adequate substantiation for that representation.

While it’s always helpful to highlight benefits that real people have experienced, disclaimers should always be made if anything sounds too close to a health claim. For instance, if a customer comments on an Instagram post that your product has made their anxiety disappear, you’ll want to gain express permission from them to use their words as a testimonial, and you should add a note when posting that such claims one customer’s unique experience and can’t be interpreted as medical advice. 

DON’T bring on a marketing company only for damage control.

Cannabis marketing agencies are a powerful tool for a brand or dispensary. From social media and email marketing to search engine optimization, branding, website design and development, and more, these companies are experts at crafting a digital presence for your business.

However, good marketing only goes so far. Even the best cannabis marketing professional or influencer can’t cover up for false information, a bad product, poor customer service, or just bad business overall. 

Additionally, even when marketing companies have industry-specific expertise, they are not lawyers. As a brand, ​​you can’t rely on your agency to know the exact letter of the law. 

Instead of using social media or your marketing efforts as damage control, be intentional about building a high-value brand and bringing on a marketing agency that can make you stand out from the crowd in good conscience. 

That means, start from the ground up, provide accurate information, and protect yourself and your brand from any liability by being cautious of any cannabis advertising and marketing rules and regulations.

Using cannabis influencers for your social media marketing campaigns

Developing a strong presence on social media isn’t just impressive, it’s important for your audience and potential customers to buy into your brand. Whether it’s paid or organic, influencer marketing is a great workaround to some of the more harsh realities of social media rules and regulations for cannabis brands and dispensaries. 

When you harness the power of these public figures and their engaged communities online, you can take your brand to new heights.

Member Blog: Three Reasons Why Cannabis Business Owners Outsource Their Accounting

By LaKia Bourne and JoAnne Williams, Green Space Accounting 

Every entrepreneur knows that staying ahead of business demands is challenging and time-consuming. Unless you have access to enough capital to hire a large team of dedicated employees, you’ll probably have to juggle a wide range of tasks. From promotional marketing to financial forecasting, it seems cannabis business owners always have their plates full.

With this being said, it’s important to understand that taking on too many tasks at once can have negative consequences. The quality of your work is likely to suffer, and you could end up making mistakes that impede your ability to drive growth. Not to mention, doing everything on your own can leave you feeling tired and burnt out.

Unlike companies in many other industries, the cannabis industry is closely regulated, meaning entrepreneurs have to conduct rigorous administrative work. Failure to stay on top of state regulations could result in reputational damage, lost revenue, and even the loss of your business.

So, what’s the solution? Whether you’re a grower, manufacturer, or dispensary owner, outsourcing your accounting burden could significantly lighten your workload. As well as ensuring your accounts are accurately maintained, enlisting the services of a reliable firm will free up time for other important jobs, such as product and vendor management, marketing and promotion, partnership-building, and much more.

Of course, you shouldn’t rely on the first accounting firm you stumble across to look after your financial affairs. As an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry, you must find an accounting firm with knowledge of the sector – and, of course, a non-judgmental approach to hemp and cannabis sales. 

This article will explore three key ways working with a cannabis-oriented accounting firm could significantly improve business outcomes. 

1. You’ll Maximize Profits by Knowing Your Numbers

To see long-term success in your business endeavors, it’s important to know your numbers forwards and backward. Your financial records tell the story of how your company has evolved from start to finish. If you don’t have a comprehensive understanding of your business’s story, you’re not getting the full picture. 

By hiring an accountant, you can rest assured knowing that you have someone on your team to oversee all of your accounting and record-keeping initiatives. An accountant will keep track of tax costs, payroll expenses, retirement plan costs, office equipment purchases, marketing & promotional fees, and much more. This means you can avoid unnecessary expenses and ensure your business is as fiscally responsible as possible. 

If you’re overspending, they’ll help you cut back and offer valuable advice about maximizing profits while fulfilling key business goals. If you’re prone to overspending or don’t feel confident with complex mathematics, hiring an accountant could represent one of your smartest business moves.

2. You’ll ensure your business remains compliant with state and federal laws

The rules and regulations surrounding cannabis sales can be confusing and hard to follow. While many states have legalized the sale of medical marijuana, the substance remains a class 1 substance under federal drug laws. Because of this, there is uncertainty surrounding whether banks should service clients working in the cannabis industry and how to handle the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) tax regulations surrounding “illicit substances.” 

By selecting a skilled accountant with knowledge of the cannabis industry, you can avoid such confusion and avoid penalization. By hiring the services of a company like Green Space Accounting, you can ensure the following:

  • That setting up your bank accountant is quick and easy: An accountant will know which documents to bring when setting up a new bank account, including your marijuana license, information about your sales tracking system, legal documents about operating agreements, Employee Identification Numbers (EINs), Articles of Incorporation, and more. Failure to present such documents could slow down the process. 
  • That you remain compliant with tax code 280E: This rule states that taxpayers cannot claim deductible expenses related to the sale of illicit substances such as cannabis. Given that cannabis remains illegal on a federal level, it can be tricky to get around this law and make the most of business-related write-offs. Fortunately, you can write off expenses related to the cost of goods sold (COGS), an exception that your accountant will help you navigate to ensure you hang on to as much profit as possible. 
  • That you maintain a healthy relationship with your bank: Hiring an accountant will help you maintain an open and honest relationship with your bank, as they will know precise details about your incoming and outgoing expenses. Failure to provide accurate numbers or meet regularly to discuss the details of your accounts could make your business seem untrustworthy. In the long term, this could lead to legal issues or the closing of your account.

3. You’ll have time to focus on core business tasks

One of the primary reasons entrepreneurs outsource tasks is to make time for the creative aspects of growing a business. Driving business growth requires much more than smooth day-to-day operations and well-maintained accounts. It also requires the ability and motivation to set your business apart from competitors and present customers with dynamic new offerings. 

Doing the creative work involved with entrepreneurialism is tricky if you’re faced with a pile of administrative tasks. By enlisting the help of a professional accounting firm, you’ll enhance the quality of your business’s accounting work while freeing up plenty of time for other tasks, such as:

  • Expanding your product line or service offering
  • Selling your products across new platforms
  • Investing in customer acquisition
  • Conducting industry research
  • Researching new business tools
  • Drawing up a growth plan
  • Generating new business models

The Bottom Line

Managing the financial side of your business can be daunting, complicated, and most of all: stressful. If you own a business in the cannabis space, it’s wise to consider outsourcing your accounting initiatives to an industry professional. 

Whether you are a start-up, a growing business, or a multi-state operator, specialized firms like Green Space Accounting can help you with intimate knowledge of cannabis rules and regulations.


Green Space Accounting is one of the leading cannabis accounting, tax, and advisory firms in North America. Our client service philosophy has helped forge an excellent working relationship with dispensaries, grows and ancillary businesses in the space. From accounting and tax services to business consulting and financial planning, we possess the knowledge and experience needed to assist you with your current and future needs.

LaKia Bourne has 20+ years of experience as an accomplished and trusted accounting professional. As a women-owned and minority-owned accounting firm, LaKia has a passion for working with other small businesses and engaging in the local community, and her values drive her overall career goals and mission to uplift businesses and encourage financial competency through reliable accounting services.

With her exceptional credentials and years of accounting experience, JoAnne Williams is a leader in every area of accounting and business consulting. Driven by a deep commitment to client satisfaction, JoAnne has helped non-profits and businesses of all sizes across various industries. Client satisfaction is her number one goal, making her a leader in every area of accounting and business consultation.

Committee Blog: Everything You Wanted to Know About Cannabis Facilities but Were Afraid to Ask Field Guide – Part 4 – Retail

by NCIA’s Facilities Design Committee
Jacques Santucci, Brian Anderson, David Vaillancourt, and David Dixon

Continuing our five-part series on the behind-the-scenes workings of the legal cannabis industry. This series focuses on all of the inner dealings and industry advice from established professionals to craft this unlimited How-to-Guide to assist you in setting up your own facility. These articles cover cultivation, extraction, infused products, and retail facilities as well as support activities. In general, remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations and contact a licensed contractor and industry expert. 

Part Four, Retail & Dispensaries: Top Things to Consider When Planning Your Cannabis Dispensary and Retail Operations

Retail and dispensary design presents challenges that are distinct from the other areas of cannabis production and manufacturing. The biggest difference is that the design must now account for customers as well as employees. Listed below are a number of issues that an operator should consider as they are in the process of designing their retail or dispensary operations. Always remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations. 

Security Camera: Minimum Area of Coverage

Most states require a hundred percent minimum security coverage in any area where marijuana products are stored, displayed, or sold. Designing a camera system and placements to avoid “dead spots’ ‘ (i.e. areas with no camera coverage) can be challenging, especially if the operation is taking over an existing space, as opposed to building a new facility from scratch. 

Bonus Consideration: Think about having an HVAC system specially dedicated to your security room. Security rooms for video monitoring and storage can sometimes be an afterthought. But these locations should be treated more like computer server rooms as opposed to standard office space. And with the amount of technology placed in a (typically) small space, things can overheat rather quickly. This can lead to damage to the system and ultimately, you could be out of compliance for video storage and retention.

Another Bonus Consideration: do not forget about placing security cameras to cover the entrance and exit points to the parking lot. Think about the field of view around doors, especially if the door is near the corner of the building or if there are other obstructions that can block the camera’s view of the area. Multiple cameras may be needed for this critical function. Contact a licensed professional. 

Security Camera: Minimum Data Storage

Video storage and retention requirements for cannabis facilities are fairly stringent. Typical requirements include 90-days of on-site storage and up to five years of off-site storage. Off-site data storage is required for future legal needs. Many states require a minimum video resolution of 1080p. The video storage needs for even a moderately sized facility can amount to petabytes of data. For this reason, many facilities outsource this function at least in some measure. If you do decide to handle this all yourself, you should be sure that you have the technical expertise on your staff to handle this potentially complex technical issue.

Security Alarm: Monitoring

Like it or not, retail cannabis facilities will probably always be targets for crime. Having a security system probably seems like a no-brainer. But simply having an alarm system isn’t typically enough. You will need a system that is actively monitored. This allows the company to initiate actions on your behalf depending on the alarm status (e.g., call the police or fire department in response to a remote alarm). Your alarm should be monitored by at least one reputable company. Redundancy might not be needed, but check to be sure that you are in compliance with local rules and regulations. Talk to your licensed professional.

Security: Line of Sight

Customers should only see the public retail area of the location. Customers should not see the back-of-house operations. There is no need for them to see how business is conducted other than at the sales counter. Similarly, there is no need for customers to be able to view the offices, inventory areas, working areas, employee break room, etc. Keeping these areas private helps to avoid bad actors from learning operational routines that might make it easier for them to exploit.

Safety and Injury Handling

This is an easily overlooked area but can definitely get your dinged upon inspection. Be sure you have the appropriate amount of first aid kits and burn kits onsite as reunited by local regulations. Pay particular attention to the regulations about the placement of these kits as they are sometimes required to be within visual distance of specific rooms within your facility. It can be a hard pill to swallow to not be able to get your operation certificate for forgetting such a simple item, but it happens all too frequently.

Employee Access

Having a non-customer door or access point is a best practice. Non-customer access points are where employees and products are brought into the facility without customer line-of-sight. In some states, this is a requirement so check to be sure your facility is in compliance with laws and regulations. 

Product Delivery

Getting cannabis products into a retail facility is a critical part of the merchandise flow and one of the most vulnerable points for theft. For maximum safety and control, consider the use of an air-lock/man trap/sally port door arrangement. If not possible due to location or architecture, planning for business hours separation and process can keep customers separated from deliveries. 

Employee and Counter Safety

The counters where transactions occur in a cannabis retail setting can pose some risks especially since most facilities are cash-based operations. An open style counter can open up opportunities for theft. Consider a security barrier counter. The idea is to attempt to prevent customers from having access to products, cash, or employees where possible. 

Security: Egress

Customer flow can be somewhat challenging, especially in facilities that have a registration lobby that is physically separated from the retail sales floor. Having separate entry and exit doors for customers can help with the flow of customers. Not a requirement but potentially a good customer experience design.

Customer Environment

Dispensaries and retail locations can be busy places at times. In COVID times, this can be a big issue. But even under non-pandemic circumstances, there may be a need to control the number and spacing of customers for both safety and privacy. Social distancing- the process of limiting the number of customers for the available space within the building- can be enhanced through various design elements. These can range from the use of rope and stanchion barriers, to signage and floor stickers.

Lobby design for restricted access – if access to the sales floor is restricted to registered customers, a secure lobby space should be provided with a separated check-in space and access-controlled doors both for customer entrance and egress.

And do not forget bathroom access for customers. You can have a single facility that is unisex but it should also be ADA compliant.

Environmental Consciousness

Unfortunately, like most other retail spaces, cannabis retail still generates a significant amount of waste. And much of it may be recyclable. Business recycling bins should be provided. 

Energy-saving considerations can also be important for retail facilities. Motion detecting light systems can reduce energy consumption in non-occupied spaces. At the very least, interior lighting switches should be located in the same area for easy use upon space exit. HVAC systems should have an occupied and unoccupied night setback capability. 

Parking Lot

Depending on the total number of employees and customers you anticipate visiting your business at its peak times, you will need to design a minimum number of accessible parking spots. 

If curbside pickup is legally allowed in your area, be sure to map out and reserve spaces exclusively for this activity. It should be close to the exit door where the product will be delivered to the customer. Remember to keep parking spaces for handicapped people and even maybe for motorcycles.


Check Out These Related Articles for More Top Things to Consider When Planning

Cannabis Cultivation Facilities
Cannabis Extraction Facilities
Cannabis Food Production Facilities
– Support Areas for Cannabis Facilities

Video: NCIA Today – Thursday, June 2, 2022

Happy PRIDE! NCIA Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff.  Join us every other Thursday on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

Make the investment, take the time, and do the work to position yourself for success in the Empire State!

Join us on the “Insights & Influencers: NY Opportunity Tour” coming to Albany, Rochester, and NYC next week!

U.S. Federal Appeals Court Legalizes Delta-8 THC, Setting Precedent for the Cannabis Industry

By Sadaf Naushad, NCIA Intern 

Thanks to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill), hemp is now federally legal, permitting U.S. farmers to cultivate, process, and sell hemp. Since its passing, however, businesses in the hemp industry have found themselves in a legal gray area. 

With the 2018 Farm Bill eliminating restrictions on the psychoactive cannabinoid delta-8 THC, the companies deemed their delta-8 THC products within legal guidelines. Several jurisdictions disagreed, calling for clarification on the status of delta-8 THC. 

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit addressed the dilemma, claiming delta-8 THC products as federally legal. 

Let’s consider what delta-8 THC legalization means for the future of the cannabis industry. 

Because recreational cannabis use remains federally illegal, delta-8 THC products continue to gain popularity nationwide. Manufacturing developments have led to enhanced consumer products, in which cultivators safely extract delta-8 THC cannabinoids from hemp plants. 

While delta-9 THC constitutes a major psychoactive cannabinoid in the marijuana plant, delta-8 THC appears in trace amounts of the plant. Its psychoactive properties grant consumers gentler side effects compared to delta-9 THC. 

On Thursday, a three-panel judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals published their opinion regarding delta-8 THC, ruling products containing the psychoactive ingredient as federally legal. According to the panel, delta-8 THC qualifies as a legal substance under the present federal definition of hemp. Federal law outlines hemp as “any part of” the cannabis plant, in which “all derivatives, extracts and cannabinoids” with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC by weight are allowed.

Had U.S. Congress unintentionally created a loophole leading to the legalization of delta-8 THC, the U.S. Federal Appeals Court stated that Congress should be responsible for resolving the issue. The panel specified that they would not replace its own judgment with Congress’ policy rulings. In the meantime, the Court defines the federal hemp law as “silent with regard to delta-8 THC.” 

According to a Politico article, “Members of Congress have proposed fixes to federal hemp laws that would close this loophole. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) introduced a bill in February to limit hemp and hemp products by calculating the total THC rather than focusing on Delta-9 THC. At the same time, state hemp regulators are voicing for a similar change advocating for the 1 percent total THC definition of hemp. Meanwhile, some states have moved to ban the sale of Delta-8 THC products or to regulate them similar to recreational marijuana.” 

NCIA takes a strong position that Delta-8 products and any other psychoactive cannabinoids must be restricted to adults over 21 and regulated by the states so that these products are subject to the same testing requirements, track-and-trace rules, and excise taxes as other adult-use cannabis products.

Furthermore, if you are interested in learning more or getting involved with NCIA’s Government Relations work please contact Madeline Grant at madeline@thecannabisindustry.org to schedule a call. As the oldest and largest trade association, our Government Relations team has been hard at work for over a decade educating and working with congressional offices. NCIA held its Virtual VIP Lobby Days last week, May 16-19 on Capitol Hill. NCIA’s Evergreen members participated in congressional meetings all week long to advocate and educate members of Congress(s) and staff on the importance of cannabis policy reform. We discussed the importance of keeping the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking in the America COMPETES Act and descheduling cannabis at the federal level. You can read more about cannabis and banking from last week’s blog HERE.

NCIA members were able to share their personal stories about being in the cannabis space and relay their expertise to further understanding of the struggles and hurdles cannabis businesses face every day. There is never a time more important than now to support NCIA’s efforts for cannabis policy reform. 

 

 

Member Blog: What in Tarnation? North Carolina Stepping In The Wrong Direction

By Bethany Niebauer, Axial Compliance Consulting

North Carolina, one of the last holdouts for any kind of marijuana program, is finally considering a medical bill. As a North Carolinian, I always thought that I would greet this news with joy and pride. Instead, I feel disappointed at the regressive and paternalistic bill my home is likely to pass. 

To give a little bit of context, the state has about 11 million residents. Famous for its tobacco production, the state is quickly becoming a leader in STEM jobs. In 2020, the capital of Raleigh was ranked the third best city in the country for technology, due to the rapid growth of that sector. Meanwhile, Charlotte remains a leader in banking. After New York City, it is home to the country’s second largest financial services hub. North Carolina has a reputation for being regressive, or even backwards, but its residents are at the forefront of some very progressive industries. 

Despite all this progress, the proposed medical marijuana bill is a shining step in the wrong direction. North Carolina’s SB 711, also known as the NC Compassionate Care Act, was originally brought forth by Senator Bill Rabon (R- New Bern), in April of 2021. The bill is strangely modeled on Utah’s medical program. Utah has one of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse outside of the rust belt. Yet with a population of just over three million, state regulators licensed a mere 14 dispensaries. This is insufficient to meet the needs of a large, rural population. Still, Utah has 17 qualifying conditions for patients seeking entry into the program. 

North Carolina recognizes only 14 conditions and chronic pain is not among them. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a qualifying condition so long as the patient can prove, (with evidence) that he or she experienced a traumatic event. The bill includes a presumption that if a servicemember served in an active combat zone that he or she experienced a traumatic event. North Carolina is a service dense area, but not every veteran will serve in an active combat zone. Many service members will be precluded from accessing the medicine they need. Furthermore, the bill is vague about what constitutes evidence. If a college student is raped at a fraternity party but doesn’t report it to the police, will there be sufficient evidence to qualify under the rules? The bill is unclear. 

The bill requires vertical integration at a time when most states are moving away from that model. An application fee is a whopping $50,000. The bill seeks to award 10 licenses and each license will have the ability to cultivate, process, and dispense, (with up to four dispensaries per license). The bill currently requires 10% of gross revenue paid to the Department of Health and Human Services as a monthly fee. Clearly, this bill is designed to suit the interests of multi-state operators. No one else will be able to participate, much less survive, in such a costly environment. 

By now, most states see the value in social equity. New York and New Jersey both made strong strides in promoting diversity amongst license holders. The North Carolina bill fails to mention social equity or even diversity. Sensible South, a lobbying group that claims to promote the interests of future North Carolina patients is working hard with some of the largest MSOs, including Cresco, PharmaCann, and Columbia Care to set the playing field in their favor. When I asked Garrett Perdue, the group’s founder, if there was any room for small operators in this legal framework, he shrugged his shoulders and said “I really don’t know.”

North Carolina is contemplating legalizing medical marijuana while looking down its nose at patients and the cannabis industry in general. Anyone in North Carolina interested in a more equitable program should contact their state legislators and make the following requests: (1) broaden the list of qualifying conditions so that more people can access the medicine they need, and (2) permit separate license types so that smaller operators have a chance of success. 

 


Bethany Niebauer is the CEO and Founder of Axial Compliance Consulting. Based in Denver, Colorado, Axial Compliance assists clients across the country with all aspects of license management, including new license applications, renewals, modifications, and transfers. Bethany grew up in Greensboro, NC.

 

Video: NCIA Today – Thursday, May 19, 2022

NCIA Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff.  Join us every other Thursday on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

This week’s episode of NCIA Today is brought to you by Senseon Secure Access.

Committee Blog: Is American Cannabis Still the Wild West? 

by NCIA’s Risk Management and Insurance Committee
Matthew Johnson, Quadscore Insurance Services

Cannabis is America’s riskiest business. 

Cannabis itself is a highly valuable commodity, but cannabis businesses also deal largely in cash – making them a prime target for thieves across the country. Recent headlines have reported a rash of unsolved robberies in the Bay Area and Washington State, not to mention the seizure of cash from Empyreal’s fleet of armored transport vehicles (fortunately, that cash has now been returned by the police). 

This is a national problem, which begs the question… What should cannabis businesses do to stay safe during these trying times?

There are many different means of minimizing the risk faced by your modern cannabis business, but we’re going to focus on the big three today – security, technology, and compliance. Through careful consideration of these three tenets, cannabis businesses can take significant steps to mitigate risk and protect their employees. Appropriate investments can yield tenfold savings in the form of fewer stolen assets, lower insurance premiums, peace of mind, and safer employees. 

SECURITY

Let’s start with the topic that gets the most attention during a crime spree – security. In cannabis, security means a number of things… video cameras, man traps, motion sensors, hardened glass, ID checks, and more. When building or retrofitting a facility for cannabis operations, it is crucially important to consult with security experts like Sapphire Risk Advisory Group or Cannabis Compliant Security Solutions. 

“In many areas, it’s not a question of ‘if’ a cannabis business will be robbed – it’s ‘when,’” cautions Chris Eggers, CEO of Cannabis Compliant Security Solutions. With 13 years of experience as a law enforcement officer in the Bay Area – including several years working as an undercover narcotics officer – Chris is uniquely qualified to address the ongoing issues in Oakland and other areas along the West Coast. “There’s a question of how you navigate and survive an incident, but beyond that, how you ensure that your business will survive too.”

There’s an important distinction between security consultants like CCSS, security integrators, and vendors. To achieve best results, cannabis businesses should work with a security consultant who can identify ways to protect the business – without being tied to commission-based sales contracts or a specific ‘brand’ of security solutions. 

TECHNOLOGY

Physical security aside, there are a number of high-tech security tools that can help cannabis business owners protect their operations. For example, let’s take a look at the biggest security company you’ve never heard of – an organization called 3SI Security.

3SI Security began their journey over 50 years ago as the original producer of dye and smoke packs intended to deter bank robbers in the 1970s. Technology has evolved over the years, and so has 3SI’s product offering – now, their GPS tracking tech is ubiquitous throughout banking, pharmaceuticals, luxury retail, and telecommunications.

As VP of Business Development for 3SI, Carlos Casas works to connect cannabis businesses with this tech to protect their assets and employees. “According to a Forbes report from July 2020, an estimated 70% of cannabis businesses are cash-based. This is a staggering statistic which shows the real risk to the industry is on an upward climb.” With the SAFE Banking Act still in the works, savvy business owners have to explore alternative solutions like 3SI’s technology to ensure their business stays safe.

Apart from 3SI, there are a number of technology companies that provide technology to make the cannabis industry a safer place. ADT Security has recently launched a cannabis-focused divison of ADT Commercial to provide critical security technology to cannabis businesses around the country. After spending three years keeping HERBL’s fleet secure on the west coast, Andy Fleet now leads ADT’s efforts to provide security solutions to the cannabis industry. 

According to Andy, “Security planning is critical for any cannabis organization. Take the time to evaluate all the risks within your establishment and build a robust plan that ensures all areas of physical safety and security are considered and protected.” Underscoring the points above, Andy continues, “Working with a licensed, experienced consultant will ensure adherence with all relevant regulations and help keep your employees safe while having technology do the heavy lifting for you.”

COMPLIANCE & COVERAGE

Next up, everyone’s favorite topic: compliance. In this sense, we’re not talking about adhering to the myriad regulations imposed on cannabis businesses wherever they operate – but rather, making sure that your operation complies with the protective safeguard requirements in your insurance policy. Non-compliance with or material misrepresentation of your active protective safeguards could result in an uncovered or denied claim – and could even cause problems with your investors. If you’re buying insurance, you want to make sure that your policy will pay out when stuff hits the fan!

Theft Sublimit – Most cannabis insurance policies will only cover theft losses up to a certain ‘sublimit’ depending on the quantity of cash/cannabis being stored, the physical location of the cannabis business, and any relevant losses that the insured business may have sustained due to theft. Make sure that you are comfortable with the sublimit provided and, if you aren’t satisfied, work with your insurance broker to see if you can secure higher limits.

Protective Safeguards – Virtually all cannabis insurance policies carry some warranties around protective safeguards that can impact your coverage in the event of a claim. Make sure to read the Protective Safeguards endorsement and check that all of your security systems are functioning in compliance with these requirements.

Motor Truck Cargo – Similar to the protective safeguards warranty, make sure that you study your policy to ensure that any requisite safeguards are in place. For transportation operations, these safeguards are likely to include vehicular telematics, buddy systems for drivers, GPS tracking, and possibly even an escort vehicle to accompany the transport unit. 

Security guards – When hiring security guards, it is recommended to employ a third-party guard service that carries appropriate limits of insurance. Make sure that your business is listed as an additional insured on their insurance policy to ensure coverage in the event of an altercation at your business!

Financing – Lenders and VC firms will often stipulate that the companies accepting their funds will need to adhere to certain requirements, like securing Directors & Officers insurance for the officers and executive board. Beyond insurance, it’s important to make sure you are actually doing what you promised to do in terms of safeguarding the property and not just so that you may be eligible for coverage, but also so that you are not held liable for losses suffered by third parties, such as lenders and investors. 

Joseph Cioffi, chair of the Insolvency+Finance practice at the Davis+Gilbert law firm in New York advises, “Operators typically make certain representations to investors, lenders, and other capital providers, and undertake certain activities intended to preserve asset and collateral values. The operator is looking at default if it’s in breach of contract, but worse, the operator and its principals could be sued for misrepresentations made in obtaining funding – and be held liable for losses that flow from those misrepresentations.” 

CONCLUSION

Like an onion, there are many layers to a risk management program for cannabis businesses. Through careful implementation of security measures and protective technology, many businesses will be able to prevent damage to their business with proper planning. In case all security measures fail, a comprehensive insurance policy should be able to help make a business whole again after a claim. Make sure to work with the proper insurance, security, and legal experts when building or restructuring a cannabis operation!

 

Committee Blog: Social Equity Perspectives on Interstate Commerce – Part 3

by Mark Slaugh, iComply LLC
NCIA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Previously, in part 1 and part 2 of this series, the DEIC examined the problems inherent in existing social equity programs and the merit for federal social equity in regulating interstate commerce. The DEIC also examined the key components of a proposed framework to address these challenges, how to define social equity federally, and the merit of determining the types and numbers of permits to be issued. 

Sadly, as written currently, all proposed federal bills fail to meet the critical objective of creating as much NEW generational wealth for the most number of those disparaged from participating in the legal cannabis industry because of the socioeconomic impacts of more than 80 years of federal marijuana prohibition and due to the barriers to entry created amid state regulatory regimes.

To conclude this policy framework proposal, the DEIC will look at the key considerations for a federal program to ensure it functions as designed and how this framework can create social equity technical assistance, qualification, and a phased approach of implementation to ensure that social equity operators have ample time to qualify, have adequate funded, and are set up for success with an equal starting line in the new interstate commerce industry.

Qualifying Social Equity Operators –  Federal Technical Assistance Program

It is imperative that any federal social equity framework helps the industry and their new partners, by ensuring permit holders are qualified in both cannabis and business backgrounds, and by helping them bring financing to the table to start a permitted interstate commerce cannabis business that can be as ready, as quickly as possible, to help import, export, and transport cannabis between the States.

To carry out these provisions in the policy, we recommend that amendments to any federal act include:

  • Requiring that qualified social equity interstate commerce permit holders:
    • Have a path to educational qualification (training and development)
    • Can qualify with equivalent experience
    • Can pre-qualify for the SBA’s funding once they obtain education or equivalent experience (funds issued upon state licensing approval)
    • Obtain the majority of initial permits offered for interstate commerce (95%)
  • In alignment with how long and at what percentage the current industry has been dominating the ownership of licenses
    • Entities should have 51% or more verifiable ownership and control by a social equity qualified applicant.
    • Advisory Committee to determine how to verify the 51% social equity ownership
  • Providing social equity qualified permit holders exclusivity for at least 5 years to ensure the qualifying process takes place equitable to the average time in which the industry developed for adult use without considering social equity. 
  • Mandating laboratory testing as national permitting for interstate commerce to work. 
  • Ensure parity amongst states and tribal nations such that tribe-to-tribe trading and interstate trade routes can be protected.
  • Avoiding overly limiting interstate commerce permits, but also giving them value by not making them unlimited either.

    • DEIC suggests 1,500 permits as a starting point divided among the three primary types as a fair balance initially.

These pillars of federal act amendments will proactively resolve interstate commerce concerns that are inherent in descheduling cannabis. Further, pre-qualifying permit holders based on their experience, education, as well as federal financing for their business (contingent on state licensing), will accomplish two primary concerns:

  1. Incentivizes state governments to create social equity licensing regimes that emulate federal efforts
  2. Reduces “predatory” operating agreements that use “token” social equity applicants who do not participate in the business license, contribute little to no financing, and are thereby diluted by existing operators and investors

We believe the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is best to handle collaboration efforts to define this new “Minority Cannabis Business” (MCB) certification program for both program providers on the educational side and for pre-qualifying federal funding for qualified applicants. 

Through this qualification, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and (SBA) would issue an interstate commerce permit to be tied to state licenses, and only then would funding be issued to the applicant by the SBA. All funding issued is contingent on obtaining a state licensed facility or partnership with an existing operator in any given state.

Phased Approach:

We believe it is also important that the amendments clearly lay out a multi-phased approach to the rollout of interstate commerce permitting to ensure those most qualified operators proceed first, and to then qualify others with enough time to do so. Encapsulating the proposed amendments, we envision the following steps to ensure a smooth transition that maximizes the opportunity for social equity applicants to succeed:

  1. Initially, establishing the advisory board for the regulatory agencies and mandates to allow for education providers to apply and be approved to provide the educational qualification to social equity applicants. These education providers may also be prioritized based on social equity and curriculum requirements designed in collaboration with cannabis business experts and diversity, equity, and inclusion advocates in cannabis.
  2. For those who lack the experience in operating an interstate commerce permitted business, but who are impacted by the war on cannabis, approved educational programs are invaluable to overcoming the barriers in not knowing how to operate a regulated cannabis business.
    1. Those with experience may qualify, without the need of an educational provider, and each are evaluated for priority licensing according to the following priority:
      1. Applicants with cannabis and business experience (most qualified)
      2. Applicants with legacy experience but limited regulated business experience
      3. Applicants with business experience but limited cannabis experience
      4. Applicants with little cannabis or business experience (least qualified)
    2. If qualified in both, the applicant goes first and can qualify for SBA funding fastest.
    3. If they have limited experience in cannabis or business, then the applicant can take the coursework to qualify and apply for SBA funding.
  3. During this time, it is also crucial to increase community education efforts so that communities impacted most by the war on cannabis can be made aware of the opportunity to qualify, be trained/educated, and approved, and get access to the information necessary to pursue the opportunity along the above pathways.
  4. Provide an education fund for state and municipal governments to promote the benefits of cannabis social equity, responsibilities, and risks of cannabis.

Access to financing is critical for social equity applicants and must be made available through the qualification process for social equity qualified businesses. Once qualified on education or equivalent experience, the SBA may pre-approve funding for qualified applicants. By achieving these qualifications, applicants have access to *reserved* funding appropriated by the federal act. Pre-approved financing in the form of grants and low-interest business debt instruments that are contingent on successful completion of course requirements and other “qualifying” factors for a Minority Cannabis Business is critical to ensuring success for operators and the federal government. 

These government loans say how one qualifies and is “pre-approved” so that applicants can negotiate with existing industry license holders as valuable partners and receive federal funding contingent on state licensing approval. The idea is to promote partnership and participation between the existing industry and newly established social equity entrepreneurs while ensuring equal opportunity for social equity operators who do not choose to partner with the industry.

Follow Through

To ensure the program functions as designed and that the advisory committee is provided with as much data as possible to improve upon these suggested amendments, the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) recommends a final amendment in the form of a best practices study, along with collected data from participating states, to be instituted and reviewed annually for the first five years and subsequently every three years. 

The intention of this study and report is to ensure the enforcement of laws, standards, and programs and to monitor that the activities of social equity operators are in alignment with the intention of the program in benefitting the social equity entrepreneurs permitted, that policies against predatory operating agreements are being enforced, and that policies are truly beneficial to creating social equity in the cannabis industry. The study will provide evidence of the benefits and challenges of the program, as well as possible improvements at federal and state levels

Conclusion

It seems obvious that unless any social equity partner can “bring more to the table” to balance a “mega player’s” contribution, be educated in all aspects of their chosen field in the industry, recognize predatory agreements, and otherwise be positioned more equally to meaningfully participate in the cannabis industry, social equity programs will continue to fall short of meeting the goal of creating new generational wealth. 

History has shown that as long as there’s an opportunity for inequality to be wielded as a weapon for those in power, it will be. No amount of good intention can change that fact. 

Social equity requires empowerment opportunities for social equity candidates to bring more to the table as equals with “mega players.” We recognize partnerships can be an ideal path forward when the power dynamics within them are balanced and fair. The DEIC proposes these amendments to any federal act to serve as solutions to the traditional problems of inequality, exclusion, and gatekeeping that once spurred prohibition in the first place and that continue to prevail in the inequity the cannabis industry is still experiencing and to solve the shortcomings of social equity programs thus far. 

We recognize that the role for the federal government in these federal act amendments is to even the odds in interstate commerce permitting. Their role is to oversee the fairness in qualifying candidates, to ensure a meaningful value for the permits issued, to give permittees the chance to catch up to the privileged few already in the industry with lockout periods for non-social equity applicants, limited licensing, and to provide access to financing for those traditionally locked out of access to financing or wealth as aa result of systemic oppression caused under prohibition.

Interstate commerce permitting seems like the last true chance for America to atone for 80+ years of marijuana madness and its detriment on our society. It is also the last chance for the industry to search for its soul to balance the impacts prohibition has had on these operators in excluding their participation in legal cannabis initially – born as a result of systemic discrimination overall and colonized on by those with clean records.

In doing so, a more equitable federal act can create the bold ideas and incentive to bring traditional wealth and experience into partnership with underprivileged social equity operators and their expertise/culture to form partnerships that truly represent the intent behind the policies intended for social equity and to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry for all.

Committee Blog: Everything You Wanted to Know About Cannabis Facilities But Were Afraid to Ask Field Guide – Part 3 – Extraction

by members of NCIA’s Facilities Design Committee
Jacques Santucci, Brian Anderson, David Vaillancourt, and David Dixon

Continuing our five-part series on the behind-the-scenes workings of the legal cannabis industry. This series focuses on all of the inner dealings and industry advice from established professionals to craft this unlimited How-to-Guide to assist you in setting up your own facility. These articles cover cultivation, extraction, infused products, and retail facilities as well as support activities. In general, remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations and contact a licensed contractor and industry expert. 

Part Three, Food: 10 Things to Consider When Planning Your Manufacturing of Infused Products (MIPs) Operations

Food safety and handling practices are an issue for any industry working with or processing products for human consumption and often come with strict guidelines that need to be followed. In the cannabis industry, edibles and other processed or infused products Manufactured Infused Products (MIPs) are ready-to-eat foods, so many states are regulating them as foods under the cGMP requirements of 21CFR117. We feel this is likely the approach that will be appropriate when cannabis becomes federally legal. These 10 things should be considered as you begin to plan your facility.  Always remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations. 

Sanitary Design and Operation

A production room is straightforward, conceptually: design the space so walls, floors, and ceilings can be washed and sanitized, then verified (ATP swabs) to confirm the cleaning process is effective. To facilitate cleaning, everything needs to be pulled away from the walls, the ceiling needs to be solid and the walls need to be sealed. Insulated metal panels (IMP) are a cavity-free construction that is seeing wide acceptance in the industry. To keep the space clean during operation, slope the floors to spot drains, install coves along with the floor/wall interface and avoid ledges and traps for water or dust.

Employee Hand Washing

A stringent internal process for sanitation and washing of hands is crucial. Make sure that lavatories are available throughout your facility for proper sanitation. Confer with the municipal board of health for locations and quantity. Generally locate any place where employees are handling consumable products or encounter the potential for microbiological. 

Boot Washing

Sanitation includes making sure all boots/shoes are free of contaminants. Employee captive corporate footwear programs prevent contamination potential from non-business-related employee activities.

Cart Washing

For carts that transport ingredients and materials, it is important to prevent floor debris getting transferred from one area to another. Two areas of concern; are wheels and cart shelves. Either wheel or shelf area can be addressed from multiple washing devices specific to each type of cart used.

Product Storage

Food safety temperature and humidity separation of products are an important factor. The purpose is to store food products at such a temperature and humidity level to prevent the growth of undesirable bacteria.

Allergen cross-contamination

Make sure to arrange products to avoid cross-contamination of open and unopened products. Keep the first pallet off the floor at a height of 6” AFF to avoid picking up contaminants. OHSA SHARP may apply how to organize products. 

You can design barriers to keep contamination from entering a room.

Limit contamination by having and always renewing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), since the adjacent hallways may transport raw biomass. Test all ingredients, including THC, to ensure that everything is microbiologically safe. Wipe down, or unpackage ingredients, materials, and supplies before bringing them into the ‘clean environment’ room. Wear specific scrub, clean boots, and wash off any carts entering the room.

Employees entering the food production space

Contaminants can enter via the employees.  It is essential to have all employees and agents clean up before entering the food production space. You must provide facilities to wash and sanitize hands as well as boots. Continuous training of employees and monitoring adherence to the procedures is important. Your procedure will include how sanitation is necessary, where are smocks hung, how are shoes cleaned, etc. Typical controls are in the FDA Food Code for jewelry, open sores, illness, etc.

Food Safety Inherent in the Recipes

Complete a Food Safety Hazard Analysis to know if you need to implement an upstream preventative control, such as for chocolate, or if you need to manage a thermal kill-step such as cooking the gummies mass. Low water activity, high acid, or a natural biocide additive, can all be considered. 

Control for Allergens

MIPS often contain soy, flour, eggs, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, and perhaps others. Each has special considerations for allergen separations and allergen cleaning.

Ware Washing and Clean Parts Storage Room

Don’t Underestimate the Ware Washing and Clean Parts Storage Room. Adjacent to your MIPs production room, consider building a washroom with a commercial dishwasher for utensils, kettles, wetted parts, trays, molds, etc. You might install a three-compartment sink. And make sure to safely store clean items, so they dry and do not get recontaminated prior to use. This room is maintained at negative pressure to the MIPs production room.

Plan for the Pantry

Store ingredients, materials, and supplies in a pantry off the MIPs room can be considered. It is much easier to clean the MIPs room if such items are stored outside production. If you pre-weight, or decant in the pantry, cardboard and plastic are kept out of production. It is a great idea to provide a door also to the adjacent hallway to drop off ingredients, then your staff can enter from the MIPs room. Special care is taken when storing opened products.

Keeping Final Products Food-Safe

The best practice might be to put products such as chocolate bars into primary film envelopes or fin-seal gummies while still in the MIPs room. Often, subsequent packaging is done where there are other possible contaminants such as open bud, pre-rolls, chipboard or corrugated, etc. If the food products are already protected by primary packaging, you will greatly reduce the risk of recontamination. 

HVAC, Humidity Control, and Filtration

HVAC, Humidity Control, and Filtration are critical. The MIP production room should be air-conditioned and filtered to at least MERV 14. Cook kettles may be a source of humidity that could be placed under a commercial hood. Cooling and tempering of chocolates and cooling and drying of gummies/jellies have their own special considerations. And consider provide enough HVAC capacity to dry out the production room after a heavy cleaning. 

Airlocks and Room Pressurization

Airlocks and room pressurization should be planned properly based on your goals, budget and facility. The MIPs room pressure should be positive to all other adjacent rooms: washroom, pantry, extraction, corridors, lab. There are a wide variety of approaches to airlocks, from a pharma approach with air showers down, to just a door with sufficient air supply to the production room to ensure that it is always positive to the adjacent hallway.


Check Out These Related Articles for More Top Things to Consider When Planning:

Committee Blog: Everything You Wanted to Know About Cannabis Facilities But Were Afraid to Ask Field Guide – Part 1 – Cultivation
Committee Blog: Everything You Wanted to Know About Cannabis Facilities But Were Afraid to Ask Field Guide – Part 2 – Extraction Facilities

Member Blog: Hard to Get – Why Disposable Gloves are Scarce and Pricey

by Steve Ardagh, founder and CEO of Eagle Protect

Disposable gloves are standard issue for the medical, food, and yes – cannabis industry. But thanks to COVID and subsequent disruptions in the supply chain, the market for procuring disposable gloves has gone from routine to challenging. In fact, the demand for quality disposable gloves has skyrocketed, more than doubling since the global pandemic’s arrival, thereby creating an unpredictable cycle of availability. Demand for single-use gloves is expected to continue increasing in the coming years, as the health and safety of workforces across multiple industries – including medical, food, and cannabis-related operations – are required and dependent upon their usage.   

Let’s examine the factors that have made disposable gloves both scarce… and pricey, as of late.

Global Glove Origination

Approximately 99% of all disposable gloves are manufactured in southeast Asia, most notably Malaysia and Thailand. But for these regions, compared to the U.S., lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID infections has a much more literal meaning. The restricted movement, as well as outbreaks, led to output at 60% of its normal capacity. In addition, most experts agree that there’s clearly a shortage of workers – many of whom were immigrants affected by travel restrictions. It’s estimated that an additional 25,000 workers are needed to restore full production capacity.

Supply and Demand

As the demand for disposable gloves increased globally, it put added stress on manufacturers and the supply of raw materials, driving up prices tenfold compared to pre-COVID levels. Though glove costs have recently dropped, prices have not reached pre-COVID levels.

Cost of Gas

The raw materials of nitrile gloves are primarily petrochemical based, subject to the volatile price swings in the oil and gas industry. Combined with the tenfold increase in shipping costs, disposable glove prices are not likely to continue dropping.

Labor Violations

In the midst of this price spike, one of the top importers, Malaysia’s Top Glove, the world’s largest glove producer, was banned from importing gloves to the U.S. from July 2020 to September 2021, due to conclusive evidence of forced labor. However, this ban did not extend to other countries.

Knockoffs

When the pandemic nearly doubled the demand for disposable gloves and other PPE components, several new manufacturers with little to no industry experience, assisted by dealers with nothing more than a financial incentive, flooded the market with cheap, counterfeit, and reject-quality gloves. Spotting these unscrupulous suppliers can be done by looking for a few common signs, as they’re often given away by their offering of discount or wholesale pricing, especially in bulk. It’s estimated that the market has already absorbed an influx of gloves of a defective and dangerous quality.

Safeguarding Your Operation

Currently, poor quality gloves continue to flood the disposable-use market. In business, it’s human nature to seek the lowest price for inventory, but saving a little now may cost you dearly on the backend. Cost is obviously important, but consistent quality will keep you from having to replace gloves that rip and tear too easily. When sourcing disposable gloves, seek reputable suppliers – those who have a clear ownership origin, quality web presence and active social media accounts. Taking it a step further, you can inquire about factory audits and HACCP compliance certifications. The cannabis industry has already dealt with at least one recall due to glove contamination. And recalls can have negative financial and brand ramifications. Lastly, always remember when dealing with a new vendor – you can conduct your own product trial before ordering.


Steve Ardagh, “The Glove Guy,” is the founder and CEO of Eagle Protect, a disposable glove supplier dedicated to the responsible sourcing of quality products that ensure customer safety and impact reduction, ultimately mitigating customers’ risk. Eagle Protect is the only global PPE supplier that is a Certified B Corporation, a designation that a business has met the highest standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency. He can be reached at steve@eagleprotect.com

 

Committee Blog: Everything You Wanted to Know About Cannabis Facilities But Were Afraid to Ask Field Guide – Part 2 – Extraction Facilities

by members of NCIA’s Facilities Design Committee
Jacques Santucci, Brian Anderson, David Vaillancourt, and David Dixon

Continuing our five-part series on the behind-the-scenes workings of the legal cannabis industry. This series focuses on all of the inner dealings and industry advice from established professionals to craft this unlimited How-to-Guide to assist you in setting up your own facility. These articles cover cultivation, extraction, infused products, and retail facilities as well as support activities. In general, remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations and contact a licensed contractor and industry expert. 

Part Two, Extraction: Top Things to Consider When Planning Your Cannabis Extraction Operation

The extraction environment is akin to an industrial process and should be approached away from a safety and chemical handling standpoint. Here are some general considerations as you begin to plan your extraction operation that we often see assumed or overlooked resulting in major unanticipated barriers that significantly impact decision costs and timelines. Always remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations. 

Interior Building Materials

The walls and floors should be designed to be easily cleanable. In areas with solvent use, should have floors and walls made with the material, and ultimately the method for effective and ease of cleaning such FRP (Fiberglas Reinforced Panels).

Facility Specifications

There are many established standards from organizations like the NFPA and ICC-IFC which are commonly cited and required by Fire Marshalls with appropriate fire engineering controls, room interlocks, etc. Knowing which classifications are required based on the room type has a major impact on facility specifications (e.g. C1D1, C1D2, etc.) and the ultimate design. This requires knowing which solvents you will be using (and equally important, solvents you will not be using) as well as identifying all of the activities you will be doing in your extraction/processing facility (winterization, purification, bulk or final product packaging, and more) and whether the rooms will be wet and dry (how will you be cleaning these rooms?). How you answer those questions will help you and your team select the appropriate room materials and overall design. 

Electrical Power Ideal Recommendations

Evaluate your utility power infrastructure, including street transformers and available power to your site when designing your facility. The power demand for a cannabis facility is significant and grid limitations can destroy or significantly delay the ability for a business to operate.

Losing power due to weather or events outside of your control are another major risk. When considering alternative power generation, consider a generator with auto-transfer switching and the appropriate fuel type, depending on location and local weather. Contact a local licensed professional. A generator can be an invaluable insurance policy as even a short duration power outage can destroy an entire crop and any products that must be maintained at critical temperatures. 

Equipment Rooms and Maintenance Rooms

Appropriate space for equipment and dedicated rooms for maintenance is commonly needed. These all come with different combustion air requirements, venting requirements, air exchange rates, vacuum lines, and more. You may consider a room for spare parts and tools.

Appropriate Storage Area: Biomass, Volatiles, Raw Ingredients, and More

Separation of raw materials with appropriate and dedicated storage areas is needed for the various types of raw ingredients and materials utilized within a cannabis facility. Volatile solvents require extremely specific storage requirements, which will become part of your Chemical Hygiene Plan once you are operational. Refer to your local Fire Marshall for code considerations and from code organizations like the ICC and NFPA.

Cleaning and sanitation agents should be segregated from materials that are utilized in final product formulations (e.i food ingredients, oils, etc.) and raw materials ahead of the design is critical to ensure appropriate storage requirements are met whether indoor or outdoor. Biomass storage can vary based on whether wet or dry and often require controlled temperature and humidity. Finally, do not forget the dedicated space needed for finished good inventory. 

Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Safety

Do you know that shock you get when you are in your car in the winter or flipping on a light switch? Innocent in everyday life, but potentially lethal in an environment such as extraction rooms where highly flammable solvents could be present. Consider rated and non-rated clothing and other personal protection measures. 

Food Grade Oil Considerations and Inspections

Extracted oils that will be used downstream in edibles and beverages are akin to ingredients that require Food Safety endorsements such as cGMP.

Equipment Ratings

Before selecting equipment for use, evaluation criteria should be established based on your business needs and compliance. Some authorities having jurisdiction require extraction equipment to come with stamps, certifications, or endorsements from organizations such as ASME, UL, and NFPA as relevant to ensure equipment safety and fit for use.

Room Environmental Controls

Grinding rooms often need separate dedicated ventilation and filtration to be checked against grinding method/equipment and concentration of particulate (typically measured in parts per million (ppm) in the air. Dust collection systems for grinding equipment are effective ways to keep dust levels at manageable levels, reducing the need for time consuming cleaning procedures. Extraction and final product rooms may require additional ventilation considerations and monitoring sensors depending on the extraction method or final product type. Example: Solvents will require sensors and air exchanges located near the ground level since most solvent fumes tend to be heavier than air. 

HVACD Management

Designing your facility involves HVACD (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Dehumidification) management that considers airflow controls areas, airflow, and fire protection within control areas. Rooms may require positive and negative pressures with calibrated pressure indicators. You should aim at having a leveled constant environment.

Safety and Injury Handling

Facilities need to have sufficient accessible First Aid and Burn Kits on site. Safety and Emergency Showers are often determined by code and the type of extraction solvent in use at the locations. Eye wash stations may also be required.

Spill and Solvent Safety

In areas where solvents are or may be used, you will need to have barrier/spill kits specific to the solvents and extraction materials on hand. This barrier can be built in or hand delivered per emergency. Solvent storage locations, depending on the type of solvent and hazardous rating. 

Having one or two dedicated people to run point on spills can be part of a comprehensive spill procedure that would include evacuation of the area, assessment of the spill and of the clean up technique, disposal method, etc. There are many materials that are not compatible or properties that make them volatile under certain circumstances so having dedicated people to evaluate the situation will save you time, money, and any possible mishaps. 

Solvent Storage

Indoor and outdoor solvent storage are dictated by NFPA, ICC-IFC, and local regulations. Storage types and limits are essential to check before buying or building a facility. Fire professionals base these limits on several factors of flammability including class and volatility. You may also need to adhere to SARA Type III reporting depending on the solvent and storage amounts. Do not forget about solvent tank types, whether they need to be mounted or chained to walls, security access controls, and SDS requirements.

Solvent Enclosure

C1D1, C1D2 is needed for solvent use. The actual type of solvents (e.g. CO2, Ethanol, etc.), and volume of solvent will dictate the different requirements for enclosures. This section pertains to areas in which the solvent would be transferred, mixed, extracted, recovered, etc. The type of enclosure is dependent on the type and class of solvent. Most enclosures will have volume limits, containment, vapor detector, electrical and ventilation requirements. 

Emergency Ventilation

Ensure wall switch and fast ventilation, automated ventilation when sensors are activated during spill of contaminate.Sensors to be located where appropriate for the substance in use. Coordinated with the fire marshall to meet local requirements through design with architect and mechanical teams.

Employee Access Control

Limiting door access, proper security labeling, and key sets for employees need to be part of your overall security plan. LThe idea is to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing the extraction space compliant with the local regulatory body. 

Equipment Regulatory Listing

There are requirements such as UL certifications/marks which are dependent on the actual device and intended use. Always contact your local code enforcement office and a licensed contractor.


Check out these related articles for more top things to consider when planning:

Committee Blog: Everything You Wanted to Know About Cannabis Facilities But Were Afraid to Ask Field Guide – Part 1 – Cultivation

Committee Blog: Everything You Wanted to Know About Cannabis Facilities But Were Afraid to Ask Field Guide – Part 1 – Cultivation

by members of NCIA’s Facilities Design Committee
Jacques Santucci, Brian Anderson, David Vaillancourt, and David Dixon

Introducing our five-part series on the behind-the-scenes workings of the legal cannabis industry. This series focuses on all of the inner dealings and industry advice from established professionals to craft this unlimited How-to-Guide to assist you in setting up your own facility. These articles cover cultivation, extraction, infused products, and retail facilities as well as support activities. In general, remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations and contact a licensed contractor and industry expert. 

Part 1, Cultivation: The Top Things to Consider When Planning Your Cannabis Cultivation Facilities

As you are planning to start your own indoor cultivation facility, there are some often ignored basic parameters that should be taken into account in the design and decision-making process. We have listed the key parameters that will ease the process of going live and may save time and money while you design your facility and the building process. Always remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations. 

Lighting Recommendations

Depending on your goals, building setting, and local requirements, you have many options for lighting, from HPS light to LED lights. Lighting standards are measured in watts per square foot. Recommendations may vary per state or other criteria. For example, Massachusetts recommends an intensity of 36w/sft for energy consumption.

Water Recovery: Minimum Percentage

Cannabis is a water-intensive crop, and consideration of effluent capacity can be inefficient, expensive, and an issue for municipalities. Depending on your cultivation practices, you should consider a water recovery system and what percentage you are able to capture. There are two types of water recovery – leachate, and condensate. An effective system will recover at least 70% of the water for utilization, significantly reducing your water and sewer expenses. Your irrigation and fertigation selection will have an impact on your water consumption. 

Generator Capacity: Minimum Recommendations

Your area or your business model may dictate for a generator – which is a critical Business Continuity consideration as a power outage, even if for a brief period of time can destroy a crop. Make sure to calculate the minimum capacity requirements of your facility. Do you plan to have it for emergency or stand-by usage? Typically, 50% of your short lighting load capacity of cultivation, 100% for AHU (air handling), and some back-office and security system, including cameras, access, and server needs.

Carbon Dioxide Enrichment: New Versus Recaptured

You can consider 75% new tanked- or generated- natural gas and 25% recaptured sources, for cultivation rooms, gas-fired chillers, and gas-fired boilers.

Carbon Dioxide Alarms Levels: Cultivation and Common Areas

Carbon Dioxide monitoring is critical for worker safety. You should be monitoring common areas to ensure that you are below 3,500 ppm. Monitoring should be tied to the fire alarm system for building evacuation, with 2,000 ppm alarm levels for the cultivation area. 5000 ppm limits are required by NFPA/OHSA. Alarms should contain visual strobes, red/green room access indicator lights and/or possibly an exhaust system that is triggered by an alarm

Renewable Energy: Minimum Energy Production Percentage

To demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, a minimum target of 10% of your facility’s energy consumption should be from renewable energy production: i.e. solar power, wind energy, geothermal, biomass, and/or battery energy.

Refuse Disposal: Recycling and Composting

Consider certified disposal of horticulture byproducts with a minimum of 25% recycling or composting by volume; rendered unusable. You will want to establish and verify that your shredder or equivalent system is capable of breaking up debris to a specified size. 

Airlock Doors for In-Between Uses

You should install an airlock barrier, or at a minimum an air curtain, between the business and the production side, for outside and inside egresses, to keep a controlled environment. Keep in mind considerations for ventilation systems and cascading airflow. 

Wall Material

For best performance to mitigate biological hazards and contamination, depending on your region, recommend installing insulated metal panels, that are non-porous, solid core wall, insulated metal panels (IMP), with surface mounted devices. 

Security Entrance: Facility Safety

Consider creating a separate mantrap style entrance to allow for better safety at the entrance point, monitor visitors, keep a controlled environment as well as avoid weather-related issues, i.e. wet areas due to rain or snow, or temperature variance due to extreme heat or cold. 

Limiting doors access and key sets for employees needs to be part of your overall security plan, with proper door labeling and authorization levels. The idea is to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing specific spaces, for proper environment control and to be compliant with the local regulatory body. Remember to be compliant with local rules and regulations.

Security Camera: Minimum Area of Coverage

In most states, you will need security coverage for 100% percent of your faculty where cannabis products will be stored or displayed, with proper recording and monitoring. Keep in mind that your security room will likely need its own dedicated HVAC systems

Security Camera: Minimum Data Storage and Resolution

You will need to store all security camera footage on-site for a minimum of 90-days, or more depending on regulations. You may need to store the data offsite for five years for future legal needs. Footage quality may need to be shot in 1080p minimum. An ASTM International Standard Guide for Video Surveillance System provides additional parameters to utilize.

Security Alarm: Monitoring

Security alarm needs to be monitored by a reputable company. A service level agreement (SLA) or similar to ensure there are redundancies in the event of a failure should be considered, and redundancy or a backup system might be necessary.

Odor Control: Exhaust Air Management

Odor mitigation is a crucial part of all operations. All exhaust airflow must be oxidized or ionized. You also need a fogger system and carbon filtration. Refer to local municipal bylaws and regulations for more information.

For interior odor control and non-cultivation areas, consider cascading air flows from non-cultivation areas to provide a common method of control for pressurization control. Plan to control air flow and exhaust. 

Fire Sprinkler: Maximum Bench Sizing

Sprinklers are designed to cover a limited surface area. When installed on cultivation tabletops wider than 48”, additional sprinkler coverage may be required.

Flooring Type: Continuous

Cultivation floors shall have continuous resin or epoxy coating with at least a four-inch lip onto the adjacent wall.

Energy Incentives: Minimum HVAC/D Efficiency Rating

Air Conditioning (AC) units should be no less than 16 SEER, High Point (HP) units no less than 9 HSPF. Incentives for this vary by state. Please check with your local utility company and regulatory commission for all available rebates.

HVAC Validation Requirements: 

Bi-Annual Third Party Controlled Environment Validation using required Trend Data Metrics is the validation and calibration of control sensors, including temperature, humidity, CO2, and other devices such as scales, flow meters, integral valves, PPM sensors, EC meters, TDS meters, HVAC dampers and other applicable devices that may drift from factory or initial installation specifications.

Good Agricultural and Collection or Manufacturing Practices (GACP/GMP): Ready Versus Complaint

Your operation should be designed with documentation to prepare for GACP or GMP requirements. Depending on final product types, specific food-based GMPs with appropriate risk assessment programs (such as HACCP, and others referenced within the Food Safety Modernization Act) will prepare you for any federal or international trade opportunities in a federally legalized framework. 

Employee Locker Access

Plan for gender-specific, male and female locker rooms, with six square feet per employee per shift expected to arrive at the facility at any given time. Employee supplied flock for locker or lock provided by the employer is a business decision. Keep in mind how you will keep the environment of your production facility under control. You might consider having locker access adjacent to the growing area with a proper gowning area. 

Locker Room Type

Make sure your locker room is correctly set up for employees to be able to change in a safe way. Specifications for Locker Room and Gowning/PPE Areas should allow access to faucets for washing hands as well as bathrooms. Note gowning areas should be separate from the bathrooms directly off the locker room area.

Employee Shower Access

Per International Building Code (IBC) and State Plumbing Codes, calculate the number of employees and determine the number of showers based on code requirements as well as business policies. Having gender-specific showers is a recommendation as well as a business decision. 

Emergency Eye Wash- Shower

For safety and based on OSHA standards, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), fertigation, and extraction operations must-have emergency eye wash showers. Eyewash stations need to be placed throughout the facility so that they are within 10-15 seconds walking distance from employees. Check local requirements for additional needs. 

Note: in a facility where corrosives and skin irritants could pose harm to employees and require immediate remediations, you should consider emergency showers.

First Aid Kit Distribution

First aid kits should be available in all rooms where sharp tools and other hazardous materials are intended to be used. These kits need to be within 10-15 seconds of employee walking distances. Per OSHA requirements, first aid kits should be located in all trim, extraction, flower hallway, and shredding areas. This is overall a must-have in your facility.

Safety and Injury Handling

We recommend that you ensure that you have enough first aid and burn kits available throughout your faculty, based on your activity and the number of employees.

Member Blog: Cannabis M&A – Protecting the Valuation Calculus Using Cyber Compliance and Due Diligence

by Rebecca L. Rakoski, Esq. and Patrick D. Isbill, Esq. of XPAN Law Partners

When it comes to the intersection of law, business, and technology, the legal cannabis industry is arguably at the center of all three. Relying heavily on creative, innovative technology to distinguish itself while continually analyzing profitability forecasts to take advantage of new business opportunities and having to monitor at the same time the changing data privacy regulatory landscape, it can all seem rather daunting when added up. Securing trade secrets and overseeing reputational management related to cybersecurity and data protection are some of the challenges rooted at the forefront of this industry, especially after last year’s stunning pace of mergers and acquisitions. Increasing consolidation of fragmented segments of the cannabis industry is foreshadowing a strategic, long-term business approach to achieving higher profits and revenue, leaning on market advantages such as relatively favorable interest costs for now and lower valuations.

Data security and past cyber events play a significant role in these transactions, as do regulatory compliance and data privacy laws. One of the primary, if not foremost, objectives of any deal involving a merger or acquisition is of course valuation. Poor cybersecurity practices, lack of a comprehensive security and data protection program, and digitally unsecured proprietary assets on the part of the target company could spell unforeseen financial, not to mention legal liability, headaches for the acquiring organization.

The business of legal cannabis is after all a highly unique industry because of the already intense regulatory oversight and the enormous amounts of data inherently built in and circulating throughout its diverse industry sectors. From cultivation and laboratory research to manufacturing that incorporates processing for global distribution and all the way out to consumer dispensaries, the aggregate value of such data is almost nothing short of priceless. Simply put, data equals money in today’s global digital economy. So when the acquiring organization fails to adequately perform its due diligence when it comes to cyber compliance, it may be in for a rude awakening post merger or acquisition, especially if this data has been unknowingly compromised.

Every company should first seek to identify and classify the type of data it is acquiring to determine regulatory compliance. Personally identifiable information (PII) and/or protected health information (PHI) and where either comes from, e.g., a consumer or patient, will go a long way to understanding whether state and/or federal laws have been violated. Next, discovery of a past cyber event or breach is critical. Compromised data from inadequate cybersecurity or failure to report potential violations of state data privacy laws to any of the corresponding state enforcement agencies could result in hefty fines and unexpected assumption of liability, not to mention the legal costs to fix it after the deal is done.

Almost every cannabis business knows from the outset it has very particularized regulatory requirements, but such knowledge does not obviate it from complying with additional regulatory data privacy and cybersecurity obligations. Regardless of the side of the transaction, businesses need to keep several key end goals in mind during an M&A deal. Questions include but are not limited to the following: (i) prior cyber practices; (ii) prior cyber incidents; (iii) documented cybersecurity and data privacy programs; (iv) whether those programs are operationalized or just “there” for window dressing; (v) whether there is cyber-liability insurance; and (vi) the nature and type of contractual obligations. All of these elements will help to determine the level of data privacy and cybersecurity maturity of a business which, in turn, affects the value of the data and practices of the targeted organization.

Poor data security and privacy practices can lead to a devaluation of the business calculus and create an unforeseen situation where an organization suddenly becomes a liability rather than the intended asset. In the current shifting legal and technological environment, ignoring or leaving cybersecurity and data privacy due diligence in an M&A transaction to the last minute can be a costly enterprise. In addition, the nature and type of contractual obligations in and around data privacy and cybersecurity can also create a potential for substantial liability if the organization has not operationalized its privacy and security program. Each part of this due diligence is interconnected and can wreak havoc if not properly assessed and, in some instances, immediately addressed.

Like water running downhill, any variation in terrain going forward will cause a parallel, and potentially unpredictable, directional shift. 

All in, the industry is keenly aware of what consumers value – privacy. For example, trust in the product sold and confidence that their identity is secure topmost consumer surveys on the topic. Any cannabis business understands this fragile balance, and any path to growth in the industry must account for it. Same applies to trade secrets. Often the linchpin of a merger or acquisition will be the result of interest in innovative research or breakthrough technology developed by the target company. If it is discovered later that this proprietary work was potentially compromised or publicly disclosed, then the initial value used as the basis for negotiations could diminish exponentially if the work has been appropriated by a business competitor or industry rival looking for a market share advantage.

Due diligence is already part of the fabric of M&A deals. Reports suggest the large volume of global mergers and acquisitions overall is expected to continue this year from last despite worries over regulations and rising interest rates. But focusing on accounting and finances without spending time on determining past commitments to cyber readiness and compliance can unravel even the best of intentions. Valuation is a key calculus in these deals. Understanding the true value of what is being acquired or consolidated is essential to taking advantage of business opportunities for growth and return on investment for an industry primed for both.


Rebecca L. Rakoski, Esq. is Co-Founder and Managing Partner at XPAN Law Partners, LLP. Rebecca counsels and defends public and private corporations, and their boards, during data breaches and responds to state/federal regulatory compliance and enforcement actions. 

Patrick D. Isbill, Esq. is also Co-Founder and Managing Partner at XPAN Law Partners, LLP. Patrick’s practice focuses on cybersecurity and data privacy compliance and enforcement, addressing the business needs and demands of highly regulated industries.

This article does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

Member Blog: Cannabis Trends in 2022

by Jennifer Spanos, CannaBusiness ERP

As we approach the end of Q1 2022 and prepare to enter Q2, it’s become clear that this is going to be an important year for the cannabis industry. Cannabis business professionals and investors looking for signs of growth or stagnation in the industry will certainly be interested to see how things unfold. With that in mind, CannaBusiness ERP has put together a list of the top cannabis trends for 2022, and those trends appear to be pointing to more growth. However, it’s clear that difficulties for the cannabis sector are still imminent. 

Cannabis Trends for 2022

It almost goes without saying that the cannabis industry is complex and not without its fair share of challenges as the most highly regulated industry on the market. For businesses looking to grow, keeping up with complicated and evolving regulations can be stressful enough on a business in and of itself. Cannabis cultivators, processors, and consultants can look to cannabis industry trends to inform their operational decisions.

Increased legalization in the United States

Support for legalization in the USA continues to rise. In fact, a 2021 Gallup poll found that 68% of Americans are in favor of legalizing cannabis. Not only is this a record number of supporters, but this percentage also reflects a growing sentiment among Americans regarding the use of legal cannabis.

The changing tide towards legalization is clear – more states passed legislation to legalize cannabis either medicinally or recreationally in 2021, with several more introducing legalization bills in 2022. Because states operate independently of each other, every state will have its own policies as well as regulatory and compliance requirements, which can make things very confusing for cannabis businesses, especially multi-state operators (MSOs).

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) provides a map with state-by-state policies, which is one helpful tool for businesses looking to capitalize on expansion opportunities made possible as more states legalize cannabis. CannaBusiness ERP’s Guide to Expanding Into New Markets is another great resource for MSOs that provides state-by-state information, including Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania, and useful advice to consider when expanding into new cannabis markets.

Sales will continue to increase in 2022

Leading cannabis business experts are predicting strong sales growth this year due to the growth in legalized markets for cannabis. In fact, legal cannabis sales reached $19.5 billion in 2020, and experts are projecting sales to reach $30 billion in 2022. Washington State alone, which legalized cannabis ten years ago in 2012, is expected to generate $1.5 billion in sales, up from $1.2 billion sales in 2020. But Washington’s projected sales are small when you compare them to California’s projected sales of $7.6 billion. And as more states legalize cannabis, more sales will surely follow. 

Another contributing factor to increased cannabis sales is related to increased demand and a growing number of product types. More consumers are learning why cannabis can be beneficial to them, including more restful sleep, lowering stress, lessening pain symptoms, and recreational use. Additionally, with so many products on the market, cannabis consumers have many options to choose from, ranging from edibles to tinctures to topical ointments and more.

Cannabis experts are predicting a growth in cannabis consumption lounges – the cannabis equivalent of a bar or restaurant that allows consumers to use cannabis on-site. According to the Cannabis Industry Journal, the popularity of these lounges is growing because they provide consumers with a legal and safe space to consume cannabis. Just as with alcohol, the lounges are regulated according to laws set by each state. 

Increasing sales means cannabis businesses are at a critical junction and need to scale operations to meet the growing demand. One way cannabis growers and processors can capitalize on the demand is by streamlining the business end-to-end with cloud-based cannabis business management software. Otherwise known as Cannabis Cloud ERP, it manages production, cultivation, compliance, inventory, financials and traceability, sales, purchasing, and more, all in one system that lives in the Cloud.

Increased legislative bills and pressure for federalization

Under U.S. Federal Law in the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is still considered a Schedule I substance. However, as the number of states legalizing cannabis either recreationally, medicinally or both has increased, so too has broader support for federalization in the U.S. government. In fact, there are several bills in the U.S. congressional houses that may positively impact the cannabis industry, especially with banking challenges.

Due to the Schedule I federal classification of cannabis, many banks will not work with cannabis companies, creating tedious banking hurdles that are difficult to solve. The National Law Review writes, “Yet, in comparison to other industries, legitimate licensed cannabis-related businesses remain hobbled by the difficulties they face in accessing traditional banking and financial services – largely due to the fact that ‘marijuana’ is still considered illegal on the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). Currently, financial institutions (including federally insured banks) are hesitant, and oftentimes unwilling, to work with cannabis-related businesses due to fear of reprisal from federal banking regulators.”

Congressional representatives have introduced a decent amount of bills geared towards making much-needed changes to banking processes for cannabis, such as the SAFE Banking Act of 2021, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2021. It is currently awaiting action in the U.S. Senate with broad support from both sides of the aisle. If it passes both chambers of Congress, the act will allow cannabis companies to have business-critical access to banking and financial services and would reduce their need to operate as cash-only businesses and remove yearly challenges with tax accounting and reconciliation.

In addition to the SAFE Banking Act, there are other bills like U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), which is a push for federal cannabis legalization as well as an equity play. If passed, it is a measure towards ensuring small businesses and minority-owned businesses have access to financial services.

However, even with the tide of public opinion and legal momentum shifting in the industry’s favor, there remains a challenge with the U.S. tax code. Due to IRS Code Section 280E, if a business is trafficking certain controlled substances, like cannabis, that business is unable to deduct business expenses on their taxes. California has taken steps to address this by signing bills that help cannabis businesses overcome this code, but this is still a prohibitive factor for cannabis companies across the U.S.

Fortunately, cannabis companies that invest in a comprehensive Cannabis Cloud ERP solution with a reputable and experienced industry partner are better able to handle any hurdles that come their way.

Increased Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activity

Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activity has been steady in the industry and 2022 will see even more M&A activity. According to MJBizDaily’s article, “Marijuana M&A sizzled in 2021 and is poised for a hot 2022. Marijuana merger and acquisition activity proceeded at a torrid pace in 2021 – and could accelerate in 2022 – thanks to lower interest costs and pressure on larger companies to expand their footprints and boost revenue.”

Citing prominent cannabis acquisitions in 2021, such as Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ acquisition of GW Pharma (for $7.2 billion) and Trulieve’s acquisition of Harvest Health (for $2.1 billion), it is apparent that M&A is not going to slow down. According to Business of Cannabis, several deals are already taking place in 2022. Massachusetts-based Curaleaf acquired Arizona-based Bloom Dispensaries for $211 million, adding a total of 13 Arizona dispensaries and 121 dispensaries nationwide to Curaleaf’s portfolio.

For cannabis companies dealing in M&As and becoming Multi-state Operators (MSOs), it is essential to have a comprehensive, full-suite Cannabis Cloud ERP system that can run all the companies in one system. It is a crucial ingredient to manage their M&A transactions and handle their financial statements, compliance, business transactions, and more.

Most important of all, cannabis companies need to choose the right cannabis ERP.


Jennifer Spanos is the VP of Product and Vertical Strategy at CannaBusiness ERP. She has 14+ years of experience in cannabis and food manufacturing software and operations, working to maximize the efficiency and profitability of customers’ businesses.

CannaBusiness ERP: The Right Cannabis Business Management Software. Cannabis companies can grow their business with an ERP solution designed for the cannabis industry and for MSOs expanding into new markets. Learn how CannaBusiness ERP can set businesses on the right path. Manage financials, operations, quality, compliance, traceability, customers and more. 

CannaBusiness ERP is cannabis business management software that is built-in Sage X3 and configured by NexTec industry experts to deliver a complete cannabis business solution. Our specialization in developing solutions for the cannabis cultivation and processing industry has resulted in some of the most respected companies around the world managing their day-to-day operation using CannaBusiness ERP. 

To learn more about the fast-paced movement in cannabis legalization and how Cannabis Cloud ERP software can help your company keep pace, reach out to us. We’d love to show you what CannaBusiness ERP can do for your business. 

 

 

Committee Blog: Protect Against Corporate Identity Theft with Trademark Rights

By NCIA’s Cannabis Manufacturing Committee

A company’s brand is its identity. Branding elements – names, logos, colors, graphics, slogans – are how customers recognize a product or service as coming from a particular source. Done properly, brands can be as recognizable to consumers as a person’s face, name, and voice. In some cases, brands may be some of the most valuable assets a company may own. Protecting physical assets is common in the cannabis industry, but how do companies protect intangible assets, like their identity? Fortunately, there are bodies of intellectual property law designed to provide legal protections against others from using brand elements that are too close to your own. To take advantage of these protections, however, cannabis companies must understand how each one works and develop a branding strategy that leverages intellectual property laws.

This is the second article in a 3-part series about cannabis IP. The first article focused on patent law and can be found here. The series will culminate with a Q&A-based webinar on April 19th at 1:00 Eastern. Advance questions can be sent to paul@thalo.io.

Mechanisms of Brand Protection

Brands are protected most prominently by legal domains known as trademark and trade dress.  Trademarks include a company’s name, logos, and slogans, as well as those of any individual products. In some instances, trademarks may also include recognizable elements like colors (UPS’s brown) and sounds (NBC’s chimes). Trade dress is a similar concept to trademarks, but applies to the distinct appearance of a product or its packaging. Trade dress can even be used to protect the unique look and feel of a retail establishment, such as a restaurant or dispensary.

Both trademark and trade dress is intended to reduce confusion in the marketplace as to the origin of a product or service. The idea is that the public is best served when they can reliably determine which company to associate with each product. Reliable product-company association increases quality accountability, facilitates safety controls, allows consumers to form powerful brand loyalty.

Companies that avail themselves of trademark and trade dress laws gain access to a set of tools to legally fence off others from using branding that is likely to confuse customers about the source of a product. And, unlike other forms of intellectual property, trademark rights can last indefinitely and even strengthen over time. Some of these rights arise automatically just by using a mark, others must be sought out through registration.  

Principles to Consider When Selecting a Brand

Every company should consider trademark principles from day zero, when first selecting a name. U.S. trademark rights only apply to marks that are “distinctive,” meaning they are capable of distinguishing things bearing the mark from goods and services offered by others. The more distinctive a mark is, the stronger protections provided by trademark law. Names that merely describe the goods or services are non-distinctive and are typically not eligible for trademark protection.

There are five general categories along the spectrum of distinctiveness – fanciful, arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, and generic – arranged from strongest to weakest.

Fanciful marks words that were invented specifically to serve as a trademark, such as Xerox or Nvidia. Because these words have no other meaning than to identify the source of goods or services, they are the most distinctive category of trademark and receive the greatest protections.  

Arbitrary marks are the second most distinctive category of mark and include words that have alternative meanings, but only meanings in contexts unrelated to the goods or services being sold. These include Apple computers, Lotus cars, and Bicycle playing cards.

Suggestive marks are less distinctive than Fanciful and Arbitrary marks, but still considered sufficiently distinctive to receive trademark protection, though registration may be more difficult.  Suggestive marks imply a quality or characteristic of the good or service the mark is used in connection with. Some examples of suggestive marks would include: Microsoft, a portmanteau of microprocessors and software; ChapStick, for a stick-shaped balm used on chapped lips; and Netflix, which is suggestive of an internet-based video service. 

Descriptive marks simply describe the goods or services being offered and are, therefore, not distinctive. In some cases, however, descriptive marks can acquire distinctiveness and achieve a “secondary meaning” as a source-identifier through long-term use (usually +5 years), heavy advertising, or pervasive adoption. Examples of Descriptive Marks would include: International Business Machines (IBM Computers); Best Buy retail stores; and Sports Illustrated magazine. 

Generic marks are terms that broadly identify the product or service being offered. Generic marks are so non-distinctive that they are not eligible for trademark registration, even if secondary meaning can be shown. The idea is that these marks are so fundamental to the product that it would be detrimental to consumers and the marketplace to allow a brand to have exclusive use of the term in connection with the goods. “Escalator” and “Dumpster” were once brand names but, because they were used widely to refer to all mechanized stairways and trash receptacles regardless of manufacturer, they lost all trademark distinctiveness.

Parody Does Not Apply – Avoid Famous Brands

A surprising number of cannabis companies have used trademarks that reference or parody famous brands. Gorilla Glue, Girl Scout Cookies, and many others have been used as names for cannabis products.  Companies have used packaging that resembles well-known products such as Life Savers and Sour Patch Kids. This is a bad idea. While this practice seems to be increasingly limited to unregulated markets, a recently published (and ill-advised) application for the mark and logo MCWEED for apparel shows that not everyone has received the message:

Registration and Scope of Protection

Some trademark rights are established as soon as a trademark is used in commerce. But to obtain the full scope of legal protections available, trademark owners must register their marks, preferably federally. Federal registration stakes a claim to a nationwide priority date, increases protections available, increases potential damages, and embodies a definities property that can accrue value.

All trademark registrations begin as applications. Trademark applications must, among other things, identify the mark, the applicable dates of use. Applicants must also describe the goods and/or services the mark is (or will be) used with and select one or more classes from an international menu of product classifications. The classes selected and the description of the products can greatly affect the scope and validity of a registration, so it is important to consult with an experienced trademark attorney.

These applications are examined by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to ensure they meet the statutory requirements. Typically, the USPTO completes examination within about 6 months, but currently the office is experiencing some delays and it is commonly taking 7-10 months for an application to be evaluated. If the examining attorney identifies any problems, they may issue rejections, to which the applicant will have an opportunity to respond.

If the USPTO approves the application, it will be published for 30 days (expandable to 180 days) to allow other trademark owners to oppose registration of the mark. Sophisticated trademark owners can set up alerts to be notified when any similar applications are published that may be concerning. At the close of that period the mark is recorded in the federal register and the trademark registration is complete. 

A qualified trademark attorney can help guide you through the process and provide counseling concerning how to maximize your chances of registering your trademark without prejudicing your rights. Trademark application fees run $250-$350 per class of goods or services and a trademark attorney will typically charge a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on their experience and the level of pre-application clearance. While trademark mills and self-guided applications are available, there are many pitfalls to avoid while preparing and prosecuting a trademark application, and applicants should be wary of attempting to navigate the process without legal guidance.

Applicants should also be aware that many companies mine the USPTO database to send unsolicited offers to trademark applicants. While these offers can look official and typically include some deadline to respond, they are usually scams. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to have an attorney review any correspondence relating to the trademark application to ensure that no important correspondence from the USPTO is missed.

Embrace the Zone of Expansion

There are a lot of benefits to registering trademarks, but registration is not available in all instances. Under federal law, registrations cannot be issued that cover goods or services that are federally illegal. But the same mark can be registered for other, legal products, and the trademark rights will extend to a reasonable “zone of expansion,” covering products that the trademark owner could reasonably branch out to in the future. This allows a brand owner to obtain the benefits of federal trademark registration and use it to provide some umbrella protection for their cannabis brands.

One option is to sell branded accessory products, such as apparel or smoking accessories, for which a trademark registration will pass muster. It is debatable, however, whether cannabis products are within the zone of expansion of t-shirts.  

Another option is to develop one or more low-THC hemp products under the same brand as high-THC cannabis products. At least one case is already working its way through the courts where a trademark owner is claiming that cannabis edibles are within the zone of expansion of a line of hemp-infused, low-THC edibles. Edible IP, LLC and Edible Arrangements, LLC v. MC Brands, LLC and Green Thumb Industries, Inc., (Case No. 20-cv-05840). Though that approach is also not without its pitfalls, as discussed below.

A final option that every cannabis company should consider is state trademark registration. State registration requirements are typically governed by state law and, therefore, state trademark registrations can often be obtained for cannabis products. State registrations are more limited than federal registrations, but can be a powerful tool in the current landscape of cannabis IP.

Products with CBD Can Be Trademarked, But You Can’t Trademark “CBD” Products

Companies that produce hemp products do not have the same problem with federal illegality as companies with high-THC products. Federal registration is available for trademarks that are used on hemp and hemp products. However, as most hemp companies should know, the advertising of cannabidiol or “CBD” is regulated by the Federal Drug and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”), 21 U.S.C. §§ 321(g)(1), 331(d) and 355(a). Because CBD is the active ingredient in an FDA-approved drug (Epidiolex®), the FDCA prohibits marketing CBD products (absent a New Drug Application or Abbreviated New Drug Application). Though that may change. As of now, however, the USPTO will refuse to register marks that identify the goods as “CBD.” In re AgrotecHemp Corp., Serial No. 88979905 (issued Feb. 10, 2022) (finding that PUREXXXCBD for plant extracts should be refused registration).  

Notably, the AgrotechHemp decision went further than previous USPTO decisions in that it also criticized the issuance of registrations for marks used on products “derived from hemp.” This may signal a crackdown on all hemp-related registrations, or it may be limited to registrations that explicitly identify the goods as containing “CBD.”

Where’s the Value in Trademarks?

It may come as no surprise that brands can be incredibly valuable assets. In some cases, a company’s brand can make up a significant portion of its balance sheet and brand-centric companies can fetch a premium when they are acquired, known as “goodwill.” Increasingly, specialized lenders are even willing to use secured IP as financing collateral. Nonetheless, the real value for many trademark owners is non-monetary.

When many people think about intellectual property, they recall headlines of jury verdicts with huge damages that can reach into the billions of dollars. The reality is that, absent intentional copying, trademark cases rarely result in large-dollar awards. More often, successful trademark suits result in an injunction preventing further infringement and some relatively minimal damages. The primary value of trademark rights is the ability to control your brand and how consumers perceive your brand in the marketplace. Trademark rights give you the tools to define your brand as a unique identity and preserve that identity in an increasingly crowded industry.

 

Video: NCIA Today – Thursday, March 24, 2022

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff.  Join us every other Thursday on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

Member Blog: Trends in Cannabis Technology – Data Mining And Compliance

By Joshua Gilstrap, e2b teknologies

Cannabis businesses are looking for the best practices to enhance operations, with a primary focus on optimization and growth. So whether you are in the cultivation, production, manufacturing, or selling and marketing section of the cannabis industry, you need technology to steer your business into the future.

The cannabis industry is still growing, albeit faster than anticipated, with an increasing demand for products that continue propelling innovation. Data is driving this innovation because it’s the differentiating factor for long-term success and sustainability. 

Today, cannabis is a $25 billion business in the U.S. In fact, the 2022 Leafly Jobs Report found the legal cannabis industry supports 428,059 right now, a 33% increase over the 280 new jobs created per day, on average, last year.

We know all of this because of data, and it’s a critical decision-making factor in this industry. Without access to real-time information, cannabis companies can’t know where to invest or improve to remain competitive and compliant. 

Here are the top 4 data and technology trends transforming the cannabis industry to keep in mind.

Laws and Regulations Software

Cannabis compliance is one of the most challenging yet vital factors to consider in the cannabis industry. Government mandates demand that cannabis companies provide cultivation, production, shipping, and sales information to help monitor the entire distribution process.

This makes sense because lack of transparency in other industries has caused several crises, like the vaping crisis or the romaine lettuce E.coli outbreak of 2019. But collecting, tracking, and monitoring data is challenging for businesses, so is understanding the government regulations and ramifications.

With the emergence of cloud-based cannabis software, cannabis companies remain updated with these tight data restrictions. This software collects the appropriate data and analyzes business operations by checking the right boxes to ensure compliance.

With these industry-specific software solutions, cannabis businesses can establish and implement a standard of operations that comply with cannabis regulations. As an added benefit, these solutions offer convenient avenues for cannabis employees and business owners alike to understand the rules and regulations of the industry. Some also provide security against potential threats like cybersecurity threats.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

Cannabis plants usually require significant attention and fixed schedules because of their temperamental nature. As such, AI and ML are taking effect in the cannabis industry. Machine learning gathers data and provides suggestions on what farmers can change in the growing process.

The detail in machine learning makes it possible to collect, monitor, and track the growing cycle every hour, meaning cannabis farms use machine learning to improve these plants’ growing environment significantly.

For instance, farmers are using agricultural sensors to manipulate the growing environment to suit the needs of the cannabis plants. This is achieved by connecting the environment to growing systems with humidity sensors and controls, thermostats, and temperature controls.

These sensors ensure that cannabis is continually growing in optimal conditions. As such, the products cultivated continue to be of high quality. 

Also, the machine learning sensors and tracking IDs make it easier to track cannabis products from seed to sale.

Artificial intelligence then automates these processes to make the entire growing experience easy for cannabis farmers. For instance, AI helps to automatically control the humidity levels as per the settings given by the farm moderator.

AI also automatically changes the light in the growing room since it affects the temperature needed for the plants to grow optimally. This continued innovation and adoption of AI and machine learning in the cannabis industry will lead to increased crop production and reduced manual labor.

Hybrid Cloud-Based Storage

Video data is a significant investment in the cannabis industry right now. Some government regulations outline the need for cannabis companies to have immediate access to video surveillance footage and on-demand. This need is driving the demand for storage spaces for the video footage.

While many cannabis businesses store data on-site, it is unpredictable and expensive. This is where hybrid cloud-based storage technology comes in. The technology is enough to hold video data until it is needed, like in the case of a cyberattack and the subsequent investigation.

It also gives cannabis businesses the choice to store data on-site and in the cloud. This enhances the flexibility, accessibility, and security of business files. Cloud platforms also make it easier to access business information from any location.

Blockchain Technology

Traditionally, the cannabis industry is a cash transaction industry, especially in dispensaries where the majority of the cannabis sales take place. Additionally, many cannabis businesses find it challenging to work with banks since most aren’t legally allowed to work with companies in the industry.

There is also the matter of making secure payments and tracking transactions successfully. In a word, the cannabis industry is adopting blockchain technology for cryptocurrency payments and transaction tracking.

Blockchain is secure, and it has processes that make it easy to track and monitor transactions. But because using blockchain as an alternative to traditional payments methods is a relatively new trend, there is still the challenge of getting cannabis companies to agree on solutions that can standardize the trend.

In conclusion

Every business industry is now leveraging data by defining connections between the different data points and gathering actionable insights on processes. As such, you can optimize, strategize, plan, report, and identify problems using business data.

You can also better understand the consumer using data insights like your consumer consumption preferences. As such, data is crucial for determining where to invest, improve, and remain competitive and compliant in the cannabis industry.

FAQs

What is the future of the cannabis industry?

The future of the cannabis industry is very bright… The cannabis industry is expected to grow by about 20 to 30 percent every year to a value of $50 billion by 2026. 

How is technology influencing the cannabis industry?

Technology is propelling the growth of the cannabis industry quickly. Cannabis businesses use innovation and technology to identify downtime in workflows, streamline processes, and identify opportunities for success and growth.

What is the role of data in cannabis manufacturing?

Data is critical for improving all the cannabis processes from seed to sale. Decisions driven by data significantly improve the quality of the cannabis operations from cultivation through to marketing, sales, and customer satisfaction. As such, data is now an integral part of cannabis manufacturing.


Joshua Gilstrap is the Marketing Manager for e2b teknologies, in addition to his marketing responsibilities Joshua leads business development for e2b teknologies emerging Canna Suite product line. A business graduate with a focus in marketing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, he joined the e2b team in the Fall of 2019. Josh brought with him a wide array of business and practical experience in planning and execution. Since coming aboard he has led multiple project’s including website hosting and theme standardization company wide, marketing automation streamlining the efficiency of the customer journey, and sales automation where he is changing the conversation from promotion to education, from pitching to catching, and from push to pull in order to keep up with the shifting tides of a digital transformation.

Member Blog: FDA Cites Multiple Violations for Selling CBD as Supplement, Food, Cosmetic, or Animal Food Ingredient

by Gisela Leon, MS, MBA, Independent Consultant, EAS Consulting Group

The FDA’s position on the use of CBD in dietary supplements and foods is steadfast. In 2021, five warning letters about CBD-containing dietary supplements and foods went out – three based on website reviews and two based on facility inspections. All cited violations relate to pain relief claims. The products are therefore unapproved new drugs. Two warning letters emphasize the FDA’s position that CBD does not meet the definition of a dietary supplement, from which it is excluded due to the authorization for investigation as a new drug. 

In November 2019, the FDA published 15 warning letters in a “catch-all” effort regarding cannabidiol products. The products range from articles sold as dietary supplements, conventional foods, cosmetics, and animal food. The FDA sent out the 15 warning letters to companies in a number of states, including California, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Oregon, New York, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, and Kentucky based on the content of websites and social media sites. This was not the first time the FDA had sent warning letters regarding cannabidiol [CBD]. The first seven CBD warning letters were issued in March 2019, so attentive manufacturers could have been aware of t the FDA’s position and that enforcement actions might be taken.

In the 2019 warning letters, the FDA states that CBD in products sold as dietary supplements does not meet the definition of dietary ingredients in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (321(ff)(B)(i)(ii)). This provision clarifies that a dietary ingredient cannot be a substance that has been approved as an active ingredient in a drug. The FDA has confirmed that CBD is an active ingredient in the approved drug Epidiolex. 

Products containing CBD and sold as conventional food often worry the FDA even more, because they are often advertised for toddlers and infants. FDA clarified that CBD does not have an authorization as a food additive. Food additives need to be pre-approved by the FDA and there is no such regulation for CBD. CBD also is not a GRAS substance. This is based on the FDA’s review of publicly available data, which shows that CBD is potentially harmful and may cause liver injuries and interact with other drugs. Furthermore, studies in animals have shown that it might impair sexual behavior in males.

Similarly, the FDA states in relevant warning letters that CBD is an unapproved new animal drug because of the disease claims. The products are also adulterated animal foods because there is no animal food additive regulation that authorizes the use of CBD and there is no basis to conclude that CBD is GRAS for use in animal foods.

Besides the illegal status of CBD as a dietary ingredient, the warning letters regard the products as unapproved new drugs, because they claim that CBD cures, mitigates, treats, or even prevents diseases. Most warning letters are very long because the manufacturers cite numerous diseases for which CBD might be helpful. CBD is often depicted as a “cure-all.” Some of the popular disease claims involve pain relief, anti-inflammatory, diabetes, acne, anxiety, depression, and cancer. For example, one warning letter cites 45 diseases. Simultaneous to being unapproved new drugs, all products are regarded as misbranded drugs. 

Most 2019 warning letters were signed by three FDA compliance directors from Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Center for Veterinary Medicine, and Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. In some of the earlier warning letters, the FDA also involved FTC – Federal Trade Commission – because of unsubstantiated claims. Both agencies are concerned that some of the efficacy claims may not be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

There are clearly more than 27 companies in the market selling CBD. My thought is that the FDA has picked some of the worst offenders with respect to claims to establish impressive examples. Throughout the years in articles and press notifications, the FDA has always stated the regulatory position that CBD does not meet the definition of a dietary ingredient. This position has been challenged by industry and is a controversial topic. Some plaintiffs’ lawyers have initiated class-action lawsuits on the basis that clients were harmed by buying an illegal product and paying too much for it. It appears that the FDA is currently only enforcing against CBD products with disease claims. So far, the FDA has not written warning letters solely because a dietary supplement uses CBD. All of the mentioned warning letters could have been written to any dietary supplement making obvious disease claims.

So, what can be learned from the FDA’s actions? The first and most important step for manufacturers would be to “clear” all web pages, social media pages, and third-party referrals of disease statements. A second approach should be to not use CBD as a food ingredient or as an animal food ingredient. As a regulatory strategy, this may buy some time until the controversy about the legality of use in dietary supplements is clarified. For dietary supplements – in a conservative regulatory approach – a next step could be not using CBD as a dietary ingredient, because it is an approved drug. 

A possible alternative legal ingredient is a full spectrum hemp extract which contains all hemp components – not just isolated CBD. Hemp-derived ingredients are eligible for use as dietary ingredients by virtue of being “botanicals.” However, hemp-derived substances must submit a New Dietary Ingredient notification 75 days prior to first marketing the hemp supplement. A less conservative regulatory approach for dietary supplements could be to wait and see what the FDA decides under the pressure from industry and consumers. Hopefully soon, the FDA will clarify the legality of use in dietary supplements.


Gisela Leon brings in over 33 years of experience in international labeling. She is well-experienced in USA labeling requirements of food, dietary supplements and cosmetics, in European food laws and multi-language labeling. As a regulatory consultant, she focuses on a concise review process, having reviewed hundreds of labels for U.S. compliance and helped international products to come into compliance with U.S. regulations. Her international labeling background allows her to point out differences or similarities with other countries.

After receiving her Master’s degree in Food Technology Engineering, Ms. Leon received her DGQ Audit-Specialist Certification from the German Institute for Quality, and her Master’s in Business Administration from George Mason University. For over 20 years she worked at Schöller Lebensmittel GmbH & Co KG as Director of Quality Management and Labeling Compliance. Ms. Leon speaks English, German, and French.

EAS Consulting Group, as part of the Certified Group of companies, merged with Food Safety Net Services, (FSNS), to become the global leader in testing and regulatory solutions for the FDA and USDA regulated industries. 

EAS’ network of 200 independent advisors and consultants enables us to provide comprehensive consulting, training and auditing services, ensuring proactive regulatory and quality compliance for food, dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics, tobacco, hemp and CBD.

The merger of FSNS (FSNS.com) with the Certified Laboratories group of companies, (certified-laboratories.com), has created a leading, national testing  and regulatory consulting  platform. EAS can assist with your regulatory and quality requirements and challenges, while offering access to a robust scope of testing services to meet your organization’s sophisticated needs. 

From regulatory strategy, auditing, training, FDA inspection preparation, 483 & Warning letter remediation, quality system implementation, labeling compliance, preparation of technical submissions such as GRAS, Food Additive Petitions, DMFs, NDIs, 510(k)s and more; to FSMA compliance, expert witness services and due diligence assessments, EAS offers the expert knowledge and experience your company requires to ensure compliance through accurate and timely assistance. With our vast expertise in FDA’s and USDA’s policies and enforcement, EAS is the proven choice for assistance with product testing and other regulatory and quality consulting solutions. easconsultinggroup.com 

 

Member Blog: 5 Must-Have Features for Your Cannabis eCommerce Website

by Gary Cohen, Cova Software

As the cannabis industry goes mainstream, eCommerce is increasingly becoming a necessary part of cannabis retail operations. But with a plethora of dispensary eCommerce solutions available, not all of these can help you build an online presence. With intense competition in cannabis retail, there are some things that you must not compromise on as a dispensary owner. The following five must-have cannabis eCommerce features will help you grow your dispensary business, differentiate yourself from competitors and establish yourself as a formidable brand in the online cannabis space. 

Independent eCommerce Platform

When deciding how to sell cannabis online, retailers can either use a third-party marketplace or have their own eCommerce website. Using a marketplace may be the easier option, but in the long run, you will certainly benefit more from owning an independent eCommerce platform. Having your own cannabis eCommerce website gives you complete control over the design, product information, and branding, unlike a third-party marketplace that offers little room for customization. Another valuable benefit of an independent cannabis eCommerce platform is that you can market it directly to online visitors and existing customers and build brand loyalty.

Data Ownership For Building Relationships

To market your online cannabis platform directly to your target demographics, it’s essential to have access to their contact details, which is not possible when you use third-party marketplace platforms. With an independent eCommerce platform, you will not just own your website but also all customer information and other relevant data to help you create innovative marketing campaigns and offer a more personalized online customer experience. Through email marketing and loyalty program communications, you can keep your customers regularly engaged with your brand and grow your business by building long-lasting relationships.

Mobile and SEO-friendly Website

These days, consumers regularly use their smartphones to search the web and make online purchases. Hence, your eCommerce website must function properly not just on desktops but mobile devices as well. You must avoid using an iFrame embedded menu, employed by many third-party marketplaces, as Google won’t crawl or index your website. To ensure that your online cannabis store is discoverable, use an advanced native eCommerce solution that aids in building SEO authority. If your chosen solution offers the ability to create content, you can also capitalize on SEO best practices to improve the flow of organic traffic to your website.

Age-Gating and Compliance Features

If you’re selling products online that have legal age restrictions, then an age-gate on your website is a must. This is not just a compliance requirement, but it also demonstrates your commitment to not exposing cannabis to minors. Many regulatory authorities in the U.S. and Canada are mandating more robust online age-gating measures beyond a simple “Are you 21+ yes or no” pop-up, and it’s essential to choose a solution that offers the functionalities for you to comply with the laws. Your cannabis eCommerce store also must-have features that allow for compliance with legal purchase limits and any other online regulations within your state or province.

Integration with POS and Cannabis Ecosystem

Most importantly, your chosen eCommerce solution must integrate seamlessly with your POS system for efficient inventory management, transactions, and payment processing. Ensure that you are using an advanced cannabis POS system that syncs with leading cannabis tech ecosystem solutions so that you can streamline your online business and maintain a recurring revenue stream from it. For a seamless shopping experience, your customers should be able to browse the website, place an order, pay online and request for pickup or delivery.


Gary Cohen is the CEO of Cova Software, the fastest growing technology brand in the cannabis industry. Cohen’s focus has been driving the company’s overall strategy, including its vision, go-to-market plan, and strategic development. Since joining the cannabis industry in 2016 and launching Cova commercially in 4q17, Cohen has led Cova to dominate the enterprise sector for dispensary Point of Sale, while forging client relationships with hundreds of single-store retailers across North America.

With Cova’s cannabis POS and its excellent integrations with eCommerce and delivery services, the online order automatically pops up for the budtender to tender the sales, and the POS system updates inventory once payment is approved. Cova offers multiple eCommerce solutions to choose from, as per your needs and budget, and you can legally sell cannabis online stress-free while staying compliant with strict government regulations.

 

Allied Association Blog: Cal NORML Fights Ongoing Discrimination That Hurts Cannabis Businesses in California

By Ellen Komp, California NORML

Assemblymember Bill Quirk has introduced two bills sponsored by California NORML in this year’s legislative session that address ongoing human rights issues that are stumbling blocks for industry.

A pair of online surveys being conducted by California NORML is finding that up to 33% of respondents have been denied employment due to testing positive for cannabis, 19% have been denied prescription drugs by their doctor due to cannabis use, and up to 60% have stopped using cannabis because of drug testing by their employer or doctor.

This means as many as half of businesses’ potential customers aren’t buying cannabis products in California because of current laws. In addition, many Californians report they are underemployed because of their cannabis use, giving them less purchasing power at cannabis retailers. 

The first bill to remedy this situation is AB 2188, which would end discrimination based on cannabis metabolites testing by California employers.

Testing or threatening to test bodily fluids for cannabis metabolites is the most common way that employers harass and discriminate against employees who lawfully use cannabis off the job. Cannabis metabolites are the non-psychoactive substances that can be detected in a person’s bodily fluids (mainly, urine and hair) for up to several weeks after they have consumed cannabis. 

Testing positive for cannabis metabolites has no scientific value in establishing that a person is impaired on the job. When employers use cannabis metabolites tests to discriminate against employees or prospective employees, they are most likely discriminating against people who consumed cannabis when they were not at work.

Five other states (NV, NY, NJ, CT & MT) have passed laws in recent years protecting adult-use cannabis users’ employment rights, and 21 states protect those rights for medical marijuana users. Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Atlanta also protect the rights of workers in their cities who use cannabis. 

As in other states, the proposed California bill has exemptions for employers who are required to follow federal drug-testing mandates. Assemblymember Quirk’s bill does not bar employers from requiring that employees not be impaired on the job, and it does not prohibit other forms of testing, such as performance-based impairment testing or testing for THC, which may establish that a person has consumed cannabis in the past several hours. 

Studies have shown that off-the-job cannabis use is not positively associated with elevated rates of occupational accidents or injuries, and that liberalized cannabis laws are associated greater labor participation, lower rates of absenteeism, declines in workers’ compensation filings, and higher wages.

The cities of Oakland and San Francisco have passed resolutions in favor of the employment rights bill’s language, and Cal NORML has been busy reaching out to unions and other stakeholders for support.

The second Cal NORML-sponsored bill to benefit California cannabis consumers — and the industry — is AB 1954, which seeks to protect the right of patients to medical treatment if they use medical cannabis, and the right of physicians and clinics to treat them. 

Many physicians are under the mistaken impression that they can’t prescribe medication to patients who test positive for cannabis. The Quirk bill would clarify that physicians cannot be punished for treating patients who use medical cannabis, notwithstanding its illicit status under federal law.

A great many studies have shown cannabis is effective for pain and can help patients reduce their use of opiates. Cal NORML’s survey shows that 24-30% of respondents have increased their use of opiates or other medications due to drug testing by their doctor or employer. With an opiate overdose crisis continuing to affect California, we need to end policies that drive patients to use more dangerous and addictive drugs. 

In Cal NORML’s membership polling, we have found that tax reduction is the #1 issue among our members. We are following and acting on 30-40 bills this year, including the various tax reform bills and other business-oriented proposals that have been introduced in the CA legislature this year, from a consumer rights standpoint.  

Cal NORML has begun a Capital Campaign aimed at cannabis companies who do business in California to take us over the finish line on these important bills in 2022. We also offer business memberships with many perks, including discounts on NCIA memberships. We are always interested in hearing from our business members on how we can work together for cannabis consumers’ rights in California. 


Ellen Komp is the Deputy Director of California NORML. Founded in 1972, Cal NORML is a non-profit, member-supported organization dedicated to reforming California’s marijuana laws. As the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, we lobby lawmakers, promote events, publish newsletters, offer legal and consumer health advice, and sponsor scientific research. Check out our website at www.CaNORML.org

 

Member Blog: 9 Standard Operating Procedures Every Dispensary Should Have

by Tommy Truong, Director of Partnerships at KayaPush

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are the documents, protocols, systems, and procedures that your cannabis dispensary should have in place to manage day-to-day operations.

SOPs help dispensaries in many ways: From optimizing proper employee management systems such as dispensary payroll and onboarding to ensuring compliance with regulations are consistently met, and more.

What are the top dispensary SOPs to use?

There are hundreds of dispensary SOPs that could be created, and they should constantly be evolving as your store grows.

Overall the goal of dispensary SOPs is to increase efficiency and help you become more profitable in the long run. That being said, these are the 9 types of dispensary SOPs we recommend you start with as you build and scale your dispensary store. 

1 – Opening & closing procedures and SOPs

All brick and mortar retail stores should have SOPs in place for opening and closing the store. But especially stores that require high-security measures like cannabis retail stores.

Opening and closing checklists for this special breed should include the following:

Opening checklist: 

  • Vibe check: Turn on lights, music, temperature, put out signs, clean.
  • Check for any signs of a break-in or forced entry every morning. 
  • Make sure that all products in the display and stores are accounted for. 
  • Put away any orders.
  • Review inventory.
  • Turn on and start up all software systems.
  • Ensure you are in dress code (if applicable) 

End of day checklist:  

  • Check that the security cameras are working.
  • Lock all the doors and display cabinets.
  •  Check and report any obvious security threats/ logbook. 
  • Generate sales and compliance reports. 
  • Cash-out protocols. 
  • Closing the cash registers and POS system.
  • Turn off lights, music, bring in signs.
  • Clean and sanitize the store. 
  • Lock all doors and perform security checks.

2 – Customer check-in procedures and SOPs

Many cannabis dispensaries violate their customer check-in procedures and end up facing fines and license suspensions by regulators. Due to this, it is crucial that you implement customer check-in SOPs to ensure compliance. 

Customer check-in procedures include: 

  • Proper budtender training on protocols beforehand.
  • Screen every customer entering the store to ensure they are of legal age.
  • Ensure customers have a valid license to purchase cannabis.
  • Scan the customer’s ID to make sure it is genuine and valid.
  • Check the customer’s age, and enter these details into your customer database or tracking system.
  • Check the system to ensure the customer has not already gone over their purchasing limit at a different store.
  • Follow proper serving protocols.

3 – Sales transaction process and SOPs

Sales transaction processes are crucial to the business because this is how the company generates its revenues. Keeping track of these is key. Do you have the following sales SOPs?

Sales transaction processes could include:

  • Greeter procedures (first customer contact), 
  • Boxing and packing procedures.
  • Cashier procedures.
  • Answering customer product questions.
  • Recording product sales information into tracking systems.
  • Recording shipping information.
  • Processing various forms of payment.
  • Gathering sales tax to submit.

It would help if you integrated your SOPs with the technology you’re using, like cannabis-compliant POS systems.

4 – Delivery procedures and SOPs

Cannabis deliveries can get complicated as they tend to include strict guidelines around logistics. This is why it’s essential there are SOPs built around these logistics. 

Delivery procedures could include:

  • Packaging and shipping guidelines with regards to the different types of products. 
  • Procedures in place to pack and mark fragile deliveries — like glass bongs — clearly to ensure safe delivery. 
  • Details and SOPs around third-party deliveries. 
  • Sop’s around management tools or software. 
  • Inputting data into the tracking software or POS system. 
  • Proper accounting and documentation of the aforementioned. 

5 – Security, accounting, and cash management protocols and SOPs

Cannabis retail stores face many challenges when storing and moving cash from the store to the bank. Since dispensaries are not legal at the federal level in the United States of America, they are limited in the services they can receive from banks. As a result of those limitations, dispensaries struggle with large amounts of cash being stored on the dispensary’s premises, so tight SOPs surrounding how to navigate these challenges are crucial.

Security and cash management protocols could include: 

  • What employees are allowed in sensitive areas like stores and cash safes.
  • How long to keep security camera recordings and how to report a robbery.
  • How often armored trucks can pick up cash. 
  • Who gives the cash to the trucks. 
  • How the cash is stored while at the dispensary.
  • Who is keeping track of accounting and line items? 
  • Who is keeping track of inventory management? 
  • How are taxes being filed and accounted for, and by who?

6 – Track-and-trace & inventory management and SOPs

Track and Trace SOPs are important for every cannabis dispensary. In order to comply with the regulations, you have to adopt track and trace SOPs into your inventory management system. 

These track and trace SOPs should cover:

  • Inventory management processes like procurement.
  • Transportation to store.
  • Product transfers.
  • Audits. 
  • Track and trace software procedures that comply with local regulations.

Given how important track and trace SOPs are for compliance, you should automate this process if possible. Track-and-trace automation software can help you define the roles for each activity and integrate compliance checks.

7 – Quality assessment SOPs.

Quality assessment SOPs will make sure your product is up to the required standard by the regulators and that you are not violating any laws over what ingredients can be included in your products and how they are made. Failure to comply with these SOPs or pass a quality assessment could leave a dispensary owner at risk of losing their license.

Quality assessment SOPs could include: 

  • Purchasing products from verified sellers.
  • Ensuring products are tagged within tracking systems.
  • Ensuring you are selling products that you can legally sell within your geographic location.
  • Product feedback requests.

8 – Product recalls and emergencies and SOPs

Product recall SOPs will come into play when a defective product needs to be recalled from the market. This can be stressful for the team as it will lead to customers complaining, and management concerned about losses being recorded. One of the most valuable assets to have in this situation would be SOPs that guide your team on how to act in this situation without losing their cool or professionalism. 

Recall SOPs could be: 

  • How /who contacts purchasers.
  • Who is on top of product updates (do you have a compliance manager?).
  • Product recall script.

9 – Employee Management SOPs

Previously, these SOPs have been focused on inventory and store management, however, managing your staff is another large part of any dispensary operation.

When managing your staff it is recommended that you use employee management software to alleviate the stress of manually running operations such as dispensary payroll, scheduling, onboarding, or time clock adjustments

Using software alone can eliminate the need for some of these SOPs but if you do choose to go the manual route you should have SOPs for the following procedures.

Employee management SOPs could be:

  • How do you onboard employees? 
  • Who manages their forms and licenses?
  • Who writes and manages the schedules? 
  • How do employees swap shifts?
  • How do staff clock into shifts? 
  • How runs payroll?
  • How are staff paid?
  • How are taxes paid? 
  • How are employees’ performances reviewed, and by who? 

Conclusion 

These are the major SOPs that we believe you should have in place before opening or scaling, but don’t forget that enforcing them is just as crucial as implementing them! 

The best way to run a compliant, systematic, and streamlined dispensary is to use great technology to help you succeed!

Consider using a project management tool to help you stay on top of all your tasks, a people management solution for payroll, HR, time tracking, and scheduling, and a dispensary POS solution that integrates with track and trace technology and people management solution for the best results. By using the tools paired with standard operating procedures your dispensary is sure to succeed. 


Author Tommy Truong is the Director of Partnerships at KayaPush; the cannabis software helping dispensary owners manage their employee HR, scheduling, and payroll. KayaPush also integrates with leading dispensary POS systems. Tommy loves hot sauce, fried chicken, and running with his Boston terriers. 

Member Blog: Will 2022 Be the Year for Cannabis Consumption Lounges?

By Eric Rahn, Managing Director, S2S Insurance Specialists

Key Questions & Considerations for Those Looking to Ride the Next Big Wave 

In the ever-evolving and fiercely competitive cannabis industry, consumption lounges (a.k.a. social or smoking lounges) are generating big buzz. Innovators and proponents for their legalization see it as a prime opportunity to better compete in a saturated market, attract new customers and grow market share. Opponents throw up a heap of red flags, including drugged driving, crime, and the health risks associated with smoke exposure.

Whether this new retail business model blows up in 2022 or not is anybody’s guess. Nevertheless, our industry must prepare for this next big wave in cannabis consumption. As an insurance broker who specializes in the cannabis industry and works with a wide variety of cannabis, hemp, and CBD businesses in every state where marijuana laws are established, we’ve done a deeper dive into the opportunities, and risks versus rewards for businesses looking to ride the potentially next big wave in cannabis. 

The Opportunity

The concept of a cannabis consumption lounge is nothing new, really. Similar to a bar that serves alcoholic beverages, consumers at least 21 years of age can not only purchase flower, edibles, etc. from a budtender but also consume these products in a social gathering place. Amsterdam’s “coffee shops” serve as the inspiration and model for cannabis innovation in the U.S. In the Netherlands, however, coffee shops operate in a legal grey area with their products being supplied by an entirely underground cultivation market. Of course, here in the U.S., the burden falls on individual states since marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. 

Analysts predict cannabis consumption lounges will be a budding business in states where recreational and/or medical marijuana is legal. This emerging business model is particularly attractive to states with more mature cannabis laws, like California and Nevada.  Alaska became the first U.S. state to allow consumption lounges in 2019 and Nevada is the latest to announce plans for the first state-sanctioned lounges by mid-2022. In all, seven states including the aforementioned, as well as New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, are forging ahead with their plans to allow for consumption lounges in 2022. These states will likely serve as a blueprint for other states as their popularity grows. 

Risks versus Rewards of Cannabis Consumption Lounges 

State regulatory bodies are grappling with how to develop, implement and enforce the rules surrounding social consumption lounges. For example, what will the laws around consumption lounges look like? How will business mitigate the myriad of risks? From an insurance perspective, will there be a need for new products? Should coverages be similar to Bar/Restaurant/Lounge insurance (DRAM Insurance), as both types of businesses face similar risks? 

They will also need to carefully address questions and concerns about public health implications. Could public consumption spaces cause people to over-consume? Will there be limits on how much cannabis a person is allowed to consume at a lounge in one visit? What is a “single serving” of cannabis anyway? These are all questions surfacing to the top.

Many see the potential benefits of licensed social consumption lounges as ways to curb the illicit market, regulate public consumption, ensure consumption in a safe space and bolster the economy. A “Designated Consumption Establishment License” is particularly attractive to entrepreneurs looking to enter the cannabis market, but aren’t interested in growing, processing, or operating a traditional dispensary. Furthermore, cannabis consumption lounges are particularly attractive for their potential to attract tourism dollars. The masses of tourists buying cannabis products in states that have legalized recreational marijuana have nowhere to smoke it legally — not on the sidewalk and not in their hotel rooms. 

What Lies Ahead?

In order for the cannabis industry to continue to thrive and expand, new retail models must be considered. We believe it is highly likely that social consumption lounges will become increasingly common, especially in major U.S. cities with legal adult-use cannabis programs. 

If you’re thinking about opening a cannabis consumption lounge, it’s important to stay on top of your state’s specific laws since they do vary from state to state and are likely to change and evolve. It’s equally important to make sure you have the right insurance policies in place. Many insurance companies have exclusions in their policies that prohibit onsite consumption, meaning your lounge would not be covered if an unexpected event like a theft, fire, data breach, product defect, accident, or any other type of lawsuit occurs. It’s important to examine your current policies and make adjustments, if necessary. It all boils down to the THREE P’s: being “Proactive, Prepared and Protected.” 


Eric Rahn, Managing Director of S2S Insurance Specialists, is a highly specialized insurance broker and risk management professional with over 30 years of experience providing C-Suite executives strategies and solutions that protect and safeguard their businesses.

A graduate of Babson College School of Entrepreneurial Studies, Eric has held several executive positions in the maritime and casino/gaming industries, including CEO of the largest privately own casino concessions company operating on cruise ships around the world. Eric transitioned his knowledge of corporate business practices in highly regulated industries into the burgeoning cannabis space, establishing S2S Insurance Specialists in 2017.

Eric has served on the National Cannabis Industry Association’s (NCIA) Risk Management Insurance Committee since 2016. He is also a national speaker on cannabis insurance and author of NCIA’s Risk Management and Insurance’s “Introduction into Cannabis Insurance.”

 

Member Blog: Expanding into New Cannabis Markets

by Jennifer Spanos, VP of Product and Vertical Strategy at CannaBusiness ERP.

According to Grand View Research, Inc., the global legal cannabis market is expected to do two things: Reach USD 70.6 billion by 2028 and expand at a CAGR of 26.7% from 2021 to 2028. Support for federalizing cannabis and increased sales—during a global pandemic and a recession—have transformed the cannabis industry’s status as that of a relative newcomer into that of a seasoned player. As new markets begin to emerge, cultivators and processors are eyeing the possibility of becoming multi-state operators (MSOs).

Which states look promising for cannabis company expansion, how do they go about doing it, and what part does cannabis business software play in the process? The answers are provided in Cannabis: Guide to Expanding Into New Markets.

The Who, What, Where and When of Expanding in New Cannabis Markets

Anyone ready and willing to take on the complexities of a cannabis-related business is welcome to do so. However, there are challenges. Investopedia provides a list of these challenges, including (but not limited to) competing against other more established industries, such as alcohol and tobacco, that are joining the fray; facing the stigma of selling, producing, and distributing a newly legalized drug; and complying with the differing laws on legality, use, distribution and growth in states.

If someone is ready to take the plunge, the guide offers a list of 10 states MSOs should focus their attention on, such as Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania. It also highlights the pros and cons of each state’s legalization efforts. For example, here’s what it says about New York, which legalized adult-use cannabis this year:

“With adult-use cannabis officially legalized in the state as of March 2021, the New York market is predicted to be one of the biggest to watch for over the next few years. Sales in the state are expected to begin in 2022 and huge growth is expected in both the recreational and medical cannabis markets.”

For existing large-scale cannabis companies, these states represent expansion opportunities. To expand, they need to get a new license or acquire an existing cannabis company. Or do both. 

However expansion occurs, challenges and benefits exist. For instance, a challenge for companies securing new licenses is the need to set up brand-new operations and production processes. 

Even if an MSO is successful in another market, rules around taxes, packaging, and serial numbers vary from state to state, so new business practices will likely have to be built from the ground up,” the guide notes. “On top of this, MSOs vying for new licenses will also need a mother plant, seedlings, equipment, people, and more to get the business off the ground.

A benefit for companies going through the acquisition route is that they are acquiring a company that has licensing in place and has established processes for state rules and regulations.

Irrespective of expansion benefits and challenges, cannabis companies looking to successfully manage their businesses must implement cannabis business management software.

The ‘How To’ of Successfully Expanding Into New Markets 

With cannabis ERP software, MSOs can juggle multi-site, multi-company, and multi-state requirements. But, as the guide cautions, they need to realize that not all ERP solutions have the width and depth of functionality that is needed to support MSO expansion. MSOs’ research and evaluation process should lead them to a full-scale, true ERP software solution that operates as a single, unified system.

The right cannabis ERP software provides finance, operations, and seed-to-sale capabilities. Here are some featural highlights to consider: 

  • Costing
  • Compliance reporting
  • Recall management
  • Inventory control
  • Multi-company features
  • Traceability
  • Robust Business Intelligence (BI) functionality

MSO cultivators and processors also should look for cannabis software that is flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of an expanding business, implementing only the features they need for their business now. As an MSO expands, such as adding a cultivation operation or purchasing an edibles manufacturer, the cannabis software’s built-in functionality will make it a seamless endeavor.


Jennifer Spanos is the VP of Product and Vertical Strategy at CannaBusiness ERP. She has 14+ years of experience in cannabis and food manufacturing software and operations, working to maximize the efficiency and profitability of customers’ businesses.

CannaBusiness ERP is a solution built in Sage X3 and delivered by NexTec industry experts. Over the past 25 years, their ERP and business process experts have helped organizations across North America streamline business operations and lower costs. Specializing in developing solutions for the cannabis cultivating and processing industry has resulted in some of the most respected cannabis companies around the world managing their day-to-day operations and delivering products off of the CannaBusiness ERP platform. CannaBusiness ERP by NexTec is the go-to answer for cannabis cultivators and processors seeking a software platform built to help you grow.

NexTec’s CannaBusiness ERP is the specialized solution for cannabis companies looking to grow. Contact us today to learn more about it. We’d love to chat.

Learn More About the Cannabis Industry and Cannabis ERP Software

To learn about the pros and cons of federalization and how to manage compliance, company-wide integration, product quality and consistency, operational efficiency and unorganized data, download the free Cannabis: Guide to Expanding Into New Markets  or listen to the recent webcast, Facing Cannabis MSO Challenges with ERP. 

 

 

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