Member Blog: 6 Key Strategies to Succeed in Cannabis Retail

The cannabis industry has seen significant growth in North America since the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada in 2017. Currently, medical cannabis is legal in 37 US states, while 21 states allow its recreational use. As the cannabis retail industry matures, there are opportunities galore for entrepreneurs, but not every cannabis business will thrive. Opening a dispensary can be a profitable venture, but many businesses also fail because they don’t necessarily follow the secrets to success outlined in Cova’s whitepaper on why some cannabis retailers fail. To grow and flourish in this highly competitive industry, one must follow the following six key strategies used by successful cannabis retailers.

Use Cannabis Retail Data

Successful cannabis retailers leverage data analytics to inform their business decisions. They track inventory metrics such as top-selling categories and products, profit per product, inventory aging, inventory turnover, and shrinkage. These metrics help them buy and stock the right merchandise mix, optimize operations, and reduce capital locked in cannabis inventory.

With AI-powered data analytics, cannabis retailers can collate customer data, including product preferences, eCommerce search history, shopping patterns, and spending habits, and design more successful marketing and engagement strategies to increase sales.

Maintain Strong Relationships

Building good relationships with the community and customers is extremely crucial for success. This includes educating the community about safeguards in place at your dispensary and steps taken to keep cannabis out of children’s hands. Your budtenders must listen to customers and communicate effectively to elevate the customer experience and build brand loyalty.

Employee loyalty is equally important, and they must be treated well. Employee retention promotes deeper product knowledge and stronger customer relationships. Profit-sharing plans at your dispensary can also create a sense of ownership, which encourages everyone to invest more heart and soul into the business.

Manage Finances Efficiently

Effective financial management is essential for the success of any cannabis retail business. This includes budgeting for unexpected circumstances and avoiding common pitfalls, such as failing to research market conditions or regulatory changes. Successful retailers anticipate market conditions and adapt strategically to any industry changes rather than following others or discounting products heavily.

Modern technology can help you make wise business and financial decisions. You can monitor your costs, sales, and profit trends at a glance with the best dispensary management software. If you need a complete financial outlook, you can integrate your cannabis POS with a financial tool such as QuickBooks online or an ERP system.

Optimize Dispensary Operations

Operational efficiency is critical in the cannabis retail industry. Successful retailers invest in advanced technology to simplify operational processes, maintain compliance with regulations, and avoid common failures, such as internet outages, power interruptions, and system crashes. 

A POS system with offline mode can prevent sales from stopping when the internet is down and sync inventory information when it comes back online. Automation in seed-to-sale tracking eliminates human error and catches compliance problems that can lead to license forfeiture. Invest in sophisticated technology to coordinate order fulfillment and inventory while maintaining a consistent customer experience across all your sales channels. 

Curate Great Customer Experiences

Providing excellent customer experiences is vital to the success of cannabis retail businesses. Successful retailers educate their customers about the products and listen to their needs. They also ensure the safety of customers, especially in high-crime areas, by implementing appropriate security measures.

As consumer behavior evolves, dispensaries are increasingly providing their customers the convenience of buying cannabis online. Also, offering cashless dispensary payments will increase your overall revenue and profits, as most consumers have become used to contactless payments and don’t necessarily carry cash on them these days.

Have a Strong Brand Vision

Having a clear business plan and brand vision is essential for the success of your cannabis retail business. This includes avoiding common pitfalls and adapting to industry or regulatory changes. Successful retailers navigate market fluctuations and master dispensary operations to achieve their goals and support their local community.

In conclusion, the cannabis retail industry offers significant opportunities for entrepreneurs willing to navigate the challenges and risks of strict regulations and compliance requirements. Download Cova’s e-book, “Why Some Cannabis Retailers Fail and The Secrets of Those Who Succeed”, to learn more about applying the principles and best retail practices to grow your dispensary business.

Gary Cohen is the CEO of Cova, the most trusted cannabis POS brand in North America. Having met with nearly 2000 dispensary operators from coast to coast, he leverages expert knowledge to offer cannabis retailers the support they need to get a license, pass inspection, launch a store, assess tech tools, and scale operations. Gary leads seminars on retail technology, compliance, business operations, and cannabis banking laws at the industry’s largest events including NCIA, CannaCon, and MJBizCon.

Member Blog: From Hazy to Clear – Incorporating Data in your Cannabis Business

by Leah Spokojny, Chief Revenue Officer, BDSA

In today’s hyper-competitive cannabis landscape, a data-driven culture can make all the difference. Those who leverage data can confidently estimate the total addressable market, evaluate risk and opportunity, track performance, and execute against opportunities. From day one, cannabis businesses should strive to incorporate data into operations to make more informed decisions, problem-solve effectively, and understand the cannabis consumer and what drives their purchase decisions. 

Leveraging Experience vs. Data

Some may look to experience and boots-on-the-ground exposure as justification for not investing in data, which brings up an important question: what’s more important – experience or data? We say both. Having either without the other puts your business at a great disadvantage.

Data provides a concrete base to view and understand a situation without the bias of anecdotes or squeaky wheels. However, data can also be interpreted in several ways for any given context and can take you off course if you aren’t looking at the “right thing”. Experience and instinct overlayed with that data is the key to success. 

Let’s unpack some key questions that data can support and where to find data.

Use Cases for Data in the Cannabis Industry

We would be hard-pressed to find many examples of business applications for which you can’t find value in leveraging data. The following are some of the common business questions that data can and should support:

  • Fundraising – What is the size of my total addressable market (TAM) and opportunity to capture market share? 
  • Pricing Optimization – How should I price given the existing competitive and economic landscape? 
  • Assortment & Purchasing Planning – What products should I make or carry? 
  • Revenue Forecasting & KPI Tracking – What are my revenue goals and how can I track milestones and growth? 
  • Consumer Insights – Who is my target consumer and how do they make their product decisions?
  • Sales Operations – How can my sales team be more effective?
  • Marketing Metrics – How can I maximize the return on investment (ROI) of my marketing spend?
  • Budtender performance – How can I track and incentivize my top-performing budtenders?
  • Increase grow yields – How can I increase the efficiency and effectiveness of my grow operation?

If you’re asking yourself a question about how to optimize an area of your business, there is almost certainly data available to guide confident decision-making. 

Types of Cannabis Data

So you may be asking, how do I get my hands on data? The good news is that data is available for every budget (including no budget) and at every stage of business development. The challenge is identifying and extracting the right data to support your goals and pulling out the insights in a way that makes sense to your target audience – whether that be your customers, partners, investors, or your own team. In other words, the value is not just in the data itself, but what you can do with it. 

  • State Provided Data
  • Informal Observational Data
  • Market Retail Sales Data 
  • Point of Sale Data
  • Consumer Insights Data
  • Wholesale Data
  • Market Forecast Data
  • Availability and Pricing Data
  • Marketing Data

Context is everything – framing up the data

When citing a data point, would you consider 50% a lot or a little? It depends on the context. A data point generally represents an unanalyzed figure, it only means so much as an independent number. However, once you add context, you may unpack a compelling story. 

For example, if evaluating a cannabis product category market share, consider some of the following: What size is the total market? What other categories have more or less share? Is the category growing or shrinking? What time frame is being referenced? 

Then, diving deeper into more granular data affords you visibility into WHY. For example, why something might be shrinking so you can address the root cause issue, or why an opportunity is worth investing in. This insight that is derived from the data is where you are likely to find the greatest ROI from data.

By leveraging data and insights, businesses can optimize their operations, identify growth opportunities, and improve customer satisfaction. In the fast-paced and constantly-challenged cannabis industry, companies that rely on data to drive decision-making are better equipped to succeed, adapt to changing market conditions, and remain ahead of the competition. 

Headquartered in Louisville, Colorado, BDSA helps businesses improve revenues, reduce innovation risk and prioritize market expansion with accurate and actionable cannabis market data, consumer research, and advisory services. The company provides a holistic understanding of the cannabis market by generating insights from point-of-sale data, market data, consumer research, and market forecasts. To learn more, please visit

Learn more about NCIA and BDSA’s partnership.


Member Blog: Hydrocarbon v. Solventless – Which is Better?

by Jessica McKeil, cannabis writer for Agrify

The cannabis industry regularly pits solventless extraction against hydrocarbon extraction. Across social media and online forums, the debate ranges in both directions. But with a global cannabis concentrate market hitting $1.7 billion USD in 2022 (Market and Research), it’s clear that no single extraction technology is driving this remarkable growth. 

Instead, a variety of extraction techniques, including solvent-based and solventless, allow producers to navigate an ever-evolving landscape and pivot as needed in response to consumer demands and market prices. 

Rather than asking if hydrocarbon or solventless is the better option, it makes more sense to consider both extraction technologies together as a total, harmonious strategy.

Limitations of a Single Extraction Method

According to BDSA, the top three influences over consumer purchasing decisions are high THC content, taste and flavor, and, finally, low price point. When we apply these considerations to the world of cannabis concentrates, no extraction technique captures all three. 

These often conflicting consumer demands layered with other industry influences mean that choosing a single extraction technology to apply across all markets is impossible, especially if long-term growth is the goal.

A new market may prefer the low price points and high THC offered by hydrocarbon extraction. A mature market may demand better flavor and allow for the premium pricing of solventless extracts. But there are nuances within even these basic assumptions. Investing in a single extraction technology will limit your ability to scale and survive in an always-evolving marketplace. 

Let’s look at the limitations of hydrocarbon extraction. There is an initial barrier to entry thanks to the significant capital expense for not just equipment, but the buildout of extraction booths, and the requirement for highly skilled staff. Additionally, hydrocarbon extraction is an incredibly competitive category, especially in newer markets. While you’ll have the flexibility to process just about any biomass, it’s more challenging to differentiate by quality to capture a premium price point.

Solventless extraction has lower upfront costs and also eliminates the need for highly skilled engineers, architects, and even the fire marshall inspection required for hydrocarbon facilities. But solventless only works with high-quality flower and a limited spectrum of genetics. Should harvest quality not meet expectations, solventless extractors have little recourse to recoup costs. Plus, not all markets can bear the premium price point of rosin extracts.

Limitless Production: Harmony of Solventless and Hydrocarbon 

Cannabis, as a global commodity, is unsurprisingly seeing consistent upward growth. Yet the fluctuations within each product category and each regulatory market are much more challenging to predict. No matter what state we look at, consumer tastes evolve, regulatory and taxation burdens change, and available biomass quality remains highly variable. 

A dual approach to cannabis extraction with solventless and hydrocarbon technologies guarantees flexibility and offers a type of production insurance to weather ongoing market volatility. 

First and foremost, having both extraction options on the table allows brands to make real-time production decisions in response to the available biomass and whether or not price, high THC, or flavor is driving sales. 

If high-quality flower is available and the market can bear the premium price point, solventless is the definitive choice. As per BDSA Retail Sales Tracking, “Rosin’s share of dabbable dollar sales has grown significantly in mature markets (CA, CO, OR, MI, IL), from 8% in January 2021 to 16% in October 2022.” Even in markets with price compressions, solventless can help secure market share.  

But, not all markets are ready for high-priced premium extractions, Illinois being a primary example. Despite its relative maturity and the recent numbers from BDSA, the uniquely high flower prices mean that rosin concentrates are priced out of reach for most consumers at roughly $120 per gram. In this case, it may make more sense to focus on selling quantity rather than selling premium quality, which is where hydrocarbon offers a smart alternative. 

Hydrocarbon is also a winning strategy for dealing with lower-quality biomass. No matter the quality of the input, provided the extraction process is controlled, hydrocarbon extraction in combination with distillation is an effective crop insurance. 

Hydrocarbon extraction is more versatile than its solventless counterpart, allowing for a wider variety of finished products. It’s possible to create an entire range of products, including shatters, waxes, resins, sauces, and more. Plus, hydrocarbon-extracted crude oil is more easily formulated into consumer packaged goods like edibles and vape carts

Building production around a dual-extraction strategy, combining solventless and hydrocarbon techniques, is a proven approach. The industry’s leading multi-state operators, including Curaleaf, Trulieve, and Viola Brands, to name a few, have already broadened their SKU portfolios to offer both hydrocarbon and solventless products. This has allowed them to adapt successfully to changing consumer tastes, market conditions, and other influences, no matter where they operate.

Jessica McKeil is a cannabis writer for Agrify based in British Columbia, Canada. Her focus on cannabis tech, scientific breakthroughs, and extraction has led to bylines with Cannabis & Tech Today, Terpenes and Testing, and Analytical Cannabis, among others. She is the owner and lead-writer of Sea to Sky Content, which provides content and strategy to the industry’s biggest brands including Agrify.

Agrify includes extraction brands Precision Extraction and PurePressure, which provide extraction technologies to help producers create the products customers want. From planning and equipment to installation and training, they help operators build out flexible, nimble extraction strategies geared toward long-term viability.

Precision Extraction offers best-in-class hydrocarbon extraction, ethanol extraction, distillation, and lab equipment plus vacuum ovens by Cascade, along with extraction lab rooms, pods, and design services for any size operation. PurePressure encompasses solventless extraction, from industry leading rosin presses to hash washing equipment and consumables.

Together, Precision Extraction and PurePressure by Agrify offer the full array of options needed to nimbly navigate the volatile cannabis market—no matter operator size. For more information visit or


Committee Blog: The Benefits of Partnering with a Security Provider and What to Consider When Choosing One 

By Casey Mitchell, Vector Security
Member of NCIA’s Facilities Design Committee

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, security has become an increasingly important concern for consultants and business owners. From seed to sale, the cannabis industry faces a unique set of security challenges including permitting and compliance,  systems design, theft, and inventory loss.  

Add to these challenges a myriad of state laws and regulations that need to be followed.  But, if you partner with the right security vendor, they can help you navigate regulations to make sure your business is compliant, as well as offer detailed security plans that  integrate with your business goals. 

Below are some benefits an experienced security provider can offer cannabis  consultants and business owners, and tips on how you can choose a partner that’s right  for you: 

Dedicated Team with Experience in State and Federal Regulations

An important factor to consider when choosing a security provider is their experience in the cannabis industry as well as security as a whole. How long has the company been in business? Do they have a team dedicated to the cannabis industry? How well-versed are they in cannabis laws and regulations? Do they provide comprehensive support from seed to sale? Look for a security provider that has a dedicated cannabis team that understands the regulatory landscape. 

Permit Application Support and Permit Drawings 

One of the most challenging aspects of the cannabis industry is permitting and design.  An experienced security provider can review your state application to verify regulations  are met in order to maximize your score. They should be able to provide the narrative  for the permit application related to your security plan. Consider if they are able to  design a comprehensive security plan showing location of devices, rough-in, power  requirements, standard operating procedures and network requirements. Look for a  security partner that provides these services, and inquire if these services are free or if  there is an additional charge. 

Trade Coordination 

There’s a lot of moving parts that go into getting a cannabis business up and  running…and even beyond. A good security provider can coordinate with builders,  construction companies, power companies/utilities, architects, and other partners for  streamlined deployment of systems.

Enhanced Security and Asset Protection 

Cannabis businesses tend to deal with large amounts of cash and valuable products that make them a target for internal and external theft, as well as other security threats. An experienced security integrator can design, install and implement a comprehensive security plan that includes video surveillance, access control, panic buttons, and monitored intrusion and fire alarm systems. Make sure your security provider can offer a range of products and services that will protect your business and your staff during and after business hours. 

Alarm Monitoring 

An essential part of security is protecting inventory from internal and external theft as  well as environmental threats like fire. Rapid response and quick emergency dispatch are key should an incident occur. Look for providers that offer 24/7/365 in-house alarm  monitoring, redundant communication capabilities, and ask if their monitoring centers  are U.L.-listed. They should also have false alarm protocols in place so your business can  avoid costly fines associated with false dispatch. 

Increased Operational Efficiencies 

Working with a security provider can help cannabis businesses increase their operational efficiencies. For example, with a comprehensive security plan in place and a  security partner that can proactively advise on best practices, you can focus on running your business knowing that your people and product are protected. Additionally, video analytics can supply valuable data and reporting to help you optimize operations such as identifying areas for improvement, opportunities for growth or additional employee training; spotting violations to help avoid compliance and permitting infractions; and analyzing traffic patterns to maximize store layout performance and ensure adequate staffing during peak business hours. 

Access to the Latest Security Technology 

The security industry is constantly evolving with new technology being developed to address emerging threats. Working with a security partner gives cannabis consultants and businesses single-source access to the latest products. By leveraging these advanced technologies, you can stay ahead of potential threats. Choose a security vendor that has well-established relationships with trusted equipment manufacturers.  Your provider should be able to offer curated devices that integrate with each other and that can be controlled via a single platform, such as a mobile app, so you can control all aspects of your security system anytime, anywhere. Some security providers even have dedicated in-house product teams that continually source and evaluate the latest technologies. Consider how your provider stays on top of new trends and technologies. 

Ongoing Service and Support 

Even if your business is operational, you’ll still benefit from the ongoing support an  experienced security partner can provide. If the security vendor provides a single point  of contact, it’s easier to schedule service, inspections, monitoring, and other critical 

needs, ensuring your facilities remain fully functional. Ask if your security partner provides post-installation service and support including ongoing testing and inspections  to remain compliant with the authority having jurisdiction. 

Whether you’re a cannabis consultant or a business owner, look for security providers with industry experience; permitting, compliance and design expertise; customized security solutions; reliable alarm monitoring; and cost-effective solutions. By choosing the right security partner, cannabis businesses can mitigate security risks and ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.

Casey Mitchell is an enterprise account manager for Vector Security’s dedicated cannabis solutions team. He has more than 22 years of experience designing security and communications systems for the U.S. Department of Defense and other highly-regulated industries, like cannabis. 

Member Blog: How to Navigate the Cannabis Payment Landscape in 2023

With the recent crackdown on cashless ATMs in the U.S. for cannabis payments, dispensaries have been scrambling to find alternatives to this banking system. As more consumers nowadays prefer to pay by credit or debit cards, or another form of digital payment, dispensaries must offer convenient forms of making payments to their customers. But until there is federal legalization in the U.S., the cannabis payment landscape will continue to be marred by complications. This complete guide on cannabis payment processing can help you navigate the hurdles better and set your dispensary up for success with the best digital payment solutions. But continue reading for some quick tips on handling cannabis payments in 2023. 

Reduce Cash Transactions and Risks

Cash may still be king in the cannabis industry, but it comes with many risks. And in this highly regulated industry, compliance must remain the priority for dispensaries. Cash also limits your ability to retarget or upsell to customers. By reducing cash transactions, you can avoid the following risks:

  • Cash theft by robbers, employees, or customers.
  • Mistakes in daily cash counts and accounting.
  • Inventory compliance issues due to untraceable cash.

Encourage the Use of Digital Payments

With digital payments, instant reporting capabilities give cannabis retailers a better understanding of business performance. Also, providing customers with a modern and convenient shopping experience is a competitive advantage in the cannabis industry. There are significant advantages to encouraging the use of digital payments:

  • Improved dispensary experience for customers.
  • Increased safety and security for everyone.
  • Easy Banking, Tracking, and Reporting.

Maximize the Benefits of Going Cashless

The most important benefit of going cashless is that you’ll see a massive increase in sales and revenue. When a customer is not limited by the amount of cash on their person, they always tend to buy more, and budtenders are better equipped to upsell. Most dispensaries using cashless payment solutions witness:

  • Minimum 25% increase in average transaction value.
  • Increased customer loyalty and retention.
  • Overall improved operations with data insights.

Choose a Compliant Payment Solution

There are quite a few cannabis cashless payment solutions out there, but not all can provide you with the enhanced safety, security, and compliance needed for cannabis retail. Ensure that you choose a multichannel payment solution that integrates seamlessly with your cannabis POS and complies with all laws and regulations. A dispensary cashless payment solution must offer the following:

  • PIN Debit Payment: The most compliant solution.
  • ACH Electronic Transfer: No-cost direct payments.
  • Integration with loyalty and gift card programs.

Implement Cannabis eCommerce and Delivery

To provide customers with the most convenient and efficient way to purchase cannabis products, dispensaries should also consider implementing eCommerce and delivery services. This allows customers to browse and buy products online, with the added convenience of home delivery. Implementing such services also helps reduce cash transactions, as customers can pay digitally if you have a compliant cannabis payments solution. 

  • Set up an eCommerce website by using a cannabis-specific eCommerce platform that integrates seamlessly with your POS system.
  • Use cannabis-specific delivery software to set up compliant delivery services or outsource to third-party delivery companies.
  • Dispensaries must have a robust digital payment system that complies with all regulations, which can only be achieved by using a cannabis-specific payment processing system that integrates with your eCommerce platform and POS system.

Bonus Tips

Here are a few more tips for navigating the cannabis payments landscape:

  1. Consider implementing a loyalty program to encourage repeat customers and increase sales.
  2. Ensure that your payment processing system can handle high volumes of transactions to avoid delays or downtime.
  3. Stay up-to-date with the latest regulations and compliance requirements for cannabis payments to avoid any legal issues.
  4. Offer multiple payment options to customers, such as debit and credit cards, ACH transfers, and mobile payments, to provide greater flexibility and convenience.


The cannabis industry is rapidly evolving, and dispensaries must adapt to the changing payment landscape to remain competitive. By reducing cash transactions, encouraging digital payments, and implementing cannabis eCommerce, dispensaries can offer customers a convenient and safe way to purchase cannabis products while complying with state and federal regulations.

Offering the convenience of digital payments increases dispensary profits, enhances the customer experience, and elevates your dispensary business beyond the limitations of cash only. With a truly transparent and compliant cannabis cashless payment solution, you can facilitate faster check-out at your dispensary with simple, frictionless, and secure digital payments. Dive into Cova Software’s free cannabis payments processing guide to learn more. 

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.

Committee Blog: VPD Topics for Cannabis Cultivation and Opportunities to Reduce Facility Energy Costs

by NCIA’s Facilities Design Committee

Indoor cannabis cultivation facilities are complex environments, where a large number of variables interact to create an ideal ecosystem to grow cannabis. The upside of an indoor facility is it allows a year-long growing climate, optimized for each stage of the plant grow cycle. The downside, however, is creating this ideal climate is very energy-intensive.  

There are three (3) main types of precision cooling equipment offered in the cultivation space. Those are Air Cooled DX, Water Cooled DX, and Chilled Water Units. DX stands for direct expansion systems. The immediate and most noteworthy difference between these systems is that DX units cool air using refrigerant, and Chilled Water units cool air utilizing chilled water. A DX unit uses refrigerant-based cooling and cools indoor air using a condensed refrigerant liquid. Typically, the decision regarding which cooling source is better for a cultivation facility is usually driven by the size of the cooling plant as well as other unique site conditions. Selecting the right HVAC system for your cultivation facility can be a challenging process driven by many factors, however this is beyond the topic of discussion for this article, it should be noted that the following analysis assumes an Air Cooled DX based system.

The total energy costs for indoor cannabis grow operations typically vary between 25%-50% of total operating costs (or approximately 150-200 kWh/sq.ft). In comparison, energy use in a typical commercial building environment is approximately 25 kWh/sq. ft. As indoor cultivation facilities increase, they can be a source of strain on electrical grids. A recent study showed indoor cannabis cultivation alone accounted for 4% of the energy grid usage in Denver. (IEEE, 2020)

With that context, any areas we can identify to improve energy efficiencies without introducing a negative impact to the grow environment can have enormous bottom-line impacts for cultivation owners and society at large. 

In this article, we are going to be examining two ways we can optimize HVACD systems to improve energy efficiency. When HVACD systems are designed for grow facilities, the primary variables we are looking to influence are the following psychrometric properties: temperature (either wet or dry bulb) and relative humidity. Mechanical engineers will often refer to an information-packed graph called a psychrometric chart shown below.


This chart helps to visualize the relationships different properties of air like temperature, humidity (relative and absolute) and dew points along the saturation curve have with each other. This is useful to analyze, as these are direct inputs to a scientific measure often favored by growers called Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD).

Vapor Pressure Deficit, simply described, compares these variables to determine how much additional room for water vapor there is in the air. This is important as it determines how readily cannabis plants can transpire. Controlling transpiration rates help to aid in healthy, robust growth through the plant life cycle. Growers tend to want lower VPD, and thus lower transpiration, early in plant maturity, and increase to higher VPDs, and thus high transpiration, at the flowering stage before harvesting.


So we know a successful indoor cultivation facility HVAC system will need to control temperature and humidity to ensure the desired VPD values. How can we do that efficiently?

Stand-Alone Dehumidifiers Are Inefficient

A cannabis plant can transpire up to 99% of the water absorbed through its roots. Due to this, we often tell people that designing an indoor cultivation facility is like designing a data center with a swimming pool inside. Because of the increased humidity introduced from plant transpiration, we must pay special attention to dehumidification strategies within the grow space. Humid air requires treating significant latent loads in the grow space, requiring additional energy to remove moisture from the airstream. This is one reason HVACD systems can consume up to 50% of the energy budget in a cultivation facility. As previously mentioned, higher humidity levels will lower the VPD in the room, preventing a plant from transpiring effectively to continue healthy growth. To combat this, sometimes stand-alone dehumidifiers are added into the grow room.

While these units can do the job of removing moisture from the room, it is a very energy-intensive process. One of the issues with stand-alone dehumidifiers is that they reject heat back into the grow room, thereby adding additional cooling load onto the main HVAC equipment. 

Integral Hot Gas Reheat System

An air handling unit, sometimes called an air handler or AHU, is a piece of equipment that is used to condition and circulate air as a component of a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system. 

The air handler is usually a large metal box that contains a blower, heating and cooling elements, filter chambers, sound attenuators, and dampers. It then connects to ductwork that distributes the conditioned air throughout the space before returning it back to the AHU.

Of particular interest are the units cooling coil and reheat coil. These two components are namely responsible for controlling VPD levels in our grow space. In an AHU equipped with Integral Hot Gas Reheat, the cooling coil serves as a dehumidifier, by cooling the air thereby reducing its moisture/latent load (we recommend considering capturing this water for treatment and reuse: read more here). The hot gas reheat capability utilizes heat from grow space and compressor heat to reheat the air before returning to the grow space (without using additional heating energy).

While this may seem like a minor design change, it results in a considerable reduction in energy. As the chart below illustrates, leveraging Integral Hot Gas Reheat units can result in a 30-35% reduction in HVACD energy when compared with other dehumidification systems. Additional automation capabilities built-into these systems will ensure that the grow room will remain tightly controlled within the desired state points of your grow room to optimize VPD.


This reduction in energy quickly adds up to reduced utility bills. Despite marginally higher upfront costs as compared to standard HVAC equipment coupled with standalone dehumidifiers, this option results in a lower 5-year system cost than common HVACD systems installed in cultivation facilities, and these savings will only increase over time.  

Maintaining Consistent VPD, but at higher Temperature / Humidity Ranges

The second energy-saving measure we would like to discuss goes back to the earlier discussion of VPD. Recall the equation for VPD is

V P sat – V P air = VPD

This is important, as it provides growers the flexibility to fall within desired VPD ranges, but at higher temperature and humidity ranges than typically used. Many growers target grow room setpoint temperatures around 72-75F and limit relative humidity to a maximum of 50 percent, but by allowing slightly higher room setpoint temperatures of 76-82F, with corresponding relative humidity increases, we can create identical VPDs at higher setpoint temperatures. The cost-benefit of this small adjustment is considerable. The HVAC system (including cooling and dehumidification) can be sized at roughly 20-30% smaller capacity, reducing the owner’s up-front equipment costs. In addition, the system’s energy consumption and costs during operations will be significantly lower, to the tune of 30-40%. In a theoretical 30,000 square foot facility, this could result in $1,125,000 savings in the first 5 years.


The case for a hybrid greenhouse, using VPD controls

Another way of growing instead of full indoor, is a highly efficient, sealed greenhouse. It is designed to maximize sunlight inside the growing environment, meaning energy used for lighting is dramatically reduced. And because it is sealed, energy-efficiency is maximized, as leakage is kept to a minimum. In order to make this work, these greenhouses need to be hybrid (using insulated walls and glazing) and the orientation and design play a bigger role.

In this hybrid greenhouse environment, the growing space typically heats up as soon as the sun comes out, no matter the outside temperature. Cooling in this instance would increase the power usage vs. increasing the humidity to keep the VPD level in the same range. When the sun goes down, the opposite happens. The grow environment starts to cool and it would be expensive to try and keep the temperature up. 

In order to achieve VPD control, the control system needs to be able to variably adjust temperature and humidity, based on inputs like weather forecast, time of the day, day of the year, etc. Being able to control the grow environment by VPD level will significantly reduce the energy consumption for your HVACD system.


Member Blog: Payment Processing In The Cannabis Space

by Todd Glider, MobiusPay, Inc

There is a lot of confusion about payment processing in the cannabis space because payment processing is somewhat confusing to begin with, and because, in the cannabis space, ambiguity is a way of life. 

The title of this very blog post could, realistically, seem misleading to some. 

So, to be clear, when I say, “Cannabis Space,” I mean the entire industry — from plant-touchers (CBD included) to the ancillary businesses built up around it.

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill marked an exciting new chapter for the industry. Suddenly, CBD, or, more specifically, any ingestible cannabis product containing .3% THC or less by volume, was classified as hemp. And since it is marijuana, and not hemp, that is defined as a Schedule I substance under the United States Controlled Substance Act, the Farm Bill, technically, made products like CBD as legal as cow milk — federally, anyway.

The upshot of this new classification is that now, at least some players in the cannabis space can market their products to a national base of consumers and clients, and they can do so by accepting credit cards as payment. 

However, the myriad Acquiring Banks across the United States have not exactly jumped for joy at the prospect of providing credit card processing in the form of merchant accounts to CBD retailers. Reticence rules. CBD is considered high risk, and four years on, only a handful of them have thrown their hat in the ring. 

Jargon Alert I: Acquiring Banks and Issuing Banks

In merchant processing parlance, banks fall into two categories: Acquiring Banks and Issuing Banks. Acquiring Banks, or, Acquirers, provide merchant processing accounts to businesses wishing to accept credit card transactions. Issuing Banks, short for Card Issuing Banks, are banks that offer branded payment cards directly to consumers. For example, if your bank has ever offered you a Visa card, it is an Issuing Bank (not that it couldn’t also be an Acquiring Bank, too).

Jargon Alert II: CBD is ‘High Risk’

CBD is deemed high risk by the card associations (i.e., Visa, MasterCard, American Express), and when the card associations deem a product or industry high risk, most Acquiring Banks tap out. This is because financial institutions are, by nature, risk averse (subprime mortgage crisis notwithstanding). 

So let’s talk for a minute about risk. High risk, that compound term, is a truncation of a longer phrase: ‘Higher risk of fraud or chargebacks.’

Why are CBD products at higher risk of fraud? It’s impossible to say for sure since the Visas and MasterCards of the world are publicly traded companies with their own trade secrets and IP, but there are several characteristics unique to CBD, or any cannabis product now federally legal, that likely figured into that decision.

Those FDA disclaimers that CBD retailers must print or paste on all product packaging and webpages are as good a place as any to start. They are mandatory because none of the benefits assigned to CBD have been clinically proven. There just isn’t enough data or testing at this point, and no big story there. That’s what happens when you demonize a plant for 100 years.

Consequently, from the perspective of the FDA, and the card associations, by extension, consumers are making CBD purchases with baked-in expectations based, exclusively, on word-of-mouth advice and anecdotal data. That’s a recipe for dissatisfied customers. And dissatisfied customers tend to charge back transactions.

The card associations, and the banks who provide merchant accounts, worry incessantly about fraud and chargebacks. 

Too Close for Comfort

Dissatisfied customers aside, there are onerous legal nuances that make the prospect of boarding cannabis merchants, even those selling products that are federally legal, daunting for banks. 

Selling a product with .31% THC across state lines is felonious. It is a federal offense. Violating a law like that could get a bank’s charter revoked, or, at a minimum, result in massive fines. 

On the other hand, selling a product with .30% THC across state lines is 100% federally legal. As stated above, safe as milk, federally.

That is a heck of a distinction. If any product contains more than .3% THC by volume, it is ‘marijuana’ in the eyes of the federal government. From the perspective of the banks, that’s a little close for comfort. Furthermore, banks don’t operate laboratories. They must rely on testing data presented to them in the form of third-party lab reports — Certificates of Analysis or COAs for short — to verify that the products being sold are federally legal.

The last thing an Acquiring Bank wants to do is violate a federal law EVER. It could result in a loss of their charter, lawsuits, and massive fines. And it’s important to keep in mind that the Acquiring Banks out there offering merchant accounts to CBD retailers are not giant, publicly traded institutions like Bank of America or Wells Fargo. They tend to be much smaller, and therefore, have infinitely smaller war chests for court cases.

Still, separating the federally legal Tier I cannabis product from the federally illegal Tier I cannabis product should be pretty cut-and-dry. If the product you’re selling is .3% THC by volume or less, it is exempt from the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). If that threshold is documented in the product’s Certificates of Analysis (COA), you ought to be able to sell it.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. When bank underwriters look at percentages of Delta 8, Delta 9, and Delta 10 on the COAs that cross their desks, they’re frequently at sixes and sevens trying to figure the whole thing out. 

From the perspective of the 2018 Farm Bill, a cannabis product is hemp if it contains .3% Delta-9 THC or less by volume, but what everybody says is “.3% THC or less by volume.” Consequently, when the compliance officer at the bank is performing her due diligence by inspecting the COAs corresponding to each product, she may encounter a lot of crooked numbers, and she may blanch at the results.

Those results, often, look something like the following: 

00.195% D9-THC

52.475% d8-THC. 

Federally, the Delta-9 threshold is the only threshold that matters. The 2018 Farm Bill says as much, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California affirmed it in a ruling this past May. Therefore, in the example above, the Delta-9 threshold has not been crossed. It’s not even close. It is textbook HEMP, even if the Delta-8 threshold is off the charts.

However, if the compliance officer was provided the remit, “.3% or lower,” he’s likely to look at this and say, “Fail,” without realizing that the Delta-8 THC information is irrelevant as far as federal law goes. 

Complicating the underwriting further is the fact that there is, to date, no standard template for COA reports. Every lab presents them differently. Bank compliance officers rarely moonlight as scientists. Like most of us, these CBD COAs are probably the first lab reports they’ve looked at since high school chemistry.

Furthermore, the banks can set their own rules. They don’t have to board CBD merchants. Few do, and those few that do have their own standards and practices. 

Todd Glider has been an e-Commerce leader since the start of the Internet age. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Miami, and has served as CEO for small and medium-sized technology companies in Spain, Austria and the United States. As our Chief Business Development Officer, Todd introduces MobiusPay’s suite of award-winning financial services to new industries, and implements the development strategies and key partnerships needed to bring value to new customers.

MobiusPay, Inc. is a U.S.-based global financial services organization that is committed to empowering individuals and businesses. For more than a dozen years, MobiusPay has leveraged state-of-the-art secure billing technology, long-standing relationships with financial institutions and award-winning customer support to provide merchant processing and payment solutions to brick and mortar and digital businesses around the world.


Member Blog: 4 Budtender Onboarding Tips To Help Keep You Compliant

by Tommy Truong, KayaPush 

A recent survey by found that 55% of budtenders leave their jobs within the first year of employment.* But why? 

Some believe improper onboarding could be a culprit.   

First impressions matter – and improper onboarding can leave budtenders feeling underprepared and unappreciated. Moreover, budtenders who don’t receive proper compliance training might be terminated due to compliance infractions and could even be at personal risk for their errors. 

Luckily, by setting up solid budtender onboarding SOPs that put compliance first, you are more likely to keep great hires – and avoid compliance infractions.

The following information will help dispensary owners implement hiring and training strategies to increase retention, avoid compliance infractions, and simplify dispensary onboarding.  

1 – Look into legal before you hire.

Compliant onboarding starts with understanding your budtenders’ requirements to work at your dispensary.

Every state has unique requirements regarding background checks, legal age, and budtender certifications – so it is essential to research each of these elements before you begin the hiring process. 

Once you have established your hiring guidelines regarding legal requirements – you can take it one step further and set up an applicant tracking system that is customized to only reach out to applicants who qualify for your set terms. 

Using tools that automate these processes will make compliant dispensary hiring easy.

Social equity hiring initiatives in cannabis 

While we’re on the topic of hiring for your cannabis dispensary, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the importance of researching potential social equity programs for dispensary hiring opportunities. 

You can use these resources to find qualified social equity candidates for your dispensary based on the state in which you are located.

2 – Have an organized onboarding documentation process.

The next step to a smooth and compliant onboarding process is to know all the forms you need to provide and gather from your new hire. 

If you are an American business owner, the forms you will need to collect from your employee include:

  • W2
  • Criminal record check verification
  • 1-9 
  • State Tax Form
  • ID or Passport 
  • Social security information 
  • A void check 
  • A signed employer agreement 
  • Any certifications you have requested they acquire

The forms you will need to share with your new hire include:

3 – Use self-serve onboarding software. 

Business owners who don’t use employee onboarding software manage a lot of paperwork.

From chasing new hires around for signatures or documents – to figuring out the best way to store things – it’s a time-consuming headache, and it’s not ideal. 

With dispensary self-serve onboarding software, dispensary owners can eliminate 100% of their paperwork – and increase their compliance in many ways. 

Here’s how it works. When a new hire joins, a dispensary owner can share their onboarding link, where their new hire will upload digitized documents directly into the system for central storage. 

If any documentation is missing, the system will send a reminder to ensure they provide all the information needed for dispensary owners to stay compliant. 

4 – Provide compliance training for budtenders

Compliance training should be a critical part of the budtender onboarding process – but what does that mean? 

For budtenders, there are four main areas of compliance to master: How to sell products to customers and with a POS system, how to handle products, and overall regulations comprehension.

Selling products to customers training might include:

  • Learn how to greet guests in a compliant way 
  • How and when to properly ID guests
  • Knowledge of strains, potency, and effects
  • Understanding different types of products based on clients’ needs

POS training might include: 

  • Knowing how to input ID information 
  • Learning how to ring in products correctly
  • Understanding product limits per customer guidelines 
  • Knowing how to use and report sold products with a compliant POS 
  • Understanding the compliance factors behind customer loyalty programs and incentives

Product handling training might include:

  • How to properly package product 
  • How to showcase product
  • How to inventory product
  • How to handle products

Overall regulation comprehension might include:

  • Current cannabis laws in the state or city
  • Current compliant regulations 
  • Store opening and closing SOPs for compliance
  • Security SOPs for compliance 
  • How to use cannabis software tools for clock in’s and schedules.

What are other tips to stay compliant? 

Compliance is one of the most challenging aspects of running a cannabis dispensary – however, if you surround yourself with the right team, use cannabis software built for dispensaries in your state, and check in often on regulatory updates – you will be alright.

*(, 2022 An analysis of employee turnover in cannabis retail)

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

KayaPush delivers an 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: How to Prepare a Winning Dispensary License Application

by Gary Cohen, Cova Software

The cannabis industry has come a long way in the U.S. Although we still await federal legalization, many new states have recently jumped on the bandwagon, and legacy states are awarding more social equity licenses. While New Jersey and Mississippi will be opening their first dispensaries by the end of 2022, New York has started accepting applications for CAURD licenses from justice-involved individuals. But scoring high points on your dispensary license application can be challenging, especially with all the stringent requirements. Here are some quick tips to help you stand out and prepare a winning dispensary license application.

Follow your State Cannabis Authority’s Guidelines

Every state in the US has different guidelines and regulations for a cannabis dispensary license. Do a thorough review of all the information available on your state cannabis authority’s website, and keep a look out for when they will start accepting applications. Most states accept only electronic applications, and you will likely have to create an account online on a designated website and link your company’s official information. For an application to be deemed complete, a response to each criterion specified must be included, along with the required documents. 

Ensure You Qualify and Apply for the Right Category

To be eligible to submit a cannabis dispensary license application, you must reside in the state where you are applying or must be registered to do business in that state. Many states are awarding conditional cannabis business licenses to social equity applicants first or prioritizing applicants impacted by the war on drugs to build an equitable cannabis industry. If you qualify for any of these categories, ensure that you apply for the right one to expedite the processing of your dispensary license application. 

Connect with the Community Where you Plan to Operate

Some states require your dispensary to be located in the municipality you live in, and you will be awarded a license only for a particular zone. Community reach and impact are also criteria laid down by some cannabis authorities, and you must establish connections with not just local and state officials but also other people who can help you understand the bigger picture better. For example, New Jersey and New York want you to explain the positive community impact your dispensary business will have. If you don’t connect with the community, you won’t be able to align your vision with their needs in your dispensary license application.

Fortify Application with a Business Operations & Security Plan

After familiarizing yourself with the license requirements and structure, you must dive into how you can prepare the best possible application to score higher points on every measure. For example, to obtain a conditional dispensary license in New Jersey, 40 out of 100 points are for your dispensary business plan, and another 50 points are for a regulatory compliance plan. One of the most crucial aspects of this is a dispensary operations plan that you must include in your application. This plan helps authorities understand how your dispensary business will comply with all cannabis laws and regulations and ensure safe access to cannabis for your customers.

Compliance is the Name of the Game

The detailed plans included in your cannabis dispensary license application must also mention the technology provider you intend to partner with, and choosing a compliant cannabis retail platform will help you fortify your application further. Prepare a winning dispensary license application by downloading Cova Software’s free template, Dispensary Operations and Security Plan, which will serve as a comprehensive guide to writing a winning plan for a successful cannabis retailer license application.

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.


Member Blog: How Technology Can Ensure An Equitable Cannabis Industry

by Walter Moore, Cognitive Harmony Technologies CEO

The multi-billion dollar cannabis industry is coming to a town near you. With new states passing adult-use legislation every day, it’s only a matter of time before businesses begin opening their doors nationwide. 

In states such as New York, the first cannabis business licenses (CBLs) are being given to people who were impacted by the war on drugs and hemp farmers. The effort is a first-of-its-kind approach that is admirable in theory – a positive step toward righting the wrongs that have persistently and unfairly affected people of color – but still leave the door open for challenges in practice.

Simply put, the barrier for entry is too high for most individuals due to the complex and convoluted CBL application process. Between sifting through and submitting thousand-plus page documents and potentially spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a perfect, compliant application, new business owners are fighting an uphill battle against multi-state operators (MSOs) who have moved across the country as legalization opens state by state and have the process (and hundreds of thousands dollars needed to afford a dedicated application consulting firm) down to a science.

Legislators may have noble intentions in offering a head-start to people affected by the war on drugs in an effort to correct past wrongdoings and create a distribution of ownership that looks like the people most affected, but if the necessary regulatory framework of the application process is encumbered with more compliance to receive equity benefits, it will be even harder to complete a competitive application – leaving many potential new business owners without a license and the well-oiled machines known as MSOs first in line.

Not to mention the fact that the application process often plays out over years. States will frequently take half a year to review an application and only provide roughly 10 days to fix any deficiencies.

Technology is The Way

While the odds may seem stacked, the technology to close the gap exists and many CBL applicants are finding out how to compete against large MSOs and established players in the market. As someone who experienced everything that goes into the application process, and what is wrong with it, first-hand when I began my career in cannabis, I’ve realized that the only way to effectively compete is by working smarter. Through technology we can create greater access and a level playing field. 

There are several key areas where technology (i.e. “working smarter”) is already paving the way for true social equity while applicants embark on submitting a cannabis business license. Document generation, telepresence, language processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and augmented reality are among areas of interest that savvy CBL applicants can implement into their strategy. By normalizing standard operating procedures (SOPs) across verticals and jurisdictions, companies can provide contextual SOPs directly in front of a user with a simple QR code. Imagine a world where a dispensary employee can access SOPs directly from each piece of equipment or area of a facility with minimal effort simply by scanning a QR code with their tablet.

A Cannabis Industry for All

Laws that benefit a more equitable industry surely help, but in a new industry where the gap between the have and have-nots is already wide and growing rapidly, more steps need to be taken by regulators to eliminate the pay-to-play mistakes that have infested other state cannabis policies such as in my home state of Illinois. In Illinois, there wasn’t a fair cap on the number of CBL submissions for a company, leaving businesses with the most money with an opportunity to submit over 40 times and flood the application pool.

Thankfully, I’m pleased that regulators in New York and New Jersey are doing a better job in this regard, avoiding these unfair situations, but I foresee a highly political zoning situation in New York. Historically, companies that can afford to pay lobbyists and other influential people to get the deals and contracts done, are more successful. I’m not sure what short-term regulatory solution exists for this age-old, persistent issue. 

It’s encouraging to see the cannabis legalization movements around the country paired with well-meaning equity and restorative justice initiatives. However, there is still a high barrier to entry presented by the extensive and convoluted cannabis business license application process. Only through advances in technology will this barrier be taken down.

Walter Moore Cognitive Harmony Technologies CEO & CTO, is an accomplished software architect, financial engineer, and entrepreneur residing in the south suburbs of Illinois. He specializes in architecting elegant, compliant, and scalable solutions to complex regulatory environments in the AdTech, FinTech, Digital Assets, and Cannabis industries. He has a Masters of Science in Financial Engineering and undergraduate degrees in Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics.

Walter started Cognitive Harmony Technologies in order to support social equity teams and bring change to an industry which has historically whitewashed the past injustices served in its former prohibition, something which he has experienced firsthand in prior decades. As a cannabis business license owner, Walter knows just how difficult it is to put together a competitive application. He developed the CHT platform in order to help lower the barrier of entry for others willing to put in the hard work of assembling an application, but who would otherwise be priced out of the competition.

About Cognitive Harmony Technologies

At Cognitive Harmony Technologies, our proprietary CHT Accelerator platform is paving the way for true social equity in the CBL application process by developing a meticulous roadmap to create a complete and competitive automated application much like tax preparation software generates tax returns, providing live-support, and offering access to a helpful network of architects, realtors and a range of connections.  Additionally, we offer this for a fraction of the cost of what the hundred-thousand-dollar consulting firms that multi-state operators employ, and in some cases it is completely free.  Cutting-edge technology is the best tool that an everyday, aspiring entrepreneur can leverage to break into the industry, and make the cannabis sector’s leadership as representative and diverse as the consumers. 

Our mission is to open the doors for equitable cannabis business ownership by making the application process easy as filing personal income taxes online. The CHT Accelerator streamlines the entire application process into one easy-to-use software platform so you can create a complete and competitive application. Follow us on LinkedIn or visit our website.

Member Blog: What Growers Should Know About Hop Latent Viroid

by Angel Fernandez, María Zuccarelli, and María de Catarina, MyFloraDNA

For many years, growers and breeders have speculated why “dud plants” are seen across different cannabis crops.

It is a fact that cannabis has faced many viral infections. Due to viruses and viroids, some varieties mutated into genetic changes over time, altering the evolution of the plant.

But… how can we detect Hop Latent Viroid (HLV)?

Hop Latent Viroid (commonly known as Dudding Disease) is a single-stranded, circular infectious RNA. It is not a virus. Let us explain the difference:

Viroids only replicate in plants. Also, viruses are more complex than viroids. Viroids are compounded by only RNA, while viruses are composed of a protein capsule enveloping their genetic material.

Viruses infect new hosts only once they enter a host and replicate on it. Viroids are transmitted through direct contact of a healthy plant with an infected one. Also, can be transmitted by contaminated tools and instruments (gloves, scissors, tweezers, even human hands).

Talking about HLV, we must remember that this viroid is latent, so there are many asymptomatic transmissions. It can spread without symptoms, and you will only realize it when it is too late.

HLV Symptoms:

HLV is a silent viroid, meaning that this viroid may or may not show early visual clues from its presence. Some physical symptoms in cannabis plants are:

What about transmission?

This issue is important, so please take note. If you have any doubts about an infection of Hop Latent Viroid in your garden, TREAT EVERYTHING AS IF IT IS INFECTED. Download here our guide on how to treat infected material.

HLV and other viroids in your garden or greenhouse can spread quickly from infected to healthy plants. The main transmission causes are:

  • Infected equipment: sterilize the equipment before working on new plants to reduce the possibility of contamination.
  • Clones: before cutting, we recommend doing a complete pathogen test, to avoid infected clones.
  • Seeds: this is currently under research, but HLV has an 8% chance of being present in the seeds of an infected mother plant.
  • Human touch: cultivation managers and staff have to sterilize their hands and gloves before jumping from one plant to another. A simple touch is enough to transmit HLV.
  • Bugs and pests: bugs and pests are always present, and their bites may transmit HLV, spreading the pathogen through your entire garden in a blink of an eye.

How can you prevent HLV?

Here are some essential tips:

  • Keep your equipment clean. You can read more about how to sterilize your tools on our Instagram profile.
  • Make sure you have pests under control
  • Tissue culture: HLV can travel through the plant’s vascular system and may be left behind in older tissues as plants develop. It can outgrow the problem by producing clones from the infected plant. The more cuttings a grower roots, the higher the chances of selecting a clean one.
  • Pay special attention when visits come by: HLV may come in a visitor’s hand, glove, or even shoes! 
  • When a plant or leaf enters, please do not accept it unless it has a negative DNA HLV test. It is the only way you can be sure it is not a threat to your garden.

Who asks if you think HLV may be in your garden?

Thank you for reading! We hope you find this information useful. In case of any doubts, do not hesitate to ask us regarding any related topic and download our Complete HLV Guide here. We highly recommend you consult with DNA Laboratory. They will guide you through the process, test your plants, and let you know if they are infected with HLV or not. 

Angel Fernandez, CEO & Co-Founder at MyFloraDNA. “It is time to fill in the gap between DNA Sciences and Agriculture. MyFloraDNA is willing to show the huge opportunities that exist for modern genetics in agriculture. Now, it is time for another agricultural revolution”

Co-author: María Zuccarelli, CMO at MyFloraDNA.
Editor: María de Catarina, PR Intern at MyFloraDNA.

About MyFloraDNA: We are a genomic laboratory based in Woodland California, delivering modern genomics for the Cannabis Industry

Our services include Trait detection (cannabinoid profile and sex/gender ID), Pathogen Detection, and Genetic Validation Services. We offer breakthrough solutions using the inner power of your plants.


Member Blog: Trials and Tribulations – Compliance for Banking

by Nicole Perry, DartBank

There are not a lot of financial institutions out there that support cannabis, so finding the right one is important. What is also important is to understand the ‘why’ behind what they are asking. Opening a cannabis bank account is not as easy as opening a traditional business bank account. With cannabis being federally illegal, banks, and credit unions must adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by our regulators, also tying in the respective state that the cannabis business is operating in.  

An initial phone call is often set up for the financial institution to learn more about the cannabis business, its owners, and signers. Knowing when the business will be operational and what their big picture looks like is fundamentally important. Questions could be asked about ownership, location, growth, licenses, and compliance. Some products and services are not fully available to the cannabis industry, because other players have not fully opted in (i.e., merchant processing and debit/credit cards). This makes the financial institution banking cannabis able to create a product suite that they feel comfortable with from a risk and compliance standpoint. Pricing out cannabis bank accounts is also something that differs from the traditional businesses being banked. 

Again, not every financial institution will support cannabis, and that is because it is expensive. It is expensive because those that support the industry have had to seek guidance from consultants, their respective regulator, their state, their local cannabis groups and associations and their board of directors. The initial onboarding of a cannabis customer, after pricing is accepted, takes longer as well. Background and credit checks, as well as risk reviews need to be completed at most financial institutions, along with an initial onsite audit visit. 

It is widely understood that cannabis businesses must go through an inspection with their operating state before they are licensed, however, financial institutions are still required to make sure they know what they are working with. Most financial institutions work closely with their compliance/BSA teams to develop risk profiles so that if questions are asked of them during an audit, they can answer to the best of their knowledge the transactions that are occurring and then prove that we understand what the cannabis businesses are using their accounts for. Many financial institutions have implemented the use of compliance software that allows their cannabis departments to review transactions, seed-to-sale monitoring, monitor licensing, insurance, onsite visits, and financial changes. METRC and Bio Track are the two main seed-to-sale tracking systems used throughout the United States. Most states have adopted using one or the other and few have implemented their own manual tracking. 

The seed-to-sale system your financial institution chooses to work with can integrate with your respective state’s seed-to-sale tracking system for financial institutions to monitor account transactions and seed-to-sale flow. It is common to have your financial institution reach out to you once you have been onboarded to integrate your API key (QR code that houses your cannabis licenses) into their respective compliance software to initialize the tracking component. Directly after this, the designated person at the cannabis business or CPA (to be determined by the cannabis business) will be asked to upload your financials into the compliance software monthly for tracking purposes. These systems correlate with most POS systems as well as QuickBooks for a seamless flow. Financial Institutions are often asked by cannabis businesses if this is something they can do in-house or if they can utilize an outside CPA firm to help. The answer is yes to both. It takes minimal time each month to upload your financials so doing it yourself is certainly feasible, however, there are many CPA firms out there who will do it for you, along with making sure your numbers make sense and your taxes are accounted for. Not to mention, the annual CPA attestation as well. 

Financial institutions are not asking you to do this to make your life difficult. It is simply because this is a new industry, one that is federally illegal at that, and verifying information to better understand how the industry works only helps to normalize it. It is also common for your financial institution to ask for invoices to accompany transactions such as wires, ACH, bill pay, checks, cash deposits, etc. We do this because auditors also ask us if we can, in fact, verify we know what this transaction was for and to whom the funds went. It also helps with fraud surveillance. Most financial institutions have experts in fraud or compliance who can help deter this from happening to you and your business. 

We have come a long way since inception and have learned a lot over the years. What is important to know is we are all a team. The cannabis business and the financial institution are working together to understand how they both complement each other. Together we are building the cannabis industry, so that one day, when it is stabilized and normalized, we can take that with us for the next big thing. Every industry out there was new at one point and had to go through the same trials and tribulations, and while most of us cannot remember or have never been a part of the ‘build out,’ it did happen at some point. When your financial institution asks you for something related to transactions or business, please understand that it is for the better of the industry.

We can work together to normalize and strengthen this industry. All the steps we are taking are learning opportunities. I believe everyone can say at one point they did not know how to do something, but through training, education, and a road map, we were able to develop a routine so that as we grew at understanding something we had not understood before, it became normal. 

Nicole Perry has been with Dart Bank since 2016 as the Office Manager and most recently VP/Senior Treasury Management Officer. She brings with her 20 years of financial services experience. Prior to joining Dart Bank, she worked for various financial institutions holding many different roles, specializing in business banking.

Nicole is an alumna of the Lansing Chamber of Commerce’s Lansing Leadership 2018 class and is part of the Perry School of Banking class of 2020. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management with an emphasis in Human Resources from Davenport University and attended Central Michigan University for her Master of Science degree. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys attending Michigan State University football and basketball games and spending time with her family and friends at the lake.

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.


Joshua Gilstrap
Marketing Manager
e2b Teknologies

Mary Jo Mahood
Practice Manager
e2b Teknologies

Lynne Henslee
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 to learn more today!

Video: NCIA Today – Thursday, June 30, 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.

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: Key Metrics to Track & Mistakes to Avoid for Cannabis Retail Success in 2022

by Gary Cohen, Cova Software

Despite the pandemic, the cannabis industry has proven to be recession-proof and has grown exponentially over the past few years. Cannabis retail sales in the US are projected to top $30 billion in 2022, and as more states jump onto the legal bandwagon, competition will intensify. As such, dispensary owners must ensure that they are using data and analytics strategically to measure the health of their business. Many cannabis retailers fail because they don’t track crucial dispensary metrics or make avoidable mistakes.

Cannabis dispensary metrics are the data points that you must track regularly to help in better decision-making. Business intelligence reports generated via these metrics help you monitor your daily dispensary operations and create projections for future sales and required inventory. A robust cannabis POS system with advanced analytics and reporting capabilities collects information from various sources and unifies them into a single repository so that you can extract maximum insights for the growth of your retail business. By tracking some of the following important metrics, you can implement strategies to increase dispensary profits, enhance employee productivity, forecast inventory, and elevate the customer experience.

Cannabis Sales & Profits Metrics

  • Number of Products Sold per Transaction
  • Average Sales Value
  • Total Sales for a Period

By tracking the average basket size and transaction value, you can evaluate your customer buying habits and ideal price points and create your marketing and promotional campaigns or upsell opportunities accordingly. Implementing strategies will help you increase these metrics, manage inventory and employees efficiently during your busiest sales periods, and thus, grow your dispensary profits.

Staff Productivity & Dispensary Traffic

  • Individual Budtender Sales
  • Busiest Sales Days/Hours
  • Discounts and Refunds

Tracking individual budtender sales on your POS system will help you determine your top performers and aid in staff scheduling. Those employees who have higher sales per transaction must be scheduled during your busier hours of the day, and those who may not be performing can be offered training on strategies like deals, upsells, cross-sells, and bundles. Also, potential fraud can be identified by tracking discounts or refunds offered by employees.

Target Market & Customer Retention

  • Customer Demographics
  • New vs Returning Customers
  • Customer Lifetime Value

Segmenting your target market helps design a more customized experience based on age, location, values, buying behavior, etc. By tracking each customer’s average number of transactions over a period of time, you can determine their lifetime value and better tailor your dispensary’s promotions and upselling strategies through targeted marketing campaigns. These metrics help curate an enhanced shopping experience and increase customer retention.

Inventory & Product Performance

  • Inventory Turnover
  • Shrinkage
  • Top-selling Product Categories

Inventory turnover measures the number of times you sold through your entire inventory in a given period and allows you to determine how much of your cash flow is tied up in inventory. Shrinkage is the difference between the inventory you have on paper and the actual inventory in stock and helps you identify theft. Also, tracking your top-selling and lowest-performing products or categories can help in crafting strategic promotions and better inventory planning decisions.

Keep up With Changing Times

Successful cannabis retailers track top-selling products, profit per product, and all other metrics highlighted above, and use this data to make business decisions. If you have a robust and flexible cannabis retail platform that offers you these detailed data insights and can scale and adapt when needed, your dispensary will always stay ahead of the curve. 

Learn in detail about all the mistakes to avoid and secrets to succeed in the cannabis retail industry by downloading Cova Software’s e-book, “Why Some Cannabis Retailers Fail”, which presents cautionary tales of what not to do if you want to thrive in the dispensary business.

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.

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. 


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. 


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.”


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.” 


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: 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 Vaillencourt, 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:

Part 1 – Cannabis Cultivation Facilities
Part 2 – Cannabis Extraction Facilities
Part 3 – Cannabis Food Production Facilities
Part 4 –Cannabis Retail & Dispensary Facilities
Part 5 – Cannabis Facility Support Areas

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 Vaillencourt, 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:

Part 1 – Cannabis Cultivation Facilities
Part 2 – Cannabis Extraction Facilities
Part 3 – Cannabis Food Production Facilities
Part 4 –Cannabis Retail & Dispensary Facilities
Part 5 – Cannabis Facility Support Areas

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 Vaillencourt, 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.

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

Part 1 – Cannabis Cultivation Facilities
Part 2 – Cannabis Extraction Facilities
Part 3 – Cannabis Food Production Facilities
Part 4 –Cannabis Retail & Dispensary Facilities
Part 5 – Cannabis Facility Support Areas

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. 



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.


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: 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.


Member Blog: Cannabis Extraction – Creating a Competitive Advantage Through Data

By Jack Naito, president and co-founder, Luna Technologies 

As customers become more sophisticated and discerning about the fast-growing cannabis extract market, from vapes to dabs to infused pre-rolls, the need to routinely produce consistent, quality extracts at scale is becoming doubly important for processors. Compounding the issue, the potential for federal legalization will bring significant growth opportunities but also increased federal oversight, including the need for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and other onerous standards that will challenge unprepared operators. 

Future-Proof Extraction Operations Through Data 

To overcome these twin challenges, processors should start developing (if they have not already) a framework to capture, review, and analyze data at every stage of production to produce consistent, quality, and compliant products.

That framework should examine every aspect of the extraction process, starting with the type of material harvested from farms, including how it is stored and handled, through to the final, packaged retail-ready product. 

It should also be tied to specific goals and clear objectives. Capturing data simply to capture data within a given framework but without a clear idea of how that data will be used can lead to analysis paralysis, or worse, endless trial-and-error that wastes time and material, eating into expected profits. 

Leverage Design of Experiments Methodology  

Design of Experiments, or DoE, is a scientific methodology that can help guide processors in determining the key parameters they want to track and how those parameters interact. This starts with assertions that map to specific goals or objectives, such as investigating the yield of a specific terpene with the goal of blending it with a distillate-based vape cartridge. From here, processors can design and set up experiments with varying inputs from temperature to pressure, to biomass composition, all to understand how the yield of a specific terpene is influenced throughout a given process.

When these learnings are applied at production scale, the framework developed through DoE methodology provides a guide for creating consistent products, but also to better manage and rectify issues that may arise. With specific goals in mind, processors can then determine what data they need to capture and analyze.  

The Four Steps of Data Capture

Step 1: Chemical Makeup – When selecting or determining what plant material to use for extraction, processors first must examine the chemical makeup of the cannabis biomass. This can include the profiles of cannabinoids, terpenes, and the fat/wax/water content. 

The exact chemical makeup of cannabis biomass can be difficult to determine because of its nonhomogeneous nature. Imagine closing your eyes and selecting a random sample from a container of bulk biomass. Maybe you grab a sugar leaf or flower, high in THC-laden trichomes, or maybe you grab a fanleaf with little to nothing to contribute to a high-quality extract. The chemical composition will look significantly different depending on how one selects the sample. So it’s important to be cognizant of what and how biomass testing is conducted, and often a single sample isn’t the answer. Knowing the approximate chemical makeup of the feedstock material will guide the processor to determine what type of recipe they will use for extraction and post processing and, ultimately, what end products are most valuable for a given input.

Once the chemical makeup has been determined, the processor will know the inputs of the material, such as the associated THC, CBD, terpenes, etc. They can then use that data to determine what will (or should) come out of the extraction process at its conclusion. This is the mass balance of the production process. It is difficult or impossible to optimize any process if one doesn’t know exactly what goes in and what comes out. Of course, this is much easier said than done given the nonhomogeneous nature of biomass.

Step 3: Identify and Maintain Key Process Parameters – Depending on the recipe and desired end product as determined through the above steps, the extraction process will need to maintain specific temperatures, pressures, times, and flow rates, among other key variables, to ensure a consistent, quality product. This is where a DoE or other similar process can add significant value. Analytical tools, such as the DoE, can help determine what process parameters need to be precisely controlled, and what parameters can have looser controls or can be ignored altogether. Compliance comes into play here as well. The ability to track and record these key data points is crucial to achieving GMP compliance as well as creating a consistent product that customers expect.

Step 4: Post Process Review – In order to understand how recipe parameters affect the end product, the processor needs to know its chemical composition as well as the composition of any waste materials (e.g., biomass, fats, waxes), or impurities that have been filtered out. Capturing this data is vital as it offers the critical clues to why a particular batch did not turn out as planned, for example, so the processor can investigate potential causes and corresponding solutions. 

Step 5: Recording Data Between Each Process – What happens between each process is nearly as important as what happens during the process. Storage conditions can have an impact on quality and consistency, issues that may not be readily evident within the data capturing during processing. Those data points to know, among others, may include monitoring the freezer temperature where biomass is stored, measuring the humidity of the environment, documenting when and how equipment is cleaned, or even tracking how long material sits between extraction and placement in a vacuum oven. 

Decision Making Via Data Analysis

After the data is captured and analyzed, managers may need to enact decisions if the data shows deviations from the expected outcomes. For example, as part of post-production lab tests (step 4), are acetone traces appearing in the finished product? If so, the organization may need to change its equipment cleaning practices (step 5) to ensure unwanted trace chemicals are not seeping into finished products.

Although enacting a program to better capture, review, and analyze data can appear to be a daunting task, doing so will provide the processor a significant competitive advantage. Not only will it help ensure consistent production while future-proofing the organization against coming regulations, it may also enable processors to experiment with and develop novel or proprietary extracts derived from a repeatable, scientific method that can’t easily be replicated by competitors.  

Jack Naito is President of Luna Technologies, where he oversees operations, strategic growth, and R&D for the company he co-founded in 2016. Jack entered the cannabis industry after time spent as a Materials, Process, and Physics Engineer for aerospace giant Boeing. Jack obtained an Economics and Business degree from Colorado College and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington.

Luna Technologies engineers state-of-the-art extraction equipment for cannabis processors. The meticulously designed, automated equipment empowers operators to process fresh-frozen or cured plant biomass with stress-tested hardware and built-in failsafes to foster a superior level of workplace safety while also lowering labor costs. Luna’s Earth-conscious engineering approach helps decrease energy consumption while setting the industry standard for safety, quality, consistency, and customization in support of creating clean, consistent cannabis concentrates with medical and social benefits. Learn more at


Committee Blog: Protecting Innovations in Cannabis Technology

The Role of Patents in the Industry, Now and in the Future

Paul Coble is an intellectual property attorney and Chair of NCIA’s Cannabis Manufacturing Committee; Scott Seeley is an intellectual property attorney with Eastgate IP and is Organizer of the Cannabis Manufacturing Committee

Competition in the cannabis industry has always been fierce. To date, most competition has focused on securing licenses and sales territory. But, as markets saturate and the green pastures are all claimed, the battlefronts must shift. Cannabis companies now look to collect non-geographic assets, such as market share, profitability advantages, and a durable brand presence.

Intellectual property law provides mechanisms to capture and monetize these intangible assets. Assets that give a company a competitive advantage can build value into a business beyond its balance sheet. Well-crafted IP portfolios not only deter freerider copying, but are also valuable assets that can be sold, licensed, or provide incentive for investment or acquisition by larger entities. Businesses with a strong IP strategy are able to maintain their edge over their competitors by protecting their investments in technology and marketing to discourage competitors from utilizing their newfound developments or improperly capitalizing on their brand recognition.  

Ignoring cannabis IP not only leaves this value on the table, but exposes the business to unnecessary risk. As in all other industries, cannabis companies must recognize that competitors have IP portfolios that may need to be avoided or licensed. Modern competition requires solidifying your own rights as well as understanding the rights of others.  

Intellectual property is often broadly broken out into four major categories.  Each category is tailored to protect different forms of intangible assets:

  1. Patents (Technological Developments)
  2. Trademarks (Brand Recognition, Consumer Goodwill)
  3. Copyright (Original Authorships and Expressions)
  4. Trade Secret (Information Providing Competitive Advantage)

This blog post overviews patents, and how patents can be used by cannabis businesses to protect their technological advancements. This is the first of a 3-part series about cannabis IP. The series will culminate with a Q&A-based webinar on April 19 at 1:00 PM ET. Advance questions can be sent to

What are Patents?

Patents protect technological advancements and can be used to exclude others from making, using, importing, or selling a claimed technological innovation. 

Patents are often used by businesses to build walls around technologies they develop to temporarily prevent competitors from using the same advantages. Companies also use patents to build portfolios of technology that can be sold or licensed like any other asset, or used to bolster their valuation for acquisition or investment opportunities. 

But patents are not just used to block competition, they can also be a tremendous source of information about technological developments in the field. While patent discovery tools are admittedly lacking at the moment (GooglePatents is a good place to start), the details in a patent can often short-circuit months or years of work. Of course, depending on the patent claims, you may need to license the patent in order to use that information.  But that type of information-for-licensing-rights exchange, with the right mentality on both sides, is the foundation of an efficient industry.

Here are just a few examples of the cannabis technology that may be patent eligible:

  • Cannabis Strains
  • Formulations for Extracts, Topicals, Tinctures, Vape Liquid, Edibles
  • Vaporizer Design
  • Cartridge Design
  • Extraction Methods
  • Manufacturing and Processing Methods

There are three types of patents that can be used to protect cannabis technology: Utility, Design, and Plant. These types of protection are not mutually exclusive and sometimes can be combined to form a more comprehensive protection strategy. 

Utility Patents

Utility patents are the most popular type of patent, offering the broadest and strongest form of protection. Utility patents last 20 years from the date of filing and are good for protecting nearly any new technological innovation including formulations for extracts, topicals, tinctures, or edibles, new vaporizer designs, new improvements to processing or manufacturing methods, and similar developments. Utility patents can also be used to protect new cannabis genetics, at least theoretically. As discussed below, however, there are several practical barriers to patenting cannabis genetics.

A significant benefit of utility patents is that they can protect the actual function of an innovation, rather than just the outwardly recognizable features or the specific implementation. This aspect of protection sets utility patents apart from other forms of protection like design patents and copyright, which are limited non-functional aspects.

Design Patents

Design patents protect an item’s unique ornamental appearance. Design patent protection is sometimes easier to obtain than utility patents because design patents only protect the look of an item, not how it works. So design patents do not protect against someone selling a functionally identical device with a different outward appearance. This narrower protection also lasts only 15 years instead of 20.

Nevertheless, design patents can be a strong tool to protect products that have a novel and distinct design aesthetic. They can cover the visual appearance of vaporizer batteries or cartridges, retail packaging, even unique dispensary displays. In some cases, design patents can be effectively combined with trademark and trade dress protections to create a highly defensible brand style.  

Patenting Cannabis Strains

The most common questions about cannabis patents usually relate to patenting strain genetics. Newly developed strains can be protected by both utility and plant patents, with varying rights and requirements. Cannabis strains may also, theoretically, receive pseudo-patent protection under the Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970 (“PVPA”). As noted below, however, current practical realities make PVPA protection unattainable for most cannabis strains.

Both plant and utility patents can protect cannabis strains, but they do so very differently. Utility patents cover newly invented compositions of matter and, therefore, can be used to prevent copying a novel genetic sequence. These patents literally cover specific sequences of DNA base pairs. A key requirement of utility patents is that the applicant must enable others to make and use the same invention once out of patent. While it may be possible to meet the enablement requirement with a transgenic breeding or CRISPR gene editing, the more common method of enabling plant gene patents is with a biological deposit of seeds or other propagation material with a public organization. So long as cannabis remains federally illegal, it can be difficult or impossible to make the deposit within the U.S. Some applicants have had success making the seed deposit at foreign centers, but the growth of cannabis genetic patents has been slowed by these requirements. When cannabis is eventually descheduled, the practical barriers to genetic patents will fall and that may trigger a rush by more companies to seek patents for their proprietary cannabis strains.

Plant Patents

Another form of patents, plant patents, can protect new plant varietals that have been reproduced asexually. Although cannabis plants are relatively easy to reproduce asexually via cloning or cutting, one disadvantage of this form of protection is that plant patents only cover genetically identical copies, reproduced asexually from the claimed plant. That means to infringe a plant patent, one must physically clone the patented plant–a narrow base for an infringement claim.

Plant Variety Protection Act

The last vehicle that can protect a new cannabis strain is the Plant Variety Protection Act that was designed specifically to protect sexually reproducing plants, such as cannabis.

The PVPA, however, comes along with a strict requirement that at least 3,000 seeds of the claimed plant species be deposited with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Fort Collins, CO. The USDA will not accept any deposits for plants that are classified as controlled substances, including cannabis. Meaning that, for the time being, PVPA protection is unavailable for cannabis plants that do not qualify as hemp (less than 0.3% d9-THC). 

The Process – How to Get a Patent

All patents start as applications which must be examined and approved by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) to become granted patents. The application process, from start to finish, can last 1-5 years and cost anywhere between a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.  

The examination involves a review of the patent application, as well as related literature published before your application was filed (also called “prior art”). An examiner with technical expertise in the application’s field will search for prior art and determine whether the application meets all statutory requirements. Most notable of those requirements are that the invention must cover eligible subject matter and be sufficiently inventive to warrant a patent.

The prosecution process typically involves letters back-and-forth between the inventor and the Patent Office. It is often thought of as a negotiation — nearly all patent applications receive at least one rejection. The applicant is given an opportunity to change what the patent covers or explain why the rejection was wrong. Only if and when the Examiner is satisfied that all statutory requirements are met will the application be allowed to issue as a patent.  

How will Patents Shape the Cannabis Industry?

Like it or not, patents are rapidly becoming a major force in the cannabis industry. The cannabis industry is in a unique position to determine the role intellectual property will play, but one thing is certain: cannabis IP cannot be ignored. Some companies, like Canopy Growth, Nextleaf, and various pharmaceutical companies, are aggressively developing patent portfolios and high-stakes patent litigation is already underway. Additionally, holding companies known as “non-practicing entities” have been formed to purchase valuable patents covering key aspects of cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and consumption.  

But these forces do not have to dominate the industry. Patents were originally designed to promote scientific advancement, not inhibit it. When the IP rights of others are respected and technology is licensed widely at reasonable rates, intellectual property can cut years and millions of dollars from research budgets. Some industries have found success with patent cooperatives and similar pooled-patent arrangements. The future may see some combination of patent licensing with blockchain technology, NFTs, or decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).

We will continue the discussion as to what an enlightened approach to intellectual property could look like in the cannabis industry in our webinar scheduled for April 19 at 1:00 PM Eastern. Please send any advance questions to



Equity Member Spotlight: YS Cannabis Delivery Services

NCIA’s editorial department continues the Member Spotlight series by highlighting our Social Equity Scholarship Recipients as part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program. Participants are gaining first-hand access to regulators in key markets to get insight on the industry, tips for raising capital, and advice on how to access and utilize data to ensure success in their businesses, along with all the other benefits available to NCIA members. 

Tell us a bit about you, your background, and why you launched your company.

Originally from Ecuador, Yadira Elizabeth Silva Leon, I came to the United States when I was only 16 years of age. I graduated with honors from Sheridan High School and Arapahoe Community College in Colorado. Then I graduated from the American Intercontinental University online, with a BA in Business Administration. I own my construction clean-up company, officially named YS Construction Clean Up Services.

As a single mother of two and minority business owner, I started to become more involved in the world of cannabis after two separate accidents, leaving me with a damaged spine. Doctors prescribed medications and pills that began to damage my nervous system and I started to lose sensation in my legs, inhibiting me from taking care of my children. It was around this time that Colorado legalized cannabis, and after becoming legally accessible, I decided to take advantage of the medicinal benefits of cannabis to calm my pain. Cannabis inspired me to begin a new career in the cannabis industry. Serving people who are in pain by bringing their medicine in the comfort of their home in a timely fashion became an interest and passion of mine. 

What unique value does your company offer to the cannabis industry?

The health and safety of our patients, customers, and employees is our top priority. We see the future where our company impacts the wellbeing of our drivers and the life of our planet. That is why YS Cannabis Delivery Services was created. 

We specialize in transporting cannabis products business to business and business to customer. We also collect empty containers from customers to recycle properly, and return clean, disinfect, and sterile containers for businesses.

What is your goal for the greater good of cannabis?

Securing the life of carriers, and our environment. We are working on a new security system where we use AI (Artificial Intelligence) and VR (Virtual Reality) to deliver cannabis from business to business with efficiency and security. While we are expanding security to protect cannabis shippers and vehicles against prohibited intrusions, we are also making sure plastic containers get to the right place and be recycled properly. 

What kind of challenges does the industry face, and what solutions would you like to see?

COVID-19 created many challenges for most industries, but the cannabis industry faced more threatening challenges such as violence and robbery. What we would like to see is the safety of cannabis employees become a priority. That is why we are looking into virtual reality as a security measure. 

Why did you join NCIA? What’s the best or most important part about being a member through the Social Equity Scholarship Program?

I joined the National Cannabis Industry Association to collaborate in the development of my company at a national and international level. Because of NCIA, I was able to receive access to the resources my business needed to grow and thrive. I was able to speak with leaders, consultants, and other like-minded professionals. 


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