Cannabis Compliance: 4 Easy Tips For Staying Up-to-Date
Currently boasting one of the fastest industry growth rates, the $10.73 billion legal cannabis industry continues to prove itself as a powerful job-creator. In 2020, according to Leafly’s fourth annual cannabis jobs count, the legal cannabis industry supports over 243,000 full-time-equivalent American jobs. However, although consumer interest continues to mount, both cannabis sale and use remain highly regulated. It is limited to state markets because of its federal status as an illicit drug. It remains stigmatized and some municipalities shy away from welcoming it into their economies.
Cannabis and even cannabis-related companies must do their due diligence in complying with all municipal, state and federal laws regarding the growing and selling of cannabis — a daunting task for those unaware of the legal complexities surrounding the plant. Entrepreneurs and large corporations alike get bogged down with the responsibilities of starting a business while also trying to remain compliant. It doesn’t help that the regulations are constantly changing as cannabis regulators learn more about the new industry.
The good news is that achieving and maintaining cannabis compliance isn’t impossible. These four tips will assist those trying to stay up-to-date no matter where your company is on the seed to sale journey.
1) Build a cannabis compliance team
Understanding the complexities of the cannabis industry is far from a one-person job. As regulations and guidelines continue to change, having a pre-established team that is paid to stay abreast of the state regulations (and federal if you work with hemp) is invaluable. Through their various lenses, they keep your compliance up-to-date. This may seem expensive, and it is, but many of these experts only have to work with you during set up or a couple times a year.
It’s highly preferable that these experts work with cannabis specifically. It is a unique industry that includes lawmakers, regulators at all levels, activists, patients and practitioners, and entrepreneurs.
Your compliance team should include:
- A cannabis lawyer
- A cannabis tax manager / accountant
- An architect or building inspector who works with cultivation facilities, preferably cannabis
- An environmental impacts expert
- A cannabis insurance agency
- Human resources agency expert with diversity efforts
This team also helps your company gain inside connections built from working inside their various fields.
2) Fill your feed with state and national industry news
An obvious way to remain in-the-know with regards to cannabis compliance is by reading the latest news.
Cannabis business owners should check their feed every day. These sources remain updated in real-time and speak English, not legalese. They also help you keep pace with business and consumer trends.
National cannabis news sources:
3) Hire a compliance officer to create and implement systems of compliance in your operations
One of the most important parts of maintaining compliance is making it part of your routine. Just like any other industry, regular self-audits can help you fine tune best practices of your own operations and prepare for state audits.
It’s during these moments of assessment that your compliance team, with input from employees, can also inform all parties of any changes to local, state or federal laws. Beyond these more scheduled moments, companies should also focus on internal maintenance.
No one knows a business quite like those working for it day-in and day-out. Create systems that allow for weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly check-points. Develop employee handbooks, daily / weekly records books, keeping extensive documentation and analyze data from the electronic tracking system.
Programs like ProCanna provide solutions for keeping cannabis regulations understandable and in one safe place. With their cloud platform, ProCanna includes cost-efficient data security, recovery and mobile access.
4) Network and check-in with regulators & their staff
While it’s important to possess an internal compliance team, it’s also important to get to know the players in regulatory agencies. Regulators can’t play favorites, and you should not ask them to, but they can give you their perspective on issues and help you give them feedback from yours. They feel pressure from lawmakers, municipalities, business, and the general public. They usually want the industry to succeed and are often still learning about it. Establishing an ongoing relationship with them helps them stay in tune with the business perspective. They may even be persuaded to alert business owners of coming changes.
To sum it up
Maintaining cannabis compliance can seem like a burden. And while the moving parts of such an industry make it a challenge, there are many helpful tools available. Implementing check-points, keeping extensive records and always erring on the side of caution can make the “challenge” of cannabis compliance bearable. As people get used to the industry and learn more about how it works, it is likely regulations will loosen.
Technology can also serve as a tool. Programs that provide the most relevant and up-to-date information on cannabis compliance changes are ideal. Using applications like ProCanna can help you keep on top of regulatory changes specific to your area of the industry. Platform features and benefits of ProCanna include valuable analytics to study, regulatory monitoring and state-specific support.