How to stop worrying and love the boom

The cannabis industry is growing at a breakneck pace and there are tons of opportunities to break into new markets or expand your operations into new verticals. But remember: every move you make will be watched.

Most everyone in the industry agrees that one of the single biggest stresses of running a legal marijuana business is navigating the labyrinthine and complex regulatory requirements.

Our marijuana compliance software, MJ Platform, has evolved alongside the industry as it has matured. Integrated region- and vertical-specific warnings, error alerts, and reporting tools free up owners, employees, and executive teams to spend more precious time focusing on strengthening the business, not chasing dozens of data points.

Don’t get complacent about compliance

Falling behind on your knowledge of regulatory requirements exposes you to unnecessary risk that can stop your business in its tracks. Chances are, you’re not going to know every single detail (that’s where Akerna’s cannabis regulatory compliance software, MJ Platform, can help), but it makes sense to get comfortable with the basics. We’ve got a whole library of expert-authored blogs, webinars, and demo videos to help you make sure your cannabis company stays compliant, so you can stay in business.

How confident are you?

One of the biggest challenges of running a compliant marijuana business is the sheer number of cannabis-specific rules and regulations that must be followed down to the letter. With most regulation handbooks running around a hundred pages long, there are lots of letters to keep track of.

Unlike most other industries, requirements vary not just by state but at the county and city levels, too. There’s no room for mistakes. Regulators are quick to revoke licenses and slow to reinstate them, so it pays to take the time to do things right the first time.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of obvious and not-so-obvious pitfalls where your business could be running the risk of a shutdown—and you might not even know until it’s too late.

Here are some of the most common areas for compliance violations. How confident are you that your business is safe from each?

  • Improper labeling and packaging
  • Falling behind on data entry
  • Failing to report on time
  • Exceeding customer/patient sales thresholds
  • Inventory discrepancies
  • Health and sanitation violations
  • Employee theft
  • Incorrect tax calculation
  • Sales outside of authorized business hours
  • Data security
  • Storage and disposal violations
  • Workplace safety violations
  • Facilities security
  • Staffing regulations

These are just the broad strokes. Every one of these bullets cover dozens of crucial requirements that must become part of your daily operations. Sophisticated cannabis compliance software, like MJ Platform, has built-in features that protect you from compromising everything you’ve worked for if you accidentally make the wrong move.

Cannabis compliance software keeps you covered

If you’re running a successful cannabis business, there are many individuals who touch your products and guide processes at every moment of every day. Most people have the best intentions, but mistakes do happen. However, just because someone accidentally pulls product from the wrong batch or moves some plants to the wrong area of your greenhouse doesn’t mean you should lose your license. Smart cannabis compliance software fool-proofs the process so minor mistakes by the person doing your reporting (or supply ordering, or transportation, or product manufacturing) don’t end up becoming major setbacks for your business.

Looking to set up shop in a new spot?

We’ve compiled a comprehensive index of current information for every state and territory that has legalized recreational or medical marijuana. Learn the basics of operating in each area, get links to licensing bureau websites, and compare requirements between jurisdictions.

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Build compliance into your company culture

Making sure that your business practices are above board and in line with regulations doesn’t just protect your company—it makes good business sense. It’s easier to take the time to operate in an open, transparent manner than to constantly worry about ways your organization may be at risk for fines and failed inspections.

Here are some of the best practices we’ve seen during our decades in the cannabis industry. Incorporate these into your day-to-day operations and infuse your company culture with compliance.

  • Lead by example

    Be rigorous about applying the rules to everyone at the organization, even senior management and owners. Regulators are tasked with enforcing the rules and they have no tolerance for exceptions for VIP clients, friends, or family.

  • Adhere to the employee handbook

    Evaluate your training methods and make sure that all your practices comply with local legislation. Put your procedures in writing and ensure that all employees sign off on their understanding of daily operations. Be sure to include the “why” behind your processes—this helps employees understand their importance.

  • Be consistent about enforcement

    Outline clear procedures as to how rule-breakers will be handled. Keep detailed employee records so you can release employees who may be undermining your compliance practices before they jeopardize your operations.

  • Conduct inventory counts often

    Full inventory reconciliations may be time consuming, but they help you spot inconsistencies between cash and inventory (which always raises a red flag for regulators). Build daily, weekly, and monthly inventory counts—as well as random inventory spot checks—into your day-to-day operations to let staff know that you are keeping a close eye on inventory levels. By sure that on-hand product always matches your inventory management software numbers.

  • Make a list of regulatory agencies

    Understand the playing field of the regulatory bodies in your area. At minimum, this will include your state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, your state’s tax board, and department of health. On the local level, it’s smart to cultivate relationships with city council membership, board of supervisors, planning/zoning officials, police, fire, and building departments. These are the people who are not only tasked with approving your operations, they can be helpful resources for advice.

  • Reduce manual data entry

    It’s easy to fall behind when the amount of data builds up faster than you can type. Lower the risk of wrong keystrokes, data double-ups, or incomplete records by using integrated cannabis regulatory compliance software that updates all records in all locations at once.

  • Read the rules

    Wading through local and state cannabis ordinances can be tedious, but it makes sense for you to understand the specifics related to your area of operation. Internalize the rules that relate to your business and discuss your questions with your attorney or cannabis business consultant.

  • Automate reporting

    Let your marijuana compliance software log into your local cannabis bureau and report your numbers automatically. By pulling data directly from your transactions and inventory reports, the software shares your stats with regulators, so you don’t have to deal with the fallout if someone on your staff forgets or fails to report.

  • Be a good neighbor

    Many communities are still unfamiliar with the true company culture of a legal cannabis operation. Show them that your organization is dedicated to the wellbeing of the areas in which you do business. Participate in high-visibility community volunteer work, get to know local law enforcement, and invite local area residents and business owners into your facility for a tour (after hours, when your product has been securely stored). Strengthening these relationships helps build support for your business and demystifies cannabis culture.

  • Establish a dedicated team

    Using integrated marijuana compliance software is a huge step toward systematizing your compliance procedures, but it’s a good idea to take it one step further. Establish a role or department at your organization or hire a cannabis compliance consultant whose sole function is to keep an eye on shifting regulations and make sure your business is following all the rules.