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Properly utilizing the right technology for the right reasons can significantly improve a cannabis company’s operations and compliance, which is now more important than ever as the U.S. heads closer to federal legalization and licensed cannabis operators being able to work with traditional banks, lenders, and insurers. At this point, while no one knows exactly what federal legalization will look like, it is likely that federal regulations will sit on top of state and local regulations, resulting in more rather than fewer regulations. The benefits of federal legalization, however, should more than offset the additional regulatory burden.
The goal of cannabis compliance technology is to improve or simplify the many challenges cannabis cultivators, processors, and retailers face every day. These challenges range from finding quick answers to regulatory questions to documenting proof of compliant operations company-wide in all areas of operations, from inventory and quality control to facility management, security, sales, and transport/delivery.
Improving Compliance with Technology
Utilizing the right compliance technology for your business will improve compliance culture by increasing awareness and importance of compliance initiatives. Here’s a quick list of cannabis compliance technology to consider for your licensed cannabis business:
Auditing Software: To document and track facility operations and compliance with external (regulatory agency) and internal (company) policies and procedures
Business Intelligence Tool (BI): To fulfill financial reporting requirements, centralize data
Digital Menus: To provide patients, caregivers, and adult-use customers with updated product information, including lab results, availability, and pricing
Document Management Systems (DMS): To centralize and manage documents, including evolving company policies and procedures
Electronic Tracking Systems (ETS): Systems to track inventory from seed to sale, often required by the state where the licensed facility is located
Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP): To track and integrate the management of business departments and processes
Global Positioning System (GPS): To track cannabis transport and deliveries, often required by the state where the licensed facility is located
Learning Management Systems (LMS): To centralize training and training documentation
Payment Processing: To move away from cash-only transactions
Point of Sale Systems (POS): Often integrated with ETS to document sales and returns, customers, and inventory levels
Regulatory Update Platforms: To keep tabs on changing rules and regulations
Video Surveillance Systems: To protect against theft and diversion, often required by the state where the licensed facility is located
Defining the Tech Evaluation Process
To help choose the best compliance technology tools for your business and ensure the tools work together to improve compliance, operations, and profits, consider reaching out to a cannabis technology stack consultant. Some consultants work on an hourly or project basis, while others offer a free service to cannabis operators and get paid by receiving referral agreement fees from technology providers.
To best implement and utilize your chosen technology tools, consider involving key team members in the decision-making and implementation process. Review feature sets with the staff members that will be using them and ultimately responsible for the technology’s return on investment (ROI). Here are a few things to consider during the technology evaluation process:
- Contract: Carefully read the contract. Are the terms fair, and do they work for your business?
- Customer Support: Does the technology provider provide robust customer service, or will you be on your own with online resources and FAQ pages?
- Designed and Built: The cannabis industry has unique challenges. Consider whether or not the technology solutions were specifically designed and built to address and solve cannabis industry issues.
- Features: Does the solution offer all the features you need? Will you be paying for additional features you won’t utilize?
- Onboarding: How difficult and how much time will it take for your team to be trained and fully utilize the system?
- Scalability: Will this solution scale as your business grows?
Positioning your company as a compliance leader will not only provide protection against costly deficiencies and fines, it will improve operations, standardize products, help you build a trusted and profitable brand, and ultimately, better prepare your company to profit from future licensing opportunities and be prepared for federal legalization when the time finally arrives.
Author Short Bio:
Dede Perkins, the co-founder of Onside Compliance, Inc., and ProCanna, has a true entrepreneurial spirit. She joined the cannabis industry in 2013 as a member of the application team that won one of the first competitive vertically integrated applications in Massachusetts. After that, she helped win cannabis licenses in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Nevada. A regulatory specialist, Dede is passionate about combining compliance with operational excellence, safe, standardized products, empowered employees; strong company culture and brands.