While dramatic increases in product demand may seem like a cannabis business owner’s dream, maintaining compliance with unstable and unstandardized cannabis regulations can bring on more than a few nightmares. Every legal jurisdiction seems to have different guidelines, requirements, and procedures than the next, with some in-jurisdiction laws differing even between municipalities.
Although maintaining compliance may seem like an unnecessary challenge without an immediately obvious return on investment, the real nightmare for cannabis operators begins once they’re found in violation. Non-compliance consequences usually include huge fines, the temporary loss of business, and even business license forfeiture.
As a cannabis professional, you know that regulatory compliance isn’t optional and instead, an absolutely critical function of every cannabis operation. From cultivators and manufacturers to distributors and retailers, no business in the seed-to-sale supply chain can expect longevity in this industry without a plan that ensures adherence to local, state, and federal laws.
Common Cannabis Compliance Issues
One of the most common complaints regarding regulatory compliance involves the amount of time you have to spend on compliance: maintaining adherence, team member training, and preventing non-compliance violations from happening.
Let’s face it, this is a burden that doesn’t seem to directly correspond to a return on investment, particularly if you are a smaller cannabis business operating on thinner margins than some of the big guys. When time is among the most valuable things you have, wouldn’t you rather focus on front-end concerns that yield the more obvious benefits to the bottom line?
Often it’s the level of cannabis regulation complexities that takes so much time and energy to overcome. Without approval and regulation on the federal level, requirements can drastically vary by government, subject to rapid changes by-laws and local legislatures. Maintaining compliance becomes a more significant challenge if you are a growing business with an eye toward expansion into more than one location in multiple jurisdictions.
Together with medical privacy requirements, food safety, occupational safety, tax regulations, and other conditions, it seems like you’re spending more time investing in learning and implementing compliance initiatives than in product, facilities, or operational investments. These regulations have proven to be the most unstable, with many local and municipal governments behaving inconsistently, seemingly unsure of what they were doing week to week.
Many cannabis businesses found ways to quickly adapt to new health regulations, mandatory facility closures, and point of sale changes. Dispensaries once focused on efficient customer service in limited-space shops now have to ensure social distancing, customer turnover, enhanced sanitation, and new capacity limits.
Alleviating Compliance Pains
With more jurisdictions poised to follow legalization trends in the next few years and lasting changes from an ongoing pandemic, the complaints concerning regulatory compliance are likely to get louder and more frequent.
However, you can meet these challenges through systematic planning and the right cannabis tools to continue growing within the industry while striving for perfect compliance records.
The most impactful steps you can take as a cannabis business include acknowledging the significance and planning for 100% compliance. Not only does compliance protect your business from incurring hefty fines and licensure consequences, but regulations also work to protect the safety of customers and staff.
Regulatory compliance isn’t just about avoiding fines and protecting a business’s finances – it’s about providing a quality product consistently in a safe and secure environment. Tainted products can injure consumers, while children and animals are at risk of accidental consumption resulting from insufficient packaging.
As a cannabis operator, once you adequately acknowledge the implications of maintaining compliance, you can begin developing a plan to make it happen. Depending on the scope and size of your operation, requirements specific can vary from one cannabis business to the next. If you run a cannabis business with front-end sales, for example, you may be required to follow regulations that a delivery-only company would not be required to follow.
Ensuring your compliance plan focuses on the applicable statutes for your business type will save time, energy, and vital resources. Consulting with cannabis compliance experts is an economic investment every cannabis business owner should make. They’ll teach you about meticulous record-keeping while helping you examine local regulations and understand the requirements specific to your business type.
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