Compliance vs Complacency

Written by: Jenny Germano

After working in the Cannabis industry now for almost a decade in Colorado, I am learning a lot about compliance vs complacency. It is not something that is discussed a lot, but it is always on my mind.

Even though my business runs mostly on referrals, I still really enjoy hitting the streets. What I mean in terms of “hitting the streets” is cold calling dispensaries. I like rolling up my sleeves and getting involved.

Going door to door, is one of the ways I get to see what is really happening on the front lines when it comes to compliance. It is not about me getting work out of it, but more about how I can come up with solutions to the issues I am hearing about in the actual employee trenches. I love talking with employees and getting their feedback, learning about what is lacking and what is also going great.

One of the things I am seeing, and this is not new here in Colorado. I am seeing a lack of enforcement from the State. I am always completely blown away by the lack of State inspections at facilities. It honestly is a mixed bag for me and others I know.

Some retail licenses are getting inspected right away, especially if they are brand new. I know some places on the medical side, they have not seen the State in like two years. There is no rhyme or reason to the madness.

I thought by now facilities would be getting yearly routine State inspections. It is just not simply the case.

Why does this happen in a State where we are role models for other States who are implementing our regulatory model? Why is there a disconnect?

I am not sure when or if it will ever be addressed or corrected. I am not here to fix the States enforcement issues, I am here to help owners and employees be successful in their endeavors in this industry.

Being complacent is a normal human experience. I want to highlight how important it is to know that. At some point in our life, we face challenges of either personal or professional turmoil, and maybe the things that were once easy are not so easy anymore and have become daunting, which then causes people get overwhelmed.

Here are a few reasons why we have complacency in a regulated market.

  • Lack of enforcement of the rules. This can be a result of inconsistent state inspections or lack of violations when there are violations.
  • Lack of Clarity. This happens when there tends to be too many interpretations of the law or it is stuck in a gray area.
  • Too much regulation – over regulated. Sometimes owners, or managers cannot keep up.
  • The lack of training with employees – having no accountability.
  • Regulations piling up can cause too much overwhelm – it is human nature to shut down.
  • Burned out in the business – no more passion - something gets lost along the way. 
  • Not 100% invested in the overall business – not enough skin in the game.

I know not everyone who reads this is facing this issue, but there are people in this industry who are or could be on their way to experiencing this. Good people who really do not want to break the law but maybe do not know where to start or have run out of solutions or are completely unaware this is happening in their business.

Being complacent does eventually catch up. It can indirectly affect your business. It shows up in having no employee retention, employees stop caring and are no longer invested, a decrease in customers, or lack of sales.  
How can we combat complacency?

  • There is always an opportunity to course correct. Here are a few suggestions.
  • Engage 100% in compliance – recommitting is free and is not limited to one time only.
  • Do an internal assessment of your employees – put them to the test and what they know. Assess the compliance culture. Or even if you have one.
  • Find out truly where you are at and what needs to be remediated.
  • I know I say this over and over. But a 3rd party internal audit of your license facility will expose the areas that are lacking.
  • Implement structure and accountability with your team
  • Invest in compliance - it is investing your business and yourself as a person.

Waiting for the state to come in and tell you what is wrong is not a good approach, nor the best position to put yourself in. It is far riskier to do nothing at all as opposed to asking for help.

I know my approach to compliance is different than some other people and can be a little out of the box. I know it works because apply these concepts in my own business, with my clients and in my personal life.

My goal and passion is to normalize some of these processes and regulatory road bumps we face in this ever changing, and sometimes unstable industry. The outcome I want for all owners, and employees is to be successful. In order to be successful compliance needs to always be the number one priority on the list.


ICS Consulting specializes in Compliance based services, such as Third-Party State Regulatory Audits, State and Local License Application Support, Technical Writing, Standard Operating Procedures Development, Compliance Operations Training, Employee Retention Solutions, and Employee Onboarding. For more information on how ICS Consulting Service can help your Cannabis Business, book a free 30-minute consult and we'll help you map out your next steps to be successful in the Regulated Cannabis Industry.