Keeping up with Cannabis Regulatory Changes
Summertime in Colorado is known for a vast selection of experiences for the every day tourist, locals, and someone like myself, a weekend warrior. There are so many things happening at any given moment in our state to indulge in. However for some of us, summertime in Colorado also represents regulation implementation dates. Such as July 1, as it seems almost every summer there is a new packaging or labeling rule to adhere to and the beginning of Colorado's State licensing authority summer rule-making sessions.
As some of us are still getting our footing with the new packaging and labeling rules, which began famously on July 1, and also Pesticide testing began on August 1, 2018. It seems as if those are now in the rear view mirror. We are looking ahead to the red-lined draft proposed rules and moving into the process of rendering them permanent rules this fall. I get asked all the time, how does one catch their breath? or keep up?
I think one approach to compliance, is to take it in phases or steps. As opposed to panicking and waiting last minute to get it done. Compliance does not have to be reactionary, when you are prepared and do your homework. It pays to be proactive and remain engaged in the process at all times.
Frankly, there are some people doing a pretty good job out there and maintaining compliance. However, there are some treading water, trying to keep a float.
Here are some questions I get asked from time to time. What if I am a smaller business, with a small team? How am I supposed to keep up, when it changes all the time? Or I heard from this dispensary or MIP producer or grow it is really this and not that.
Kind of mind spinning. I think the managers have a bigger challenge, then when I was a dispensary manager. In the sense, there is more to keep up with; like 600 pages of regulations and constant rule changes, not to mention they still have their managing role to fulfill.
It is easy to get complacent when there is minimal enforcement and then add being overwhelmed with too much regulation. I am seeing some facilities relying on big enforcement coming down on the larger companies or chains.
This is a dangerous mindset to operate from in a regulated business. Survival is based on being subordinate and actively engaged with the regulations. Trying to fly under the radar eventually can catch up to you.
There are solutions. For some people, this can be a daunting task. As an entrepreneur, it can be a matter of having to work in the business and on the business at the same time and discover your dream team for your operation while working in the trenches with them.
More than ever, it is important to lean into your processes, policies and structure in your business. Hire employees who are driven, hard workers, hungry for knowledge, career oriented, and leaders.
6 Tips for keeping up with Cannabis Regulation
1. Weekly or daily team compliance meetings with staff. This will continually build a culture of compliance, and normalize working in a regulated environment. Always include ALL employees in compliance, no matter their job role. Genuinely appreciate your employees while you are conducting these meetings, additionally this will keep your employees inspired and eager in wanting to learn more.
2. Get involved in the Rule Making Session. As an owner, employee or consultant, you can apply to be part of the rule making process. Even if you do not get selected - there are still ways to be involved, such as submitting public comments to the MED
3. Read the Proposed Draft Red-Lined Rules. Prepare yourself for what is around the corner. Do not try and eat the entire elephant in the room at once. Take it in pieces, stages, this will help eliminate feeling overwhelmed. Also do not wait until the implementation date to read the rules.
4. Monthly Manager Compliance Meetings. This is different then having a compliance meeting with all level of employees. Managers should be creating a support system within the company. Each month pick a focused topic to talk about, for example - maybe you focus on pesticide testing, and see if the testing facility you currently use will come and attend your meeting to be available for questions.
5. Do not take it on alone. Reach out for support. I know plenty of managers, and consultants who reach out to each other because they are flying solo in some of these facilities. Reach out to the company attorney, with permission of course. Remember this, bad data in means bad data out. Try to not get misinformed and do the research.
6. Audit, Audit, Audit, Audit. I repeat myself a lot, but for good reason. Performing a self internal audit once a month is one way to catch things. Hiring a 3rd party auditor is another way to find out where you are exactly at in the compliance arena, from an outside assessment.