Amanda Ostrowitz, attorney, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of CannaRegs Ltd, winner of last fall’s Marijuana Tech Startup Competition, told MJINews that it will launch its web-accessible database of medical and retail law and regulations in late May 2015.
The initial rollout covers Colorado. The next state will be Nevada during the summer, and the Illinois statutory and regulatory library will debut in late summer or early fall. The ultimate goal is an online legal reference resource that covers all federal, state and local laws relevant to the legal marijuana industry. The secret, for the consumer, may be in its targeted search capabilities.
“We are the kind of company that can benefit everyone,” Ostrowitz said. “We would like to see every licensee with a subscription, so that they can be proactive in legal compliance. Investors’ decisions are driven by the law, and it’s the kind of resource that can give professionals, like attorneys and accountants, the ability to work in this space.”
For consumers of regulations, three things are important: searchability; confidence that the material is correct and up-to-date; and access to the commentary, opinions and administrative positions that are often as important as the law, itself.
CannaRegs addresses these requirements in several ways. Its intuitive smart search feature allows users to sort through multiple layers of specificity to find the sections of law and regulations that apply to certain situations. The company’s platform organizes laws and analyses into distinct categories—taxation, zoning, application and licensing, packaging and labeling, health and safety; and it sorts them by license type—dispensary, cultivation, manufacturing, testing—so that subscribers have easy access to the information they need.
The database’s browse feature allows users familiar with certain sections of law to go directly to those sections and browse through numerically adjacent sections and subparagraphs, much as a reader would flip back and forth through a hardcopy resource. In addition, each user will build a profile of interests that will drive personalized e-mail updates to provide current information on developing issues while reducing the risk of information overload.
CannaRegs staff currently consists of four attorneys and a chief technology officer. All material that goes into the database is cross-checked by at least two attorneys. CannaRegs views its role as a user-friendly re-packager of the law, rather than as a generator of material, so the database will feature full citations to original sources. Finally, material such as industry bulletins and position statements will be hyperlinked to the sections of law on which the company offers comment.
What does the future hold for CannaRegs? “We are completely bootstrapped so everyone is in it to win it and has a vested interest in the company,” Ostrowitz said. After the library rollouts for Nevada and Illinois, Ostrowitz expects the speed of expansion to increase, but much depends on the success of the company’s initial phase.
Much also depends on the state of the industry. There is every reason to expect that legal marijuana will emerge as a heavily regulated industry. Public and legislative attitude toward legalization is volatile and will be informed by many factors, including the ability of legal businesses to comply with the rules. An accurate, up-to-date, user-friendly legal resource may help create the conditions in which marijuana businesses, including CannaRegs, can thrive.