When it comes to the legal marijuana industry, the devil is in the details; and nothing is more devilish, or more onerous, than complying with the intricate rules and regulations imposed upon the industry.
On March 6, 2017, at the California Cannabis Business Expo, entrepreneurs and investors were given a firsthand lesson on the ins and outs of marijuana compliance and enforcement from Silvia San Nicolas, the Chief Strategy Officer of Compliance for MJIC Compliance.
In her session, San Nicolas stressed the importance of businesses keeping detailed records of their actions to prove that they are being compliant with the law. Citing a recent audit of 300 dispensaries, San Nicolas reported that 90% of compliance violations were for failure to keep seed-to-sale tracking up to date.
“It doesn’t matter if you were compliant or not, it’s about what you can prove,” San Nicolas said. “You have to be able to demonstrate that you have complied with all the different regulations that are imposed on our industry.”
Calling compliance a spectrum, with the black market one end and a 100% compliant business on the other, San Nicolas explained that most businesses fall somewhere between those two extremes. Because there are things outside of an entrepreneur’s control, according to San Nicolas, sometimes it is beyond challenging to be completely compliant with regulations all the time.
San Nicolas went on to say that despite the burdens imposed on the marijuana industry, it is important to strive for complete compliance because working outside of the law puts everyone in danger.
“Not complying is a risk to the industry. Everything that will move us forward is going to be consistent with being a regulated and tax paying participant.”
Emphasizing that appearances matter, San Nicolas predicts that the public’s perception of the marijuana industry will become increasingly determined by how regulatory compliant the industry is as a whole.
“I think what we’re going to see moving forward is a stratification of the way that cannabis enterprises are looked at. You’re either licensed and you’re a documented entrepreneur under a regulatory scheme or you’re not.”
Closing out her informative session, San Nicolas reassured attendees that tackling marijuana regulation is no different from eating an elephant — you just eat it one bite at a time.