With so many new state marijuana markets coming online across the country, we are often laser focused on all of the challenges of building new marijuana businesses from the ground up. However, it’s important to keep in mind the challenges of establishing new regulatory models as well. States like Colorado, Washington, and others have done a tremendous job collaborating with new markets, offering best practices, and pointing out common pitfalls. However, there is still a learning curve. Complia is a resource to agencies across the country, and through these experiences, we’d like to offer five important tips for new regulators:
- First, really make an effort to study and understand the industry. There are always issues that might not seem like a big issue at face value but that can cause tremendous headaches for businesses. For example, some jurisdictions require the use of IR (infrared) cameras when the lights are off in a grow room. However, cannabis plants can still “see” the IR light and as a result, the plant growth can be severely impacted. Another common issue is contamination. If you intend on visiting multiple cultivation centers in the same day, make sure you have strong decontamination procedures in place to ensure you don’t accidentally carry a contaminant or residue from one facility to the next.
- Make it a point to communicate regularly with your colleagues, even if they are located in offices across the state. Odds are they’ve bumped into an issue similar to one you’re working on or will encounter an issue you’re sure to face down the road. Setting aside some time each week for communication and collaboration can help educate the team and promote consistent and fair enforcement.
- Invest in the relationships with the businesses you are tasked with regulating. As my mom always told me, “If you’re in trouble, I’d rather hear from you than the principal!” The same is true in cannabis regulation. If the businesses you regulate trust that you will take a fair and reasonable approach, you’d be shocked by how forthcoming a responsible cannabis business will be if they’ve made a mistake. Open and honest communication will promote a collaborative regulatory environment that makes everybody’s lives easier!
- Take an active role in the legislative and rulemaking process. If you find that a particular rule or statute has unnecessary and unintended consequences that are causing headaches for both you and businesses alike, say something! The democratic process it a great tool for moving the industry forward for all stakeholders.
- Lastly, ask for help when you need it! This is a new and exciting industry, and nobody is expected to know everything. The Compliance Analysts at Complia are always available to help and there are a number of regulatory focused consulting firms out there such as the newly formed Freedman & Koski. When in doubt, drop us a line!
Regulators are a critical component to the cannabis industry. Strong regulatory models have provided lawmakers and constituents the confidence to enact sweeping legislation across the country. Let’s work together to keep the industry growing in the right direction!
Yours in Compliance,