Running a successful cannabis enterprise is a team effort. Hiring employees is important, but you also need a few key ancillary services to oversee those aspects of the business that you can’t manage on your own. While different businesses will have different needs, there are at least six services that are indispensable to every operation.
First and foremost, every canna-business needs solid legal representation. The industry can be a regulatory nightmare, and every small oversight can endanger your license. There are complex track-and-trace requirements, marketing restrictions, waste disposal protocols, and even product packaging guidelines.
In addition, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. Although the government has not made a point of interfering in legal state cannabis markets (and has even issued a memorandum to that effect), there’s no guarantee that federal intervention won’t become a problem in the future.
Marijuana remains a high-risk enterprise even in the most cannabis-friendly states. If you want to keep your business above-board and have the means to defend against claims that threaten your livelihood, you need an attorney that specializes in cannabis enterprises.
The IRS is aggressively pursuing cannabis businesses for federal income tax audits. The disconnect between state and federal law, coupled with the added scrutiny imposed upon cash businesses, has caused Uncle Sam to set his sights on organizations that produce and distribute cannabis.
For this reason, it’s absolutely critical that every dollar is properly accounted for. Given the complexities of cannabis accounting and bookkeeping, you’ll want to work with a certified public accountant who is familiar with the cannabis industry and its financial regulations. One nice thing about working with a CPA is that—if you do happen to get audited—they can resolve the matter on your behalf. A regular accountant cannot act as your representative.
Cannabis waste can’t simply go into the dumpster. It has to be broken down, rendered unusable, weighed, tracked, traced, and delivered to an approved landfill or composting facility. The regulations are precise, complicated, and different in every state.
For most canna-businesses, the only way to remain in compliance is to work with a company like GAIACA, who offer end-to-end fully-licensed cannabis waste management solutions. They will work with you to develop a customized waste disposal plan and oversee all waste removal. They provide specialized waste containers, transform the waste as required by law, take care of all track-and-trace requirements, and deliver the waste to approved disposal facilities.
Though cannabis point-of-sale companies and payment processors are slowly helping to diversify customers’ payment options, the cannabis industry remains predominantly a cash business. Add to that the fact that cannabis businesses stock large volumes of high-value inventory, and it’s easy to see why these enterprises are often the targets of robbery, theft, and even violence.
Every cannabis business needs an end-to-end security solution. A quality provider will equip you with a complete in-house security and surveillance system, on-site security professionals, and armored vehicle solutions for transporting products. Some of the savvier companies will even include cybersecurity solutions to protect your digital assets. Whether you operate a dispensary that’s open to the public or a private grow house that’s available to personnel only, security should be a top priority.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply run down to your local Wells Fargo and open a business checking account. Most traditional banks won’t do business with cannabis organizations due to the high-risk nature of the industry and the discrepancy between state and federal laws. Fortunately, options are available.
Though cannabis banking reform is still in limbo as far as the federal SAFE Banking Act is concerned, a number of alternative banking options have emerged to fill this desperate need. Granted, cannabis banking solutions can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month in fees to offset the risk, but consider it a cost of doing business.
When comparing cannabis banking providers, always go with options that are FDIC-insured. Look for banks that offer payment processing solutions so that you can manage all of your financial transactions with ease.
Once again, this is a costly expense due to the high-risk nature of the business. But if your organization is sued, raided, or subject to other occupational hazards, you do not want to be left without a dependable insurance solution.
Some insurance providers even work as consultants, helping you to remain in compliance with key regulations and even working with you to expand your sales channels. If nothing else, insurance will give you the peace of mind necessary to run your business with total confidence.
There are other ancillary services that every cannabis should consider, including investors, consulting firms, and real estate experts. You can browse providers of these and other services in any B2B cannabis business directory. Compare your options, browse reviews, and solicit recommendations from friends in the industry.
The above services should help any business to start with a firm foundation for regulatory compliance and long-term success. When putting together your business plan, don’t overlook any of these essential secondary services.