Collaboration is Key to Helping “Mom & Pop” Canna-Biz Survive and Grow

As the historic “Green Rush” unfolds before our very eyes, these are undoubtedly exciting times for California and the nation. Some have joked that the Golden State may soon witness more cannabis dispensaries than Starbucks stores on every street corner. In time, that may prove to be the case, but unlike the corporate coffee giant, these cannabis businesses will, at least at first, all be small businesses. That includes not only dispensaries, but growers, distributors, marketers and others literally growing their position and profile in this space.

As this industry expands and explodes in the weeks, months and years ahead, it will be critically important for policy makers and business leaders to work together to find that “sweet spot” for properly regulating this industry. There are clearly — and rightly — a number of concerns that cannabis-growing regulations done the wrong way could put many or most small businesses out of business. After all, California already has myriad onerous rules, costs and standards that disproportionately fall on small businesses the most. Small businesses, on average pay three times more than larger corporations to comply with taxes, 37% more to comply with regulations and are the most common victims of frivolous “drive-by” lawsuits.

It was widely expected and/or feared that the gold standard and strict rules for legalization established by Oregon would be mimicked or expanded upon in California. Well, the jury may still be out as we look at the long game, but thanks to some good work from California stakeholders and politicians, so far so good. The Governor, Legislature and state Bureau of Cannabis Control took responsible initial steps last year to lay the foundation with uniform rules, regulations and practices to keep our communities and citizens protected and safe.

And many growers began implementing these protocols far before the California regulations were put into place to get ahead of the curve and be prepared for what was to come.

To that end, I would encourage small business owners within the industry to take some key measures to ensure the right balance continues to be found during this rapid-fire phase of growth:

· Stay Close to Your Elected Representatives — talk and share openly with your local councilmembers, supervisors, legislators and member of congress — and their staff — so they fully understand what your business does and what is needed (or not needed) to ensure you can continue to create jobs, feed the economy and support the community in a legal, responsible and effective manner. Not only will this help you to understand which laws and rules are in place or coming around the bend, it will allow you to be an active participant in shaping such policy.

· Identify Additional Ways You Can “Get Ahead of the Curve” with Standards — it would behoove growers and others within the industry to identify other ways they can ensure quality control of their products and implement additional safety measures in advance of other future regulations. For example, if it makes sense to note the name of delivery personnel or keep a delivery log, do so.

· Become involved with organizations that best represent and serve your organization and industry — and where you can be a key player. The National Federation of Independent Business is a great organization advocating on behalf of small businesses. The California Cannabis Industry Association is the leading organization within the state serving our industry needs and goals. Local chambers and economic development organizations can also be key information and advocacy groups. Whatever the organization, find the ones that best suit your needs and don’t just join — engage!

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, as many politicians and pundits often claim. They’re right, and this is no different as the burgeoning cannabis industry sweeps across California and likely other states across the U.S. It is important for our policymakers and others to do all they can to support and not decimate that backbone so that more people can find employment and our communities can thrive with bustling economies. We can all do our part to grow, grow, grow — and that begins with active information, engagement and transparency into a great 2018 and beyond.

 

Original post in Medium.

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