Owning and operating a cannabis dispensary can be an exciting and profitable profession. There is a huge opportunity in the cannabis industry with projected growth to be anywhere between 80 and 300 billion over the coming decades. That being said, running a dispensary can be a challenge. The cannabis industry is heavily regulated and unprepared dispensary owners can easily find themselves in a world of trouble. Without a guide or compliance checklist for cannabis dispensaries, you can easily get lost.
So how do you do things right? Your friends at BLAZE are here to help. We’ve put together a handy compliance checklist for cannabis dispensaries just for you!
Compliance Checklist for Cannabis Dispensaries
Obtaining Business License and Permits
Just like in any business, you need to have the required licenses and permits. Each state will have different requirements and laws regarding cannabis sales. Take the time to look into what is asked of you and make sure you look for any county and city regulations as well. Preparing early on will set you up for success.
Here’s so places to get started with your state requirements.
- AK – Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office
- AZ – Arizona Department of Health Services
- CA – Bureau of Cannabis Control California
- CO – Colorado Department of Revenue – Enforcement Division
- FL – Florida Department of Health Office of Medical Marijuana Use
- ME – Department of Administrative and Financial Services Office of Marijuana Policy
- MD – Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission
- MA – Cannabis Control Commission
- MI – Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
- MO – Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
- MT – Montana Medical Program
- NV – Department of Taxation
- OK – Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority
- OR – Oregon Liquor Control Commission
After you’ve received your permits you’ll need to keep them up to date. Many permits require renewal on a yearly basis. Make sure you keep track of timelines and requirements.
You’ll also need to make sure your permits are visible. Compliance officers have the right to audit your business. When they do, they’ll ask for your legal documentation.
If you decide to grow your own flowers or manufacture products, then they will need to meet strict standards. You’ll have to send your items to a licensed lab which will test for things like potency, homogeneity, toxins, and contaminants. Even if you don’t produce your own products, you’ll need to obtain testing information from third-party vendors confirming that they have passed inspection.
Make sure you mark that your items have “passed” on your state track-and-trace program.
Each state will have its own labeling requirements. However, one that is consistent across the board is displaying the amount of THC that product has. Some items are required to have dosage and serving size included. Additionally some states will require child-proof packaging as well.
Depending on the state, there will be different things you need to include. These may include the following:
- Warning statement
- Date of sale
- Package ID
- Cannabinoid range
- Physician name
- Net weight
- Tested status
- Strain name
Don’t Forget About Audits
Just like with your licenses and permits, your products are subject to audits as well. Doing self audits will help make sure what is in your store, your POS, and in your state compliance system is all in alignment.
Creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s)
Standard operating procedures are an incredibly useful tool in operating your business and training your staff just like this compliance checklist for cannabis dispensaries. They’re especially helpful in the cannabis industry. SOP’s can work to prevent errors and ensure that your staff is working with compliance goals in mind. Considering things like opening and closing stores and waste removal are important for compliance and SOP’s can minimize the margin for error.
Onboarding and New Employees
Staying compliant isn’t a solo job. Your staff will play a large part in your compliance goals. Thoroughly vetting new hires is crucial in building your team. Some states will require certification for cannabis handlers as well. A trustworthy, well-trained team will work to keep things above board.
Employees and Cannabis Dispensary Compliance
Compliance is a complicated topic and employees have a lot they have to remember. From sales, to product, compliance as another level of duty onto an already crowded plate. Properly training your staff and developing a compliance checklist creates good habits early on and makes compliance a part of their everyday duties.
Having a clear hierarchy is also helpful for compliance. When employees know who they have to reach out to when any issues arise, it improves communication and reaction times. This can catch compliance issues early on and prevent them from turning into larger issues that create financial and legal problems down the road.
Seed to Sale Compliance and Audits
No matter the state procedures in place, they all require seed to sale tracking. That means you must keep detailed records of everything from inventory to sales and disposal. Seed to sale tracking software like BLAZE can help!
Once again, you need to be prepared for audits. Schedule regular internal audits yourself to make sure your team is up to date on policies and procedures and used to the process. Creating an audit checklist and keeping detailed records will help you when the time comes for a real audit.
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes
We all know that taxes are just a part of everyday life. The cannabis industry is no different. In our industry, taxes can be a bit more complex. Having tax and accounting help will go a long way in helping you avoid fines and audits. Cannabis businesses are also subject to Internal Revenue Code 280E.
Security for Cannabis Dispensaries
Security is a huge part of running a dispensary. Many states will require patrons to check in with a specialized employee or security officer before they enter. Designing your store with that in mind can prevent confusion and security lapses. Once there, customers must show ID and your team needs to be adept at reviewing IDs and verifying their age.
Security also entails a camera system, software firewalls, and onsite security guards. First off, every state requires 24-hour video surveillance of their dispensary. Additionally, have cameras pointed towards access points and an alarm system will help prevent suspect or illegal activity.
Lastly, you must secure your cash. Dispensaries generate a lot of onsite cash, which can be a huge risk. Having a safe, and one that is only accessible by owners and managers, will keep your cash secure while on premises.
Cannabis Compliance Checklist for Customers
There are some important compliance guidelines to follow when it comes to interacting with and selling to your customers.
First off, never let your customer touch the product. This is mostly a sanitary concern. Customers may be shown the product and allowed to smell flowers, but keep it at that.
Next off, pay careful attention to how much you’re selling your customers and never over sell. Every state has strict purchase limits. Violating those limits can have serious repercussions. Make note that some states have individual purchase limits for a set amount of time. Keeping track of all of these things is part of running a dispensary.
Another important compliance piece to keep tally of, is making sure your products are stored in tamper proof packaging. Flowers are required to be sealed in opaque, tamper proof containers and packaging.
Lastly, no gifting. Plenty of cannabis dispensary owners have made this mistake in the past to their own detriment. Dispensaries are forbidden from giving out free products. That includes limited time offers and deals. Be sure to review your state laws on the subject before putting together holiday offers and marketing campaigns.
Compliance Checklist for Cannabis Dispensaries: Conclusion
Running a dispensary is a tough, but rewarding career. Once you understand the compliance requirements of your operation and plan accordingly, you can confidently run your business without the fear of legal issues. BLAZE is happy to be a partner in new and existing dispensary operations. If you’d like to learn how our software can power your business and keep it compliant, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our sales team and book a demo.