Compliance and Cannabis: Don’t Criticize It, Legitimize It

Patrick Weir
14 posts

The election may be a turning point for legal cannabis, but if that’s the case, it should also be turning point for how the industry thinks about the value of compliance training. The Cannabis Industry should embrace compliance training.

Best Practices Aren’t Codified Or Standardized

At present, about half the states have legalized cannabis for medical use. This election cycle, nine more states will consider legalizing either medical or recreational cannabis. As The Atlantic pointed out, the consequences of this election cycle could increase the percentage of Americans who are legally entitled to use recreational cannabis from 5 percent to one-quarter of the population. But of course, it’s important to remember that the production, sale, and consumption of cannabis will, for the time being, remain illegal under federal law.

What does this mean if you own a cannabis business? Well, aside from legal uncertainty, it puts the onus on the business owner to establish best practices and train their employees accordingly.

Cannabis employers will reap several benefits from well-trained employees as well. Training can reduce costly mistakes, help reduce legal risks, and implement greater efficiencies.

Set Your Business Apart From The Pack

In the short-run, a business that fails to articulate its own best practices and invest in its employees to ensure compliance will have difficulty differentiating itself. After all, your employees are your ambassadors; what will it say about your brand, if they operate in an unprofessional or, worse, illegal manner. The need to address that concern is true of any industry, but it’s especially pronounced in the cannabis sector for two reasons.

First, early experiments with recreational cannabis have come with increased public health concerns, which in turn demonstrate a need for better consumer education. Well-trained employees can play a vital role in educating consumers. Second, an influx of venture capital into the space will, over time, make for a crowded marketplace. By investing in training, employers will not only attract high-quality employees, they’ll take the lead in setting consumer expectations when it comes to product and purchase experience.

Training is a bridge to working with regulators

Over the long run, all evidence points to the likelihood that the U.S. will have a legal and national cannabis industry someday. That won’t happen overnight, but along the way, lawmakers will call on industry leaders to help set policy that governs the production, sale, and consumption of cannabis products. In fact, that process has been underway for quite some time in states like California, which has a 30-year history with medical cannabis. 
Effective employee training and compliance programs are some of the hallmarks of an industry leader, regardless of the specific sector. Regulators will seek input from companies that take training seriously.  Before granting access to a community, local officials will want to know if a business is serious about complying local and state regulations. And, given the nuance inherent in moving from a black market to a legal one, it’s important to remember that compliance training will help legitimate businesses set themselves apart from those operating illegally.  

Training Also Teaches The Employer Something

Cannabis employers will reap several benefits from well-trained employees as well. Training can reduce costly mistakes, help reduce legal risks, and implement greater efficiencies. It can also tell you something about your employees. By collecting data and taking an adaptive approach to competency learning, employers can pinpoint what each employee really knows, and where there are knowledge gaps within the organization. Only by making smart, accountable investments in its workforce, will the cannabis industry reach its full potential. After all, we don’t know how big legal cannabis will be (estimates range into the billions of dollars), but we do know the key to scaling the industry is demonstrating how similar cannabis is to other respected industries.