Medical Marijuana for High-Performance Athletes: Truths & Myths Exposed

Higher Yields Consulting Medical Marijuana & High-Performance Athletes

It may seem incongruous to speak of medical marijuana and high-performance athletes in the same breath. Cannabis is hardly the image one associates with an athlete, yet medical marijuana is used in all levels of athletics. It’s just not widely talked about. 

Many athletes use different forms of cannabis (either ingested into the body or absorbed by applying on the skin) to help ease anxiety, reduce muscle inflammation, and maintain their weight. 

Higher Yields Consulting Medical Marijuana & High-Performance Athletes

The stigma of marijuana (cannabis) use is still high in many parts of the world, but with the increase in legal marijuana states, public opinion is softening. Recreational and medical marijuana laws differ greatly. So, would it make sense for athletes to be granted legal access to cannabis? That’s my hope, but it’s not that simple. 

Here are the pros and cons of medical marijuana in athletics and my predictions for the future of cannabis in sports.

Pros & Cons of Medical Marijuana for Athletes 

As a competitive bikini bodybuilder, I’ve seen firsthand how much marijuana can help athletes. When I ran track and played soccer in college, I tried using western medicine to heal my injuries and help my anxiety, but nothing worked. 

It wasn’t until I started using marijuana medicinally that I found relief. I was once again able to train and compete in the physically and mentally demanding sports that I loved. My passion for the healing powers of marijuana led me to become a cannabis consultant. 

We’ve made much progress in eliminating the stigma of cannabis in sports, but we still have a long way to go. The path to wider acceptance of cannabis for athletes is similar to how medical marijuana fought for acceptance in health care in previous decades. 

The acceptance of the medical benefits of marijuana took many years to reach. In the 1980s amid the HIV/AIDS crisis, patients found ingesting marijuana to be the only remedy for their pain. 

In the 1990s, cannabis was found to provide relief from the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer treatments, such as nausea and loss of appetite. It also eased their pain, allowing them to rest. As we know, sleep is key to all healing. 

High-performing athletes live with and push through intense physical pain all the time. I know this all too well. I find cannabis helps to reduce lactic acid buildup caused by weight training so I’m not stopped by fatigued muscles. Cannabis also keeps my body lean, which is essential as a bikini bodybuilder.

I know of many athletes who use cannabis to ease the anxiety that often comes with the demands of being in a high-pressure career. Cannabis has 100% been the thing keeping me focused! 

Does Cannabis Use Support an Athlete’s Recovery? 

Is there any truth behind some common beliefs about the health benefits of medical marijuana for athletes? Here are some of the top health claims and their probability of truth: 

 

Health Benefits Claim                 Probability of Claim                              

Decreases muscle inflammation High likelihood of truth. According to a 2018 study, “… [cannabis] does decrease inflammation when it’s rubbed on muscles as an ointment or taken orally.”
Reduces chronic painHigh likelihood of truth. In a 2019 clinical trial, 79% of respondents said that using cannabis helped to relieve their chronic pain.  
Enhances weight lossPossibly some truth. Studies have shown that, “High amounts of cannabis appear to increase metabolism and reduce energy storage, resulting in a lower BMI.”
Helps cope with stress, anxiety, and depressionOnly anecdotal evidence of effectiveness. While CBD has shown to improve anxiety and depression in some patients, further testing is needed. 

Lingering Concerns of Cannabis Use 

The stigma of cannabis use is correlated to the level of punitive laws in a given country or region. BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color), especially, have faced overcriminalization and experienced higher prejudices than other racial groups, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union.

However, even in areas where the law hasn’t relaxed around marijuana use, a more liberal attitude toward cannabis use and medical marijuana is spreading. 

Like any drug, cannabis can affect different people in different ways, especially regarding mental health. While some will experience relief from anxiety and depression, others may experience the opposite. As with anxiety, some report their sleep is hindered rather than helped by medical marijuana use. 

People with a family history of mental health challenges might find that cannabis use heightens those feelings. After all, cannabis is still a drug. You should definitely consult with your medical professional before using it.

Finally, there is concern about the possibility that medical marijuana use, particularly when inhaled, can reduce lung capacity. Any form of smoke, whether it be from cigarettes, burning wood, or marijuana, can harm the human lungs. 

According to the American Lung Association, though, “it’s not possible to establish whether these occur more frequently among marijuana smokers than the general population.”

In most cases, the risks parallel the amount of the substance consumed. Moderate usage of controlled amounts of medical marijuana seems to show limited damage to the lungs and other parts of the body. 

Medical Marijuana Use in Professional Sports 

In December 2020, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced it wouldn’t test its players for marijuana use during the upcoming 2021 season. The move could be a precursor to eliminating marijuana testing altogether as other professional sports leagues have done in recent years. 

Drug testing in athletic programs is intended to eliminate the unfair advantage that anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs artificially make an athlete faster and stronger. Cannabis doesn’t have that effect on people.  

The NBA Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts has said that “it is not necessary for us to know if players test positive for marijuana.” The inference helps build the case that marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug. 

Here’s a breakdown of the latest stance the top professional sports have taken on cannabis use by its players and the current response to a positive test. 

LeagueResponse
NHL (National Hockey League)Cannabis is not a banned substance in the NHL. If a player is found to have “unusually high levels of THC” in their system, he will get substance abuse assistance. No fines or suspensions. 
MLB (Major League Baseball)Cannabis was removed from the official banned substances list in 2019. The MLB was among the first professional sports leagues to do so. 
NBA (National Basketball Association)As of 2020, cannabis has been temporarily suspended from the random drug testing program due to safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s undetermined whether it will be reinstated post-pandemic.  
NFL (National Football League) In 2020, collective bargaining led to positive cannabis tests no longer resulting in suspension.  
USAA triathlon, Iron Man CBD is fine to use, but THC is not. 
NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)Cannabis continues to remain on the banned substances list. The threshold has increased from 15 to 35 nanograms and the penalty for testing positive reduced from a full to a half season.  
MLS (Major League Soccer) and FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association)Cannabis use is still banned by the MLS and FIFA. 

 

Predictions for the Future of Cannabis in Sports

Athletes will still have to adhere to regulations for the safety of all players, and much of the onus will still be on players to make good decisions regarding their use of recreational or medical marijuana.

It’s important that athletes regulate and limit their substance use, but the fear that allowing cannabis will open the door to other, more addictive, drugs in sports is not realistic.

Everyone involved wants to see players reach their fullest potential. Rehabilitation, rather than punishment, will continue to be the focus in sports. Substance-abuse programs for athletes should take the lead over fines and suspensions. It may not happen in the near future, but I’m going to keep fighting for it. 

Finally, in my experience playing college elite sports, the NCAA is trailing professional sports leagues in their progressiveness toward marijuana use. I truly hope the growing acceptance of medical marijuana in sports will expand to NCAA college athletes, as well. Only time will tell. 

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Gaining the Upper Hand in Your Dispensary Application

Higher Yields Consulting Gaining the Upper Hand in Your Dispensary Application

Your ability to claim victory with an approved dispensary application in hand comes down to a handful of effective strategies that require consideration, planning, and education. 

Higher Yields Consulting Gaining the Upper Hand in Your Dispensary Application

Completing a dispensary application is not a solo endeavor; you need to know who to turn to for expert advice along the way. After all, professional support is not just the cherry on top it’s the foundation of your success. 

Here’s how to decide whether a dispensary application is right for you and how to gain the upper hand when filling one out.

Is a Dispensary Application Right for You?

Running a dispensary is a fairly cut-and-dry operation. Your capital investments will zero in on your point-of-sale systems and the product you are selling. 

Manufacturing and cultivation operations, on the other hand, require not only investing in pricey equipment but also adhering to complicated Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements

It’s not surprising, then, that many aspiring cannabis business owners will opt for the dispensary route. Those who are willing to put in the extensive time and energy that it takes to fill out a dispensary application and grow a successful cannabis business will come out on top. 

Once you’ve decided a dispensary is the right choice for you, you’ll need to fill out your dispensary application. 

Filling Out Your Dispensary Application

A dispensary license is more accessible than a cultivation license, but more accessible doesn’t necessarily equate to an easy dispensary application process. 

An unforgiving rating from the rigorous scoring process can prevent you from breaking into the cannabis industry altogether. But with the right support and preparation, the business opportunity may be within your reach.

Seek Guidance 

Surrounded by ambitious participants at a convention geared to educate applicants in Illinois, Medical Marijuana Program Director Joseph Wright gave insights on how best to approach the dispensary application process. 

According to Wright, a dispensary application will ask for “business plans, who will be involved and what their expertise is, how records will be kept, and how employees will be trained.” 

Higher Yields Consulting Gaining the Upper Hand in Your Dispensary Application

Making new contacts is especially important given the challenges you will face in this fresh industry. Refrain from approaching a dispensary application on your own and instead seek professional guidance from a cannabis consultant like Higher Yields Consulting (HYC)

Our team of experts can help your business gain a foothold from the competition and put its best foot forward on your dispensary application.

Define Your Challenges 

Like any business, a dispensary will face its own challenges, such as market saturation, market demand, and employee turnover. By anticipating your potential hurdles early on, you can address them before finalizing your dispensary application.

Notably, location can make or break a cannabis business, so investing the time into finding the perfect spot – while keeping in mind your local zoning laws – is an absolute must. Ideally, you’ll have a space selected before you even start your dispensary application.

We’d also advise making connections with pillars in the community and ensuring they are open to a cannabis business setting up shop in their town. 

Screen the Market Regions 

When choosing the most profitable path for your business, the state you are in can make all the difference. If you’re not sure where to set up shop, here are a few states worth considering:

For applicants interested in putting down business roots on the east coast, Massachusetts is a lucrative hot spot for its low-barrier entry and robust cannabis market.  

Michigan is another prime location thanks to its steady customer traffic. Yet, there are far more roadblocks as many of the state’s municipalities frown upon the cannabis industry. 

Illinois dispensaries that would normally be up and running are at a standstill with their applications, so consumer demand has skyrocketed. That said, expect to face many dead ends and litigation issues because the social equity section of the application tips the scales, often resulting in an unfair tally system. 

Compared to those of other states, Oklahoma’s dispensary application is easy. The catch, however, is that the market is only open to medical marijuana dispensaries. 

Wherever you choose to open your cannabis business, a dispensary application is just one target of many that you need to meet to get your dispensary license. It’s not an overnight process, but if done properly, you’ll be joining a growing industry in its early years of development. 

If you are seeking support in completing your dispensary application and acquiring a license in your state, reach out to us to schedule a consultation.

The Cannabis Licensing Guide: 4 Strategies for Success

Higher Yields Consulting The Cannabis Licensing Guide: 4 Strategies for Success

The cultivation of a successful cannabis operation starts with a single crucial step: winning a license. However, even that first step involves a long process that requires time, effort, and expertise. This cannabis licensing guide will help ensure your business is a strong candidate for licensing.

If you’re hoping to win a license, the time to start preparing was yesterday. After all, advanced planning isn’t a luxury, it’s a strategy. Beginning as soon as possible gives you time to secure real estate, lobby local officials, and become compliant. Starting ahead of schedule is one of the smartest strategies for winning a license.

Higher Yields Consulting The Cannabis Licensing Guide: 4 Strategies for Success

Along with proper preparation, effort, and a head start, our cannabis licensing guide will help your budding business nail the application and get licensed in no time.

Location, Location, Location

In any industry, real estate plays a huge role in business success. In the cannabis industry, that role is even larger. The majority of states require applicants to have commercial real estate locked into place, and a lack thereof usually results in the applicant’s disqualification.

Whether your business opts to buy or rent a space, our cannabis licensing guide suggests considering two primary elements. First, make sure your site is in a Green Zone — that is, a place where cannabis operations are allowed. Green Zones will allow you to narrow your search and stay compliant with local zoning regulations.

Then, evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of potential locations. This analysis of local competition, product demand, and other factors will reveal the most lucrative locations for your business.  

Controlling Your Capital

On the financial side of the industry, most states want to see short-term operating plans and long-term financial sustainability. To achieve such sustainability, we suggest engaging with investors without compromising company equity.

Cannabis investors infuse your operation with the capital necessary to grow. Solidifying your investors early and continuing to engage with them builds a relationship that yields financial security. However, companies should avoid giving away too much equity in the process.

Especially in states with low start-up costs, operators may be tempted to award investors large shares of equity. Giving away too much up front can leave your business vulnerable if you need to pay employees in equity or fundraise again later. 

Striking a balance between raising liquid capital and maintaining equity is crucial for successfully navigating the cannabis licensing process.

Assembling an Expert Team

A cannabis operation is only as strong as the team behind it. Putting together a core team of experts will, throughout the process of cannabis licensing, guide your business to future success.

Strategically selecting your core team based on business acumen gives your operation a competent and diverse foundation. Additionally, varying degrees and types of experience among your team looks good on applications. In particular, most states like to see teams with experience in ancillary cannabis businesses.

Operators & Management Staff

Outside of the core team, experienced cannabis operators and management staff bring more value to the table. Experts who understand the ins and outs of the industry and have multi-state experience can fill expertise gaps on the team.

Furthermore, your choice of operators and management staff may benefit your future goals. For example, some businesses choose to begin solely as dispensaries and eventually grow into cultivation as well. In these cases, operators with vertical integration experience in both areas look very attractive on applications.

Security & Legal Compliance

If there’s anything that can easily sink your business, it’s a lack of proper security and compliance. For this reason, our cannabis licensing guide, along with countless other blog articles, emphasizes the importance of such measures.

Anyone can write a security plan, and there are plenty of cookie-cutter templates available. However, these avenues don’t set you apart from the competition. A comprehensive, thoughtful, and robust security plan demonstrates that you understand the risks in the industry as well as how to effectively mitigate them.

That being said, don’t promise more than you can provide. If your plan is too ambitious or too expensive to implement, then the state will likely deny your application. Because of this, businesses should aim to design a plan that balances necessary security with financial viability.

Higher Yields Consulting The Cannabis Licensing Guide: 4 Strategies for Success

Additionally, staying compliant with local and state regulations is crucial for remaining in business. In states that require METRC, the process can be confusing at first but is ultimately very effective. 

If your state doesn’t require METRC, be sure to vet and test your inventory system thoroughly to avoid any costly errors. Also, look for a system that can easily be integrated with METRC should your state someday require compliance.

Navigating the dynamic landscape of local and state regulations can be exhausting and time-consuming. Here at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, we’re lucky to have Director of Compliance, Marissa Cortes, helping our clients stay on top of regulations.

Cannabis Licensing: Guide Your Business to Success

The cannabis industry is a difficult industry to start in, but advanced preparation can set you up for success. By following the strategies we’ve set out in our cannabis licensing guide, your operation will be well on the way to winning a license.

Are you looking to maximize your opportunity to win a license? Book a consultation and work with our crack team of seasoned professionals!

METRC Training: How to Ensure Effective Implementation & Team Training

Higher Yields Consulting METRC Training: How to Effectively Educate Your Team

Cannabis businesses are now required to use METRC — a seed-to-sale inventory tracking system — to adhere to compliance regulations in sixteen states. In many of these states, however, rollout of the system has been rough, especially in terms of METRC training.

Higher Yields Consulting METRC Training: How to Effectively Educate Your Team

Often, a company will have a single person trained to use METRC. Unfortunately, relying on this sole ambassador to educate the rest of your team can lead to issues stemming from misunderstandings and miscommunication. Worse yet, not applying the information correctly can lead to your facility falling out of compliance.

Read on to learn how you can ensure your team receives adequate and proper METRC training and keep your cannabis business running smoothly.

Misinformation & Miseducation

A METRC training ambassador likely has every good intention to share what they’ve learned with their team. But this secondhand training can easily go awry. METRC is a complicated system, and there’s no guarantee that what an ambassador learns during training will be relayed 100% accurately later on. After all, to err is human. 

Secondhand trainings are therefore rife with potential problems: 

  • The ambassador may not have absorbed and interpreted the training information correctly.
  • The ambassador may have completed their training with unanswered questions, leaving gaps in their understanding of key METRC concepts.
  • The ambassador may not be adept at relaying information accurately and efficiently to others.

There’s a high likelihood that critical information will be lost in translation. What can be done to increase the effectiveness of secondhand METRC training?

Make the Most of Secondhand Training

METRC training used to take place in person, and attendees could ask a live person questions. Others likely had the same or similar questions, and everyone present would benefit from this exchange.

As more states have adopted METRC, the demand for training has increased. To keep up, METRC has switched to pre-recorded online training sessions. Sans live educators, these virtual trainings have largely put an end to organically flowing Q&A, resulting in knowledge gaps.

To combat the challenges presented by virtual training sessions, see if you can get a recording to share with your team. This will also decrease the chances of your training ambassador sharing inaccurate or incomplete information. With a recording, everyone will be on the same page.

Your ambassador might also prepare a presentation deck as a training aid. Consider bringing in a consultant who specializes in METRC for this project. The consultant will ensure that the information your ambassador is relaying to the rest of the team through the deck is both accurate and complete.

You can also make secondhand METRC training more effective by delivering the information in a way that’s hands-on and in real-time. Seeing how METRC actually works and applies to your day-to-day operations will make the information less abstract and more understandable for trainees.

Have a Solid SOP

Even the smallest mistake in your standard operating procedure (SOP) can quickly spiral into a detrimental problem for your company. Repercussions might include inaccurate inventory, which could, in turn, lead to license violations, expensive fines, and suspensions. Ultimately, your business could be shut down.

Having an accurate SOP in place prior to your team being trained in METRC is vital. To make sure every step in your process is properly accounted for, work with a consultant during the drafting process.

Make the finalized SOP available to your team so they can use it during their METRC training. Seeing how METRC aligns with your company’s SOP every step of the way will help team members better understand what they’re learning. Correctly applying this information after training is key to staying compliant with state regulations.

Customize to Fit Your Unique Needs

METRC is inherently intricate — the system traces every step your product takes, from cultivation to final sale. The risk of a trainee misunderstanding the system is compounded by the fact that how exactly METRC is used varies depending upon where your facility falls on the manufacturing and distribution spectrum.

 

For example, a growth facility is going to use METRC differently than a dispensary would. Likewise, a manufacturer who produces oil is going to be subject to a different METRC process than one that uses wholesale oil to infuse an edible. The workflows of each facility will vary as well.

Again, a knowledgeable consultant can assist you with customizing your SOP to fit your business’s unique workflow and processes and then align your team’s secondhand METRC training to ensure compliance. Attempting such a hugely important undertaking on your own isn’t advised.

The Future of METRC Training

As the industry continues to evolve and more states alter their cannabis laws, METRC is doing its best to keep up. Originally, when states first started legalizing the use of cannabis, there was talk of a “METRC University,” where the training process would become more streamlined and consistent. 

Higher Yields Consulting METRC Training: How to Effectively Educate Your Team

However, each state has its own regulatory nuances that make a single comprehensive training program impossible. Private consultation companies, like Higher Yields, are stepping in to make sure cannabis companies are adequately trained to use METRC and stay compliant.

The METRC training process has yet to be perfected, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Properly introducing your team to METRC right from the start can protect your business from the downward spiral of misinformation that leads to fines, suspensions, and business shutdowns.

Need help navigating METRC and using it to stay in compliance? Contact us today for a consultation.

POS Solutions for Cannabis Compliance & Convenience

pos solutions

In retail, an unreliable point-of-sale (POS) system can lead to inaccurate inventory and income. For cannabis, such inaccuracy will likely result in unintended violations and steep fines. With so much at stake, cannabis retailers can’t afford to settle for a mediocre POS system. Instead, operators should strive to find accurate and reliable POS solutions. 

 

pos solutions

We understand that securing a trustworthy system can be incredibly stressful. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of POS options and considerations for retailers and other cannabis operators.

Here’s what you need to know about getting the best POS system for your cannabis business.

Optimize Your POS System

Some retailers simply don’t have the capital to upgrade to a newer POS system, and that’s fine. Fortunately, there are plenty of under-optimized areas that can easily be improved. Together, they’ll maximize compliance, cash flow, and customer satisfaction.

Internal Adjustments

Both new and old systems alike give retailers the power to set unique permissions for every employee. The ability to give discounts, create new products, and more can be managed by adjusting what each employee has access to. 

Although this tactic may seem tedious, properly managing permissions reduces the number of hands in the pot and ensures accountability. If there’s a problem, you know exactly which employees may be responsible.

Customer-Facing Improvements

Similarly, there are ways to optimize POS solutions that improve the customer-facing side of your business. Most systems have powerful and customizable discount features that improve customer experience and reduce human error. 

For example, if you’re having a sale that applies only to specific products, then you can create a discount that automatically applies at checkout. Otherwise, employees have to apply the discount manually which can result in it being applied incorrectly or even not at all, leaving a customer frustrated and angry.

Furthermore, plenty of cannabis businesses fail to set up simple yet effective customer rewards programs. Many POS systems make it easy to do so, and your patrons will appreciate having their loyalty recognized.

Treez: True Masters of POS Solutions in Cannabis

When it comes to developing comprehensive POS solutions for cannabis businesses, Treez knows what’s up. Their systems offer a suite of rich features that tailor the POS system to your unique business. From customer recommendations to automated text messages, and from product segments to an intuitive interface, Treez does it all.

Additionally, Treez POS solutions include robust compliance features. These systems directly integrate with METRC to update sales in real-time, thus eliminating the need to export sales and upload them to METRC. 

Treez also features a few state-specific regulatory guardrails. Namely, their systems prevent you from selling over state limits. Finally, their proprietary TraceTreez software protects your operation from any track-and-trace outages, so that you always stay totally compliant.

Options for Non-Retail Operations

For cultivation and manufacturing operations, point-of-sale isn’t really an issue. For some companies, basic seed-to-sale tracking — like METRC — may be enough. 

However, there are several supplemental tracking systems designed exclusively for cultivators and manufacturers. By providing deep insights like yield forecasting, genealogy analysis, and strain tracking, a supplemental system has the power to give a big boost to non-retail cannabis businesses.

A drawback to these systems would be the extra labor needed for data entry. Fortunately, developers noticed this and most supplemental systems now offer full integration without any double entry required.

Your POS system can make or break your retail operation. Inaccurate data can lead to unhappy customers, lost profit, or worse, business-closing violations. Optimizing your POS system decreases human error and the risk of violations while increasing your bottom line and operating efficiency.

Treez offers comprehensive POS solutions that do the heavy lifting for you. By improving customer experience and ensuring compliance, Treez systems ease your mind and line your wallet. 

To learn more about POS solutions and how your cannabis business can maintain compliance, book a consultation with us today!