Cannabis Regulations in Latin America: New Developments

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Regulations in Latin America: New Developments

Latin America is seeing a lot of movement in cannabis regulations and legislation. Brazil — which is sort of the Oklahoma of the international cannabis scene — is a fairly progressive area with the largest market and over 1,100 new import authorizations. But the challenge is getting the product out and into other areas.

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Regulations in Latin America: New Developments

Despite an estimated $9.75 billion market value for cannabis, there’s no clear leadership. New cannabis lounges and on-site consumption facilities are emerging, but no one particular group appears to be spearheading cannabis regulations and movement in the region. It’s an ever-changing environment with a lot of potential. 

 

If you’re considering getting into Latin America’s cannabis market, there are four hot places to watch: Colombia, Buenes Aires, Uruguay, and Mexico. Read on to learn about cannabis regulations in these four parts of Latin American, and how you can best prepare to enter the market.

Colombia

Colombia’s cannabis regulations are laser-focused on cultivation licenses. There are no provisions for extractions or other segments; rather, they focus on this one area because of their strong agricultural background.

 

Both personal cultivation and consumption have been decriminalized in Colombia. But within the commercial cannabis industry, it’s permitted strictly for medicinal use and strictly from an agricultural standpoint. 

 

There are, however, whispers of change. With Colombia and Panama in such close proximity, there’s a lot of tension and positioning to watch. 

Buenos Aires

Argentina as a whole has great IT resources but poor economic solutions. There’s an interesting element of technology and the cannabis industry meeting, as certain groups are developing apps to connect the community of personal growers. 

 

Right now, cannabis regulations surrounding growing for medical use in Buenos Aires are limited to individuals and certain networks. But with all this technological innovation and creativity, we expect the growing model to increase and expand.

 

Anytime a market or an industry grabs a foothold in a particular area and applies technology to it, you can anticipate those sectors growing at a pretty rapid rate. Keep an eye on Buenos Aires for new developments of technology and creativity in dealing with cannabis regulations. 

Uruguay

Uruguay got their foothold in the cannabis industry through hemp, which they were able to sell all over the world. Then, in 2012, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize commercially produced adult-use cannabis. Even tourists are allowed to purchase marijuana.

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Regulations in Latin America: New Developments

Because of this, Uruguay seems to be decreasing emphasis on hemp and increasing their focus on cannabis. These two industries have great potential to work together and improve the country’s economy overall, but that doesn’t appear to be their intention right now. 

Mexico

Currently, Mexico is a difficult place to get started in the cannabis industry. We at HYC had the opportunity to help write the cannabis regulations in Mexico a few years ago, and those regulations were recently put in place. However, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to enter the program. 

According to current cannabis regulations in Mexico, it’s legal to sell cannabis — but not to obtain it. You can’t grow, acquire, or import it. The country is basically hamstringing themselves for cannabis sales.

We are seeing an increase of interest in the Mexican market, however, and receiving a lot of inquiries. Be sure to keep an eye on future developments for the cannabis industry in Mexico to finally get off the ground. 

The Future of Cannabis Regulations in Latin America

There’s a lot of potential for cannabusinesses in Latin America. Low operational costs and prime growing conditions make for a lucrative opportunity. However, there are also plenty of barriers, so it’s important to find the right country to operate in and the right partners to work with. 

The cannabis industry is seeing plenty of movement in Latin America. Even though it’s a slow movement, it’s still important to get started sooner rather than later so you can prepare for the specific level of competition, politics, and cannabis regulations of the environment you’ll be entering.

Start making connections as early as you can so you’ll be fully aware of government requirements and limitations in the country you choose. HYC can help. Schedule a consultation for help entering the Latin American cannabis market and understanding its cannabis regulations. 

The Benefits & Limitations of Cannabis Delivery & Transport

The Benefits & Limitations of Cannabis Delivery & Transport

The cannabis licensing process can be long and confusing, and it doesn’t help that there are so many options. Each state offers different types of licenses and refers to them by different names. Cannabis delivery and transport licenses are no different and can easily become overwhelming if you don’t understand them.

The Benefits & Limitations of Cannabis Delivery & Transport

As is true with any cannabis license, you have to know what you’re getting into. A transportation license is not the same as a delivery license. Each has its own benefits and limitations. Knowing these will help you choose the best option for your business.

This is what your cannabusiness needs to know about cannabis delivery and transport licenses.

What Are Cannabis Delivery & Transport Licenses?

Although the lines between transport and delivery are blurred in some states, more often than not, they require two completely different types of licenses. Understanding the function of each license can help you determine which type best accommodates your business.

A cannabis transport license essentially acts as a courier license. Licensees may move product from point A to point B, so long as both points are licensed businesses. Transport licenses do not include delivery to consumers.

Delivery, on the other hand, allows the movement of product from a licensed business to the end consumer, only. A delivery licensee cannot move product from one business to another.

Neither cannabis delivery nor transport licenses allow for the interstate movement of product. All licenses exclusively pertain to the transportation or delivery within the borders of a particular state.

Cannabis Delivery & Transport by State

With the cannabis industry regulated wholly at the state level, some key differences exist in transport and delivery between states. Keeping up with where states differ on cannabis delivery can help determine the best state to do business in.

Cannabis in California 

When it comes to cannabis delivery, California is the OG. The state’s laid-back attitude toward delivery has made it a beyond-popular way for consumers to enjoy edibles, flower, cartridges, and more. In fact, it’s become so pervasive that you’d have a tough time finding a stretch of highway without a billboard for cannabis delivery.

Often referred to as “non-storefront retail,” cannabis delivery is beginning to replace brick-and-mortar operations. Part of its appeal comes from delivery licensees’ ability to deliver to consumers across municipality boundaries.

It’s also worth noting that California does not offer a cannabis transport license. Instead, businesses require a distribution license to move product from one business to another.

While transportation and distribution licenses are pretty similar, some differences still exist. For example, a cultivator in California cannot use branding on its products. Rather the distributor handles the packaging, labeling, and branding of all products — in addition to moving them from business to business.

Colorado

Way back in 2014 — on a day known as Green Wednesday — Coloradans flooded dispensaries to buy recreational marijuana for the first time. However, it took many years for cannabis delivery to be permitted. 

Colorado saw the first delivery license for medical marijuana issued in the spring of 2020, and it wasn’t until 2021 that Denver allowed the delivery of recreational marijuana. Though cannabis delivery has grown more popular in the age of social distancing, it hasn’t taken off nearly as much as in California.

The Benefits & Limitations of Cannabis Delivery & Transport

Although delivery is relatively new to the Centennial State, cannabis transport has been around for some time. Referred to as a courier license, it allows licensees to move product between licensed businesses. 

Additionally, all regulated marijuana businesses in Colorado are granted some transport privileges, as well. 

New Mexico

Under the Cannabis Regulation Act, recreational marijuana became legal in New Mexico on June 29, 2021. This nascent cannabis market presents unique opportunities as well as challenges for cannabis delivery and transport. 

Knowing and understanding the nomenclature in your state is crucial. Applying for a courier license in Colorado means you’re a transporter, but being a courier in New Mexico means you deliver directly to consumers. 

Working with a professional can help you understand the different types of licenses and decide which is best for you. It also prevents you from accidentally getting into cannabis delivery when you really wanted to get into transportation.

New Mexico’s legislation also shows some promise for the future of cannabis delivery. In anticipation of federal legalization, lawmakers included provisions for interstate commerce, when it becomes legal. If your operation has big future plans, New Mexico may be the place to go.

Massachusetts 

With transport and delivery licenses, the Bay State continues to manage cannabis properly. State officials took their time rolling it out, but when they did, licenses were clear and straightforward, making it easy for existing businesses to move into the space with little confusion.

Since they launched the program, cannabis delivery and transport have taken off. Massachusetts business owners have even been pairing licenses to maximize success, much like what we’ve seen in New York.

How to Win a Cannabis Delivery or Transport License

No matter what state you’re in, there are a few general guidelines to follow when applying for a transport or delivery license — the biggest of which is staying compliant. Keep up with regulations and changes so that you can be ahead of the curve and avoid any costly penalties.

Your business must also be compatible with your state’s mandated tracking software — in California, Colorado, and Massachusetts, this is Metrc. However, relying solely on Metrc can be problematic.

Using a supplemental software, like OnFleet, that matches the needs of your business keeps operations running smoothly. In addition to tracking products, OnFleet allows you to consolidate routes, scale your business, and maximize efficiency.

At the end of the day, a successful cannabis delivery or transport business must be prepared for scrutiny. The state will keep a close eye on you, so take all the necessary steps to protect yourself. 

Although the barrier of entry is still low for transportation and delivery, cannabis is still a highly regulated industry laced with critical compliance benchmarks. In order to maximize your time and money, work with an experienced professional.

Book a consultation today to explore your options for securing the best license for your business.

Licensing & Business Considerations for a Successful Cannabis Lounge

Higher Yields Consulting Licensing & Business Considerations for a Successful Cannabis Lounge

As you plan to open a new cannabusiness or expand your existing operation, you’ll find there are a number of new licenses that may prove lucrative. One such new license is the on-site consumption license, which can be used to open a cannabis lounge. 

Higher Yields Consulting Licensing & Business Considerations for a Successful Cannabis Lounge

With the introduction of these on-site consumption licenses, there is great opportunity to influence the next stage of cannabusiness growth. But there are also limitations on these licenses that vary from state to state — and even by municipality. 

Read on to learn more about on-site consumption licenses and what you should consider if you are planning to open a cannabis lounge. 

States With Provisions for On-Site Consumption Licenses

Several states have provisions for on-site consumption licenses, but their requirements vary. While some states allow for a standalone on-site consumption license, others require that it be attached to another license, such as retail. 

The states with provisions for on-site consumption licenses include: 

  • Alaska: No cannabis lounges are open yet due to COVID-19 shutdowns
  • California: Cannabis lounges already operate.
  • Colorado: Allows cannabis lounges at a local level, in certain municipalities.
  • Illinois: Allows cannabis lounges, but without edibles.
  • Massachusetts: Allows cannabis “cafes.”
  • Nevada: Allows cannabis lounges, both with a standalone license and in conjunction with an existing retail facility
  • New Jersey: Has provisions for cannabis lounges, listed as cannabis consumption areas.
  • New York: Has provisions for cannabis lounges, and they can be standalone licenses.
  • Oregon: Cannabis lounges already operate.
  • Pennsylvania: There is only one cannabis lounge in the state, and it’s only open to medical cardholders.

Emily Seelman, Senior Technical Writer for Licensing and Legalese at HYC, notes that in some states, it’s up to the municipality to allow cannabis lounges or not. So you might be better off checking whether your municipality will allow it before you even look at the state at level. 

Obtaining a License for Your Cannabis Lounge 

The state in which you plan to operate will affect how easy it is to obtain your on-site consumption license. In some states, existing retailers can get an endorsement to also allow for on-site consumption. But, as noted above, other states allow you to apply for a standalone license.

According to Seelman, if your goal is to open a cannabis lounge, the standalone license is probably the better option. Without it, you’ll have to go through the competitive application process for a retail facility. 

If you plan to operate in Nevada or Massachusetts, especially, look into whether you qualify for social equity, as they’re planning to open up specific social equity licenses. A social equity license may help reduce your fees, but keep in mind that you’ll still be competing for the license. 

Nevada is also a great choice if you’re only interested in opening a cannabis lounge. The state is offering both the standalone license and one attached to a retail facility, which could open up opportunities for more people to get into the industry at once. 

Higher Yields Consulting Licensing & Business Considerations for a Successful Cannabis Lounge

Another state to consider for your cannabis lounge is New York. The state is taking a pretty open stance on public consumption that allows for cannabis consumption even on sidewalks, so it’s likely they’ll take an open approach to lounges, too. 

Seelman predicts that cannabis lounges will become like high-end bars, with controlled environments and — as New York is currently exploring — sound mitigation. However, one consistency across states is that no alcohol is allowed on cannabis lounge premises. 

Designing Your Cannabis Lounge Facility

If you are considering opening a cannabis lounge, HYC’s Design Build Director, Jesse Larson, says the facility itself is the all-important base of the business. “I’ve seen businesses with great teams, great work ethic, and great product fail because of poor facility design,” he notes. 

Unfortunately, some municipalities have made it extremely difficult for new facilities to enter the area, limiting or even eliminating opportunities for cannabusinesses that are not multi-state operators or corporations. Denver, for example, has made it more difficult to construct new businesses or modify existing structures. 

As a result, it’s tough to plan, design, build, and operate an ideal facility. But the facility is crucial to the success of a cannabis lounge, because you have to draw people in and make them want to stay. Larson observed that e-cigarette lounges learned this the hard way, as customers went in looking to make their purchases and get out — not linger.

As you plan your facility, Larson recommends considering how people want to experience cannabis, and how you can facilitate that experience:

  • Education. Give people a place to learn how to safely enjoy consuming cannabis.
  • Welcoming atmosphere. Think of a cannabis lounge as similar to a coffee shop, where people feel comfortable passing the time. 
  • Entertainment. Sometimes people want to sit and space out; other times they want to be entertained through media, food, beverages, etc.
  • Conversation. People crave social interaction. More than just a place to smoke, they’ll come to a cannabis lounge looking to socialize.

Finally, do whatever you can to create less of a burden on the customer to come in. Partnerships with Uber and Lyft, for example, can remove concern over potentially driving under the influence, encouraging more people to come inside and stay a while.

A New Standard for Cannabis Consumption

Remember that on-site consumption licenses and cannabis lounges are new. We’re setting a standard for the cannabis industry, so we have a responsibility to do it right and pave the way for future generations of cannabusiness owners.

Before you dive into the application process, it’s vital that you determine the most lucrative path for you and the actions that will best set you up for success. 

With New York’s licensing round just around the corner, give yourself the best chances of success with a strategic plan from our industry experts. Get in touch with HYC for a Feasibility Study today!

What You Need to Know Before You Decide to Sell Your Business

Higher Yields Consulting What You Need to Know Before You Decide to Sell Your Business

In a saturated cannabis market like Oklahoma, it’s extremely difficult for small businesses to get off the ground and be able to compete. So if you’re struggling as a cannabusiness owner, you may be wondering if it’s time to sell your business and get out altogether.

However, if you know how to look at a distressed business the right way — and if you have the right experience — there are still opportunities to make it work. Once you identify why your business is in distress, you can determine the best move forward — whether that be selling your business or not.

Higher Yields Consulting What You Need to Know Before You Decide to Sell Your Business

Read on to learn what might be causing your business to struggle and how to decide whether you should sell your business.

Why Are Cannabusinesses Struggling?

According to Anthony Edward, HYC’s Director of Business, cannabusinesses fall into distress for several reasons. “It’s a trifecta of lack of funding, lack of support and help, and lack of output or foreseeable growth,” he says.

One of the biggest mistakes we see is that people get into the industry and underestimate timelines, resources, and budgets. Markets like Oklahoma are so easy to get into that people jump right in without knowing what they’re doing. They assume that because marijuana is a weed, it’s going to grow itself. But it won’t. 

Businesses that don’t know what they’re doing end up running out of money before even getting off the ground. Sometimes they grow inefficiently and have to charge higher prices for low-quality products. Other times they fail to ensure compliance from the start, which ends up costing more time and money in the long run.

And, as Edward points out, these issues can stem from a lack of viable operators who are taking the business seriously. “We’ve spoken to several businesses in Oklahoma that were struggling with operators, head growers, or general managers,” he says. “It’s eaten into their profitability, efficiency, and also the quality of their products.”

People get into the industry thinking they can get these astronomical revenue numbers they see in other states. But without understanding their own markets, they greatly overshoot their projections and underperform. So the question is, can you recover from early-stage missteps, or might it be time to sell your business?

What Options Does a Distressed Business Have?

If you’re struggling in one or more of the above ways, you may think that your only option is to sell your business — and that is one option. 

If you do choose to sell your business and exit the industry, make sure you do so properly. According to Edward, with expert help, you could at least get some of your investment back or be made whole on it. 

But selling might not be your only option. Many people don’t think about marketing and branding until it’s too late, but improving this one area could increase your traffic and sales. Work on standing out from the crowd by establishing a credible online presence and improving your overall customer experience.

Higher Yields Consulting What You Need to Know Before You Decide to Sell Your Business

A third option is to reinvest with the right partners. If you’re only missing one puzzle piece — that is, if it was simply one bad decision or mistake that put your business in distress — you could greatly increase its equity value by bringing on the right partners and making small investments in the right people.

Whether you ultimately decide to sell your business, improve it, or reinvest, you’ll need to figure which path is best for you and pivot in a way that mitigates risk. 

Is It Time to Sell Your Business?

As you consider whether you should sell your business, Edward advises evaluating your situation to get clarity on where you are right now, what your vision for the business was, and the gap between the two. 

Be willing to approach the decision unemotionally and with an open mind; it can be hard to give up on your dream, but this needs to be a business decision, not an emotional one. 

If you want to sell your business, take the time to get your financials and lease documents in order. Your business will look better to a potential buyer, thus increasing your likelihood of making a sale.

Make sure that additional management or investor partners are also ready and willing to be involved in making the decision, even if it’s a hard one to make. 

Finally, seek out help from experts. As Edwards says, “be open-minded to directional leadership from experts in the industry. Be ready to engage and have a dialogue, and keep everything on the table until it’s not on the table anymore.” Relying on expert guidance will equip you to make the most rational, well-informed decisions. 

Are you ready to take an in-depth look at your cannabis business? Before you decide to sell your business, get in touch with the expert consultants at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting.

What to Include in Your Dispensary Business Plan

Higher Yields Consulting What to Include in Your Dispensary Business Plan

Before you open up your dispensary, it’s important to have a solid dispensary business plan in place. More than just a simple outline, this plan must be detailed and well-researched, so it’s never too soon to get started. 

Ideally, you want to have finished your dispensary business plan before you talk to any investors. That way you can pitch your business to them in conjunction with your financial model and demonstrate your preparedness.Higher Yields Consulting What to Include in Your Dispensary Business Plan

It’s also a good idea to make your business plan before you even apply for the dispensary license, because many of the items you’ll include in your dispensary business plan will be required for the application process anyway. 

Here’s everything you need to include in your dispensary business plan, especially in terms of market research, real estate, marketing and branding, and financial modeling. 

Dispensary Business Plan Essentials

A dispensary business plan consists of many different and detailed sections, all of which will help both prepare you to open up shop and entice investors to take a chance on your cannabusiness. 

The main sections you need in your dispensary business plan are:

    • An executive summary. An overview of your brand, who you are, and your goals. 
    • Team bios and qualifications. Information on each team member’s background and why they’re qualified for their intended role. 
    • Market research. Research on the cannabis industry as a whole, the state you’re looking to operate in, saturation, competition, and trends.
    • Marketing & branding. A brand guide and plan for building consistency and consumer trust.
    • A business roadmap. A plan for what will happen through your business lifecycle. 
    • Real estate and facility requirements. Information on the potential property, including its value and whether it meets local requirements.
    • Your application: Information on the state’s requirements and how you’re able to meet those requirements. 
    • Compliance. Research showing that you understand the importance of compliance and how you plan to meet compliance requirements for your intended license type in your intended state of operation, including SOPs and employee training programs.  
    • Design and build. A step-by-step plan for the facility’s layout, construction, and timeline.
    • A financial model summary. A summary of the financial plan for your business, including expected costs and projected revenue.
    • Anything else of importance to the unique application. Research into processes you will need to learn, best practices — whatever you feel is important to include. 
    • Anything unique about your business to help you stand out. Plans for how you will make your brand stand out from others, especially if you’re entering a very saturated market. 
    • Future business development plans. A summary of your business goals and where you want it to go in the future. 

Each section should be as detailed and concrete as possible to ensure you are thoroughly prepared. 

Research, Projections & Brand Identity

Now that you have a general overview of the essential sections to include, let’s take a closer look at what’s required for a few of them — namely, market research, real estate, financial modeling, and marketing and branding.

Market Research

The market research section of your dispensary business plan is there to show the value of the industry: how much it’s growing — in your state, nationally, and globally — and how much money is expected to be made over the next five years or so. 

Your market research should cover aspects such as saturation, the market’s development over time, whether the state is competitive or non-competitive, and how many licenses the state will be giving out. 

Articles from Forbes or other data analytics companies in the cannabis industry that project what the market is going to do over the next year and how much money is expected to be made can also help to beef up your dispensary business plan.

Higher Yields Consulting What to Include in Your Dispensary Business Plan

Additional market research is useful to show investors just how big the industry is, that it’s not slowing down, and that it’s not expected to slow down anytime soon. 

Real Estate Location

Your dispensary business plan should also highlight the property you’ve decided on, or all of your potential properties if you haven’t decided on a specific one just yet. 

You’ll want to do a green zone assessment on the property to show that it will be zoned properly. Keep in mind that the state and the municipality will each have their own particular requirements, so you’ll need to look at both. 

Also include information on demographics and spending trends in the area. If you know what the spending in the area looks like, you can get an idea of what piece of that percentage is going to come to you. 

Finally, research the location in general. Is it on a main street or major highway? Are you planning to rent or buy? This information will also be important for the financial modeling section of your dispensary business plan. 

Financial Modeling 

It’s important to know all of your setup costs ahead of time and account for them in your dispensary business plan. What will it cost in terms of equipment, goods, utilities, and employee payroll to get your business fully operational? 

Once you have your setup costs laid out, go over the anticipated first five years of your business, month by month. As your business grows, how much do you expect it to make over the next five years based on the costs and the projections from your market research?

Marketing & Branding

The marketing and branding section of your dispensary business plan should include a comprehensive brand guide that compiles your color scheme, font, all versions of your logo, and any other branding specifics in one place. 

Your brand is your opportunity to tell your story and make it relatable to your customers, and it’s also a way to build trust through consistency. Keeping your branding cohesive across all online platforms makes it easy for customers to recognize and trust who you are.

At Higher Yields Consulting, our expert consultants have experience putting together successful business plans that can serve as the foundation of your application. For more guidance on crafting your dispensary business plan, reach out to us to schedule a consultation. 

Cannabis Consulting: Resources for Businesses of All Stages

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Consulting: Resources for Businesses of All Stages

Whether you’re just starting out in the cannabis industry or you’ve been in operation for years, HYC can help take you to the next level. We’ve received cannabis consulting inquiries on every topic in the industry and have helped people at every stage of establishing and expanding their businesses. 

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Consulting: Resources for Businesses of All Stages

To help you out, we’ve compiled the best resources on our most commonly asked questions to make sure you have all the information you need for success.

Here’s everything you need to know about the cannabis industry (no matter what stage you’re at) from our cannabis consulting experts.

Startup Inquiries

If you’re new to the cannabis industry, you might be at a loss for exactly where to start. The application process is also far more complex and time-consuming than you might think, so you should get the ball rolling as early as possible. 

In addition to cannabis consulting, these next resources can answer any questions you have along the way.

Business Plan & Roadmap

Feasibility Study

Licensing

Financial Models

Layouts of Facilities

Emerging States & Regulations

Hemp Brokerage

We get a lot of cannabis consulting inquiries about hemp brokerage support because, frankly, hemp isn’t moving well these days. People are looking for wholesale opportunities, but there aren’t many buyers. 

However, we are seeing movement with cultivators processing their harvest into ready-to-buy products like concentrates and creams. If you’re in the hemp industry, here are some helpful resources:

METRC 

State regulations vary and are constantly changing. While many states now require the use of METRC for seed-to-sale tracking, not all METRC regulations are identical. Cannabis consulting can help businesses meet METRC compliance, and the following links can help you get started:

Real Estate 

Choosing the right property for your cannabis business depends on the type of business you intend to operate, and it’s also an important first step that will impact the overall success of your business. Whether you’re looking to buy, lease, or sell your property, these resources can provide guidance:

Native American Cannabis Opportunities 

We’re currently providing cannabis consulting for a Native American tribe in New York to help shape their regulations based on industry best practices. If you’re looking for more information about Native American cannabis opportunities, here are some helpful resources.

International Cannabis 

As cannabis markets expand around the world, many international manufacturers are interested in breaking into the U.S. market. Others are relocating from expensive countries like Canada to less expensive ones like Mexico.

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Consulting: Resources for Businesses of All Stages

Recently, we even received an inquiry about helping a company move 3 million pounds of CBD out of Germany. Established and aspiring international cannabis businesses should take a look at the following resources:

Design Build & Blueprints

Using our design-build method, our team can help you every step of the way through designing, constructing, and setting up your cannabis facility for business. Here are some resources to help you design and build your facility. 

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Having the right systems in place is key to operating your business successfully. These resources can help you create and implement the right SOPs for your cannabis facility.

Because the industry is so new, even the most seasoned pro is likely to run into a few hurdles here and there. Thankfully, cannabis consulting and the above resources can help you mitigate potential challenges and provide clarity on your journey to find success in the cannabis industry.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our cannabis experts!

Owning a Dispensary May Be Your Gateway Into the Cannabis Industry

Higher Yields Consulting Owning a Dispensary May Be Your Gateway Into the Cannabis Industry

For those interested in getting into the cannabis industry, owning a dispensary is a solid option to pursue — and it’s less intimidating than you might think. Dispensaries are a great learning ground because they’re less intense and have a lower barrier of entry than other cannabis-related fields.

Currently in the U.S., dispensaries have an expansive footprint. Like Starbucks, many cities have a dispensary on every corner. In other words, aspiring dispensary owners don’t have to worry about market saturation or limited opportunities.

Higher Yields Consulting Owning a Dispensary May Be Your Gateway Into the Cannabis Industry

Plus, since the cannabis industry is so new, you don’t need an extensive cannabis background to get started, and you can easily open a dispensary without having to grow your own product.

Read on to find out if owning a dispensary is the right path for you and how to get started.

Who Is Best Fit for the Dispensary Path?

Owning a dispensary is such a great entry point because it’s pretty across-the-board as far as who can get into it. Anyone who’s interested in cannabis and wants to start a business has the opportunity to do so.

Colorado recently opened a social equity program to help those who were disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs by removing barriers in the marijuana licensing process. Other states are putting forth similar efforts, as well, so this may be your shot to get into the industry.

Of course, realizing your dream of owning a dispensary is easier in some states than others. In Oklahoma, for example, the running joke is that it’s easier to get a cannabis license than a fishing license.

Although the number of retail cannabis licenses in Oklahoma declined by 8% in 2020, according to MJBizDaily, the state still issued 565 new permits throughout the year and remained the state with the highest number of retail licenses, overall.

Pros of Owning a Dispensary

For many reasons, owning a dispensary is ideal for those looking to break into the cannabis industry. To name a few, a dispensary:

  • Is less intense in terms of tracking and compliance. The tracking software is easier to master than in other types of facilities, making dispensaries a great place to learn.
  • Has a lower barrier of entry, comparatively. Cultivation requires a botany degree, while manufacturing and extraction usually require some level of college education. Running a dispensary, however, doesn’t require you to meet these standards.
  • Is the quickest way to cash for investors. Building out a retail dispensary takes less time and money than building out a cultivation or extraction facility. 
  • Is less technical and detail-oriented for owners. Even with inspections and other regulations, a dispensary is still easier to design and inspect than cultivation and extraction facilities.
  • Typically follows a plug-and-play situation. Retail dispensary operations are all fairly similar, so you have a template to work from.
  • Has a smaller footprint and is a smaller investment. Unlike extraction facilities, dispensaries don’t use expensive equipment. They also take up less space — some can be as small as 1,000 square feet, whereas cultivation requires many times that amount of space.

Is varied in terms of the experience you want to create. If you want to be the Apple store of dispensaries, you can certainly spend more to remodel and upgrade to more expensive equipment. But you can also keep it smaller and more simple if you prefer.

Higher Yields Consulting Owning a Dispensary May Be Your Gateway Into the Cannabis Industry

If you’re new to the industry and want a point of entry with fewer prerequisites and a faster timeline to get started, owning a dispensary may be your best choice.

Cons of Owning a Dispensary

Despite the advantages, owning a dispensary is not without its challenges and restrictions that you’ll need to be aware of if you decide to go this route. Owning a dispensary means you:

  • Are reliant on wholesalers (unless you’re vertically integrated). If your wholesaler’s crop goes, you’ll have to figure out what to do to sustain your business.
  • Will face high competition. Since there are so many other cannabis dispensaries, your potential customers have many more options.
  • Might have trouble finding real estate. Choosing a strategic location isn’t as simple as choosing where to put a typical restaurant; a dispensary can’t be located near schools, day care centers, rehabs, pools, etc. Plus, you’ll face more limits and restrictions that will depend on your county and state. 
  • Can’t even be near another dispensary, in some cases. In Aspen, Colo., for example, you’re likely to see dispensaries lined up one after the other, whereas in Arizona, Nev., dispensaries can’t be within a certain distance of one another; the exact distance varies at the local level.

If you do choose to open a dispensary, make sure you are prepared with due research to meet all of the requirements for your area.

Owning a Dispensary: Where to Start

If you’ve decided to open up a dispensary, start locally. Choose the area in which you want to operate, and really get to know the regulations and community members. 

It’s important to work with someone in real estate who is familiar with cannabis so they can help you comply with the area’s setback restrictions. Have them help you write a proper real estate contract and application that will accurately reflect the cannabis industry. 

Keep in mind, too, that the exact license and application requirements will vary by state. Georgia, for example, has strict regulations and an extremely competitive application process that only awards licenses to six companies compared to Oklahoma’s much shorter list of regulations and hundreds of licenses.

Owning a dispensary is a great way to break into this fast-growing industry. As long as you pay close attention to requirements for your location, you have plenty of opportunity for growth and success. 

If you’re interested in owning a dispensary or getting into the cannabis industry, get in touch with Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting. We can provide you with the right tools and connections to set you on the path to success.

Corrective Action for Cannabis Businesses: Your Plan B Blueprint

Higher Yields Consulting Corrective Action: Your Plan B Blueprint

Every cannabis business runs into its fair share of unexpected problems that require corrective action. In the early stages, it might be construction and licensing problems. Down the road, it might be METRC compliance and branding issues.

Higher Yields Consulting Corrective Action: Your Plan B Blueprint

Knowing when to take corrective action can be challenging, and waiting too long can lead to escalated complications. It’s crucial that you pursue corrective action in your cannabis business as soon as you suspect that you have a problem. 

So how exactly do you pinpoint and address the issues that require corrective action? Read on for everything you need to know about taking corrective action in your cannabis business.       

Common Issues That Require Corrective Action

To mitigate your cannabis business’s need for corrective action, it helps to arm yourself with the knowledge of the most common issues that arise. When you know what problems to look out for, you can take preventative action to avoid them.

Here are four common issues that often require corrective action.

Licensing

A license application can range from 200-300 pages in length to as many as 1,600 pages or more, depending on the level of competition in your state. Your application will require detailed plans, procedures, and policies. If your answers are too brief or simply don’t cover the requirements, your license will be rejected.

When your license application is approved, remember – your proposed plan is a definite promise. Not a loose agenda. Your state will expect you to follow the precise plans that you submitted. If change your plans, you’ll need to submit a new report to reflect those changes. 

If your plans are not executed as promised, your business will need to take corrective action to get back on track and avoid further consequences.

To say the least, you put yourself at a huge disadvantage when you set out to complete the application on your own. For your greatest chance of success, consider hiring an architect, an accountant, a lawyer, and a consultant like HYC.

Construction & Building Design

Once your license has been approved and you’re ready to move forward with your plan, you will need a licensed architect and an engineer to satisfy state requirements. You will also need a plumber, an electrician, and an HVAC technician

You’ll need to pass inspections along the way to ensure your design and build match your original licensing plan. Any inconsistencies will halt your progress until they are addressed. 

Business owners often neglect to consider the various moving parts of a commercial construction project. Without a specific timeline, for example, an entire project can be pushed back for weeks or months.

Higher Yields Consulting Corrective Action: Your Plan B Blueprint

By taking immediate corrective action for construction and building design, you can rectify a problem in just four to five months. Seeking corrective action later in the process, on the other hand, requires recalibrating, rescheduling, and getting everyone on the same page. This process can take up to an entire year.

Branding 

There is an emotional layer to branding that may compel business owners to gamble a portion of their investments away. But if your branding is not aligned with your customer base, taking corrective action may, unfortunately, mean starting over. 

It’s essential to appeal to the needs of your customer. Even more important than a cool logo is an atmosphere and brand image that fit the market and draws in your intended customer.

If you don’t feel like you’re equipped to move forward with your branding, take a step back and evaluate why you’re not ready. It will save you hundreds of dollars on rebranding in the future. 

METRC

METRC is a tracking process that follows the life of a seed to its final purchase point. New entrepreneurs commonly face dilemmas with METRC because the system is perceived to be straightforward. However, without proper education on how it works, businesses can easily fall out of compliance with local and state regulations. 

When the appropriate methods are not followed, corrective action for METRC compliance can involve becoming compliant, retraining employees, and creating new oversight

When It’s Time for Corrective Action

Perhaps you’re concerned about exposing your data to a third party. Or maybe you fear repercussions that could result in trouble for you. Whatever the reason, putting off addressing your business’s problems will only lead to worse problems in the future that may be more costly to solve. 

HYC is not here to punish your business for not being compliant but rather to support you in becoming compliant so you aren’t fined or shut down. If you’re confused or unsure of your next steps, it’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture. 

What Corrective Action Looks Like 

There’s no single way to take corrective action. Depending on the problem, budget, and available resources, the process will look different for every cannabis business. Regardless of the problem, the process includes evaluating a problem and taking the steps to resolve it.

In Oklahoma, for example, all cannabis dispensaries will soon be required to use the METRC tracking system. As a result, many businesses are scrambling to take corrective action to learn and implement the system. That’s where we come in.

At HYC, our job is to support cannabis businesses in handling these common errors. Our team has the expertise to make sure that your business is following your licensing application and meeting all state and local regulations. 

To prevent painful and expensive errors and take corrective action for your cannabis business, schedule a  consultation today.

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 pain High likelihood of truth. In a 2019 clinical trial, 79% of respondents said that using cannabis helped to relieve their chronic pain.  
Enhances weight loss Possibly 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 depression Only 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. 

League Response
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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CBD in Europe

CBD in Europe

In 1961, the Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs gave the cannabis plant a definition that classified it as a narcotic. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of 113 known cannabinoid extracts from the cannabis plant. CBD has many therapeutic uses, such as pain and anxiety reduction. In recognition of its medicinal uses, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) classified CBD in Europe as a non-narcotic “novel food” in 2019. In this context, “novel” simply meaning it was not commonly consumed in most households prior to May 1997. This means that CBD, so long as it contains less then 0.2% THC (the active psychotropic ingredient in cannabis) and is approved by the governing nation, can be freely traded as a market good in many EU member countries. The codification of CBD as a novel food has been part of an attempt to increase regulation and ensure quality in production, because a largely unregulated market meant that many CBD products of questionable quality were available for sale online. 

CBD in Europe 

However, there are still a few countries that maintain outright bans on CBD products because they are derived from the cannabis plant, countries with typically conservative leaning social ideologies, like Slovakia and MoldovaSome countries like Malta also fall into a legal gray area, where CBD is technically only available with a prescription but many pharmacies sell it over the counter and local enforcement agencies tend to look the other way. On the opposite end of the spectrum, though, are the countries anticipating full legalization, such as Luxembourg. It is holped that these countries will cause a domino effect in the EU similar to the one seen in Canada and the US. A recent report by the Centre for Medical Cannabis estimated that between 8-11% of UK adults have tried CBD, which is approximately 4-6 million people. The CBD market size is also estimated to grow to 1.5 billion dollars by 2025. As the demand for CBD has steadily increased in recent years, growing to the second largest in the world behind North America, the market has been largely unregulated. 

While the CBD market is poised for exponential growth, there are a few stumbling blocks in the way, namely the social stigma attached to cannabis and the lack of regulation. Not only has the scheduling of cannabis as a narcotic engendered decades of imputation surrounding its use, medicinal or otherwise, it has also caused some investors to hesitate when investing time and money into hemp byproducts. Investors fear the association of their brand with a product that is still considered a byproduct of an illicit substance, and little to no regulation introduces the possibility of unknowingly investing in a less than quality good.  

When it comes to addressing these issues, education and increased regulation are key to increasing interest in CBD. People generally are unaware of the difference between hemp and marijuana, and of the benefits of CBD products. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, however hemp is any plant with a THC content lower than .2%. CBD is therefore a hemp byproduct, as it is legally required to contain less than 0.2% THC content. When it comes to the purported benefits of CBD, there are many. Most famously it has recently been found to aid in some seizure disorders that don’t typically respond to medication, such as Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Several studies have shown that the number of seizures was greatly reduced, or even stopped altogether. Additionally, CBD offers aid for anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Increased regulation will also help mend the public perception of CBD as questionable and possibly illicit, as it will ensure that products are safe and similar to any regulated and taxable good, such as alcohol. Stricter laws will also help investors feel more comfortable with the quality of product that they are putting money into, further boosting market growth.  

Overall, the European CBD market is extremely promising. Hopefully through increased regulation, education, and exposure a new era for cannabis in Europe can be ushered in, possibly paving the way for eventual total legalization.  Contact us for a consult if you have questions about the business opportunities for CBD in Europe.