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At first glance, cannabis compliance may seem relatively straightforward. A cannabis dispensary owner or manager must ensure that products are dealt with safely and according to code, and that all guidelines for hygiene, contamination control, security, and inventory management are followed to a T. 

But how does a cannabis company stay on top of all of these guidelines while running a business in a tricky industry that is still federally illegal, when prices are dropping and competition is rife?

Three words make it all come together: Standard Operating Procedures. 

Section 3-335 subsection L(1) of the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Code of Colorado Regulations makes this abundantly clear. 

It states:

A Medical Marijuana Products Manufacturer or Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturer must have written standard operating procedures for each category and type of Medical Marijuana Product or Retail Marijuana Product that it produces.

Heading B of the subsection states that “a copy of all standard operating procedures must be maintained on the Licensed Premises of the Medical Marijuana Products Manufacturer or Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturer.”

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are carefully-crafted instructions that cannabis companies compile and follow to ensure that they carry out all of the tasks and procedures required under their state’s cannabis compliance guidelines.  

And the sheer breadth of cannabis industry SOPs is immense. They range from the specifics on how to place surveillance cameras in and around a dispensary to how to properly mark, process, and dispose of cannabis waste, how to handle incoming cannabis deliveries, and how to conduct yourself in the event of a robbery.

Considering that cannabis compliance guidelines can vary widely from one state to another - and even one municipality to the one next door - keeping these SOPs updated in real-time is no small order.

The Rootwurks Learning Experience Platform (LXP) makes it all much easier by providing cannabis companies with a turnkey solution that is primed and ready to be implemented right out of the box at cannabis retail (medical cannabis and adult use/recreational cannabis dispensaries) and manufacturing facilities. 

The LXP is a sophisticated digital compliance platform built from the ground up specifically for the cannabis industry, using the know-how and experience of our partners at Vicente LLP, one of the nation’s leading cannabis law firms. 

Also central to the development of the LXP were the 15 years I spent in food manufacturing safety and workplace training. I saw up close and personal the importance of compliance and workplace safety, and why companies of all sizes need more tools at their disposal to disentangle this world.  

By using the Rootwurks platform, our customers can leverage the experience and expertise of Vicente LLP, which formed the backbone of the checklists, assessments, internal audit templates, and cannabis safety and training courseware that populate the LXP’s product suite.

That level of cannabis legal and regulatory expertise and my know-how from the food manufacturing safety and compliance industry can take decades to accrue. For LXP customers, this practical expertise comes built-in to the platform and is ready to deploy on Day 1. 

And because the world of compliance can change so quickly, the LXP provides users with the peace of mind of knowing that they have a battery of tools they can access to allow them to adapt very quickly to regulatory changes and operational updates, and how they affect their daily roles and responsibilities in the workplace. 

Training that is reinforced “in the flow of work”

But it’s not enough to just know the guidelines for compliance where your cannabis company does business. You also need to make sure that this know-how is instilled in your team and reinforced daily, and not through a series of boring lectures and PowerPoint presentations.  

The LXP combines a library of in-depth and shorter, bite-size education modules that guide cannabis front-line workers through their compliance obligations, while also providing them with refinement tools like checklists and internal assessment templates that employees and management can use to verify and validate compliance adherence and safety training. 

All of these tools are meant to be used on-the-job, “in the flow of work,” helping vastly improve employee retention of training.    

Responsible Vendors, Responsible Cannabis

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the state’s Responsible Vendor Program was developed to “assist Medical and Retail Marijuana Stores, Medical and Retail Marijuana Transporters, and Licensed Hospitality Businesses in finding appropriate public health and compliance training for staff.”

Once companies have completed this training, they are designated as responsible vendors. 

Why pursue this credential?

Because if a compliance violation does occur and state regulators take note, it can greatly ease the fallout that comes next. 

Under rule 8-235 (C)(2)(d), if a regulated marijuana business in Colorado is found to be in violation of a compliance regulation “previously established and maintained responsible-vendor designation” can be considered a mitigating factor when the State Licensing Authority is weighing penalties. Other “good faith measures by the licensee to prevent the violation” include (but are not limited to):

  1. Proper supervision
  2. Regularly provided and documented employee training, provided the Licensee demonstrates all reasonable training measures were delivered prior to the divisions’ investigation
  3. Standard Operating Procedures established prior to the Division’s investigation and which include procedures directly addressing the conduct for which imposition of a penalty is being considered, and 
  4. Previously established and maintained responsible vendor designation pursuant to the 3-500 series rules.  

Rootwurks has partnered with Konope, a leading, Colorado-based provider of training and development for the cannabis industry. Konope is also one of less than 20 providers of responsible vendor training and certification that have been approved by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.

Konope’s state-specific compliance training programs have been integrated into the Rootwurks LXP, allowing customers to create in-house training programs that are expertly crafted to help them meet all the demands of cannabis compliance. 

In the event that a company still falls short somewhere on the compliance guidelines, Konope-provided responsible vendor training and certification along with the LXP’s expertly-crafted SOPs can make the price much easier to bear. 

And that’s the difference between having a notion about what you need to do to meet your cannabis compliance needs, and the practical knowledge, experience, and tools at your disposal to make sure you and your entire team know what step-by-step process you need to know and when and where you need to know it, so all your bases are covered.

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Chase Eastman, Founder & CEO

Chase Eastman has more than 15 years in content development, eCommerce, social media and multichannel go-to-market strategy. An expert in digital marketing and product management, Chase has an established track record of large-scale revenue generation and online brand development, including in food manufacturing and for a national home shopping television station, where he led the development of a digital strategy and online brand that is still leveraged by the channel.

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