We would like to welcome you to another informative episode of WeedBudz Radio, with your host Ry Russell. As many of us know, this is still a new industry. Sure cannabis has been around for a long time but just recently we have had to keep up with more laws, regulations, etc. With this positive change in the industry, compliance is more important than ever. Who better to discuss this ever changing industry than Dede Perkins, CEO & Co-Founder of ProCanna. ProCanna is a software that breaks down the rules and regulations of each state when it comes to opening a dispensary, grow operation, and really any other business in the world of cannabis. Join us and learn how ProCanna is helping entrepreneurs nationwide and find out how you can stay up to date on the ever changing world of compliance. Tune in!
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Welcome back to another episode of WeedBudz Radio.
Of course. I’m your host. Ry Russell.
I’m always so excited to learn about
compliance because whether you are farming, you’re
in cultivation, retail, manufacturing factoring, you have
got to be compliant in this industry.
Can be so hard to digest the laws and regulations.
And so sometimes we need to ask
the professionals to come in and help.
And that’s what we did today.
Dede Perkins, thank you so much for joining me.
Thank you, Ry .
I’m happy to be here.
Before we jump in talking about compliance in the
crazy world thereof, I am always fascinated about the
careers that the entrepreneurs and the professionals had before
getting into the cannabis space, because there really is
no normal journey into cannabis.
Can you tell me a little bit about yours? Certainly.
I was a freelance writer working for myself, and one of
my clients gave me a referral to a gentleman, and all
she knew was he needed help with an application.
And so I went in and met him.
We talked on the phone quickly.
And I walk in, there’s this nice guy
sitting at this conference table, and he puts
his hands up and he says, after we said hello.
I don’t know if you
know anything about medical marijuana.
I’m not a stoner, but I
really need help on this application.
And I knew nothing about medical
marijuana at the time, absolutely nothing.
And I liked, the guy and just kept listening.
And before I knew it, we were working on
one of the first competitive applications in Mass.
We won that license.
I met a lot of people at the
national level and just started getting other work.
And literally within like 18 months, I
was totally, my practice had flipped and
I was basically working exclusively in the
cannabis industry, which I found incredibly compelling.
And it was like 2013, so it was pretty early on.
It was just really great to
be in the industry that early.
I love that.
It’s funny because I’ve been working on adult use
retail application and I know other individuals, and it
does seem like you almost need a writer on
staff to fill out one of these applications.
So could you have ever imagined
that you’d go from freelance writing?
What type of writing?
Was it creative writing?
No, I did business stuff, so I
mean, some technical, a lot of marketing
copy and sort of a serial entrepreneur.
So before that, I had had a kid’s clothing
company for 8 years, so I knew about retail.
But yeah, I ended up sort
of becoming a regulatory specialist site.
For whatever reason.
I like the regs, and that was one of my
jobs on many of the applications, was to make sure
everything was covered and we hadn’t missed anything.
And just to be the organized, also to write
it, but to make sure that everything was covered.
You do that over and over
again in lots of different states. It’s basically a book.
Now, how many states have you written applications in?
Oh, gosh, I don’t know.
10, 11, 12 maybe. Wow.
Is there a lot of variance from state
to state, or are they pretty similar?
The applications themselves, in the
beginning especially, were vastly different.
Maryland had this really small character count.
Actually, Massachusetts did in the first one too.
Others were open ended.
One of our applications that we submitted for a
client was 900 pages because they wanted everything.
And so you want to win, right?
So you put it all in there.
But the regulations, we saw a lot of consistency.
In fact, sometimes you’d think, okay, and I
can’t remember which state it was, but X state, okay,
they took this from literally, the language would
be the exact same from another state application.
So you know that they were all talking
and grabbing pieces of each other’s applications.
I would think that as we continue to grow as
an industry, I would like to think anyway that there
will be a little bit more uniformness to the applications.
Because I’ve heard the same thing that in Nevada and
California it could be up to 900 pages, where in
Maine it might only be 100 or 200.
So I’m thinking that as regulators get
together, we might see a little bit
more uniformity amongst the applications.
But I’m curious, what are some ways
that you recommend people in terms of
tackling an application, be it retail, farming,
agriculture, just any of these applications?
Because there’s so many licenses.
It’s not like there’s just one license.
You get a handful.
How do you recommend people tackle it?
Well, I mean, the first thing you have to do
is you have to read the regulation of the statute
that explains what the application looks like long before the
application is actually released, and just prepare.
Honestly, you have to put a team together.
I’ve never seen one person write an application, at
least in the bigger states by themselves, there’s so
many different requirements, from safety and security to extraction
and depending on what kind of license.
So I think just sort of realizing the application itself
is a big project and manage that project and get
the resources you need and plan ahead, because if you
wait until the state releases the application, you probably don’t
have enough time to complete it.
Now, let’s say somebody is interested because compliance
does not stop at the application process.
Compliance is ongoing for as long
as you are in the business.
So what tools do you have or that
you have found make it easier for people
to remain compliant after the application process?
Well, it’s tricky.
And I think everybody well, from my experience,
each company does it a little differently.
What we did at Procanna is I kept seeing, when
you get a license, you think, okay, I’ve won. Right?
That’s the big part.
But then you got to build your facilities.
You have to train your staff,
hire your staff, train your staff.
And you have to comply within
many states, everything that you promised in
the application plus the state regulations.
In some cases in California especially, there’s local
regulations that you have to comply with.
And it’s just like this suit of regulations.
And then if you have a vertical operation,
you’ve got a cultivation team that has one
group of regulations processing a retail, totally separate.
The teams are totally separate.
The leadership is totally separate.
And if you’re in multiple states, it just
gets to be a very complex formula.
And on top of that, they change them and they enact
legislation that fine tunes the regs on a regular basis.
So staying on top of that is tricky.
And I just kept thinking I saw a
lot of stress in the cannabis industry.
Small companies, big companies around us, everybody
was sort of they get the license,
they jump in, everything’s great.
And then the systems just weren’t
set up properly, I think, honestly.
Or there weren’t systems to be set up.
And now that the industry is getting
a little bit more mature, I think
compliance will become much more important.
They’ve learned how to operate.
They’ve got their policies and procedures in place.
Even if you’re a new applicant, the industry is ensuring
that you realize compliance is part of the answer.
So ProCanna basically is a hub.
We take the state regulations, we
slice them and dice them.
They’re all searchable.
We build policies and procedures and
audit off of the regulations.
So you sort of think of it as table stakes.
Like, these are the foundation, like the bumper.
You stay within these guides, these bumpers, you can
do anything you want in the middle, right?
And that’s where the internal policies come in.
And procedures, our tools start with policies
and procedures, right, through training and quizzing
and audit, collecting business intelligence and then
reporting it out to stakeholders.
So it’s just a tool set, but it keeps everybody
in there and it’s sort of a likable interface that
makes compliance just a little less stressful, I think.
I think anything to reduce stress is great.
I’m curious in terms of compliance, what’s at stake?
For somebody that’s gone through and invested the amount
of money that it takes to start any business,
but especially in this space, what’s at stake if
you’re not operationally excellent, ongoing?
Well, there’s a lot at stake.
There’s compliance with the external regulations, the state
and the local municipalities, and then there’s compliance
with your internal policies and procedures.
And they both, in not being
in compliance has effects for both.
But let’s just deal with the regulatory.
I mean, the most obvious is
fines. Fines and license suspension.
In Massachusetts, a medium sized company got a
$350,000 fine for using the wrong pesticide.
And sometimes that’s a lot for a company. For any company,
but especially a small to midsized company.
So there’s that.
There’s fines, deficiencies and license
suspensions and all that.
But I think there’s also a company culture.
If the people in the company don’t know
exactly what the rules are, if they don’t
know what’s expected of them, it’s just stress
goes up or sometimes it’s just ignorance.
They don’t even know that they’re not in compliance.
And so from the owner operator
point of view, that’s very stressful.
There’s a lot of implications
of not being in compliance. Absolutely.
I’m also curious, so you have your service of
helping guide individuals, but you also have a platform.
And I would love for you to try to break down the
software as well because I know that you mentioned training
and all of that, but how easy is it?
Because for somebody like me, I’m
not tech savvy at all.
So how would I fully utilize your platform?
Yes, so having a sort of a friendly and
intuitive user experience was right at the top of
our list as we were developing it.
So it is literally one of
our first clients who signed on.
I signed him on a Friday, I called him on Monday
and he’s like, oh my God, I did a 30 step
audit over the weekend and I’m in the facility.
We’ll definitely provide training, but it’s
a pretty easy intuitive process.
You start with the policies and the procedures.
You can drag and drop your own in.
Again, the tools are pretty easy.
It’s all searchable.
You can assign a regulation block
a policy or procedure for training.
You can add videos if you have a trimmer who
does this is the best trimmer in our staff.
You can take a little short, 2 or 3
minute video, connect it to a standard operating procedure,
assign them both for training, create audits.
So it’s just an intuitive platform that it starts
with the regulations, policy, training, audit, right to reporting,
and each of the sections is pretty manageable.
And all the tools that we use to build
out the content is available to the user.
So you use the same tools we
do to build out the content.
What advice do you have?
And I know being compliant, being operationally excellent is something
that I saw going through your website as very important
things, but what advice do you have for those of
us that are like right on the cusp of getting
into the industry, but we’re so overwhelmed?
What do you have for those individuals?
Well, cannabis industry can be overwhelming, but I think if
you’re writing your application, one thing that we have is
all the regulations in your state for your facility type
are all searchable and sliced and dice.
We’ve got sort of those foundational
policies and procedures that you can
literally they’re right there for you.
You can build on top of them,
you can bring in your own.
But ultimately, at the most basic level, we’ve
done that first layer of work for you.
So I think a number of people in our
platform have consultants working in ProCanna with them.
So an attorney or an app
writer or a cultivation consultant.
So they’re working in the system together to either write
the application or to set up the systems that will
allow them to be profitable and have a great company.
Now, did you ever think that you would be in
software when you first got into the cannabis space?
Number 1, I didn’t think I’d ever be in cannabis.
Number 2, I never thought I’d be
in software, and here I am. It’s very cool.
I’m quite happy.
Tell me about some of the challenges
because I know nothing about software.
So tell me about some of the challenges
you had to overcome building your platform.
The first one was actually just finding the right team.
I mean, we had vetted and talked to
a number of people, number of companies that came
highly recommended, and it was 2019
I think we were about ready to sign a contract
with a really well regarded company based in Portland, Maine.
We’re a Maine based company, and it
just didn’t feel right in the process.
I felt like something’s not right here.
And at the last, we didn’t sign the
contract, and there’s just something not right.
And lo and behold, literally like 3 weeks
later, there was an announcement in the paper
that they were moving their US.
Operations to Warsaw.
And I think that was
coming through in their communications.
They wanted the work, but they didn’t really want
to tell us they were leaving the state.
And we ended up starting over.
So it actually put us back a couple
of months because it’s a big investment.
Choosing. It’s got to be the right fit.
And we started from scratch, and we found
a team that now feels like family.
They’re out of New Hampshire, but they have a big
team, and they are just so smart and so responsive.
And I have a vision, and they created,
and it’s just a really great collaboration, and
I can’t say nothing but great about them.
Everything comes down to having a good
team at the end of the day.
Certainly does. And systems.
You need systems, but you need a good team. Yes.
So speaking of team and systems, I’m
really curious because employee training is something
that we’re talking a lot about.
How do we create the right system for onboarding?
How do we create the
right system for continuing education?
So is this platform something that could be utilized to
effectively keep our teams up to date and train?
And I feel like the training
is the heart of the system. Right?
It’s all about the employees. Right?
So the regulations, none of that matters unless the people
understand it and understand how to do their job.
I love it because it is. I know.
Like I mentioned, we’re working on an adult
use application here in the state of Maine,
and I’m so overwhelmed reading through I think
I’ve read through the regulations 10, 15 times already.
And what I loved about your website is it looks like
I’m able to break it down into bite size and manageable
pieces and action items and then divide that out over the team.
And to get back to your training, I
just wanted to add one more comment.
A lot of the states sort of require responsible
vendor training, like a licensed third party training company.
So obviously we are not that.
I just want to be clear that we are not that.
So we sort of work and we complement
the responsible vendor trainers or whatever they’re called
in the different states because Procanna allows you
to train your team on your individual, your
internal policies and procedures.
So it’s not so much the big picture, but it’s literally
you can get drilled down into, like I said before, how
to trim the flower or how are you going to package.
And that’s sort of in that
continuing training education bucket, too.
So if you have to have another 12 hours, every
employee has to have 12 hours of continuing education.
It doesn’t all have to be external to your company.
So internally you could be assigning, reassigning the way to
do their work and it changes in the regulations.
So that can all be built into ProCanna.
Amazing, because I know for us, for example, and
for so many tuning in, they might have one
of these kind of third party trainers that will
come in and train their bud tenders.
But I also have some things that I think
are important, maybe in the sales training side.
Now, can I make a video of myself and
another employee and then upload that as a training?
In fact, yeah, we didn’t even talk about
like the forward facing piece, but absolutely.
And that’s all brand right?
The way people interact with your company,
the way your people interact with customers.
Yes, you can definitely do that.
Well, let’s talk about that forward facing piece because
I know I saw strong, culture, empowered employees.
I know that this is something
that you care about a lot. I do.
I feel like if people understand
what’s expected of them, they relax.
And when people relax, they’re more productive, they
feel good, they know how to evaluate success. Right?
When people are well trained and everybody is on
it’s like they’re all pulling in the same direction. Right?
You get better results.
And teams that get good results tend to be
more resilient and more psyched about being at work. Right?
So I think that all directly affects process.
How does your team interact with your customers?
It affects everything, I think.
Tell me a little bit.
Even future stakeholders or partners potentially.
Like if you’re a wholesaler and you’ve got this
great team and they’re consistent, your product is consistent,
that’s going to affect your supply chain.
People that want to buy from you people
that are going to work with you.
So it’s not just with customers, but it’s
also with other partners in the industry and
potential investors, all that kind of stuff.
I’m sure investors look at that very strongly.
I’m curious about the power of strong branding and brand
development because I’ve heard a few times now and it’s
not something I believe in, but I’ve heard a few
people while we’re in marijuana, we open the doors, people
are going to come and buy and I just feel
like that’s not necessarily the case.
Branding is important in just about any business and I
would think it is in this business as well.
I totally agree with you and I think in
the early days when it was new, probably anybody
who opened the store like said, people would come.
But as the industry and the consumers
become more sophisticated, as the competition increases
right, you’re talking about Maine.
There’s potentially a lot of licenses in Maine, a
lot of retail stores, and people are going to
support the brands that they trust and they like,
I mean, like comes into it.
Like they want to like the people
that they’re going in and talk to.
So I think that that bar is
quickly being raised honestly. I love that.
Well, Dede, I’m so grateful that you were joining
me today to talk about these things because we
don’t get to talk about compliance a lot.
We deal with it an awful lot.
We don’t get to talk about it an awful lot.
And so for those out there that know
they need some assistance either breaking things down
in terms of the compliance, the regulatory getting
started, or ongoing training and brand development, what
is the best way for them to check
out the platform or connect with you further?
Yes, I think our website does a good
job of explaining what we do that’s procanna-usa.com.
I’m on LinkedIn.
I’m happy to connect with people, answer
questions, have conversations with basically anybody.
It’s a cool industry and happy to connect. Amazing.
Well, thank you so much Dede.
I really appreciate the time. Thank you.
It’s been a great conversation. And I’m so grateful to all
of you for tuning into this episode of WeedBudz Radio.
Be sure to check out our show notes.
We will include links so you
can connect with Dede on LinkedIn.
Also check out the website and
of course you can find that at weedbudzradio.com.
Thank you so much.
We’ll see you in the next episode.