Keeping up with Compliance w/ Dede Perkins

Hello All!

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 ProCannaProCanna 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!

Dede Perkins

Ry Russell
WeedBudz Radio
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Hey, everyone.

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.

What worked.

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.

That’s amazing.

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?

Most definitely.

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.

Exactly. Definitely.

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?

Most certainly.

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.

Brand loyalty.

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

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

Thank you so much.

We’ll see you in the next episode.

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