A New Era of Cannabis Business in California
On October 11, 2015 Governor Jerry Brown signed into law three new bills that establish comprehensive regulations for the cannabis industry. These laws establish licensing for every aspect of the industry, and create the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BMMR) to oversee the program. These new laws dramatically shift the landscape for an industry that has lacked definition for many years. It will require individuals and organizations to realize regulatory requirements like never before. While the new program is certain to be complex, it is by no means unworkable, and hopefully will provide lasting protection from Federal interference. We can help you navigate the system to ensure your business complies with the program, and is positioned to be licensed in good standing when licenses become available.
Because of the way that the program is designed, it is important to begin working on your plans sooner than later. The deadlines established in AB266/SB643/AB243 are rapidly approaching, so being prepared is imperative. We can help design the needed plans and documentation for your project, and keep your organization on track throughout the process. Let us manage the details for you so you can continue to focus on what you do best. The new era of cannabis business in California is here, and the time is now to begin preparing for tomorrow’s industry. Through innovative strategic planning and business development management, we can assure that your business succeeds in whatever system evolves to regulate medical cannabis commercial activity.
Our main goal is for you to succeed. We want you to succeed as much or more than you do. We will do what it takes to make sure that your business is prepared, organized, and ready to be licensed.
There is also the reality that in addition to the new medical laws taking shape, there will likely also be a new adult use cannabis law on the ballot in November of 2016. While there is a barrage of initiatives filed with the State, there are really only a couple of options that look like they will have the funding necessary to pull it off. We will be assessing the different laws and working closely with the eventual campaign that develops around the language that ends up qualifying. Our clients will get exclusive communications regarding these developments, and we will be there to help you understand the law in its entirety. We can ensure that no matter what makes the ballot that your business is well-prepared to hit the ground running when it passes
While there is a lot to comprehend and take in, we can help simplify the process and give you the knowledge and resources you need to overcome these challenges. We are excited to be working with some of the greatest businesses in the industry, and we look forward to further developing our California network of professional providers of cannabis to work together in order to achieve mutual objectives. Mickey Martin Consulting only works with innovative companies that understand and respect the rich history of cannabis in California. Our clients operate with integrity and professionalism. They care about the social responsibility expected of those who provide cannabis in today’s quasi-legal environment. The world is changing rapidly where cannabis is concerned, and we can help you to meet the increasing demands of the new era of cannabis business.
Timeline for Success
In many respects the clock has already begun ticking. The State has begun the hiring process for the Chief of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. I anticipate this position being filled around the beginning of the year. After the Chief is appointed, they will create an advisory committee to help establish best practices and licensing regulations for the industry. The advisory committee members may include, but not be limited to, representatives of the medical marijuana industry, representatives of medical marijuana cultivators, appropriate local and state agencies, appropriate local and state law enforcement, physicians, environmental and public health experts, and medical marijuana patient advocates. It is likely the committee will convene early next year, and make their recommendations sometime next summer. The Bureau will present the findings of the advisory committee to the appropriate licensing authorities, who will in turn develop licenses for the areas of the industry under their control.
More immediate is the action of local municipalities to decide how they are going to license, or not license, medical cannabis businesses within their borders. For cultivation, municipalities have until March 1, 2016 to either create land use regulations either allowing for or banning cultivation in their jurisdiction, otherwise “the division shall be the sole licensing authority for medical marijuana cultivation applicants in that city, county, or city and county.”
“In issuing licenses, the licensing authority shall prioritize any facility or entity that can demonstrate to the authority’s satisfaction that it was in operation and in good standing with the local jurisdiction by January 1, 2016.” So businesses that have a license in their municipality will have priority for licensing in that area. While there are many dispensary licenses across the State, there are very few cultivation, manufacturing, transport, laboratory, and/or distribution permits or licenses. There will be a lot of pressure for cities to develop licenses or ban cannabis, and these situations can often move pretty quickly. We can help you approach your local City Council or Board of Supervisors to encourage them to license your business model, if they do not already. We can help with drafting sample language, direct communications with public officials, and represent you at local stakeholder meetings. We can also help you develop and organize an initiative campaign to let the voters decide on licensing, if necessary. You will need local approval to be licensed by the State, so it will be important to be proactive at the local level immediately to get your community on board with the new State program.
Right now most businesses exist under the collective or cooperative designations created in SB 420. Once the Bureau officially creates licensing for the industry, the collective and cooperative section of SB 420 will cease to exist one year from the date licensing is posted on the Bureau’s website. So if the Chief and advisory committee make recommendations around summer time, I would anticipate the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Consumer Affairs developing their licensing programs before the end of 2016. This will ensure that collectives and cooperatives sunset before January 1, 2018…the date that all commercial cannabis activity will be required to be between licensed businesses only.
In addition, there will likely be an initiative in November 2016 that will further the program, and which will have additional requirements for compliance. It is undoubtedly time to get to work.
Once you have decided that you would like to retain our services to assist you in preparing for the new regulatory program and licensing applications, we will immediately start working on your project. You will be required to complete our Organizational Information Worksheet, which will tell us about your business and current operations. We will arrange to meet with your team and create a plan of execution tailored to your specific needs and goals. At this point, we will assess your needs and create a schedule of tasks for your organization. Our team will begin developing your program immediately to address your most pressing needs. We will be available to answer any questions you may have.
Each organization will have different needs and desires. We will design your individual program to reflect your short-term and long-term goals. The following are some of the services we can provide to help your organization:
- Business Plan- We will create a detailed business plan for your organization that will provide structure and understanding of the organization, its mission, your team, products/services, the market, and strategies for success. This plan is a valuable resource for presenting to your team, public officials, investors, landlords, and other stakeholders interested in your organization. It is a working document that will create the framework for your operations and business.
- Standard Operating Procedures- Our team will work with you to create Standard Operating Procedures that frame the processes, duties, and policies of your organization. It will create a step-by-step guide for the activities that comprise your regular work schedule. Your SOP/Operations Manual will address facilities, maintenance, equipment, methods, communications, work area requirements, formulations, handling, packaging, labeling, waste management, training, hygiene, and more. Developing good standard operating procedures ensures your team is all on the same page as to what is expected of them, and will serve as a critical part of the licensing process. We will develop your unique operations manual to represent company policies and procedures for all activities.
- Facilities Review/Assessment/Plan- Our facilities experts will review your current facilities for compliance and functionality. We will create a report detailing areas of concern and suggested improvements to prepare your facility for the licensing process. We will review all systems, security, zoning, signage, and efficiency aspects of your facilities, and create a task list to help you move toward expected compliance. We can also put you in touch with trusted licensed contractors to facilitate any necessary improvements.
- Business Filings/Bylaws- We will review your current business filings, and assure that you are in compliance. We can also help transition your business from a not-for-profit entity to a for profit organization, as is allowed under the new laws. We will ensure your current bylaws are up to standards, and adjust or create new bylaws where necessary. We will review all necessary State filings to assure that statement of information and tax obligations are current, and assist you in becoming compliant where you are currently deficient.
- Strategic Plan- After assessing your business and operations we will create a comprehensive Strategic Plan to help guide you forward. We will develop a blueprint for achieving success for your organization, including a complete Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) Analysis. We will make suggestions on methods of improving communications, operations, outreach, management, and systems to be more effective in your business dealings. We will give an honest assessment of your business, and provide the necessary resources to help you continue to grow as an organization. The Strategic Plan is a document aimed at helping you understand where you are, and the best methods to get to where you need to be to evolve.
- Compliance Documentation and Report- We can create documentation and plans that you can use to ensure compliance at all levels of your operation. We will create a binder for you to keep at your facilities that spells out clearly how your business is compliant in all areas, including legal, facilities, zoning, inventory control, operations, record keeping, quality assurance, staffing, security, product development, transportation, and secure storage. This documentation of your compliance is not only helpful for your team to review and conform to, it is also a great resource for interacting with public officials and law enforcement. The many aspects of this report will create the foundation for eventual State and local licensing programs.
- Investor Ready Plans- We can help you to create investor ready plans to be presented to potential investors in your business. As the industry and your organization expand, it may be necessary to find some new avenues of investment to overcome financial challenges that will be created by licensing fees, facility upgrades, and unexpected operational costs associated with the new regulations. By creating a plan to present directly to investors, you can increase the likelihood of securing the capital needed to ensure your success. We can create a plan that will impress any investor, and help them to understand why your business is a good bet for their funding.
- Marketing Plans- One thing is certain: the market for cannabis is changing rapidly. We can create a plan to assist you in making wise marketing investments that promote your company, services, and/or products. The objective of marketing is to communicate to your target market why your products and services are of the highest quality, best value, and are a good choice for the consumer. By having a sound marketing plan, you can examine the different methods of advertising and marketing your goods or services that meet your budget and accomplish organizational objectives.
- Government Relations- A big part of the licensing process will be getting local approval; this will require a great deal of government relations work to accomplish in most areas. We have a lot of experience in approaching public officials and developing strategies to get them on board with allowing for medical cannabis businesses. From developing new language for cities and counties to adapt, to encouraging them to restructure their current ordinances to meet the requirements of the new program, we can help you approach your municipality in a professional manner that gets results. We will attend local public meetings on your behalf, and represent your organizational needs to the necessary City Council or Board of Supervisors. We are also experienced in lobbying State lawmakers to make adjustments to the program where needed.
- Initiative Campaigns- There will be municipalities in the State where local government officials will refuse to allow for medical cannabis businesses like yours to exist. We have experience in developing initiative campaigns where we develop language, submit the initiative,0 and gather signatures in an effort to allow for the voters to make that decision. We can develop the right language and help you manage a campaign to create licensing opportunities in the absence of local regulations.
- Employee Documentation- It is important to have documentation that ensures your staff is aware of all company policies and agrees to comply with them. We can create detailed employee handbooks that spell out what is expected of employees and the policies, procedures, benefits, and working conditions of the organization. Developing job roles and descriptions can help your staff to understand what their respective positions entail and your objectives for their roles. Let us help you define your human resources activities to protect your organization legally, and to recruit and keep quality staff to achieve you company’s goals.
- Educational Materials- It is important to educate people about your company, products, and/or services. We can create materials, such as handbooks, brochures, and training manuals that you can use to educate your staff, clients, and the patients you serve. Proper education helps patients to have a good experience in using medical cannabis products, and can help those who are dispensing your products understand how to inform patients of the benefits and best methods for using them. Developing educational materials for your organization creates customer satisfaction, and can increase your bottom line.
- Packaging and Labeling- The new California regulations include requirements for packaging and labeling of medical cannabis products. Let us help you to create packaging and labeling that conform to the regulations, while still maintaining the unique and innovative brand that consumers have come to know and love. We can help you ensure that your products are fully compliant, and help you to avoid costly mistakes.
- Product Development- Our team has a lot of experience in developing successful medical cannabis products lines. We can help you to develop your products and bring them to market. Let us make your great idea into a successful business model. The medical cannabis market is becoming more competitive by the day, so it is imperative to develop products that are desirable and in demand. We understand the market and can work with you to create products that patients love and ask for by name.
- Training Manuals- We can create manuals to assist in the training of your staff. Having manuals that can be used to train employees on your operations, safety protocols, best practices, and cannabis products can help you to develop knowledgeable and well-trained staff that performs at a higher level. This will help your organization to realize safety, quality, and consistency in everything you do.
- Application Development- We have a long track record of developing and submitting winning applications for our clients. When the time comes to apply for licensing or permitting locally and with the State, we will help you create an application that gives your organization a competitive advantage in the process. Our team is highly skilled at creating applications that exceed all standards and position your business to get approved for licensing. All cannabis businesses will need to be licensed by the State, and our team can make sure your application is outstanding.
- Ongoing Support- By signing up for our consulting program, you will have access to ongoing support from our team of professionals to guide you through the program. We will provide timely and accurate responses to all of your questions, no matter how big or small, and will do our best to make sure that you have the resources you need to achieve your objectives. We are available to answer your questions by email, phone, and messaging at all hours of the day. All support needs will be addressed within 24 hours of being received.
- Medical vs. Adult Use- While the current system of regulations is geared toward medical cannabis, there is a very real possibility that adult use legalization will be on the ballot for 2016. We will direct the work we do for you toward both models, and ensure that your plans and operations are reflective of both aspects moving forward if your goal is to be involved in both medical and adult use cannabis. We are well-versed on the laws being proposed, and create our programs to consider both the current medical laws, as well as the programs that will come about through adult use legalization.
- Networking- We have a vast network of clients and professional partners that you will have access to when signing on as our client. We will help you to find resources in the community that can help you to better achieve your goals, and will connect you with other organizations who share similar objectives. It will take a village to compete with the growing business interest flooding the community, and we will use our amazing network of cannabis industry pros to help you succeed.
- Best Practices- In order to achieve excellence, adhering to common industry best practices will help your organization be prepared for the future. We will develop best practices for your organizational operations that ensure you have a solid foundation to build for tomorrow. All of our clients share the common bond of working to provide great products and services to the community. Our best practices create a common bond among our clients that provides the structure needed for the changing cannabis landscape.
- Creative Design- All of the documents, plans, reports, and materials that we create for your organization will maintain design elements that are unique to your company and brand. We will use your artistic styles, fonts, and images in everything we create for you so that they are representative of your organization’s innovative style. We have a great team of designers who can help you create logos, web designs, promotional materials, and marketing tools that reflect your company’s desired image and outreach objectives.
- Media Relations- We are capable of managing media relations for your organization. Our team can create press releases to generate media interest in your organization or to create awareness about issues you are facing. We can field media inquiries on your behalf, and develop responses that are professional and representative of your mission and vision.
- Communications- We will assist you in developing needed communications in the process, including creating communications to landlords, public officials, and community stakeholders. It is inevitable that you will need a letter written to help better understand your plans, and we can assist you in making all communications effective and professional.
- Systems Development- Our team will work with you to develop systems that increase the effectiveness of your organization, including inventory control and record keeping systems.
Costs of Services
Every individual or company we work with will have different needs and require different services. To get started we require a deposit of $5,000. We anticipate that the licensing process, from panning through licensure, will cost approximately $25,000 to $50,000 depending on how rigorous getting local approval is in your area. We will provide regular accounting of the services we provide, and additional payments of $5,000 will be due quarterly. Companies that sign up and put their deposit down before 04/20/16 will receive their organizational plan free of charge. Our fees do not include administrative expenses, external fees, travel expenses, or other costs not directly related to consulting. The accounting provided for services will include detailed expense reports for any additional costs incurred, and all expenses will be approved by you prior to being executed. Should services exceed your deposit prior to quarterly billing, you will be notified and asked to cover direct costs associated with your project as they arise. All invoices are expected to be paid within 10 days of being received.
Our Commitment to You
We are incredibly selective in the clients we choose to represent. Our goal is to help you succeed. We want you to succeed as much as you do, and will do everything in our power to make that happen. We are committed to working hard and giving your organization our very best. Your success is our success, and we take that responsibility very seriously. Our costs for services are incredibly reasonable compared to other consulting businesses serving the industry, and we guarantee total transparency in our work. We believe in a high standard of ethics in everything we do, and guarantee satisfaction. There is a reason that all of the clients we represent come back to us for all their consulting needs. We are fair, honest, and truly excited to help you achieve your objectives. We provide a personal relationship to all of our clients that is unmatched in the industry. Most of our clients also become our good friends and colleagues because we care about their businesses, and work hard to ensure they have the necessary resources to overcome challenges and achieve their goals. We are committed to providing you the best service at an incredible value that will enable you to continue to grow and prosper. We look forward to representing you and helping you find real and meaningful success throughout our relationship.