4/20 Musings

Not all news is bad news, but for the maturing cannabis industry, there is every kind of news and lots of it.

By John Garvey

Today is the fifth 4/20 holiday since recreational cannabis was legalized in Colorado and Washington with the historic passage of Amendment 64 and Ballot Initiative 502. If you’re operating a cannabis dispensary, you may remember in vivid detail the song you were listening to and the exact spot you were standing when you heard the news. In a way, it’s surprising how much it still feels like the Wild West. It was, and still is, an exciting and chaotic time in the canna-business—a time of both opportunity and looming challenges.

Colorado’s rollout of legal cannabis has been considered a success story by objective measures such as tax revenues, a modest decrease in teen pot use, and reduced arrests. The eight other states that have chosen to legalize recreational marijuana have had varying degrees of success.

“You are freaking out, man.”

Take California. The first state to legalize medical marijuana and one of several states to legalize recreational sales in 2017, California is in an interesting and unique position.

Oddly, the state with the “first mover advantage” now faces some of the greatest implementation challenges. Marijuana Business Daily has been reporting extensively on California’s legalization rollout. It threatens to become a fiasco due to supply shortages when testing regulations take effect this summer. Growers and distributors will be hit hard by state excise taxes if they’ve failed to include them in their cannabis sales transactions. Newly-legitimized dispensaries must contend with competition from a thriving black-and-grey market. And only one in three municipalities is allowing legal cannabis operations.

The point is, while proponents of cannabis legalization and cannabis entrepreneurs may be happy with the progress of the last five years, most of the hard work lies ahead from a business standpoint.

The Cannabis Industry isn’t going anywhere, but dispensaries and vendors that aren’t investing in infrastructure and compliance will.

Some things you can’t help. If you’re in a newly-legal state your MIPs vendor might go out of business at any time. Banking in the cannabis industry is practically a three-ring circus with security risks and fees other retailers don’t have to think about. While the legal environment is obviously more supportive than it was five years ago, regulatory compliance may feel like you’re trying to hoist a piano up a flight of stairs. And so forth.

Consolidation is occurring on a much more expedited scale in the cannabis industry than in other industries. Those who are expanding are the ones investing in infrastructure. Regardless of whether you intend to expand or stay put, consider the implications of this.

Even if your exit strategy is to be acquired, having your ducks in a row will greatly strengthen your position. Data integrity and compliance makes due diligence easier and reduces liability for prospective buyers. (Any unknowns will reduce a prospective buyer’s valuation of your dispensary.)

Not to mention, reliable business partnerships, inventory tracking, and point-of-sale systems make your day-to-day life easier.

Fortunately, those things are our jam.

Business operations: Point of sale capabilities, seed-to-sale inventory tracking, security, and marketing.

If you’re running a medical or recreational cannabis dispensary, you have enough plates spinning in the air without worrying about whether your point-of-sale system is going to bonk out. Additionally, you’re probably aware that a quality POS system does a lot more than credit card processing, so there’s much to consider.

For instance, a POS system in any industry should be PCI compliant and have fast processing times and offline transaction capabilities in case your internet service is disrupted. You probably want a combination of experience and industry specialization (consider the MJ Freeway fiasco). It’s also ideal to have as many business needs as possible handled by a single partner.

Now consider this:

Retail Control Systems has been working with a lauded POS and retail management system—NCR Counterpoint—since 1987. That was nearly a decade before the California Compassionate Use Act took effect. We have a Tier 1 PCI-compliant data center. And we have the framework in place to allow you to accept credit and debit cards as soon as the Federal Reserve allows the industry access to conventional banking services.

Anthea RCS, directly and through partnerships with vendors like NexTec, handles everything from seed-to-sale inventory management to physical security measures like security cameras. NCR Counterpoint can also generate dozens of retail reports specific to your dispensary’s objectives and flag suspicious activity like excessive NO SALE transactions and comps.

(For more info on Counterpoint, visit our website or our parent company blog here.)


Data security: check. Reliability: check. PCI compliance: check.

With all your cannabis business solutions taken care of, you can focus more on what matters to your customers.

… Like terpenes!

Happy 4/20!!!