Remember when you used to buy weed?
There was that yoga guy with body odor, or that dread locked Rasta guy who sold killer blueberry. There was no ID check, there was no tax, and you did not have to pay an extra $6.00 for a lockable, childproof bag. I don’t have any children! Why do I need a bag?
The weed, in fairness, was nowhere near as good, reliable or potent. And there was the inconvenience of knowing you were breaking the law.
For the last five years I have helped implement systems to streamline the process of marijuana transactions so that everybody gets what they need from the information. The Rasta guy did not need to know your name, and he never remembered it anyway. Now, computer systems track your every purchase, and soon, machines will accept and lock your dollars safely away before they ever reach a budtender.
It’s the goal of these technologies to solve the industry’s problem. The Point of Sale (POS) systems try to handle inventory control, compliance, patient management, and to the best of their abilities, state compliance.
Imagine what a nightmare it is to keep up on 24 state’s taxation, reporting and compliance demands. Each government agency thinks they are smarter than the next and that they must have their own unique hoop to jump through. But many want to make hoops that can’t be jumped through because they don’t want to decriminalize cannabis and don’t know any way to stop it.
When I was at MJ Freeway, we spent months researching and questioning whether to turn on the tax module for dispensaries in California. The answer? It depends.
If you charge sales tax, you prove that you are not a true “collective” as outlined in the original medical cannabis laws and you could be shut down. If you don’t charge tax, the California State Board of Equalization, their taxing authority, will shut you down for running a business without paying your taxes. It’s a lose/lose proposition – so most people paid taxes.
These kinds of contradictions of logic will drive a computer nerd mad, and I have the t-shirt to prove it. Computer systems are binary. Nothing about cannabis is binary.
In Colorado, each plant is tracked from when it is a few inches high until after the flowers have been cut and dried. Product identification from the shelf can be traced back to the plant and the nutrients that were used on it. No other industry has this requirement for detail. And sometimes, this industry can suffer from lack of attention to detail, and I don’t know why.
Most dispensary personnel spend as much time on the computers as they do performing their job functions. While that may not be unusual for many industries, the Cannabis Industry is based on agriculture and farming.
Will the industry ever revert to black market practices? I doubt it. There will be some private growers that have a following, just like there are some microbrewers that supply their friends. But for the majority of us, “This Buds For You” has a whole new meaning.
Mark Goldfogel is a founder of C4EverSystems, a cash handling kiosk guaranteed to meet banking compliance guidelines for cannabis transactions, and was a co-founder of MJ Freeway, the popular point of sale software for cannabis businesses, guaranteed to meet government compliance regulations for cannabis. He held management positions at ADP and John Deere. You can reach him at [email protected]