5 Cannabis Retail Compliance Risks That Students Should Know About

Canada’s cannabis industry is quickly evolving, as are the laws and regulations surrounding it. While the acceptance of cannabis as a legal substance is growing, the legalization of cannabis is still a relatively recent development. Despite its legalization, there is still a significant stigma attached to the cannabis industry itself. The skepticism surrounding cannabis makes it critical for producers and retailers to make a significant effort to avoid scrutiny. For those operating cannabis dispensaries, the success of their business hinges on careful compliance with industry regulations and laws. Failure to comply can result in a fine or loss of license, as well as detrimental effects to the brand and reputation of a dispensary.

If you’re considering a career as a cannabis retailer, it’s important to be aware of the risks involved with cannabis compliance. Read on to discover the missteps to avoid when navigating the laws and regulations of Canada’s cannabis industry. 

1. If You Want to Become a Cannabis Retailer, Avoid Making Illegal Sales

Illegal sales can be detrimental to the operation of a cannabis retailer, but they can also be difficult to identify. In order to ensure cannabis retail compliance, dispensaries must be highly vigilant when making sales, confirming that the customer they are selling to:

  • Presents a valid ID
  • Is over 19 years of age
  • Has not exceeded the daily sales limit

Retailers must have policies in place to recognize fake IDs and monitor the amount being sold to customers. Selling to underage customers, even accidentally, can harm a retailer’s reputation and lead to a hefty fine or even a loss of license. 

An important component of cannabis retail compliance is avoiding selling cannabis illegally

Looping is a term that refers to customers continually making a maximum product purchase at dispensaries, presenting a compliance issue as there is a chance that the customer intends to illegally resell the product. Having a method in place to ensure that customers are not exceeding the daily sales limit can prevent this practice from impeding the compliance of a dispensary.

2. Expired or Unsuitable Licenses

There are many different licensing requirements that a cannabis retailer must maintain and stay up to date with at all times. These may include:

  • Business licenses
  • Dispensary licenses
  • Retail licenses
  • Cultivation Licenses
  • Other specified municipal or provincial documents

Given the amount of licenses and paperwork required to legally operate a dispensary, it can be easy to become confused or overwhelmed. However, in order to ensure compliance, retailers must make sure to know when to renew their licenses, update their paperwork, and pay association fees.

Expired licenses can endanger the operation of a dispensary

3. Disregarding Security Can Jeopardize Cannabis Retail Compliance

If you want to become a cannabis retailer, it’s important to know the important role that security plays in the successful operation of a dispensary. In addition to measures like video surveillance and alarm systems, retailers should ensure that they are following local and provincial regulations outlining the security requirements pertaining to dispensaries. 

Security also applies to a dispensary’s inventory. Monitoring inventory with proper surveillance measures throughout transportation, storage, and distribution is an essential component of a safely operating practice. Discrepancies in inventory can lead to missing stock—a security hazard that can result in serious penalties.

4. Failure to Follow Product Safety Laws

Within the cannabis industry, there are multiple regulations surrounding the safety, packaging, and labeling of products sold. Some of the requirements in place in Ontario include:

  • Child resistant packaging
  • Uniform colouring
  • No emission of scents or sounds

Additional requirements can be found here, and in order to maintain the legal distribution of cannabis, dispensaries should ensure that the labels and packaging of their products are in line with industry standards.

Cannabis retailers must ensure that their products are packaged and labeled appropriately

5. Not Using Dependable Technology

Taking advantage of technology is essential when operating a dispensary. Retailers must utilize technology in order to track transactions, maintain inventory, and store data, enabling the provision of accurate sales reports and inventory counts to regulatory bodies.

However, this technology must be both effective and secure in order to protect against data breaches, which could compromise the privacy of customers as well as the accuracy of transaction data. When it comes to ensuring compliance, it’s important that retailers invest in the right technology in order to properly handle and store information.

Are you interested in learning more about the cannabis industry?

Explore cannabis careers with a program at AAPS. 


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