9 Steps Every New Cannabis Operator Should Follow

You got your license, now what? In partnership with Comploy, we put together a list of 9 steps to help newly licensed operators navigate this highly regulated industry. “It’s our mission to help cannabis operators find their footing in an underserved industry,” Colin Barnard, Director of Marketing at Comploy said. ”We know just how confusing and even intimidating it can be during your first few months in the industry, this checklist helps ease those burdens.”

Kate Thomson, Manager of Regulatory Affairs at Simplifya and former COO at The Farm, worked with Barnard to provide perspective as both a former cannabis business and a current compliance professional. “There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to starting and maintaining a business in cannabis. Knowing the procedural steps, avoiding pitfalls, finding the right partners, and staying abreast of changing regulations is essential,” said Thomson. “This checklist combines experience from different stakeholder perspectives to provide a foundation for compliant business operations in a challenging industry.”

1. Application & Pre-Approvals

  • Submit your application to the regulatory cannabis authority, which includes all business and operation plans, financial statements, owner disclosures, and other required documents.
  • Submit all required fees.
  • Obtain all necessary pre-approvals.

2. Establish a Banking Relationship

  • Find a transparent, cannabis-friendly banking partner that supports your specific needs.
  • Things to consider include sending or receiving funds internationally, courier pick-up for cash deposits, and the need to originate ACH transactions or wires to make payments.

3. Insure Your Licensed Premises

  • Obtain builder’s risk or renter’s liability insurance.
  • Confirm with licensing authorities all necessary zoning approvals and permits are complete.

4. Focus on a Compliant Workplace

  • Review your state’s pre-operational checklists.
  • Review applicable regulations, statutes, recently passed bills, and guidance or bulletin.
  • Confirm that SOPs & plans submitted to your state licensing authority are still compliant.
  • Verify security requirements and install surveillance equipment.
  • Perform a hazard analysis to identify preventative measures to be taken.
  • Prepare your leadership team, workflows, and documentation needed for inspection.
  • Identify who will respond and escort during inspections.
  • Determine storage procedures based on medical, adult-use, and product awaiting testing.
  • Confirm that you are up-to-date on all payments and application and licensing fees owed to the regulatory cannabis authority or other state or local entities.

5. Set Up Remaining Insurance

  • Obtain workers’ compensation, inventory, general liability, delivery, and/or transport vehicle insurance compliant with state & local laws.
  • Work through options and risks with your provider.

6. Focus On Product & Process

  • Ensure source product is compliant, including all required testing.
  • Set up a compliant, comprehensive supply chain that accounts for source materials, manufactured products, testing laboratories, ingredients, and packaging and labeling materials.
  • Conduct inventory tracking training to understand the flow of products in your system.
  • Create a consistent inventory SOP for daily updating, auditing, and discrepancy reconciliation.
  • Perform an initial inventory audit before starting operation.
  • Develop ongoing processes and procedures to help make changes and improvements along the way.


7. Finalize Payroll Partner

  • Find a comprehensive, cannabis-friendly payroll partner who understands the industry and offers the service and technology you need to grow your business.


8. Find Your People

  • Confirm staff has proper qualifications, certifications, and training for the cannabis industry.
  • Prepare company procedures, policies, safety protocols, and annual training.
  • Sign and comply with a labor peace agreement, if applicable.

9. Ongoing Compliance & Coverage

  • Stay up-to-date on taxes and fees, insurance, and financial requirements.
  • Maintain supply chain relationships.
  • Update standard operating procedures as needed.
  • Stay up-to-date on all regulatory and statutory changes.
  • Be a part of the regulatory conversation.


Navigating cannabis regulations can be an arduous task without expert guidance. To establish a successful and morally sound cannabis enterprise, utilize our compliance tools to initiate your journey on the right path. Stay aligned with ever-changing cannabis regulations to sustain your business’s prosperity! Contact us and get a free demo of Simplifya Protect, our compliance platform.

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