My favorite weird marijuana regulations

Luke EwingCannabis Law, ComplianceLeave a Comment

So you want to know about weird marijuana regulations

As we all know (hopefully), marijuana is illegal under federal law. In spite of that law, 30 states now allow the sale of marijuana in some capacity. Except for a few short memos from the U.S. Attorney General’s office, states have little guidance on how to set up a system for cannabis control. The memos only seem to require preventing marijuana from being redirected out of state or into the hands of minors or illegal-market players (see Cole memo). This lack of guidance enables individual states to tackle regulations creatively.

With 30 different states trying to build a regulated industry after decades of prohibition, the results are varied. For a business, juggling 30 different regulatory environments sounds like a headache. However, to a regulatory analyst (that’s me!), it’s a wonky wonderland. Here are a few of my favorite weird marijuana regulations I’ve found as a side-effect to these state experiments:

California vs. New Mexico: How many license types do we need?


California is well-known for being a state of complex regulations, and their cannabis rules are shaping up to be no exception. Perhaps you would expect to have a separate license for each part of the business that handles marijuana: growers, retailers, product manufacturers, transporters, testing labs, and maybe distributors. In addition, many state outline different licenses for recreational vs. medicinal marijuana. That would put you at about 16 license types in a state with recreational and medical uses permitted—eight for medical only states. But things are not so simple in The Golden State.

California has over 50 license types. They have licenses for manufacturers who use volatile solvents, and a separate one for those who use non-volatile solvents. They separate cultivation licenses depending on whether your grow is outdoor, indoor, or mixed-light; whether the grow is small or medium (but no large yet); or if the grow is “specialty” or “specialty cottage”—28 cultivation licenses in all. They even have a special license for Cannabis Event Organizers (both medical and recreational).

New Mexico

New Mexico, on the other hand, has one commercial license type and one for personal production and use. This license allows the licensee to grow, sell, and distribute medicinal marijuana. So about testing, manufacturing, and transport? In order to do these in New Mexico, you don’t get licensed from the state, you get approved. Different names for the same thing? Possibly. The approval process still requires an application fee and a review process that involves security, odor, and environmental concerns. The only difference seems to be that at the end of the approval process, your business gets added to a list of approved companies, while a license grants you an official piece of paper to display.

We have reached out to New Mexico’s licensing department but are still waiting on their response to clarify the difference *author subtly nudges New Mexico*. Even if you decide to count these approvals as a sort of half-license, it still only brings New Mexico’s count up to four total licenses. We don’t know which state has the best system—too many licenses and regulations can stunt business growth, while too few can create loopholes and, by extension, gray markets. As with most things in life, the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Marijuana, Cannabis, and Marihuana: A bud by any other name… 

Licensing isn’t the only marijuana regulation quirk I’ve encountered. Should we call the plant Marijuana or Cannabis? The two terms seem to divide states and localities.

The word “cannabis” is considered a more “professional” word because it refers to the taxonomical plant classification. Cannabis also has a broader meaning, applying to the whole plant.

The word “marijuana”, on the other hand, comes from Mexican farmers. People disagree on whether the word “marijuana” refers to the whole plant or just the THC-potent flowers. Also, whether it should be differentiated from hemp with a low-THC percentage.

Michigan’s marihuana history

As far as I can tell, the only state that is a one-off from this battle of words is Michigan. 

Michigan’s regulations use the outdated spelling, “marihuana” (apparently British Columbia does this too). This spelling seems to date back to a time when U.S. citizens were unaware that “j”s can make an “h” sound in Spanish.

“Marihuana” appears in two places: the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, one of the first pieces of federal legislation implementing cannabis-prohibition, and the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which kicked off the War on Drugs.

It makes sense that Michigan would use such a dated spelling; Michigan, at least in Ann Arbor, started fighting prohibition from the start. Since 1974, the city allowed possession of small amounts of marijuana and only imposed a civil infraction. According to Michigan’s government, it incorporated the spelling into its Public Health Code which is the standard spelling under federal law. They argue that it would take explicit action from the Michigan Legislature to update the spelling to something more current, which probably won’t happen any time soon.

We have yet to encounter a regulation that refers to weed, ganja, or mota… but we’ll let you know when we do.

Simplifya’s regulatory analysts take pride in their exhaustive knowledge of cannabis compliance. Their work enables our clients to easily understand the regulations they need to follow. See for yourself by signing up for a demo today!

8 new Simplifya features you might have missed

Dave NestoffNew Features, TechnologyLeave a Comment

We pride ourselves on moving fast here at Simplifya, and sometimes we move so fast it becomes easy to miss a new bit of functionality here, a new and improved interface there. That’s why we’re circling back to make sure you saw some of the biggest new Simplifya features and improvements from the last few months.

1. In-app user notifications

We know everyone loves to switch between email notifications and Simplifya when looking through their assigned tasks. But you deserve more than that. All users now have real-time notifications in their top nav that can be accessed from any page in Simplifya. Click a notification and go to the relevant page, and you never have to leave…


2. Revamped SOP Permissions

A big quality of life improvement and an even larger headache reliever, we’re giving you more flexibility with user permissions. Now, you have the ability to control the actions a role (Employee, Manager) or user is allowed to take, AND the ability to choose which SOPs are visible to users.

We started with SOPs (both on a per-user and a per-role basis), and will be rolling out across other modules of the app soon.


3. New Smart Cabinet interface

Smart Cabinet is undoubtedly one of Simplifya’s most valuable tools, which is why we undertook a big overhaul recently. With a new user interface and the introduction of Applied Periods, document retention just got a whole new meaning. And you get an easy way to visualize documents you’ve uploaded. Check it out!


4. Non-cannabis audit content

As our content expands to cover more and more places in the world, we’ve decided to branch out to regulations beyond cannabis content. In California for example, facilities must be inspected not only for compliance with cannabis regulations, but also the highly intertwined fish and wildlife regulations. And so comes the introduction of non-cannabis audit content, starting with California.

Disclaimer: We’re carefully selecting the non-cannabis regulations to add to Simplifya because of course, we have to draw the line somewhere, right?

5. Rich text formatting

Ever thought the formatting of audits or SOPs could be better? We did too. In order to make our content look as good as our Regulatory Affairs team (the wizards behind the curtain), we needed a way to call attention to textual information. So now, throughout the entirety of the app, text fields use a Rich Text Editor. The power is in your hands to create:

  • Lists!
  • Bold text
  • Italics
  • Underlined text
  • And much more!


6. Oversight Portal

Meet the Oversight Portal. A way for an MJB to allow an outside company to “oversee” its compliance. Whether that is for the purpose of passing financial documents, sharing important underwriting applications or just overseeing license expirations, you’re covered. We created Oversight Portal as a way for an Ancillary Company (or an MJB who does consulting) to oversee specific MJB licenses and the documents that pertain to those licenses.


7. Mark SOP Tasks as “Best Practice”

We are sure you noticed that, when completing SOP tasks, ones without citations were being tagged as Best Practice. However, this is not always a clear representation of which SOP tasks should be considered a best practice. Now, all SOP tasks are able to be marked (and of course unmarked) as a Best Practice by our team and yours.

8. Add multiple Administrators

You asked. We listened. We know that sometimes your one Administrator is not the person who needs to have autonomy over your compliance. Now the existing Administrator can add as many other Administrators as they’d like.

Check back in soon for the next batch of new Simplifya features or get started with a demo.

Release 1.33.0

Alex StevensRelease Notes

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October 10, 2018

This release features a massive shift in how we want you to be able to control your Simplifya modules as much as you can, starting with SOPs. Now, we are introducing the ability to manage user and role permissions as well as the ability to allow (and disallow) visibility of particular SOPs to both users and roles as well. We are also pushing some smaller, much needed updates as well as paving the way for a very exciting new feature. Stay tuned!

  • As we overhaul our SOP settings, we wanted to be as granular as possible in choosing permissions for you to select for your users. Whether that is by their role or by selecting permissions for individual users, you are now able to control all aspects of the SOPs module and how your users can interact with it.
  • Do you have SOPs that are specifically for your manufacturers, but you don’t want your budtenders to see them? Well, now you can control who can see each and every SOP. So whether that is restricting access or allowing mass access, you can now choose to do this on a per-user basis as well as on a per-role basis.
  • We finally marked this checkbox off our list. You can now download your Audit Reports and Remediation Reports without being required to enter a password (even though we still think you should… Safety first!).
  • When picking a license for a binder in Smart Cabinet, the name of the location the license is tied to is now in the dropdown menu.

Release 1.32.6

Alex StevensRelease Notes

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October 9, 2018

Small hot fix!

  • There was a small bug that kept users from receiving notifications when they were assigned an Action Item. But now you’ll see them pop up in your notifications module!

Release 1.32.5

Alex StevensRelease Notes

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October 8, 2018

Just a quick hot fix!

  • Our Conduct SOP page had a small formatting error that occurred that make everything SUPER left aligned. This weird formatting issue has been resolved.