Region: California Cannabis Business Conference
Scaling In California’s Cannabis Market
By Kaisha-Dyan McMillan
October 17, 2019

Scaling In California’s Cannabis Market

By Kaisha-Dyan McMillan, journalist specializing in the cannabis industry

All eyes were on California when voters made it the world’s largest cannabis consumer marketplace in 2016. Due largely to the struggles facing cannabis business owners and operators under regulation however, the Golden State’s industry however still has yet to fulfill revenue expectations. While the landmark approval of cannabis banking reform by the House of Representatives could finally result in access to banking and capital for the industry, it’s just one of many factors – which also include heavy taxation, marketing and advertising restrictions, municipal bans on cannabis businesses and much more – that can directly impact a company’s ability to scale.
Achieving growth in a brand new sector is challenging, but especially when that industry is federally prohibited and forced to exist under a state-led regulatory framework. Legal cannabis is rife with issues unique to the industry but has no established history to pull from, leaving it up to business owners and operators to turn to more established sectors for guidance.
Learning What Works In Other Sectors
When it comes to working within state regulations and prohibitive marketing guidelines, cannabis can learn a great deal from the heavily regulated energy sector. One area of opportunity for the cannabis industry is to transition away from spreadsheets and other manual systems, and instead move toward communication platforms, automation, and other technology embraced by the energy industry. Such resources can help streamline processes and establish best practices, enabling cannabis companies to react quickly to regulatory changes in every jurisdiction. Flexibility is key in both industries, and cannabis businesses can learn a great deal from energy companies about adapting to evolving conditions with minimal inefficiencies.
When it comes to building a team, it’s crucial that the legal cannabis industry implement hiring and employee onboarding best practices informed by long-established recruiting and HR procedures. From determining appropriate interview questions to participating in nondiscriminatory hiring, to having employees complete new hire paperwork on their first day and more, activating these systems goes a long way towards ensuring that employees are hired and managed in compliance with labor laws.


Kaisha started journaling when she received her first diary at the age of 9. The practice of using words to document thoughts, process feelings, and weave a story was intuitive from the moment she set pen to page.

When considering a niche in 2016, she originally chose cannabis because of her experience taking it for wellness. After taking a weekend seminar at Oaksterdam University to educate herself further, it became clear that her marketing background and writing skills were how she could best help this burgeoning industry. Her favorite cannabis copywriting projects are those that reduce stigma, provide education, and help consumers understand how cannabis could be a viable holistic option for their needs. As a Gen X African-American woman, her journalistic focus is on the women and people of color doing amazing things in the industry, especially in her hometown of Oakland.

Presenter Spotlight: Jackee Riccio of The Community Governance Partnership/CROP Project

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