I was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1959. My father was a bank teller, grossed $170 per month and we had a maid, a black maid, Lilly May, who effectively lived with us and helped raise me. I loved her and she loved me. We invited her to all family functions like an extended member of our family. She was single though her parents and siblings lived in the greater Columbus area.
My family moved out to Tacoma, Washington in the early 60s. Rented a little house, then after about a year, we bought our first new house. It was a three bedroom, one bath about 1100 square feet on a good sized lot in a terrific neighborhood. I had the perfect childhood in that we had lots of room to play and ride bikes and my Mother was a stay at home Mom. Dad continued working in banking.
My parents were happily married, I never went hungry, attended good public schools, had access to good medical care (our family doctor, George Kittredge, even made house calls!) had a ton of friends and lots to do. I was born in the USA, my parents stayed married my entire upbringing, I lived in classic American suburbia and I felt safe all the time. Sadly my Mother died of cancer at 38, leaving my little brother and sister at the tender ages of 16 and 13 respectively. And while it was a tremendous blow losing her and one frankly that still resonates through our nuclear family even today, we were blessed to have had her in our life and so lucky to have been able to call her Mom.
I graduated high school from W.F. West in Chehalis, attended college, majoring in Economics, at Central Washington University. I married a great girl and we are still married after more than 41 years. We have three kids; Megan, Danny and Amber who in turn have given us five grandchildren.
Was I privileged? Absolutely and for all the reasons I have outlined above and undoubtedly many more. I have quite literally lived the American dream insofar as upbringing and childhood. And I feel no need to apologize to anyone about my “privileged” adolescence, only the need to acknowledge such and thank my parents for my nearly perfect young life.
Being from the South, I have seen racism, but I have lived in the Pacific Northwest and I have seen racism there too. The Deep South does not have a corner on the national market of racism. But I am not a racist. My wife is not racist. My kids are not racist. I want to help further the discussion of race in the US but I will not apologize as a part of this effort. And I will not kneel before any man, white or black. Or brown or yellow for that matter.
Those of us who have been blessed to have been born in the USA are privileged. Look at the protests going on all across this Country. People are free to assemble, protest, and call our President every name in the proverbial book. Any citizen can go on TV and spew hate and frustration or we can go on TV and spread the gospel and talk about love vs hate and good vs evil. As long as we protest peacefully, which obviously has not always been the case, there are no legal repercussions. Our freedoms, our freedom of expression, speech, religion, and more are unbelievably precious. Many thousands of men and women have made many sacrifices to assure that succeeding generations have and enjoy these freedoms. We are all so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to live in the USA. This grand experiment, though far from perfected yet, is still the greatest system that has ever been assembled and built by man. We are a work in process.
Could a citizen insult the leader of China, Iran, N. Korea, or Russia with no repercussions? In the above listed countries, women are discriminated against by US standards horribly and gays are sometimes thrown off buildings upon discovery of their respective sexual orientation. We in America are free to buy billboards, write letters to the editor, go on radio talk shows, walk the streets with profanity-laced posters to share our griefs, beefs, concerns, criticisms, suggestions, allegations on virtually any subject etc and there is never any backlash from the government. Other citizens may object, some vehemently to what ever message of protest is being leveled, but the government, all levels of our government, will not respond negatively or legally so long as the message is delivered peacefully with no one harmed and/or no property damaged.
The United States is far from perfect and the whole world can witness and watch and stand back and snicker at times as we work out our difficulties and struggles in a very visible manner. You would probably not want to have a family argument and ugly disagreements like we do in this country and have the neighbors hear and see the entire transgression as it develops and, hopefully, is somehow and eventually worked out. Such is the nature of the US; it’s messy but we have all accepted and embraced that over the years. Disagreements are encouraged in this country because they can lead to real improvement and new ideas.
I am proud to be an American. I am blessed to have been born here and been raised here. I want every American to enjoy the kind of life I enjoy; good schools, nice home, good neighborhoods, good friends, transparent and effective elected leadership, and perhaps most importantly, equal opportunity and an equal shot at the American Dream. Now I am not so naive as to think they are no impediments for some in this country in the hope and pursuit of achieving the American Dream. But we all have difficulties, nothing worth having should be easy and in fact, most important things in life are not easy. Things like marriage, raising kids, achieving educational goals, buying a home, building a business, being a part of a family are all worthwhile and satisfying and frankly necessary to the total and complete fulfillment of our human spirit. None of these goals are easy but I would submit they are all available with effort and discipline to every American who is willing to pay the price, make the investment of time and effort, and work through struggles and difficulties. Everything in life that is worthwhile is worth working hard to accomplish. And in this country, anything a person decides to set out to achieve is achievable. Henry Ford said “whether you think you can or think you cannot, either way you are correct”.
Thanks for listening.
Rob Hendrix, owner
Cannabis Central of Ellensburg
Cannabis Consulting Nationwide
My name is Rob Hendrix and I own two (2) cannabis-related businesses. One is of course, Cannabis Central of Ellensburg and the other is my cannabis consulting firm, Cannabis Consulting Nationwide. The retail shop, Cannabis Central, has been open and in continuous operation since August 25, 2014.
Ellensburg is a small town located in Central Washington State, about 100 miles due East of Seattle. It’s known for several things; namely the finest timothy hay in the country, Central Washington University, and for the fact there was serious consideration given to having Ellensburg be our State Capitol.
This was an idea pushed by many back in the latter part of the 19 century given the simple fact Ellensburg was located in the geographical center of would soon become Washington State. Washington State is a progressive, liberal state in general so a person might conclude its citizens would have been open to the concept of legalized cannabis intended for adult use, but if this what you would have predicted, you would have been wrong.
Initiative 502, the people’s initiative intending to legalize “recreational” marijuana use, on the ballot in November, 2012, passed by a relatively narrow margin. In fact if King County, home to the State’s largest city, Seattle, had been removed from the vote, the measure would have been defeated.
So even in our liberal-leaning state, legalization of cannabis was controversial and was not without many issues. Citizens from all across the Evergreen State were up in arms, fearful of what the “normalization” of cannabis in our communities might bring when the first retail shops began to open.
High crime, access to minors, cartels influence, are just a few of the concerns expressed by many. 5 ½ years later, it is easy to prove these concerns were without merit and that many of the predicted problems just simply have not materialized. Minor use of cannabis has actually been reduced in 37 of our 39 counties.
There has not been an uptick or even a presence of a “criminal element” seen as a result of the legalization of cannabis. But still the controversy and the harsh opinions persist. The question is why?
I am 61 years old, I am a product basically of the 70s and I am an unwilling recipient of the nonstop propaganda against marijuana use throughout the 70s and even into the 80s aka “Just Say No”. Gateway drug, laziness will ensue, potential for success will be dramatically reduced.
If you smoke pot, you are more than likely on your way to other dependencies and addictions and by extension, on your way to becoming a leach on society, unable to provide for yourself. Sound too harsh? Am I serious?
Well, frankly yes, this was the message from “experts” in the day, what we were all warned about. Too many, this remains their view and opinions on cannabis are still mixed at best. Again, the question remains, “Why?”
I can tell you, as I have told many others in various panels, committees, meetings, expos, conventions that 60-70% of my customers come into my retail cannabis shop in the hopes of dealing with one issue or another. Young and old, many are attempting to treat something that is ailing them; migraines, menstrual cramps, anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, pain, cancer treatment or the effects therefrom just to name a few.
Most of my customers are not just wanting to get “high”, they are, in fact, dealing with life and stress and problems and difficulties. And the ailments they are dealing with or attempting to at least are as varied as the people themselves.
My average age customer is approximately 40-42. I have patrons from 21 to 91 and everywhere in between. They are male and female, young and old, fat and skinny, gay and straight, liberal and conservative, formally educated and high school dropouts, successful and struggling, in a committed relationship or single, etc, etc.
They are representative of America as a whole in that they are very diverse. And I love that as it pertains to the cannabis industry. But very few of my customers fit the “mold” of pot smoker or stoner that so many who object to cannabis in society may perceive cannabis users to be.
Cannabis is helping many citizens. Many turn to cannabis to help with many problems including quality of life issues. I have many stories from customers who have scaled way back on pain medications that otherwise would turn them into zombies if enough was taken to control pain. Augmenting pain pills with cannabis can help control pain but allow for normal function that utilizing the pain medications alone otherwise would not.
We are changing people’s hearts and minds one situation at the time. The progress does at times to be maddeningly slow. But when I look back over the past few years, I know we have made significant inroads and have, on many occasions, effected lives in a truly and sometimes overwhelmingly positive fashion. And that feels good, in fact it makes the struggles, stress and sleepless night that entering this wild and crazy industry brought about all worthwhile.
Thanks for listening.
Rob Hendrix, owner
Cannabis Central of Ellensburg
Cannabis Consulting Nationwide
I am sure most if not all of the readers and visitors to my website are sick and tired of this pandemic. And I will not take this opportunity to get political with y’all. But I will address some real concerns I have regarding our economy; national, regional as well as local.
I have not been able to get a professional haircut since late February, in fact my hair hasn’t been this long since high school. People in my life are telling me they like it “longer”. But not this long.
But my long, out of control hair situation is not a real issue. The lady who normally cuts my hair and whose business is on life support is the real issue.
The friends of mine who own a lovely and local Italian restaurant and really cool bar are running at 25-30% of normal revenue. That is unsustainable for any business so I am concerned for their well-being and that of their employees.
And the gentleman who owns the building I lease that houses my cannabis shop is also struggling mightily. His primary business is a really cool old diner with fantastic salads, wraps and of course burgers. He also had only fairly recently opened a bar in what was our first location for my shop and it has been almost totally shut down by COVID-19.
No business can operate for long with these types of roadblocks and the resulting loss of business and life giving revenue.
My point is that real people who are “small” business owners and who employ millions and millions of Americans all across our country are in serious straits and they need our help.
But its tricky as these people, for the most part, are not accustomed to asking for help. No, most are the type who GIVE help, not receive it. So, its a bit foreign to many of these true blue Americans whose businesses are the engine that truly drives the US national economy, not Amazon or Costco or Walmart.
Small business collectively dwarf these “giants” insofar as the contributions they make to our local, regional as well as national economy(s).
I for one resent the term “essential” businesses, in fact all businesses are essential to the folks who work there and the people who own them. To them and their livelihoods, it is quintessentially essential!
The corona virus is a real threat, especially to certain members of our society, namely the elderly along with the medically compromised.
There is no doubt the disease is deadly in certain circumstances, but I am afraid our response and policies have not been balanced in the efforts to deal with this pandemic.
In fact, we are creating public safety issues in the process of trying to thwart the spread of corona.
But before I really dive off into the “weeds”, pun, I will leave you with this; if you have a job and a paycheck coming in, you are fortunate. Give back to the local business owners in your respective town(s) you know, like and patronize regularly.
Order online and take out or call for delivery, many of these business owners and their managers are really thinking outside the box, cliche’ warning!, and they’re really trying to take care of themselves, their employees and their customers.
So give back, spend some money and when it comes to calculate the tip, be generous. If the restaurant in question for example is running at 30% of normal revenue, I am betting the tips are even less and many of the servers and hostesses and cooks are making much less than normal.
Have courage and be kind.
Rob Hendrix, owner
Cannabis Central of Ellensburg
Cannabis Consulting Nationwide
My name is Rob Hendrix and I own and operate a state legal retail cannabis shop in Central Washington State. Washington State passed Initiative 502, the legalization of adult use cannabis, in November 2012. During the course of 2013, the powers that were to be at the state level worked on the rules, regulations, restrictions in order to create a workable regulatory environment for this new and controversial industry.
And while there were errors, miscalculations and many mistakes, the state and by extension, our primary regulatory body, the Liquor and Cannabis Board, or LCB, did a couple of things really right. I will not in this article attempt to review every RCW, WAC, rule and/or regulation, but I would like to discuss two things that occurred that I believe have created a much smoother path for us here in the Evergreen State.
The first was the rather modest application and license fees. Our application fee back in 2014 was $269 and our license fee was only $1100. Other states fees are huge by comparison; $60,000 application fees and upwards of $200,000 license fees in other states. In Washington, I believe the regulators discriminated IN FAVOR of small operations, Mom and Pop type shops, such as my business.
My wife and I, sole investors and owners of Cannabis Central of Ellensburg, were incredibly easy to vet. We had a home, a couple of cars, a pretty pathetic savings account and a 401K, of sorts. No overseas holdings, no stock portfolio except in our 401K, no other businesses.
Neither of us had a criminal record of any kind, we had never been arrested, not even any outstanding parking tickets. Incredibly easy, right? Now, did the state and the LCB feel it would be easier to check people like us out?
Of course. In order to be qualified for the retail “lottery” drawing, we had to be able to check the myriad of boxes and fulfill the seemingly endless parade of requests, demands, and Docusign processes at the beginning of each month, along with much more.
That brings me to the second thing the state did that I believe has made a huge difference in making Washington a success story in legal cannabis; the aforementioned “lottery”.
What is the “cannabis license lottery”?
The idea of a lottery to pick “winners”, that is to decide which of the qualified applicants actually are chosen to have the opportunity to obtain a cannabis license, on its face sounds really simple and maybe even dumb. The criticisms of using a lottery system to award cannabis licenses are legitimate:
- Does the state care if a person has ever run a business previously?
- Has this person or persons ever balanced a checkbook, processed a payroll, ever been in retail, ever been in management?
- Do they have the tools necessary to successfully run a business that is regulation-heavy and fraught with opportunities to be tripped up and quite possibly lose their state-issued license?
All real questions and real potential problems.
Now, lets take these two steps in the process and bring them together to bring my story “home” so to speak. Low application fees and license fees mean many of us can get into this. It doesn’t take a millionaire or a large corporation to get started given Washington’s reasonable costs of applications as well as license fees.
Millionaires and/or corporations are complex and have many layers and components. In addition, they have banks of lawyers who thrive on operating dangerously and are constantly on the lookout for loopholes in order to justify their fees. Will a state regulatory agency in charge of compliance have the resources to watch these organizations and keep them under control? I would say emphatically the answer is NO.
When states set up their fee schedule they are making calculated judgments about the applicants, especially when those fees are high. The bureaucrats feel the licensees are being given the very real opportunity to get rich, Therefore, they feel justified in getting their government tax and spend hands on some of that money upfront.
The fact is many even in our own LCB, our cannabis regulatory body, are personally against legalizing adult-use cannabis. It seems to reason other states’ cannabis agencies may feel the same way. State-level politicians understand nearly half of all constituents are not in favor of the legalization of cannabis and therefore need the ability to go back to the doubters in their respective districts that while he/she shares their concerns, by God we are going to tax the Hell out these businesses!
So even in my State of Washington, there is a prevailing feeling among lawmakers that the right move is to:
- Tell the public you are wary of the unintended consequences legalization brings
- Tax the industry heavily so the licensees will pay for their self-created problems.
The politicians need cover and this provides it. Of course, if they’re speaking to a pro-cannabis crowd, then of course these same politicians will praise the industry and the people in it and sing the virtues of legalization proudly as if they themselves created 502!
Why the cannabis license lottery works so well
Finally, the process of picking winners in Washington was by lottery, and I have outlined the negative aspects of such a simple process above. But there are desirable outcomes by using a lottery to determine who obtains the licenses and it has eliminated many problems.
There can be virtually no cheating, no one can hold their thumb on the scale of choosing. Lottery knows not what color, age, religious background, health history, business background, political leanings, associations, etc. It is a perfect way to pick licensees to avoid discrimination and pay to play schemes.
Low application and license fees in conjunction with a lottery system have helped to keep it all simple, easily controlled and perhaps most importantly, have been extremely helpful in adhering to the stated principles outlined in the August 2013 DOJ “Cole Memo”.
However, having huge fees invite large corporations and wealthy individuals who quite honestly are harder to “deal with” insofar as remaining absolutely sure things will be done according to the rule of cannabis law(s).
In my State of Washington, we have very reasonable fees across the board. However, the LCB makes up for this by having the highest excise tax rates in the US. So the licensees collect excise and sales tax at the point of sale.
The fees are a relatively minor source of income but the steadily increasing sales numbers which are growing much faster than originally forecasted are at the core of our success. Business has been slow to grow and thrive not weighted down by huge business fees the absence of which has created the cash flow you see now in our state.
The tax revenue flowing into the state’s coffers is quite large and is a relatively new revenue stream which is always attractive to all politicians. Successful businesses, solid financial returns for the state, and a spirit of cooperation and commitment to run our cannabis stores in a transparent and safe manner for our respective communities.
Good job Washington State. Other states, look to the Great Pacific Northwest for answers. I am already reading where there are big problems in several states’ applications, vetting, and license granting processes. These ugly issues and problems will become ever more apparent and will only get worse and more prevalent if you maintain these large, out of reach for most, application and license fees.
My name is Rob Hendrix and I own two (2) cannabis-related businesses. I own a legal retail cannabis shop in Washington State (Cannabis Central), and I have created Cannabis Consulting Nationwide, CCN.
CCN was founded to help those who are contemplating getting into legal cannabis retail and/or for those who are already in it to some degree and need assistance with some aspect of starting, opening or operating a legal retail cannabis store. And I can write hundreds of pages to that end, but today I would like to discuss our time during the era of COVID-19.
Thankfully, my business here in Washington State has not been curtailed and in fact has remained designated as an “essential” business. Now to be truthful, I am slightly uncomfortable being considered an “essential” enterprise because I know all business owners, large and especially small, consider their own businesses to be extremely essential. To that effect, so do their employees.
In fact, small business is the lifeblood of our national economy, quite literally the engine that drives our economic success. Today, I would like to take a few moments to talk about small businesses that have been shuttered during this pandemic, and how you can help them.
Many of you may have read my previous articles or short stories and if so, you know how I feel about being a good neighbor. Usually being a good neighbor to yours truly meant being respectful of others’ opinions insofar as my being part of a still controversial and misunderstood industry. Well, today, its a different story.
As a business owner of a business which has been allowed to remain open and serving customers and in the process, keep all of my invaluable employees on the payroll, I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate. As such, I have been attempting to share my good fortune. I would like you all to do the same if it is possible for you to do so.
Keep an eye out for opportunities to help those businesses which have been forced to change and adapt to a great degree and have been forced to practically reinvent themselves. Many restaurants, diners, bars and taverns have had to completely rewrite their own business models given the many ways their business has been been restricted. Purchase and then give gift certificates to your own employees to be used at local businesses of your choosing.
In addition, check in on your elderly neighbors to see about securing needed staples and important items around the house. Many of these people have been nervous about going into public for fear of coming down with the virus. The elderly are prime targets for COVID-19 and need to be protected at all costs.
Check in with local churches, their donations are way down as a result of actual gatherings being disallowed and consequently the coffers are running low. Local charitable organizations do some really great work in local communities and deserve a helping hand so they can, in turn, help others.
Pay attention to the folks who are still working; those obviously in the medical field but also those good people who are working the checkout line at your local grocery store. Tell them “thank you” for what they’re doing. They are quite possibly putting themselves at risk to help their communities to have food and items that are necessary to us all. If you are forced to go to a doctor’s office, or ER, please be respectful and be patient. In many of our larger cities and towns, the medical establishment is working very hard and are perhaps struggling to keep up with needed services.
There are many good and decent people in our society, of course there a few bad apples out there among us as well. But regardless, take pride in always doing the right thing by helping your fellow citizen and looking for areas where you can lend a helping hand.
You’ll feel better, your neighbors on the receiving end of this kindness will feel better and pretty soon we will all be better. Before you know it, this bump in the road will be a memory and in the process of working through it, we can all be better, stronger for it.
As for me, I will continue to count my blessings and look out for my neighbor’s well being. Next time around it may be me who needs help.
Make this a super day, your best effort yet. Try to be a bit better today than you were yesterday and a bit better tomorrow than you were today.
Contact Me Here
Today, we are going to talk about cannabis compliance. Once you have your dispensary up and running, operating within the regulations of your specific state or county is paramount to staying compliant, and thus staying open.
This isn’t easy. The best way to tackle it is by developing a close relationship with your regulatory body. It is likely you will be assigned an agent or worker specifically to help you. Communicating often with them will help instill good faith, and set you up for a beneficial relationship.
But, there are plenty of cannabis compliance issues you need to be aware of. From store security, to how you get your inventory. We’re going to cover it all.
What is cannabis compliance?
Cannabis compliance is all about complying with the rules and regulations set forth by your regulatory board in your state.
In Washington State, we work with the LCB. They developed a regulatory framework for how businesses in the cannabis industry will operate. It’s up to us, the owners of dispensaries and delivery services, to live up to these regulations.
Why does cannabis compliance matter?
Unfortunately, the cannabis industry is scrutinized to a degree many other industries are not. Because of the nature of the products we sell in this industry, we get put under a microscope.
There is little room for error, so any cannabis compliance issues can truly be detrimental to your business. Even issues that may seem trivial to you can be a red flag to your regulatory board. The last thing you want is for them to have any reason to discipline you.
This industry is strict, and forfeiture of your license is a real possibility if you fail to meet the compliances set forth by your county or state.
Now, let’s quickly cover some of the most common compliance issues I see businesses run into.
The most common cannabis compliance issues dispensaries face in 2020
In all honesty, the cannabis industry is too complex to write an article summarizing each and every issue you may run into or mistake you may make.
This blog post would quickly turn into a 10,000 word document, and we still wouldn’t cover everything, because new issues are arising so often as this industry continues to evolve and find its place in the economy.
But, there are a few risks you face starting out that you need to be aware of from the jump. Here are some of the most common.
Issues with ID and security
The worst mistakes you can make involve ID’ing your customers and the security of your store.
Fake ID’s are a real thing, especially in adult-use cannabis stores that don’t require medical documentation. Because of this, you need to train your staff to spot fakes from a mile away.
In fact, cannabis compliance regulators often routinely visit and evaluate your ID process. In some cases, they may even send in someone with a fake ID to see how your security stands up to the test.
From a security standpoint, you need more than simply an alarm and video surveillance system. You need to closely read the language in which your security requirements are written!
There will be specifics about how long you need to keep security footage, how your inventory and shelves are monitored, and even whether or not you have a security guard out front.
Cannabis licensing and documentation
It should go without saying that having expired or improper cannabis licensing is an issue. Once you are awarded a license, you should already have a plan in place to renew it once it expires.
Continuing to operate your cooperation or delivery service with an expired license will ensure you do not have the ability to get it renewed!
This goes not just for cannabis licenses, but for business licenses in general, along with any insurance or other documentation you need for compliant operation.
This cannabis compliance issue should never come up. It is so simple to keep your stuff up to date. Don’t let this be the reason you get shut down.
Monitoring your customers daily purchase limits (looping)
The term looping is used to describe a customer which purchases their daily limit for cannabis goods (it varies by state, and even counties in some instances) and then return later in the same day to purchase more.
This is a huge no-no as you can probably imagine, as it usually is done by those trying to get legal cannabis out onto the streets in the hands of those who shouldn’t have it.
If caught serving to these types of customers, loopers as they are known, you risk losing your license and worse, jail time.
Violating the privacy of your customers & patients
Whether you operate a medical or adult-use storefront, the privacy of your customers should be of the utmost importance.
This includes credit card information obviously, but also names, occupations, and any other information about them. Whatever transactions occur in your dispensary need to be kept between you and the customer only, and regulatory bodies should they request them.
On that note, you also need to make sure you keep detailed transaction and inventory records. Having this on file is a huge step in remaining compliant.
Product packaging, safety, and labeling compliance issues
Another huge cannabis compliance issue has to do with the product itself. You need to make sure the packaging on your products doesn’t make any medical claims, as this got businesses in a ton of trouble back in 2019.
You need to make sure all products have childproof openings on them, so no young hands can access the goods inside. Make sure you are aware of which warnings and symbols need to be on each product.
A good cannabis vendor will ensure this is done for you and it won’t be an issue. But, its on you, the owner, to do your due diligence anyways.
Have questions on cannabis compliance?
If you have specific questions about cannabis compliance or need help dealing with a unique issue you’ve stumbled across, let’s chat.
My name is Rob Hendrix, and I am the owner of Cannabis Consulting Nationwide. I started this consultancy because when I opened my retail storefront in Washington, I realized just how complex and difficult this industry is to get started in.
I have real world experience starting a licensed dispensary, and more importantly, have remained violation-free over the past 5 years of business!
Because of this, I know a thing or two about remaining compliant. You can contact me here, or email me directly at [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you!