Starting up in the Oklahoma medical marijuana industry requires a certain kind of expertise.
And with the substance still banned under federal law, passing that expertise across state lines can be difficult, if not downright impossible. A person from somewhere like Colorado, California or Oregon would have to leave behind a previous venture to start anew.
Luckily for companies like Green Bits, point of sale (POS) software remains boundary free.
The Silicon Valley-based technology company made Oklahoma its 13th state to work in this year. And it comes at the perfect time, with the Unity Bill that adds regulations to the state's booming medical marijuana industry coming into effect on Aug. 28.
"It's been tremendous to let us focus on growing our business and not get tied down in having to worry about reports and all of the compliance stuff," Cassi Doolittle, owner and operator of Fire Leaf dispensaries, said. "It's all in the system."
Dispensaries will now have to comply with new laws on packaging, labeling and tracking. Many, like Fire Leaf -- 751 S Canadian Trails Dr. Suite 120 in Norman -- have been planning their business around these kinds of regulations already, anticipating that the state, like many others, would come down with similar rules eventually.
Even so, the new regulations can eat up a lot of time for business owners in the cannabis industry. Chief among those time consuming tasks is the "seed-to-sale" tracking requirement, which mandates that dispensaries have to know and be able to show where exactly their products come from.
"To try to do these things manually, it's almost impossible," Charlie Wilson, chief revenue officer for Green Bits, said about tracking.
Through Green Bits, Doolittle said going back to see what product came from where, and when, is easy.
"It tracks everything," Carillo said. "At any given time, we can track what we had on this date, or what we had delivered. It goes back in time."
While there are many types of POS software available, few have made their name in the cannabis industry. Green Bits is one of them, with its software operating in over 1,000 stores nationwide that processed $2.7 billion in 2018 alone.
It was formed by experts of the e-commerce industry who saw a need in the growing cannabis marketplace. And the company's expertise hasn't just simplified the regulatory side of things in Oklahoma, either.
Julia Carrillo, who owns Buddies Cannabis Co. at 1224 Alameda St., said working with Green Bits helped her to learn more about operating in the industry. The software is user friendly.
"It gives you an idea how the business should be run," Carillo, who only opened the shop two months ago, said. "That's good for someone whose first going in. It helps that you can learn how to use it."
Using a POS system designed for the cannabis industry also helps dispensaries when it comes to packaging and labeling regulations. The streamlined process takes them through step-by-step.
And, assuming all went right, Green Bits has set up software to match state regulations and the required Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Administration (OMMA) reports. Carillo said her POS system is set up to produce a report in the necessary layout with just a few clicks.
"You are able to see if something is missing and it will ask you to explain why," Carillo said.
It's exactly what Green Bits is designed to do, Wilson said: take care of the regulatory stuff so dispensary owners or growers can focus on making sales.
"You can conceptualize it, but these businesses, they are small business owners at the end of the day," Wilson said. "They enter this business because they have a passion for that category. But things like managing the books, hiring people, pay scales, they're not the reason why they got into business. You have that burden, and it's amplified materially."
And, Wilson said, Green Bits is already preparing to adapt to more changes in Oklahoma's cannabis industry regulations. Doolittle said she anticipates more regulations will come; it's just the nature of the beast.
"I do think there's more work and research to be done over time, and I think it will happen," Doolittle said. "More regulations will come out, and in this industry you have to be ready to make any changes possible at any given time. Being one of the most regulated industries in the country, we have to be a little flexible in our operation."
Bits for hits
Dispensaries in Oklahoma are preparing for stricter regulations under the Unity Bill. For some Norman shops, tech company GreenBits has given them a technological leg up.