Author: <span class="vcard">Anthony A. Howard</span>

Medical marijuana programs have been approved all over the United States and the numbers just keep on growing. However, this law is quite tricky with all the possibilities that lawmakers are aware of. So much has to be straightened up and creating regulations isn’t an easy task.

Some states are still contemplating on whether they should legalize marijuana, whether recreational or medical. Here are some of the up and coming MMJ programs in the United States.

Montana

The MT medical marijuana program or Montana Medical Marijuana Act is not really young but it has been through a lot of changes. Mind you, these changes were not minor changes, they were extensive ones.

https://www.veriheal.com/montana/Since it became a law in 2004, a lot of provisions have been added, changed, and removed. Recent changes came after the 2019 Legislature passed Senate Bill 265. This bill brought about lots of changes and more detailed regulations in the medical marijuana program.

Some of these changes include patients receiving their temporary cards upon receipt of application. The department is looking for ways to work with a licensed vendor to provide temporary cards as soon as their applications are processed. This deems convenient for users who need to have their marijuana fix ASAP.

Despite having to adjust to newer regulations, these changes seem promising because it might make the medical marijuana program more convenient for both patients and providers.

Pennsylvania

Having approved medical marijuana in 2016, this state is also one of the youngest. The medical marijuana sales have exceeded $100M in its first year but the PA MMJ program is still looking into a couple of changes to improve it.
Currently, the state’s program has 21 approved conditions that can get patients their medical marijuana cards.

According to the Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, she’s still doing her own research about adding anxiety and Tourette syndrome to that list.

In line with the potential addition of anxiety and Tourette Syndrome, the removal of Opiod-Use disorder is also being discussed. According to board member John Adams, he doesn’t see the use of substituting one drug for another.
The program is also exploring the possibility of training the police force on how to identify legal and illegal packaging and products. As of the moment, no training is provided for it and policemen can’t really identify which is legal and which is not.

All these are still expected to develop within the year. Sec. Levine ensures that whatever changes will occur, it will be for the better implementation of the program.

West Virginia

Being the current youngest among all the medical marijuana programs, the medical marijuana program of West Virginia still needs to undergo lots of improvement. Recently, the 2019 Legislative session passed a legislation to improve the said program.

Just approved in 2017, the program faced difficulties during its launching because there were not enough banking services to help it. One of the reasons why the program faced such difficulty was because marijuana was still considered illegal on the federal level. That alone made it hard for medical marijuana transactions.

House Bill 2079 also made sure to accommodate growers, processors, and dispensary licenses. As for growers, certain limitations were removed. Growers can now have their facilities in two locations and their number of dispensaries was raised to 165. However, only 10 dispensary licenses and permits can be granted to each holder.

Being such a conservative bill, it only aims to help people who are really sick. With so many families trying out different forms of treatment to no avail, this might be their solution.

Ohio

The Ohio medical cannabis program has only been launched earlier this year and it has still a long way to go. Despite being signed back in 2016, it missed last year’s September 8 deadline for the industry to go fully operational, with its regulations and all.

But despite that delay, over 25,000 patients have registered to the program and more than 9000 patients have bought their own supply of medical marijuana. The sales have already generated about $3.5 million in revenue in just less than a year.

In the previous months, supply has been quite limited and only dried flower was being sold to the public. Luckily, two processing facilities, like GrowOhio, have stared their operations and are looking forward to introducing other products such as edibles and tinctures, if they actually pass the testing.

These progressive programs still have a long way to go but the changes they’re making now are presenting benefits for both the people and the state. As the industry becomes more creative and diverse, these programs will also improve to help a lot of patients. They’ll also be great examples for state lawmakers still discerning on legalizing medical marijuana.…

Relationship

Given the endless roundabout of sweating, shaking, stammering wannabe entrepreneurs willing to put themselves under televisual scrutiny in the Dragon’s Den, you might think BBC2 is the only source of funding available to businesses.

But in fact, there are plenty of alternatives to Duncan Bannatyne’s gimlet gaze – take a look and select the best for your business.

1. Get longer arms and shorter pockets

The easiest way of funding your business is to gather together every penny you’ve got. Cash in all your savings, sell anything you don’t want, leverage your assets and look down the back of the sofa.

The good

● Investors and lenders will be more impressed further down the line – it proves you’re committed

● There are no charges (unless you’ve remortgaged your house)

● You keep all the profits and all the ownership of your business

The bad

● Clearing yourself out leaves you with no reserves to fall back on

● If you remortgage yourself, you leave your home open to repossession if you can’t make the repayments

2. Bank of Mum and Dad

Friends and family can be a great source of funding. They’re often delighted to help – but you need to decide on the terms. Will you pay any interest? Will you give them part of the business? When do they expect to be repaid? You need to talk about these issues upfront, to avoid any arguments later on.

The good

● You’ll probably get better terms than the bank would offer

● They’re likely to be supportive

The bad

● You have to be extremely careful about terms – it’s so easy to fall out over money

3. Take it for Granted

Grants are few and far between these days, but you might get some cash for at least one aspect of your start-up. The government have a great list here, which will start you off.

The good

● You don’t have to give away any equity in your business

● You don’t have to pay it back

The bad

● You might have to jump through a lot of hoops to get the cash

● The money might be ringfenced for a certain aspect of the business – building a new website, for example

● Because grants tend to be specific, they might not be enough to cover all your needs.

4. Bank on it

If you can get the bank to loan (no mean feat in itself), this is a tried and tested way of borrowing cash.

Because banks have been reluctant to lend during the recession, the government has introduced a number of initiatives to help, including the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme. The money still comes from the bank but the government underwrites 75% of it, which makes you a much more attractive risk, so the computer is more likely to say yes.

Another one worth looking at is the Start Up Loan scheme, which awards low-cost loans, business mentoring and other support to qualifying individuals. Loans are paid back within five years, on a fixed rate of interest.

The good

● You know exactly where you are with it and how much you have to pay each month

● You don’t have to give away any equity in your business

The bad

● Just getting a loan can be tricky, especially if you haven’t racked up any business track record. You’ll need a watertight business plan, for starters

● You’ll pay interest – sometimes a fair whack

● The bank manager is likely to want to see how much of your own cash you’re prepared to invest, before he’ll give you some of the bank’s

5. Try loving angels instead

Business angels are private entrepreneurs who usually invest between £10,000 and £750,000 at a time into businesses.

This is more or less the Dragon’s Den model, which means you’re likely to get input and advice from your angel, as well as cash.

The good

● Match-make your business with the right angel and you could get invaluable experience along with the chunk of cash

● Angels aren’t the bank, or corporate lenders, so they may plump for opportunities the bank would shy away from – and they can make a quick decision

● You won’t have to pay interest or make regular repayments

The bad

● Investments are usually between £10,000 and £750,000 – if you want more (or less), this route isn’t right for you

● You’ll have to give away part of your business – which means part of the profit and part of the control

6. Crowds can be good

Crowdfunding is a fast-developing sector, which means it can be confusing for those trying to access it.

In general, you set your target and attempt to attract investors to your project. If you don’t hit your target, you don’t get any money.

There are a number of online platforms, but broadly three different types of crowdfunding:

a. donation/reward

Kind people invest and get nothing out of it except the good feeling of having helped. You might give them freebies or a credit – and you should definitely keep them updated about your progress

b. debt

This is sometimes called peer-to-peer lending or lend-to-save. Investors put their cash in and you pay them back with interest.

c. equity

Money is given in exchange for a share in the business.

Find out more from the UK Crowdfunding Association.

The good

● Free money! If you manage to get involved in donation/reward crowdfunding, you won’t have to give away equity or pay interest

● Debt or equity funding can raise up to £1million for businesses

● Experienced investors are increasingly using the platforms – and that can mean a really useful contribution to your business

The bad

● Keeping in touch with multiple investors – possibly thousands of them – can be wearing and time-consumer

● If you don’t hit your target, you get nothing. You might put in a lot of work for nothing

● You have to be very open – not everyone likes plastering their financial information all over the internet

● For equity or debt crowdfunding, you’ll have to pay interest or give away some control and profits.

7. Listen to your inner invoice

If it’s just cashflow that’s the problem, invoice funding, or factoring, can be a good way of bridging that gap temporarily.

It gives you access to working capital while you’re waiting to be paid by your customers.

The good

● Great for cashflow issues

● You probably won’t plunge into a pit of debt because the cash is linked to the money you’re already owed

● It gives businesses the opportunity to accept new orders and continue to grow, where otherwise you might grind to a halt

The bad

● Be careful who you use – some unscrupulous invoice financiers can hit you with hidden fees and personal guarantees

● Factoring providers will chase invoices on your behalf, which can damage customer relationships.

8. Online Pawn

Asset-based peer-to-peer lenders work, essentially, as online pawnbrokers. They may well lend money where others have said no, but you’ll have to secure something against the cash – jewellery, watches, cars, antiques etc. This route usually lends from £500 upwards.

The good

● If you’re confident, and have a suitable item to borrow against, it can be a fast, effective way of borrowing in the short term

The bad

● Obviously if you don’t pay back, you’ll lose your asset

● It’s expensive. Lenders will usually set high interest rates and charge admin fees.…

Rainbow

In the last 10 years, the UK’s business landscape has seen a surge of interest and motivation to create a greener future. Given a boost back in 2006 by the huge impact of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, the state of our environment has been a business consideration ever since.

The UN has reported that climate change is not only altering our weather system and sea levels, but also negatively impacting our global food supply. Alongside a growing world population, there is more pressure than ever on energy, natural resources and the wider environment.

What’s your business’ impact on the environment?

When you really think about it, are you making unnecessary negative environmental impacts?

It may seem like a luxury you can’t afford, in terms of both time and investment, but there are plenty of economical measures you can undertake to ensure your business is getting a green star.

We aren’t asking you to start hugging trees or join the granola brigade; just to follow a couple of simple steps, implement a set of behavioural changes and watch as both your business and the environment reap the benefits.

As well as something you should want to do to help nurture planet Earth, there are a handful of environmental policies that companies are legally required to stick to.

Why will going green help grow business?

Investor care

If you have investors, you can be sure the money men will be exploring every inch of your company – and will set a microscope on your environmental practices. How green your company is will be high on their agenda – amongst other things.

Customer care

Green practices are so heavily embedded into our society’s culture that they’ve become something customers have grown to expect. Not acting in a sustainable manner could cause negative public scrutiny – and possibly dire implications.

Your bank balance cares

Changing environmental behaviours can help trim bills and make savings, as well as increase turnover, thanks to plenty of positive PR. According to government statistics, an estimated 5% of UK business profits a year may be lost through inefficient use of resources. What’s more, UK businesses could save around £23 billion a year by making simple changes to use resources more efficiently and help protect the environment.

Six things your business can do to love our planet

Encourage sustainable travel: Got a travel scheme at work? Why not reward those who cycle, walk or car share on their commute.

Create a living wall: Adding indoor foliage can improve air quality in what can often be a stale office environment.
Turn it off: Every night, without question, turn all your appliances and equipment off. Not to standby, off. Apart from the fridge, we trust the fridge.

Cut down packaging: Ever had a package arrive that can’t even get through your letterbox even though it only contains one diddy CD? Get rid of elaborate waste. Consider outsourcing your product packaging and switching to a less wasteful supplier.

Stock green: Try to use environmentally products where possible. Take a hard look at what you are currently using – are your products recyclable? Are they harmful to the environment? Avoid non-replenishable materials such as petroleum byproducts and metal.

 Think local: Reduce your transport footprint dramatically by converting to local supplier. Not only is it good for the environment, it also adds a much needed boost to your local economy.

In need of some eco friendly inspiration? We’ve tracked down the best British businesses at the forefront of eco warrior action.

Citu – Sustainable construction, Leeds

Green practices are at the heart of this business. A designer and creator of sustainable housing and regeneration of older buildings, Citu preaches the benefits of leading a sustainable lifestyle. As vociferous supporters of innovation and technology, Citu uses new inventions to reduce energy when constructing and operating buildings.

MD and founder Chris Thompson said: ‘For Citu, sustainability isn’t about a political or ecological agenda, rather that it just makes sense to waste less. That ethos influences everything we do and always has done, from ensuring we waste fewer raw materials in the building process, to making homes which allow people to use less energy and save money

‘The development industry is riddled with wasteful practices and principles which are at their heart unsustainable and that is something we’re addressing, by doing things like building low carbon homes on brownfield sites.

‘We want to make homes and communities that people want to live in, so for us that is about good design and building houses which save energy and money.

‘Businesses are there to make money – embracing green practices not only makes a product more desirable but also cuts the amount of waste along the way – surely everyone wants that?

‘Implementing sustainable practices need not be an expensive or time-consuming exercise. Start with the small things, but look at every aspect of the workflow, from the very beginning to the point of sale and beyond. What about your suppliers – how sustainable are they

‘Whatever you do implement, make sure you stick to it and build upon it.’

Elan Hair Design – Environmentally friendly hairdressing, Aberdeenshire

Dubbed the UK’s most eco-friendly hair salon, this award-winning family business has fully embraced its dedication to going green.

Five years ago, owner Lorna Milton made the decision to give her salon a fully fledged green makeover, covering every fibre of the company.

And she really did encompass everything. From carbon neutral furniture to recycling aluminium foil, composting customers hair clippings to using recycled bottles – the Elan team have proved there’s no ceiling when it comes to turning your hand to green practices, initiatives can be applied to every aspect.

Since the overhaul, turnover of the business increased by 14% in 2012, 16% in 2013 and was on track to do the same in 2014. Energy bills fell by 80% in the first year and in late 2014 the business achieved a 90% reduction in their CO2 emissions.

Lorna commented: ‘We made the decision to implement the new eco-friendly approach on the back of customer feedback which indicated they wanted a greener and more sustainable service.

‘Since then the business has grown significantly with increased turnover as well as a rise in the number of customers visiting our salon.

‘We have continued to make major inroads into reducing our environmental impact. This includes putting in place initiatives which have seen us reduce our carbon emissions by 90% and increase the amount of the salon’s waste successfully diverted from landfill to 95%.

‘We believe these changes will help ensure the long-term success of the business.…

Business

You’d never ignore your partner for months on end, betray their trust or refuse to take their problems seriously. Well, if you would, you’re in a disaster of a relationship…awkward.

Just like any personal relationship, the bonds you create with a client are vital and when you don’t pay close attention to them, the other party grows cold, disappointed and grumpy.

You may not actually have a divorce on your hands but the principal stands: relationships are important and require TLC constantly – so don’t be a neglectful Nancy!

It’s all too easy to put existing relationships on the back burner but, in fact, once a contact has been acquired, cultivating it should take priority over seeking new customers.

But how does tending to your customer relationships help your business grow? The answer is four-fold, my friend.

Nurturing increases revenue: What if we told you that looking after your customer relationships can boost your profit by 125%? We’re not lying, it really can.

Nurturing improves customer retention: Focusing your attention on customer retention rather than acquisition is key: According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of converting an existing customer is 60% to 70%. The probability of converting a new prospect, on the other hand, is only 5% to 20%. Plus, aside from being more inclined to purchase from you, repeat customers are also likely to spend more. Can you hear that till ringing?

Nurturing reduces sales and marketing costs: Did you know that it costs more to acquire new customers than retain the ones you already have? Now that got your attention didn’t it? Instead of ploughing countless pounds into new marketing and advertising, you can spend money elsewhere in other needy areas of the business.

Nurturing creates trust and loyalty: Taking care of your customers will not only reflect positively on your bank balance, but it will enhance the dynamic of your relationships.

Andrew Baines, preconstruction manager at building specialists Piggot & Whitfield commented: ‘It is useful to gain trust so that a client believes that you are capable of delivering your promise. It is about the value you create, not just cost.’

Customer Relationship First Aid Kit

How you can fix up your relationships sharpish.

Be empathetic: Walk in your customers’ or clients’ shoes and try to think about their perspective. Attuning yourself to their way of thinking can create real value and you’ll genuinely improve the quality of their customer experiences. If you understand your customer, you’ll be more than equipped to deliver exactly what they need.

Listen carefully: Empowered by the rise of the internet, customers are voicing their opinions, wishes and complaints for all the world to hear. Engage with them and listen to what they have to say; encouraging an open dialogue can work wonders. Create a dedicated channel on social media or open up a forum; brace yourself though, be prepared to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.

Reward with a loyalty scheme: A recent study in the UK found that 65% of people said they wanted brands to reward them as loyal customers in order to build their relationships with the brand. Andy O’Dell, co-founder and chief strategy officer at retail solutions business Clutch, said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints that businesses, “…need to take a fresh look at loyalty, beyond the stale definition that we’ve used for ages.

Focus instead on the level of involvement consumers have with the brand across channels. Ultimately, you need to deliver value to the consumer to earn and maintain their loyalty. If you only focus on transactions, you are missing a big opportunity to use your loyalty program as a way for consumers to establish an emotional connection with the brand.”

Remind them that you’re there (and you care!): Solve their problems and they’ll be forever grateful. Make it your life’s quest to fulfill the wishes and needs of your customers and you’ll be golden. Don’t forget to remind them of your value and benefits – offer them access to exclusive events, offers and resources because, of course, you love to love the loyal.…

Relationship

Brilliant customer service is no mean feat. Often the first touchpoint for customers, any question or complaint can be lobbed at an advisor at any given moment; so they need to be prepared and well-equipped to deal with any impending disaster.

This is one area of your business that you can’t just skim over or push down the back of the sofa like a neglected bank statement. For any business, from plumbing to consultancy, car dealership to gaming, customer service is key; 42% of leading UK companies say that customer service is the most important skill required for real-time social community engagement. A happy customer is a loyal one and a superior set of advisors will be your secret weapon.

Customer service has evolved into a new beast in the last 10 years, with plenty of businesses turning to social media as a live platform. Fast and efficient, customer service conducted via social media is a whole new way in which we can engage and communicate with customers; but doing so is quite the art. Of the 4.8m small businesses in the UK, nearly a quarter (23%) earn more than £1,000 per annum through connecting with consumers on social platforms. So it appears there’s a lot of value in investing in customer service. And you should be investing in the right people to serve on the frontline of your business.

What traits should you look for in potential recruits?

You need a certain type of customer service soldier, with the correct attitude, knowledge and authority to battle through the heavy onslaught to create a positive customer experience. You need the best commando force ready, no matter what conditions a mission throws at them.

Five characteristics you need to look for when recruiting:

Peacekeeper

Smoothing over any political conflicts and keeping all parties happy? All in a day’s work for a superstar customer service agent.

Supporter

Team spirit is vital in combat; the battlefield can be an isolated environment when dealing with customers one on one. A solid team is essential, everyone needs support from their fellow officers.

Calm, cool and collected

The capacity to handle high pressure situations; most often than not, a customer service interaction is in regards to an unhappy patron. And we all know what they’re like; a little rude, frustrated and angry. Your advisors need to know how to deal with emotion, keep their head and not take directed frustration from customers to heart.

Comms skills that are second to none

The ability to dissect a customer’s issue quickly and effectively is crucial. Equally, can they relay information clearly to clients, keeping it simple and leaving nothing to doubt?

Sworn Allegiance

You need a force dedicated to your cause, who want to uphold the values of the business. Look for those with a loyal nature; you need to be able to trust them with the integrity of your brand.


Task them with the mission of creating outstanding service and defending disasters to the best of their abilities, and you’ll be marching right up to the top of the hill.

Still not convinced? Here are five stats that underline the importance of recruiting the right team of customer service advisors for your business.

By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Customers rank speed of response, speed of resolution and staff friendliness as the three most important aspects of customer service.

66% of consumers globally switched service providers due to poor customer service in 2013.
Attracting a new customer costs around 6-7 times more than retaining an existing customer.
A 10% increase in customer retention levels results in a 30% increase in the value of the company.…

Service Agents

Millennials: shiny marketing term for anyone born from the early 80s to the early 2000s.

We all know what that means, don’t we? Obnoxious youngsters who think that the world owes them a favour, flouncing around from one silly trend to another, leaving trails of seaweed, caffè marocchino and flax seed smoothie in their wake.

But as annoying as these whippersnappers may seem, they’re armed with weapons – weapons called dexterity, drive and determination. Youthful and tech-savvy, millennials are at the forefront of forward-thinking, transforming and founding businesses, winning entrepreneurial accolades and generally just changing the world.

Imagination and intelligence

When it comes to hiring millennials, you’ve only got to look at the corporations putting them at the forefront of their recruitment. The BBC offers rewarding graduate schemes, apprenticeships, work experience and training courses, whilst bigwigs such as M&C Saatchi, Goldman Sachs and Sky also grant graduate schemes and opportunities for Britain’s youngsters.

The UK’s under 30s are creating a range of niche businesses, including self-heating gym wear brand Zaggora, founded by 30 year old Dessi Bell after googling how to package heat into pants, which generated £10.7m in its first year. Or 29-year-old Adam Hildreth’s anti-grooming software company, which is is 98.4% effective in protecting children from online grooming. The millennials are making a lot of money as well: 28-year-old Dominic McVey, the UK’s youngest publisher, is worth £7m, and a London-based underground music video channel, SBTV, started by 16-year-old Jamal Edwards is now worth £8m. He’s 23.

Community, collaboration and competence

Not only are millennials alight with ideas and wired with creativity, they’re tough cookies. Commentators such as Ron Alsop have dubbed them ‘The Trophy Generation’ because they’re the most coddled bunch to date, adored by their parents, who remain very involved in their lives, even as the children become working adults. Paradoxically, millennials display a huge sense of entitlement and yet one of their defining characteristics is a tendency to create community-spirited enterprises.

Social observers believe that because they’ve grown up with unaffordable housing, terrorist threats and 24 hour news, they’re particularly resilient. Agile technology has given them the ability to respond to problems with innovative, ingenious ideas and many are showing the same diligence when it comes to business strategy and modification.

Beneficial babies

Millennials are from the age of technology and undoubtedly understand all its tigs and togs. In 2013 Pew Research discovered that 90% of 18-29 year olds were active on social media. Yes, millennials may use Facebook to discuss disastrous dates and upload pictures of themselves dressed as Despicable minions, but they also actively use social media to report crimes, seek justice, protest, campaign, complain, praise, support, market their entrepreneurial forays.

They may cry if a cafe has no wifi, but that same connectedness means they keep up to date with professionals and experts in their desired industry.

From interns to influencers

Millennials possess passion and power, energy and entrepreneurship. David Cameron’s encouragement for them to report exploitation in the workplace shows how desperate and willing millennials are to work in their dream industries.

The thing about youthful enthusiasm is that millennials don’t want to stagnate, they want to soar – and they will strengthen your company to do the same.

How to work with millennials

Well, you could research who Topshop’s just collaborated with, the health benefits of Monkey Picked Oolong Tea and the trendiest things to do with beards.

Alternatively, to get the best out of them, educate them in your ways, but take their ideas into consideration.

To a millennial, a ‘draft’ is a brief template full of typos – not a piece ready to win the Man Booker Prize.

Millennials work better when they’re happy – things have changed since the years when being shouted at resulted in anxiously working late at a pace so hurried you went ten hours without a trip to the toilet. The internet will tell you how fun and friendly offices are becoming to work – Google’s offices have a rooftop pool, Red Bull’s are equipped with adult slides and Mind Candy allow their employees to have a quick game of Guitar Hero if their brains get a bit fried.

We aren’t suggesting you build an indoor adult playground, serve vintage champagne for elevenses, do no work and file for bankruptcy, but the happier a millennial is, the harder they will work. In a tough economy and the real world, let’s translate that into positive feedback, constructive criticism and consistent affirmation that they aren’t going to get fired.

Millennials were raised believing its abnormal to not be friends with their friends’ parents and nowadays, most of them go for coffee with their teachers from sixth form. Do a bit of mentoring. A millennial may need a bit of direction, yes – but once shown and taught, they will impress. You never know, they could transform your company – and you may even become friends.…

Recruiting