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Chase Towery, the COO of Cultivera, discusses his company, the concerns affecting supply management in the cannabis industry, and much more.
Seed-to-sale traceability and management software options offer cannabis businesses the technology and systems to help maintain compliance. In the ever-increasing regulatory landscape, this type of compliance and management has never been more important. Chase Towery, the chief operating officer of Cultivera, recently spoke with us about his company, some of the concerns affecting supply management in the cannabis industry, and more.
Can you tell us a little bit about Cultivera?
Chase Towery: Cultivera’s seed-to-sale traceability and management software solutions are built to help licensed cannabis enterprises stay on top of their operations and compliance with ease. Our easy-to-use, vertically integrated platform for cannabis business operations has something for everyone in the industry: cultivators, producers, processors, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and dispensaries.
When we launched in 2016, we researched and built software from the ground up with the help of a diverse set of cannabis operators looking to solve their largest pain points. Now we provide solutions for every stage of the cannabis industry and have grown to serve some of the best in the business.
Our flagship solution, Cultivera Pro, offers streamlined traceability for cannabis operators geared toward maintaining compliance for their local jurisdiction. Pro offers enterprise and compliance solutions that keep businesses running smoothly and offer peace of mind, such as harvest and waste tracking; business tools; automated inventory; insights, and reporting; cannabis relationship management; B2B sales portals; comprehensive analytics; and much more.
Why is supply management an important area for the cannabis industry to address?
Towery: In emerging legal cannabis states, specific legislative decisions significantly impact early supply, prices, and price fluctuations to both patients and consumers as the supply and demand within each closed market stabilizes. Often these decisions are made with other, well-meaning intent that have unintended consequences to the supply chain. In the end, this leaves cannabis business operators with a lot of challenges and hurdles to overcome all along the supply chain. More importantly, being a supplier in the cannabis industry comes with the responsibility to ensure transparency in the supply chain by managing supply in a way that abates the concerns of all stakeholders. Visibility of a product’s life cycle is of utmost importance when we are talking about consumer-packaged goods that patients and consumers put in, or on, their body.
What kind of issues are there in supply chain custody and how do they affect your business or your client’s businesses?
Towery: When states launch their regulated markets and licensees begin building out their operations, it’s easy to see where the gaps are in supply chains and regulations surrounding them. The most important things to consider when evaluating the supply chain of emerging cannabis markets are:
All these considerations should put the wellbeing of the end user (patient or consumer) at the forefront. While the terms “chain of custody” and “supply chain” seem industrial, at the very core they are intended to safeguard products that end up in the hands of the end users. What we have seen is the lack of a comprehensive set of standards to identify, capture, and share information about products throughout their lifecycle, which are providing the core foundation for interoperability across the supply chain.
Can you tell us how your software tracks the entire cannabis supply chain?
Towery: Cultivera software allows licensed cannabis operators to track their plants or products throughout the seed-to-sale supply chain. Cultivera Pro is integrated with Metrc and local regulatory bodies so that throughout each stage, Cultivera brings in-demand automation and efficiency at every turn. From plant and harvest tracking to sales and relationship management, inventory, invoicing to label templates, bill of materials (BOMs) to business to business (B2B) sales, and compliance reporting to analytics. We go beyond the “who, what, when, where, and why” dimensions of a state mandated traceability system to provide cannabis business operators with sufficient business context to effectively use data that extends far beyond traceability. More importantly, at Cultivera we understand the importance of providing more than just business software. We offer a complete solution that encompasses subject-matter expertise and unparalleled support. This translates into true savings related to the time and costs associated with labor, where manual data entry has previously been the standard.
We are committed to keeping cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers compliant while freeing up valuable time and resources, driven by the notion that it is our responsibility to provide confidence to the industry as a whole.
How do the different regulations of states throughout the United States affect the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) cannabis supply chain? Is there a lot of product waste?
Towery: From a software or business operations perspective, the existence of regulations in some places and not others lead to constant changes, insecurity, and instability—for business operators and consumers alike. When you’re working with a product that is only legal on a state-by-state basis, the usual methods of everything from sales, inventory, advertising, and supply chain management don’t always apply. This instability creates inconsistent, ongoing challenges for cannabis business operators in every region and stage of supply.
It’s pretty clear that the instability and inconsistency of this state-by-state model often causes conflicts for licensed businesses within any given locale. A clear example of this is seen in states that transition from one method of sale (such as a medical-only market) to another. This prior industry and infrastructure can be critically helpful to a new regulated industry, but the transition can be destabilizing to the existing market and consumers.
For example, Washington state had a strong medical market until the passing of i502 (1), which introduced a new recreational sales market. When the new regulated market was introduced, the pre-existing industry offered insights into operating procedures, supply chains, and regulations. However, anyone in the industry wanting to participate in the new regulated industry created by i502 essentially needed to start fresh within the framework of i502. This process essentially ended the state’s previously strong medical market and drastically altered the supply chain for medical cannabis providers and patients.