By Andrew Mount
An Oregon transplant who helped to start a wholesale cannabis company, Lorinda Olsen is a no-nonsense businesswoman.
Arriving two years ago, the Idaho native established three- to five-year goals and, despite busting her butt helping to create a foundation for growth from a bookkeeping perspective, the business grew and shrunk, never progressing to the point of success. Within two years, she was one of many laid off and wondering: “What happened?”
This is a scenario repeated throughout Oregon’s cannabis industry. According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, half of the cannabis licenses issued in 2017 will not be renewed in 2018.
“While business structure and management focus is a critical part of any new business, other factors make it even more difficult in this industry,” said Olsen. “Because of the vertical integration now predominate in the industry, wholesalers are no longer as essential as they once were due to the ability of license-holders to source from one another. Dealing directly with retailers is becoming much more common, increasing the competitive character of the industry.”
Mother to four, including a 14-year old son, Olsen had nothing to do but find a job. “He didn’t want to go back to Idaho because his social life was beginning to blossom here. And Idaho was not going to create anything new for me,” said Olsen. “I had struggled there for years, and even my family is not in a position to help me move forward. So I decided to stay in Oregon in the cannabis industry because of the knowledge I had gained over the past two years.”
Then she thought: “I will create a calling card, a resume of sorts, and help people in this industry put out their fires and get themselves out of the holes they have found themselves in.”
Teaching others to do what she knows how to do, Olsen realized, would be more beneficial. Her calling card grew to “The CannaBook of SOPs,” a 129-page cannabis business guide to organizing and simplifying office procedures.
Olsen explains: “In the cannabis industry, compliance is public perception, and those who do not follow the rules are going to struggle to maintain their business. In the not-too-distant future, the medical world will also be thrust into compliance with regulations. Within the manual are embedded links to online resources (state regulations, training videos, etc.), and the education continues with membership to our online community designed to be a hands-on tool for us to share tips and tricks on navigating this highly regulated industry. The manual will also be published nationally with minor changes for any state that is legal.”
CannaBook focuses on five areas (in particular order) that will establish robust standard operating procedures (SOPs): bookkeeper, timekeeper, compliance, customer relations and sales and vendors and inventory.
Olsen wasted no time promoting her new venture. “I introduced myself to Pete Gendron of Oregon SunGrowers Guild at the THC Fair in January 2018. Their mission is sustainability and organic certification for sun-growers. I went to a monthly general meeting and decided to join the Guild. I requested to become a volunteer board member and was soon approved to join the board. In April, I presented the guide to their membership and received very positive feedback. I believe this manual will play a big part in helping bring awareness and education to the industry as a whole.”
Olsen planned to introduce this resource at the Grants Pass OLCC grow-site administrator training on the use of METRC for medical operations. Volume medical growers in Oregon must begin using the METRC system by July 1 to catalog their crop details from seed to sale.
One of Olsen’s key partners, Katie Thompson, involved in CannaBook since February, has focused primarily on editing, organization, artistic design and assisting Olsen with writing. Thompson offers a different perspective by not being immersed deeply in the cannabis industry. “I can clearly see the beneficial impact that this book will have on the industry, and it will be a game-changer, without a doubt.”
Olsen’s other key partner, Camille Smith, who has worked in cannabis bookkeeping from the producer perspective, is sanguine on CannaBook’s importance.
“I think it will be a positive contribution to the industry,” said Smith. “Our main goal in writing this manual is to prove that compliance procedures can be simplified and manageable when following a well-structured system. Lorinda and I have both experienced the hardships that come along with lack of structure and created this manual to show that it doesn’t have to be so complicated. It is just a matter of documenting your current operations into a system that is duplicatable and easy to reference.
“My primary focus is to educate licensees on the usability of this wonderful operations system. We have visions to continue to move forward and expand and couldn’t be more excited!”
“The CannaBook of SOPs: How to Organize and Simplify Your Office Procedures” is available at www.gotsops.com