Welcome to Outside-In with DCN where we interview upcoming startups and businesses in the cannabis industry. Each interview you will get to meet the founders taking a leap into building a company they believe in. Gain knowledge of their services, their mission and what makes each of the unique. On this Outside-In, with DCN we spoke with Pamela Epstein founder of Green Wise Consulting and Green Wise Legal.
Meet Green Wise
Founded in 2014, Green Wise provides both legal and consulting services to operators along the cannabis supply chain. They have brought together a team of experienced attorneys and consultants who are thoroughly educated and experienced in the processes required to meet and comply with the ever-changing State and Federal requirements of the marijuana industry.
Meet Pamela Epstein
Pamela is the Founder of Green Wise, LLC. and has become known as a fearless advocate for local businesses with current clients ranging from startups and entrepreneurs to companies in all stages of development. Pamela ensures that her clients have the proper planning and business structure that will result in efficiency and profitability as well as an overall benefit for the cannabis industry. Pamela is a featured speaker at several cannabis conferences speaking on land use, zoning, regulatory compliance, and environmental issues. Prior to her work in the cannabis industry, Pamela founded and became the Managing Attorney & Legal Program Director for the Sierra Club San Diego’s Environmental Law & Policy Clinic. In this role, she worked extensively with elected and appointed government officials and regulatory agencies.
In sum, Pamela’s diverse background inclusive of non-profit and environmental work, place her in a unique position to understand and advise clients on the emerging intersession of environmental and cannabis compliance. Her career has and will continue to focus on helping clients build successful, sustainable and responsible businesses in the cannabis industry, and assisting those businesses in the process of negotiating the rapidly changing landscape of cannabis law and regulations at the local, state and federal level.
The Team Behind Green Wise
Nick Goldberg joined Green Wise Legal, LLP in 2017 as a Partner and its COO. Nick brings his unique blend of over 13 years of legal, business and entrepreneurial experience to our clients throughout California, with a specific focus in Orange and San Diego Counties.
Damian Martin joined Green Wise Consulting, LLC (GWC) in 2016 as an Of Counsel. In 2018, he helped form and became a Senior Partner of Green Wise Legal, LLP (GWL). In addition, he created and now runs the Business Development arm of GWC. He is based in the Los Angeles office and has a specific focus on the Greater Los Angeles Area, the Inland Empire, and Southern Central Coast.
Samantha Tabak is the President of Green Wise Consulting LLC, California’s premiere full-service cannabis consulting firm. She is located in the Los Angeles Office and brings her diverse background in entertainment, hospitality and project management to the Cannabis industry.
DCN: We would love to learn more about the backstory, how did Green Wise evolve?
Green Wise: Pamela Epstein began Green Wise Consulting (GWC) in 2014 as one of the industry’s pioneers with a passion for access and an understanding of land use. Pamela first worked in Arizona returning to California in late 2015 with the enactment of MMRSA. As the industry grew, so did Green Wise. In 2018, Pamela expanded to Green Wise Companies with two arms: Green Wise Legal, P.C. (GWL) and Green Wise Consulting, LLC. Taking on two legal partners Pamela, Nick Goldberg, and Damian Martin and in GWC with Samantha Tabak. Green Wise has started with a mission to advance cannabis and will continue to develop what that means within the constantly evolving industry.
DCN: What kind of services do you offer and who would be your ideal client?
Green Wise: We cater to all operators, such as retail & delivery, manufacturing, micro-businesses, distribution, testing Labs, cultivation and event operators and our services currently focused in California, Arizona and soon will be expanding nationwide.
When working with Green Wise Consulting, our services include:
● Business Development Consulting ● Application Drafting or Preparation ● Regulatory and Business Compliance ● Due Diligence for Site Selection Assessment and Sensitive Use Buffers ● Investor Funding Facilitation ● Post Licensure Compliance Consulting and Audits
And when it comes to Green Wise Licensing, some of our services include:
● Business Formation and Corporate Governance ● Trademark Protection, Branding and Marketing ● Real Estate Legal Issues ● Land Use, Zoning and Permits ● Corporate and Transactional Agreements ● General Counseling Services ● Employment Guidance ● Ancillary Services ● Admin Hearings + Appeals ● Due Diligence Reviews
DCN: The California Cannabis Industry is constantly changing, what are the biggest pain points you are seeing when working with your clients at this time?
Green Wise: As I often say, there are extinction level events upon the industry. There are three options: (1) Acquisition Target, (2) Able to Survive an Acquisition Event, or (3) Extinct. Falling into the first two buckets requires a strong foundation and compliant operations. The most challenging issues operators are faced with today: is testing slowdowns and the introduction of Phase III Testing; the on-boarding of METRC; high cost of compliance and the continued illicit market with the excessive amount of taxation at the state and local level.
DCN: For startups that have yet to bring in a legal team, what would you advise they look for when trying to find the right representation?
Green Wise: Representation not only with legal experience but also an understanding of cannabis. The regulations are ever-changing, and you need a team that is on top of the rules to make your life easier.
DCN: What Senate Bill that is out right now that business owners in this space should be paying attention too?
Green Wise: SB 1459 which just passed and ensures that the industry can continue to operator uninterrupted into 2019. It also means we should see an uptick in regulation at the local level heading at the end of the year with the requirement of a temporary state permit as a requirement for the provisional license.
DCN: 2018 has been a long year of many ups and downs for the industry, do you think 2019 we will start to see a chance of more stability?
Green Wise: I think 2019 will be dynamic, as lessons learned this year will be applied. There is still the onboarding of METRC (which has experienced significant setback and technical difficulties resulting in near catastrophic shut downs to those states operators; when the BCC stated that “if the system shuts down the Operators must cease their operations until it is back online” and METRC is based off a model that does not include distribution when California has the most complex and robust distribution model). There is also Phase III testing at the beginning of 2019, which results will significantly impact the supply chain. The legislature will continue to see an increase in cannabis bills but where operators will see relief is with the regulations as this year saw the last time the regulations will be reviewed and updated in full.
DCN: How can we as an industry find a way to make sure that we are building an infrastructure that includes the cultivators and operators who have been doing this well before cannabis become an industry?
Green Wise: The importance of the success or existence of the small farmers, cultivation in general and legacy operators cannot be understated. These are the operators that fought and gave birth to the industry, they should not be forgotten or marginalized. They often paid the highest cost in early adoption. Small farmers/cultivation can achieve preservation and a larger voice at the table through the use of the cooperative model, a traditional agricultural construct.
It is also important for downstream supply chain operators to acknowledge that without high quality cultivated cannabis there would be no manufactured cannabis products and nothing to transport/distribute or sell to the consumer. We must all take care of the plant and those that cultivate it in order to continue to grow the industry.
DCN: We have found that at times so many companies, especially in this space, are working so hard that many forget to celebrate the good things along the way, what is one accomplishment, goal or milestone Green Wise has achieved that you would like to share with the DCN audience?
Green Wise: I am thrilled to be speaking at this year’s MJBizCon on California, and that we are expanding our team to meet the needs of our existing and potential new clients. We have a new LA Headquarters at the Paragon Cannabis Co-Working Space and look forward to co-hosting educational events and have satellite offices in San Diego and coming online in the Bay Area.
DCN: What’s next for Green Wise?
Green Wise: We are rolling out a new Audit and Compliance Program. This includes the review and onsite inspection of operators people, processes / SOPs and equipment for compliance. These are unannounced on-site audits with monthly check-ins to ensure no lapses in compliance. The number and frequency of site visits will be tailored and through the process of customized corrective actions. The audit program ensures companies will be best prepared for State agency visits and equipped to avoid Enforcement.
DCN: Thank you, Pamela, for giving our readers more insight into Green Wise and what you and your team have been working on the past year. Before we let you go, any final words to share with the DCN audience?
Green Wise: Our best piece of advice would be to remind the community that Agreements are essential and the best time to negotiate is when the Parties are excited about the opportunity and not when they issues arise.
To learn more about Green Wise, please visit their website: www.gwcpro.com.
Want to follow them on social media, visit them @GWCpro
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