Insider Interview With America’s First Cannabis Regulator, Kimberly Stuck: CEO and Founder of Allay Consulting

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AUTHOR: Heather Allman

PUBLISHER: CANNABIS LAW REPORT

 

Insider Interview With Kimberly Stuck: CEO and Founder of  Allay Consulting  and America’s First Cannabis Regulator

 

The USDA’s final rule on hemp took effect March 22, 2021, bringing a new set of regulations and compliance requirements to the industry. If hemp farmers fail to meet the new standards, there is no doubt there will be consequences, including hefty fines, complicated citations and shutdowns. The new regulations will be a catalyst for some significant changes to the industry: 

  • DEA Registration has a new hard deadline for all hemp testing labs
  • Sampling requirements have changed, requiring a different methodology
  • THC content threshold will change, affecting the requirements for negligence violations

Successfully implementing these new regulations may seem overwhelming and complicated, but Kim Stuck of Allay says it doesn’t have to be. As the nation’s first cannabis and hemp regulator, she has her finger on the pulse of the ever-changing regulatory environment. On March 8, 2021, I had the unique pleasure of talking with Kim Stuck for this in-depth profile.

 

Kimberly Stuck, CEO and Founder of Allay Consulting

 

Cannabis Law Report: Thank you for talking with me today, Kim. How did you get started in cannabis?

Kimberly: I started my career as a Public Health Investigator for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, covering wholesale food and restaurant compliance. At this same time, adult-use cannabis sales became legal, and our department took on regulating the health and safety of cannabis facilities in Denver County.

Within a few months, we realized cannabis had far more complications than initially expected, and the team would need specialists. I became the first cannabis specific public health investigator, tasked solely with working with cannabis operators.

I held that role for three years before striking out on my own and launching Allay Consulting.

 

CLR: When and how did you first begin cannabis consulting, or helping companies manage compliance and regulatory requirements?

Kimberly: When I started Allay in 2017, it was an interesting transition going from regulator to private industry. Still, I had a good reputation and knew I could help companies understand  and address their compliance challenges, ultimately saving them from losing sleep—and most importantly, losing money. 

 

CLR: I am fascinated by the way you’ve evolved from your career as the first regulator-investigator type, with your with your lovely nickname: The Weed-Whacker. I love the way that you’ve transitioned and you took that unique knowledge and skill set and turned it into something to help cannabis businesses. To get away from what you felt was somewhat hurting the industry, because you were having to destroy so much cannabis. It certainly is quite a transition to make!

Kimberly: Yes, it was definitely a different transition, when I went from a regulator and investigator to a consultant, because I didn’t really know how the industry would react to me.

Honestly, I remember going to my first happy hour to try to meet some people, and so many people knew who I was. You know, I just felt a lot of eyes on me, like ‘oh my gosh. Why is she here, what is she doing here?’

 Once people realized that now I’m a consultant, people started to come around.

 

Overall, it’s pretty amazing. It was an interesting transition,  but I’m so happy that I did it because now we can help the industry just so much more with with everything that they need other than just blindly enforcing the regulation and demanding that they need to get into compliance,which is really what regulators are only allowed to do.

They are not allowed to give advice; they’re not allowed to even explain issues very well; they’re not allowed to cross any of those ‘consulting’ lines.

 

Which is why I realized that a consultant can do those helpful things! Why am I not doing that, I thought ? That realization was really cool.

 

 

 

 

CLR: I think it’s very commendable the way that you really wanted to just start as a one woman team and you thought that would be enough, but I really want to talk a little about that term “consultant” for two reasons.

First, because I know the term emerged in the industry about four or five years ago and it’s relatively new to this industry.

Second, there’s a lot of confusion as to what a “cannabis consultant” can help a company do. Could you explain consultancy to us a little bit, please.

Kimberly: Yes, so “consultant” is kind of a dirty word in this sector. I didn’t realize that when I first started as a consultant; but “consultant,” there’s no bar for someone to be a consultant.

You don’t need to take any tests. You don’t get any certification to be a consultant, and you don’t have to go to school to be a consultant. You just have to know your industry really well.

I think that a lot of the “consultants” that emerged early on in cannabis were people who just wanted to make some money and maybe knew how to grow cannabis in small scale operations, or something like that, and so there were a lot of horror stories that I heard of “consultants” coming in and doing stuff for companies, and doing it incorrectly — and then leaving without so much as a goodbye.

Then naturally, someone else had to fix the mess they had left  or, even worse,  the client would get fined so much  that they had no choice but to leave the industry. You know on my side of  things every consultant works with a lot of other consultants because we don’t and can’t do everything.  We do one small, but very vital piece that people need; but we don’t always  understand HR, or financial, or business, or marketing.

 

We really just focus on our little compliance niche.

 

So, we do need to bring in the help of other  specialist consultants that we really treasure and care about, and you know they do care for our clients at the highest level.

This is vitally important because our clients become family after a while. Most of our clients have now been with us for years and we want to make sure that we’re giving them the help that they need. No matter where that might be, even if it’s outside of the U.S.

 

 

Ultimately, the word “consultant” is a weird term because there isn’t any standard for them. So when I talk to a possible client that might be considering us, I make sure to tell them: ‘You know, everybody on my team is an ex-cannabis regulator, they’ve been in the industry for a really long time because 2014 is when we all initially got involved with the regulated cannabis sector, when the first licenses started being available to the industry in Colorado.

We are also certified professionals of food safety. We’re certified quality auditors, which means we’re certified to audit to any standard. We have those credentials as well, so that people understand that we’re different than another consulting firm or person that might happen on or stumble into your facility,

 

I can’t even start to tell you how many times someone says to us, we hired a GMP consultant or an FDA consultant or OSHA consultant and this is what they did for us.

Then, they tell us how much they  were charged  and they tell them exactly what they did and unfortunately most of what the “consultant”  did was wrong.

We’ve just seen terrible things and people being taken advantage of .

 

We really pride ourselves in not doing that! In fact, going above and beyond for our clients as much as we can, being really honest and transparent with our clients at all times, following up and getting things done, having really good deadlines,  all so that we actually present them with things on the date that they want them and need them.

You know, we just have excellent customer service and I think it’s because the people on my team are really passionate about regulated cannabis.

Additionally my employees love their clients and want to make sure their clients are doing well because we are, of course, directly linked to their success. We’re not going to be successful if we don’t help other people be successful.

 

CLR: It sounds like you do — and I love the way that you’re so tied to the success of the companies that you’re helping because you mentioned the word ‘deadline’ when you were just speaking there, and it made me think of the USDA and the final rule that just came through.

As you know, we have an FDA deadline of March 22 and I know that’s really your forte, and this is going to bring on a whole new set of regulations and compliance requirements.

What, may I ask, are a few essential tips that cannabis and hemp companies can start doing now to get ready for these new regulations and the frameworks that are going to be instigated?

Kimberly: You are aware the USDA regulations have come out and so getting familiar with all of them  before the deadline is imperative.

For example, the issue  3% THC means total THC, including THC A, that is not activated THC, which I think is a really big punch to the industry and a lot of people are very worried about

 

 

Another tip would be doing earlier testing, so that they can harvest before it reaches that you know that higher level of THC content. We highly recommend that.

The list goes on and on and on, but being familiar with all regulations is really of utmost importance. On the hemp side, the FDA regulations are being written right now.

As a regulator in my prior job I’m very familiar with the FDA regulations for CFR 111 and 117 (supplements and food ingredients.)  The FDA is not going to reinvent the wheel, instead, what  I think they’re going to do is have you follow very similar, if not exactly,  the current existing regulations. I’m guessing they will choose 111, but you just never know.

 

 

That’s kind of what we’re getting our clients to: that standard of at least one level, 111 and 117, just to make sure that they’re ready for an FDA officer if they do come in, which is not terribly hard. Every wholesale food manufacturer has to be at those standards.

We also are helping a lot of our clients become GMP certified because if you are GMP certified by an accredited certifying body, you are not going to have to fear the FDA, because you’re going above and beyond what the FDA is currently requiring , so we also help  out with that as a company

 

 

Additionally, I think OSHA is a really big deal. At the end of that week, we got a call from a potential client, that needed OSHA help because OSHA showed up, due to a complaint.

So this happens all the time. OSHA isn’t just knocking on doors doing regular audits, but they have full jurisdiction over all half and THC companies in the United States if their workers are not safe.

And if there’s a complaint that is called in or somebody gets injured, then they’re going to come in and do an audit and they’re the highest fining division in the entire United States, I mean they will nail you to the wall, if they want to.

 

Lots of  panic calls! We call them “putting out fires.”  When somebody tells us, ‘Hey, I need this 40 hours or 50 hours of work done in the next three days; We’re thinking ‘oh my gosh’ because that’s when we put more than one consultant on it, and you have to really help them through it. 

We try to prevent these calls by getting all of our clients, and anybody who wants to be up to the required standards , those basic federal standards, so that they can sleep at night, not worrying about what’s going to happen when it becomes federally legal.

Obviously, the hemp side is much closer to federal legalization than the THC, but the THC side: if there’s a foodborne outbreak because of a THC facility, the FDA is going to show up. The same if somebody gets hurt; OSHA is going to show up. You might as well be ready for it if you can, so reading those regulations and being up to date on all of that kind of stuff and having your documentation and SOPs and training in place, is what I’ve been recommending.

Then again, I’m a preventative human, I want to prevent, whereas a lot of people are very reactive in this industry. They don’t do anything until they absolutely have to. And it ends up costing them quite a bit of money.

 

CLR: I think the old saying is that you would be the fence at the top of the hill instead of the ambulance at the bottom.

Kimberly: Yes, I mean we can be the ambulance if we have to be. But you know, we really like to make sure that things are taken care of exactly beforehand, and we try to think things through.

We’re not going to be able to catch everything. No matter what we hit, because everybody hits speed bumps, it’s their business, right? Any business that you have — nothing is going to be perfect all the time.

But the big thing is that if you can take care of at least those things you know about, it’s going to make your life so much easier.

You know in five or 10 or even a couple couple of years, we’ll see more of the FDA. They’re around and they’re coming in, so it’s pretty exciting.

 

CLR: It is, and I want to talk a little bit about your team, because you’ve mentioned them a few times, and your other consultants that you bring in. I know that you have a team of four consultants and one sales rep, so five total.

I know you’ve recently added that psilocybin division, and I can tell from what you’re talking about — with FDA and OSHA and hemp regulations, now you’ve got psilocybin coming out. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on, and I know that is your department of expertise.

You did an interview with Ashley Manning for Trichomes, saying that “consulting should be synergy between government and the regulators and industry together,” but that’s a hard gap to bridge.

How do you connect all those super fast moving parts in order to do your job effectively?

 

Kimberly : When we talk about adding the psilocybin — and the good thing about the psilocybin in the industry is the governments that we work with, OSHA and FDA for example, they’re in all 50 states, and they cover all of the different industries as well. So really, our knowledge isn’t changing very much, it’s just knowing the differences between farm sizes, and mushrooms extraction, and harvesting, and all of that… and the cannabis is separate. 

 

 

So it’s honestly not a whole lot more; I mean it is a lot of knowledge, don’t get me wrong, and I think our team on average every day reads about 60 pages of regulations each to learn. We actually have to set aside time to learn all those new regulations because that’s how quickly it goes.

The other thing we do is that we split up the work, so there’s not just one person sitting in a room doing all one thing, all the time.

What we do is that we have regular “consistency meetings” so each one of us learns something very, very well, creates a training PowerPoint, and then during those consistency meetings, that person trains the rest of our team. So we’re very good at that; we’ve been doing that since we began, just because it’s an easier way and more time effective, if you will, to keep track of everything.

We do deal with state regulations as well, but believe it or not, those state regulations —as much as they change— they’re generally pretty simple, compared to food safety regulations, for example, which you have to look at a situation and determine what kind of bacterium and viral issues do we run into throughout this entire process.

That amount of knowledge and problem solving is a lot higher level than, “Hey, do you have this on your label.” We actually can balance pretty well.

 

We have a lot of people in different states, including regulators, so we have a lot of regulator friends; and there’s a lot of different states that we keep up with. Usually when something is coming down the pipe, we know about it early on, which is very helpful.

 

I think that a lot of regulators and other states really like dealing with us, because we have that regulator-view on. We don’t view them as the enemy. We don’t view them as a problem. We want them to understand what’s going on just as much as we do.

Because, the better that they’re educated, the better everybody is. and you know if they can explain things a lot better because they understand about cannabis and psilocybin. We have a much better chance of understanding what their regulations want. It just kind of flows a lot better. So, you know, we try to bridge that gap in many different ways.

We try to help train regulators as well, which is a really fun job for us because that’s like, where we came from. We still remember not knowing anything and getting involved in this, and then having to learn it. It’s a terrifying thing walking into your first extraction lab if you have no idea what extraction is, and you don’t even know what you’re looking at.

So yes, we do a whole lot of things. We also serve on a whole lot of various health and advisory boards, and on regulation boards for different parts of the city and county and state, as well as in different states. We do a whole lot of volunteer work on that end, but it also keeps us really up to date on what’s going on and the changes that are being made.

 

 

CLR: It does sound like you’re really immersing yourself your team. I mean, not just when you’re at the extraction lab, not just when you’re with the client, you’re really immersing yourself as a team, instead of as individuals. I love that idea of sharing the critical thinking skills and making them into a PowerPoint where you can come in and demonstrate a consistent way to teach your fellow co-workers to do the same type of thing in the same way.

Kimberly: Literally, that’s part of our mission and vision: consistency between consultants.

One of our staff right now is having a baby this month. So, we have to really be able to fill in very easily, where all of our verbiage is exactly the same, the way we explain things, the way we teach.

 

We’re all the same consultant, if you will.

Obviously we’re different people and we have different styles, but our message is the same and the way that we’re conveying information is exactly the same.

 

And that is super important to us because I can’t even tell you how often we deal with a lot of accredited certifying audits and things like that, where we’ll be told by one auditor on one day that this is compliant or this is not compliant.

Then, a different auditor from the same exact company comes in the next day, and tells us a different story. This happens in government, this happens all the time. One of our goals and one thing that is very important to us is that we’re all very consistent in our messaging, and we all understand the same information; so if someone is sick, or is having a baby, it’s not a big deal because we can transfer those clients to a different person seamlessly without any issues and our messages aren’t changing.

 

CLR: I think that’s a wonderful idea of teamwork because I’ve honestly never heard a consultant, especially multiple consultants in a group, to speak about the verbiage.

Just using the word “verbiage” implies that you like consistency and it is amazing that you’ve actually accomplished that, because it’s tricky in and of itself: to be teaching each other at the same time that you’re helping and teaching your clients.

Kimberly: That’s the thing is a good consultancy, I think, is that we have to learn constantly every day; we’re always learning new things. And if one person on my team learns a new thing and thinks it’s complicated or tricky, they bring it to the “consistency meeting” and we all learn it.

I think that’s kind of the beauty of our company: that we’re all in this together; we’re truly a team; we rely on each other a whole lot.

If I go into an audit, I’m a CEO, but I still do audits every once a while although not as often as the rest of the team, sometimes I forget things. Nobody can can know everything. So if I get into a situation where I’m not 100% sure about this, all I have to do is make one phone call to another team member of mine, and they’ll give me an answer right away.

You know, it’s really amazing to have such a strong team where that all care about each other. Everybody on my team wants each other to be successful. We don’t compete in any way, if that makes sense.

 

CLR: I think that’s extremely insightful and intelligent way to be a business in this industry, in that you’re taking all parts of that bottom line, and making sure that every person in your company is on the same page and is understanding what it is you’re trying to accomplish as a group, as a whole.

Kimberly : It kind of just came naturally to us. As I said, I hired people that I’d worked with previously in the government, and I just put up ads on LinkedIn, and it happened to be people that I used to work with who had applied for the job! I got lucky, and actually, I would say very lucky. 

On top of that, we care about our clients and their success and we see really amazing things happen where we might walk in and do the first audit and the place failed miserably because they just have so many violations and they don’t do well at all and their staff is confused about compliance and doesn’t really know what we’re asking them, and that kind of thing.

Then within six or eight months, they’re completely turned around, and they’re answering questions confidently. They’re used to seeing regulators because when we come in, we look and act like regulators, so they’re used to that kind of level of pressure already. 

And we’ve educated them to a point that they can answer questions very competently because they know what we’re asking for. I think a lot of people aren’t used to those open-ended questions that regulators ask.

So we train them to listen to what they’re actually looking for. With our entire team, we educate each other, and any team member that we hire, we educate in that exact same way. So we’re not limited to just hiring people who are e-regulators; it just happens to be that way right now.

Currently, I have a team of ex regulators that can train anyone to know what we know. And not only are we training ourselves, but we’re also training our clients to know what we know as well. You know, we take compliance officers and make them understand everything that we understand so that we can walk away and that company is okay. They can call us if they need us, of course. 

 

CLR: I think even that idea of walking in there as regulators and making sure that they feel that pressure they are going to feel in the future. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. That idea, in and of itself, that’s a great way for them to learn.

For me, that’s what consulting truly is: when you’re actually sharing and learning and growing together with the same knowledge.

Kimberly: Yes, and that’s exactly what we’re going for every day.

 

CLR: I think that’s amazing. I really want to commend you on that. I would like to ask you in closing about what your thoughts are on intellectual property. I think this is growing in a big way in psilocybin, and we’re seeing it somewhat in cannabis with beverages and obviously other things.

What are your thoughts on on IP: is that something that you’re consultancy group is ready to start tackling? I know you said you’re ready to just morph into whatever is needed.

Where do you see IP going in the future, in regards to psilocybin and cannabis?

 

Kimberly : I think that IP is a very important thing to think about in every business and you know patents have been happening for ever and ever in all other industries as well. So they’re bound to happen here. You know that with the silicided and patents that are coming out that you know patents have to be very specific right and intellectual property, ness isn’t necessarily as specific as that, it just kind of depends on what you’re, you know what your wants to keep.

I think that, you know, with the, the items that are coming out, you know it is a big deal, it’s, it could potentially limit the amount of people that can get into this industry. But at the same time. That’s a normal process that happens in in all industries and I, you know, you kind of have to expect that if you can get a patent somebody out there will write. Yeah.

 

CLR: I think that it’s a really interesting though the way that this is developing and a lot of consulting firms are really not tackling the IP side because they don’t know where the chips are gonna fall, you know, to lack of a better term, so they’re kind of steering away from it and I just feel like Allay Consulting — there you guys are just jumping in full steam, and I really like to see that.

I myself am a Cannabis Patient. I have multiple sclerosis and I have come down from 25 medications to six because of cannabis.

So thank you to regulators like you. Thank you for keeping us safe for people like me because it makes me feel very confident in the fact that there are others who are looking out for me, too. And I think that that’s really what you’re doing, Kim.

Kimberly: That’s our goal is to make cannabis, in general, as safe as it possibly can be. and that’s the weird thing about cannabis is that it’s not like alcohol, it’s not like other things, because the majority of people that use it are using it for some kind of medical reason. You have immunocompromised people and children and groups like that who are using these products. So they really should be the safest that they possibly can be.

That’s really our goal: to help companies, really good companies that care about that kind of thing. You know they bring us in and we help them make sure that with those products that they’re making are safe for all the people that are using them, so we’re glad that we’re here for that reason as well. As I said, I think it takes all of us to make this cannabis wheel go around.

 

 

CLR: Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? 

Kimberly: Honestly, I have hundreds of stories that have to do with poor compliance practices, but I think that running my own company was a whole new experience and that in itself was interesting. When I started Allay, I knew nothing about owning a business, and it was a massive leap of faith. My original plan was to be a one-woman show and take on enough clients to pay my bills.

Quickly that became impossible. Within six months I was working 12-hour days, seven days a week—and within a year, I started hiring.

Now we are now a team of five, have offices in two states and recently launched a psilocybin division. I think it is remarkable that I started Allay so casually but was forced to step up my game almost immediately. I am so lucky to have such an amazing, dedicated team as well—I could not do it without their support. 

 

CLR: What is it about the position of CEO or executive that most attracted you to it? 

Kimberly: For me, it wasn’t an executive title that drew me in, but rather the ability to control my destiny and help the industry I fell in love with as a regulator—I wanted to make a difference. Every day, I work with a team of true leaders who hustle for the cannabis industry and Allay. While I might be prone to thinking long-term and the big picture, all I am doing as CEO is steering a ship of savvy professionals looking to help companies in cannabis.

 

CLR: What do you enjoy most about your job? The upsides?

Kimberly:  Every day, we make a difference in people’s lives, businesses and overall success. There is nothing more rewarding than starting from the beginning with companies. They go from knowing nothing about cannabis compliance to being safeguarded against potential pitfalls.

Our clients genuinely become family, and we feel thankful to have a hand in their success. The more successful they become, the more rewarding the job is, and I couldn’t ask for anything more. 

 

CLR: What are the downsides of being an executive? 

Kimberly: Being an executive is not without its challenges, you’re constantly stressing over clients, worrying about salaries, and the loss of sleep and vacations is monumental. I’d guess that no matter which executive or owner you speak to, the downsides are the same. That said, I believe I’m making sacrifices for the company’s greater good and for the people who work with me. In the end, everything is worth it because we’re all in it together, and the constant grind leads to a successful and healthy business.  

 

CLR: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? 

Kimberly : As with every industry, sometimes we encounter those with a bias against women, and as a female-owned company with an all-female staff, it can be frustrating. That said, cannabis as an industry is progressive when it comes to gender roles, and it’s 2021, if someone has an issue with me and my team being female, that’s their problem, not mine.

 

 

I feel that the challenges I face are similar to the ones I would meet in any industry. Some people might not be ready to work with a woman CEO, but those times are changing, and each day I feel less worried about how I feel like a “female CEO.” If someone doesn’t want to work with us because we are a woman-owned and ran company, that’s OK, it’s their issue and truly their loss.

 

CLR: Who taught you about or how did you learn your regulatory business skills?

Kimberly:

As the nation’s first cannabis regulator, I acquired most of my knowledge on the job and also learned from those within the industry themselves. As for the business side, I learned through listening to others who also owned businesses. I also have incredibly supportive friends and family who have contributed to my success.  

 

 

CLR: Do you have a mentor, concerning compliance and / or consulting?

Kimberly: When it comes to compliance, I didn’t really have a mentor because, at the time, I didn’t know anyone in cannabis compliance or consulting until I was already deep into it. However, that’s not to say I don’t have mentors, my community of supporters is why I’m here, and I am very grateful. I look forward to the day I get the opportunity to be a mentor, as well. 

 

CLR: How is your actual job different than the job / role you thought it would be? 

Kimberly: As a consultant, I found that after just a few months, my clients relied on me more than I expected. Once a company works through a few projects with you, they start to trust you and ask for help outside of your scope. This forced me to establish a reliable network to refer my clients in situations where their ask is beyond my services. 

As a CEO, my role is much different than I thought it would be. I focus my time on more administrative duties, and unfortunately, work less directly with clients. That said, I still get to speak at conferences and educate, which I thoroughly enjoy.

 

CLR: What did some states do right in their cannabis legislation and frameworks?

Kimberly : I have many thoughts about this, but to keep it simple: I like regulations that are fair and protect public health and worker safety, have social equity programs in place and encourage companies to do the right thing.

Depending on the state, some regulators will take the time to help companies understand what they need to be doing while others won’t answer their phones.

Since all states and countries are different, the Allay team is dedicated to understanding each entity’s regulations.

 

I wish there were a bit more consistency between states, but there isn’t much we can do about that at the moment.

 

CLR: What still needs improvement? What ideas or actions need to come to fruition for true cannabis reform? 

Kimberly : Although it will never be a perfect system, with decriminalization successful in many states and federal legalization on the horizon, I think we are going in the right direction.

If we can find resolutions on 280E tax policy and banking issues in the next few years, that alone will make our lives so much easier. And we definitely need to keep social equity at the forefront as well.

 

CLR: What are the five most important steps the average cannabis company can take to remain compliant and operational? 

Kimberly : There is no one-size-fits-all compliance program for cannabis companies because all of them are so vastly different. Each company first needs to be evaluated for their strengths and weaknesses to inform the compliance strategy. However, here are some common steps:

The company needs to be compliant with state cannabis regulations. Compliance with OSHA standards and the FDA / cGMP regulations are equally important.

 

 

If the company wants to sell internationally one day, they also need to adhere to the ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 standards. My best advice is that every company should identify where they want to be in the next five to 10 years and then align their compliance program with those goals. 

 

CLR: Tell me about your typical consulting appointment. What are these sessions like?

Kimberly: Usually, our first task is a compliance audit. This can take place on-site or virtually depending on the client’s comfort level given the pandemic. It is very similar to an audit from a regulator: We walk the floor and ask you questions about the facility, cleaning practices, operational procedures and documentation.

We offer several various audits depending on the compliance goal the company has set. For example, if they want to be cGMP Certified, we conduct a cGMP gap analysis. If they are worried about OSHA, we conduct a full OSHA audit. If they are concerned about food safety, we conduct an FDA audit.

Once we have completed the audit, we supply their team with a full report explaining all violations, what regulations they came from, and what we suggest be done to become compliant with the standard.

After our initial audit, we typically take on the role of their personal compliance expert and auditor, allowing us to make the changes we identified and keep the company consistently compliant.

 

CLR: Let’s go beyond Corporate Social Responsibility. Talk to me about “positive impact” and what that means for you? For Allay Consulting? 

Kimberly: I would consider Allay to be a positive business that creates value and can continue to develop products and services that have a positive impact on society. We are also a great place to work, we offer all of our  full-time employees health benefits, work from home and an unlimited PTO structure.

It is imperative to me that our employees have a good work-life balance. This job can be very stressful, so it’s essential to take breaks and work to live a better life, not just have work be your only life. Being a good neighbor and giving back to the cannabis community is a priority for us as well.

Our team members are a part of many different science and policy boards, sustainability initiatives, awards boards, standardization writing groups and regulatory, policy boards.

 

We dedicate hundreds of hours to volunteering for these kinds of causes and organizations to help the industry succeed. In our way, we are helping the industry solve its most significant problems, one policy and regulatory change at a time. 

 

CLR: What is the biggest challenge you personally face in your consulting role? How do you solve it or work to change it? 

Kimberly : Things are continually changing in this industry, and Allay is always expanding our offerings and refining existing services. We genuinely listen to our clients and are flexible to their needs, so we are well suited to deal with difficulties.

Personally I struggle with my work-life balance, if I take time off, I think I am letting my team down, which I know is not logically true. I am working on that, though, and I have a fantastic team that has my back. Once the world gets back to normal, I have promised them I will take a vacation. 

 

CLR: What advice or words of wisdom can you give to other leaders, especially women and minority leaders, to help their teams and companies and brands to thrive? 

Kimberly: All I can say is, don’t give up, keep with it, keep grinding away. If you love your company and want to see it succeed, it is not an overnight or easy endeavor, but you will make it with perseverance. I always urge people to look into the future and ask themselves where they want to be  in the next decade. Make an actual plan on how to get there, then hold yourself accountable to that plan. 

 

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