SLA Solutions has been actively preparing to offer its clients cannabis licensing services for years, even prior to the legalization of cannabis in NY in 2021. SLA founder, Robert Heil, along with his team, have been serving clients in Western NY with state licensing needs for almost two decades. SLA’s experience in state license applications ranges from liquor and tobacco, to cannabinoid hemp and retail lottery sales. “We work with the State on a daily basis and understand the complex requirements these applications have. We have ramped up our staff, expanded our offices, and have automated our computer processes in order to handle a higher volume of clients,” they stated. SLA has grown from assisting with license applications to a full-service small business consulting firm that now offers business plan development, compliance, and a variety of other business solutions.
Wendy Francis joined SLA early last year to assist with cannabis license applications. Wendy is the former owner of Buffalo Wine & Brewshop and was a CBD wholesaler on the West coast. She holds a master’s certificate in cannabis, a certificate in medical cannabis & CBD, and a degree in accounting and human resources from Cornell University. Francis recalls when she first entered the cannabis industry, “I was shocked by how many challenges there were. It’s extremely difficult to get credit card processing, business insurance, banking, marketing, and even websites are strictly monitored.” These challenges made her realize that other people entering the industry would need guidance.
Personal and political views aside, legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis is the obvious path forward. With legalization comes regulations that bring safer and higher quality products. Consuming cannabis from unknown sources can be dangerous and all too often cannabis ends up in the hands of children or teenagers. The regulations in NY require that those purchasing cannabis are at least 21 years of age. This is just one of many clear benefits of legalization.
Francis and the SLA team devote a great deal of time to reviewing and understanding the ever-evolving cannabis regulatory landscape in NYS. “Understanding exactly what New York State requires for license applications is our area of expertise,” Heil commented. The application requirements are being released as each individual type of license becomes available, so this has required some adaptability. “We’re working with our clients for the current conditional applications as well as upcoming social equity licenses and other future rounds of applications.”
When asked about the challenges of preparing clients for the licensing process, Francis says that she understands the challenges of both applicants and regulators at New York’s new Office of Cannabis Management. “Adult-use recreational cannabis has been legal in other states dating back to 2012 when Colorado and Washington first legalized cannabis. Even though NY is legalizing cannabis well after these states, we’re excited to see NY’s commitment to doing things right and taking a thoughtful approach to developing these regulations.”
Francis states, “our team of application experts are exhaustive in our approach. We are busy working on business plans, Minority Women Business Enterprise certifications, developing Standard Operating Procedures, as well as all the other requirements necessary to apply for licensing. Again, our team has decades of experience navigating licensing processes with NYS spanning liquor, lottery, hemp, and tobacco and we’re leveraging that experience to help our clients win licenses and prepare for any requirements that might arise.”