What is CRB Solutions?

Greetings From MJBizCon 2021!

If you’ve found this blog while in Vegas and you’re curious about what I’m about, please read the following:

Building a cannabis business in the pre-federal legalization landscape

As of the writing of this blog post, federal legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational use is still decidedly illegal. Though a number of states have made progress into legalizing medical and recreational marijuana use, the uncertainty around the federal government’s stance on the subject continues to make operating a cannabis related business incredibly risky. This is especially the case for plant-touching operators like cultivators, processors, and retailers. However, if you’ve come across this blog, I’m likely not telling you something you don’t already know.

But like many of you, something about this industry has captured my imagination. CRB Solutions is my attempt to take that enthusiasm and turn it into a profitable venture. We’re at the start of a gold rush, and like many gold rushes that came before, there’s an opportunity to stake out a claim and possible make a fortune. There’s also the chance to lose it all. What I hope to do is take my 20 plus years of technical skills and business knowledge and turn that into solutions that will help cannabis cultivators, processors, and retailers.

Why not just start your own cultivation facility, processing business, or dispensary?

I did stick my foot in the water and attempt to start a cultivation facility. Myself and a group of partners considered purchasing a cultivation facility in Oklahoma this year. During the process, quite a few things became apparent to me:

  1. We would likely run out of money before we saw a successful harvest. We witnessed this from a number of cultivators who were selling their operations. They made it so far, but without a real brand and distribution channels, their war chest dried up quickly.
  2. Though we had partners in the venture with lots of experience, none of us would have the time required to dedicate to the business. High quality, indoor grown cannabis requires a great deal of care, the ideal growing environment, and the sort of watchful eye and timing only an experienced grower can deliver.
  3. Most people who go into this business are not prepared;
    1. They don’t have their finances in order for the type of investors they’ll need to pitch to.
    2. They don’t understand the laws and regulations they’ll need to meet in order to comply with state and local cannabis requirements.
    3. Furthermore, they don’t have the processes and policies in place for the business to succeed on tight margins under tough deadlines.

These were just a few of the issues I saw attempting to do something as simple as buying and running a cultivation facility. As I researched further, it became apparent that this sort of complexity was the very thing that caused many legal cannabis businesses to go under. Basically, unless you really love this industry, there are easier ways to make money. Most people are probably better off taking on a less risky business venture–open a Subway or donut shop, but don’t go into the cannabis industry unless you’re truly prepared for it.

So how do you think you can help?

Cannabis Related Businesses are both like and unlike any other business. Obviously, they have the added burdens of heavy regulations, but they aren’t the only heavily regulated industry. They are, at the end of the day, just a business. And businesses have certain needs, regularly conform to common business patterns, and need some of the same type of technology solutions that any other business needs.

My years of experience working in technology gives me the benefit of helping cannabis related businesses succeed by using business process and technology solutions.

Here are some of the areas where I believe I can help:

  • Innovation workshops – I’ve helped many companies uncover their “secret sauce,” in their particular domains of activity. I use a combination of customer value chain mapping, domain driven design, and team topology to help CIOs and CTOs create their innovation roadmaps. These same workshops and assessments can help cannabis business operators discover what they need to help them rise above the competition.
  • Business systems and policies – I’m working on a set of Standard Operating Procedures now for a cultivation facility. Such processes and systems are common to mature businesses that operate under strict compliance standards. These type of documents and information management systems help define what your business is and how it operates.
  • IoT, Data, and AI – I build data gathering and processing systems for manufacturers and factories. These same type of control systems are a godsend for cultivation, processors, and dispensaries. Closing the loop between people and plants from supply chain to sales will help CRBs succeed. Machine learning models (AI) running at the Edge (on IoT devices) is the future of strict process and decision control.
  • Software Integration – There are many start-ups building excellent software-as-a-service offerings for the Cannabis Related Business. However, many times one solution isn’t ideal. You need multiple solutions to run your entire business. Orchestrating the communication between these systems is a challenge for many operators. Without an IT staff capable of enterprise integration, you may find yourself with wonderful solutions that can’t integrate with each other. This could mean duplicate data entry or lost data from clumsy imports and exports.
  • Data systems development – you really don’t own your own information until you have your own data system. This doesn’t mean you need a Big Data system, but even something as simple as a single database can be a challenge for businesses that don’t have the IT staff to manage it. I can help set up a database that integrates with your existing systems, build decision support systems, and build basic reports.


I’m adding an update, because I believe I’ve found the focus for this blog. I want to help CTOs of small to mid-sized cannabis related businesses, especially plant-touching businesses, meet their innovation and operational needs through information, products, and services.

What does that mean for you, the reader of this blog? It means my articles will be focused on the technology people who work in the retail, processing, and cultivation side of the cannabis market. As a CTO, your task list of things you want to accomplish for your operation is overwhelming. Making decisions is probably one of the single most important part of your job. I want to help make that decision-making easier by earning your trust as an advisor and consultant. This won’t be the traditional one-on-one consulting, but consulting through articles, books, interviews, and products.

Currently, I’m working on a book to help you create and manage Standard Operating Procedures. I’ll continue to review various technology solutions on my blog within the context of a CTO’s job.

And unlike traditionally blogs, I will continue to add to this post when a big milestone is reached.

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