Author: Mark Slaugh

iComply Celebrates 10 Years!

 

When I founded iComply 10 years ago in Colorado, I had no idea what would be in store for me and our team on this journey. And what a journey it’s been!

 

At the time, Colorado had just passed HB1284, publishing the first State regulatory regime for commercial cannabis since before Prohibition in 1937. Unlike the earlier laws in California and Colorado, this new bill sought to license different business types and, by instituting the newly formed Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, create an administrative structure to oversee license privileges and enforce prohibitions.

I was wet behind the ears, fresh out of the University of Colorado with degrees in International Business and Finance and eager to put my passion for social justice to work in the cannabis industry. Having a foundation in Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), a history of living in Brazil and seeing the daily war on marijuana claim thousands of lives, and living a personal experience in discrimination certainly formed a foundation that iComply still lives on in its legacy today.

Back then, however, I was in the shoes of early cannabis industry operators. Managing multiple stores, grows, and locations, we were contending with changing rules and regulations that, as a condition of our licensing, we had agreed to follow and comply with. I understood that most of my colleagues and counterparts had gotten lucky enough to survive forced vertical integration and fortunate to be kicking. I also knew these folks had no idea what compliance was to mean for the industry to come.

It’s with these realizations in mind that I founded iComply and began to help our first customers. I’m proud to say my “guinea pig clients” are thriving today and that I’d like to think I played a crucial role in developing their businesses back then. They still use the early brands I came up with, procedures I helped put in place, and expanded locations I helped pave the way for. It’s that kind of a legacy I’m aiming for with everything we do at iComply.

 

Like most other minorities I’ve met in the cannabis industry along the way, I started iComply with the lint in my pocket, a couple of friends, and a dream. We were playing a big game with a simple enough mission: to legalize marijuana everywhere to reduce fear, to stop the theft of freedom for a plant, and to remove these limitations placed on human consciousness.

We often answer when asked what we do in the cannabis industry, that we do the “most boring, not sexy, but fundamentally important work in the business” but those that know us, know this is a simplified reduction of who we are and why we do what we do. 

Not much has changed in my vision and mission since then: I still want to help cannabis businesses reduce the complexity, cost, and challenges of establishing effective operational compliance practices by ensuring that they had the most relevant, meaningful, and comprehensive compliance support available from a team that is qualified and who cares about their business. 

 

I’m proud to say we have done so for nearly 300 cannabis businesses in over 20 markets both Nationally and Internationally over the last 10 years.

I had an intuitive understanding that legitimization of the industry could only happen by us proving our professionalism over our pothead stereotypes – that our legitimacy had to surface as part of our ongoing legacy. 

But I didn’t stop there. I knew there was a long road ahead with many challenges lying in wait to diminish the fragile existence of the unproven and novice new industry.

 

Anyone who knows me knows I put in hundreds of hours in volunteer work to advance the common cannabis cause – with a special passion for social justice and social equity work. From the founding of iComply, I continued to direct two industry associations for the next five years, run the Amendment 64 Campaign for Southern Colorado for three years, serve on MED rulemaking for 8 years, and, most recently, helped found the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at NCIA for the last two years, serving on their Policy Council in anticipation of Federal Legalization, and help establish the newly formed National Hispanic Cannabis Council.

 

It is this commitment to advocacy and professionalism that has garnered our reputation for trust, quality, and longevity in the industry. A reputation we really didn’t have the advertising dollars to pay for – but that we earned – one SOP, one training, and one audit at a time. 

 

And that is truly what makes me most proud of iComply and our efforts: our team. 

I cannot be who I am without them as they know that one of my many mantras in life is “I don’t get more time, I get more team”. I’m sure I’m like a broken record to them at this point, but I cannot deny the everyday hustle, hard work, accountability, and accomplishment that everyone contributes on a daily basis.  I’m beyond grateful and humbled to lead such a group of fantastic people. Many of whom have been there from the beginning operating with the “look in the eye and handshake” understanding of what integrity, excellence, and leadership means to each other and for the industry overall. 

 

The same certainly applies to our strategic partners, friends, and supporters who have taken the time to know us and place their trust in our hands. We will never forsake it and are honored to be held in high regard by folks who know what it means to lift each other up, rather than tear each other down.

 

Finally, I’d like to thank our clients who took a leap of faith with us in the beginning, who continue to do business with us, and who spread the good work we do with others. We certainly aren’t out there to try and work with everyone in the industry, and that makes you Family. We know, by working with the right people, to do things the right way, for the right reasons, we will all end up in the right place. We truly are blessed to be at your side on your journey and look forward to many more years of mutual support, value, and friendship.

 

Much love, thanks, and prosperity to come.

 

Humbly and gratefully,

Mark Slaugh

CEO / Founder, iComply LLC

 

   Send article as PDF