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The cannabis industry is booming. As of February 2024, 25 states have fully legalized its production and recreational use, with plenty more sure to follow suit in the coming years. 

While this presents a multitude of opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors alike, behind the scenes lies a complex web of logistics hurdles that demand attention and expertise.

As the demand for cannabis products continues to soar, so do the challenges faced by supply chain managers tasked with ensuring seamless operations from cultivation to consumption. From packaging to delivery, every detail must be taken into account to successfully (and legally) get your products from the warehouse or dispensary into the hands of consumers. 

In this blog, we’ll be walking you through some common supply chain speedbumps your cannabis business may encounter and providing solutions. Whether you’re looking to ship cannabis-infused drinks or pre-rolls, this is what you need to know to run a legal and successful direct-to-consumer cannabis operation!  

1. Strict Rules and Regulations

Of all the logistics challenges faced in the marijuana supply chain, the most pressing and immediate are those related to cannabis packaging rules and regulations. There is extensive red tape around cannabis, even in the states where it has been fully legalized. 

All states require packaging to denote: 

Meanwhile, the majority of states also require: 

  • The inclusion of a batch number
  • Declaration of potential health risks
  • Production tracking
  • A visible cannabis symbol 
  • Denotion of cannabidiol (CBD) content  
  • A “keep away from children” disclaimer
  • An impairment disclaimer

Many states also require packages to be tamper-evident, child-resistant, resealable, and opaque. Other state-specific regulations apply, such as not including county names in California unless 100% of the cannabis was grown there. 

Every state having its own regulations means outsourcing your logistics with experts who stay up to date on the ins and outs is a wise idea. They’ll ensure you’re checking all the required boxes and obeying the laws when you package and transport cannabis! 

cannabis buds organized by strain in labeled glass jars

Image source: Canva

2. Not Enough Supply, Too Much Demand

The cannabis industry’s immense growth is a double-edged sword for some businesses. On one hand, business is booming; on the other, the need to fulfill skyrocketing expectations necessitates an efficient supply chain. 

The rapidly increasing demand for cannabis products—and by extension the need to build new dispensaries or expand existing facilities—has led to shortages in valuable raw materials such as steel, as well as spikes in oil prices. 

No matter what kind of cannabis product you’re moving, working with a logistics provider can help you understand the unique challenges in the supply chain. Cannabis businesses shouldn’t have to say no to opportunities in this competitive market because they can’t keep up! 

3. High Shipping and Operational Costs

Another one of the most common challenges when navigating the cannabis supply chain is managing logistics costs. There are a lot of moving parts that, if you’re not careful, can quickly spiral out of control and put you in a tough place financially. 

You’ll need to hire staff to work across all stages of the logistics network, from order fulfillment to transportation to final delivery. These costs will only increase as you do more business and your operations expand. 

You’d also need to build successful supplier partnerships—don’t expect to get any favorable deals from the get-go. Building these relationships takes time, meaning your margins likely won’t be great when you’re first getting started. 

Beyond that, there are also costs associated with: 

  • Managing contracts
  • Inventory management
  • Renting or buying equipment

It can be a lot to handle on your own. While you can choose to take it all on yourself, letting a third-party company handle your shipping can be a huge boon to your business. Whether you need full truckload shipping or less-than-truckload, outsourcing will help streamline and manage the costs while taking the work off your plate. 

4. Thieves Stealing Cannabis Products

Cannabis items are valuable and are therefore targets for cargo and freight thieves. Stolen products can quickly derail your operation and sink your revenue, meaning you need to take extra precautions to prevent such instances. 

Opting for managed logistics is a smart choice if you want to keep your products safe. Reputable third-party providers will use tracking systems and other measures to ensure everything arrives safely and on time without issue. 

a cannabis producer’s greenhouse full of plants

Image source: Canva

5. The Need For Quality Control

When it comes to the cannabis supply chain, another key thing to consider is the challenge of maintaining product integrity during transit. Cannabis products can be fickle and easily ruined when they’re being shipped if proper precautions aren’t taken. 

Even when packaged in an air-tight container, humidity ruins cannabis flowers. Too much moisture will increase the risks of mold or mildew contamination, while a lack thereof will dry out a bud’s trichomes and potentially ruin the product. 

Temperature fluctuations are also an issue, especially as it pertains to edible or drinkable cannabis products. For example, cannabis-infused drinks are vulnerable to freezing during transit in colder climates, which compromises the quality of the product and therefore cannot be sold. 

Introducing Pallet Parka

Investing in a Pallet Parka—or employing a logistics team who uses them—is the solution to avoiding all of these quality control issues. 

It’s a reusable cold chain packaging solution for keeping whatever you’re shipping within a more consistent temperature range. If, for example, you were moving cannabis-infused beverages, it would negate the need for an expensive refrigerated truck. It’s also sturdy enough to protect against any physical damage that may occur during transit. 

Read More: How You Can Save 50% On Temperature-Controlled Shipments With Pallet Parka

Streamline Your Cannabis Supply Chain Operations

From extensive red tape to quality control issues, navigating the unique challenges of cannabis logistics can be overwhelming for a business owner. You can easily find yourself with little time leftover to focus on what matters: serving your customers. 

The good news is Brew Movers can help simplify things. We’re a white-glove shipping service that makes moving your cannabis products easy. Working with us will save you time, money, and headaches—we’ll ensure all your packaging meets the regulatory requirements and that the products inside arrive in perfect condition. 

Contact us to streamline your business’ marijuana supply chain!