Nov 6

Cannabis Risk Management and Insurance Matters

 

CANNABIS-NIZ

 

RISK MANAGEMENT & INSURANCE MATTERS

 

I recently went in search of credible evidence to support the folklore pertaining to Cannabis being found on the grave of the undisputed ‘wisest man on earth’, King Solomon. Voila! I came across information about a 2006 excavation in Jerusalem, which revealed a quantity of whole Cannabis plants, unearthed, from what scientists believe, is King Solomon’s tomb in Mount Zion. Not only does this add weight to the growing body of evidence that biblical folk used Cannabis for its psychoactive properties and their rituals, it joins the dots all the way along the Solomonic Line, started when Queen Makeda begat (I love that word!) a son with King Solomon, Menelik I. It is a lineage traced to Emperor Haile Selassie I, icon of the Rastafari faith.

 

I say all of this, not because these historical facts relating to my namesakes form the rationale for my natural evolution into the area of managing risks and securing insurance protection for the famed sacred plant and its byproducts, but because it certainly makes for a good introduction n’est pas/nuh true?

 

 

Anyway, a group of archaeologists, led by a Hongen Jiang (University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences), discovered thirteen (13) Cannabis plants that were still largely intact after millennia underground. “In a first for funerary marijuana, the plants were found lying like a burial shroud atop the body of a man who had died in his early-80s. Their roots lay below the man’s hips and the tips — which had been trimmed to remove the flowers — extended up around his face”. So it seems the hallowed herb didn’t merely grow on Solomon’s grave…he was wrapped from head to toe in it! Clearly not a ‘buck up’ as we would say.

 

WHY CANNABIS?

 

 

 

My fascination with the cannabis plant didn’t start yesterday. Having had close and longstanding ties with members of the UK and then Jamaican Rastafarian communities, my ‘overstanding’ of the sacramental use of Cannabis has naturally given rise to a foundation knowledge of and sincere respect for the sacred herb. Previous Blogs have made mention of dear naturopath and energy healing friends that have shared their knowledge and wisdom relating to the natural healing capabilities of our bodies, endocannabinoid system and its inbuilt receptors for Cannabis. One might say that in addition to The Almighty including the Cannabis plant in the fauna of our lands, we were also intricately wired to receive its benefits as part of our natural healing. I don’t want to get too med-tech here, so feel free to research further for greater understanding.

 

In spite of my 37 years in the Risk Management and Insurance industry (UK & Jamaica), I have maintained a characteristic penchant for seeking out holistic, outside the box solutions to a diverse range of problems. Could be my ENFP personality type…perhaps? So, rather than winding down for (very early) retirement, the buzz surrounding the Cannabis industry worldwide has inspired me to re-saddle, seat up and invest my professional expertise in this growing market. Pun intended.

 

Licensed Cannabis retailers, cultivators/processors, distributors and vertically integrated organisations in the Jamaican marketplace have been my first point of service focus, however, the whole world will be on the ganja train in the not too distant future, so I predict a growing demand for RM & insurance specialists to guide the multitudes, many of whom are new to the world of business, much less its risks. Even the British Government has loosened its stiff upper lip, adding Cannabis to the pharmacopoeia of medicines available to patients on the National Health Service (NHS), effective 1st November 2018!

 

WHAT IS RISK MANAGEMENT?

 

 

 

Let me back up a little. Risk Management, in simple terms, is the comprehensive identification of risks a particular operation/business is exposed to, the implementation of preventative/mitigating measures (where possible), the consideration of risk absorption/self-funding, then the appropriate transfer of risks that could severely impact the business e.g. through insurance placements. The formula may sound simple enough (or was so totally boring that you tuned out), but from my experience, organisations guided through the process by a seasoned professional in the field, run less risk of missing exposures to risks that might be right under their noses. The proverbial ‘wood for the trees’. My further caution at this point is for the engagement of a holistically steered, technically competent, yet creatively inspired practitioner that operates beyond the ticking of boxes. Do! One that both knows what to look for and what (sometimes) ‘silly’ questions to ask. The Cannabis industry takes us all into brand new pastures…let’s not do this by rote.

 

RISK MANAGEMENT EVOLUTION

 

 

 

I cut my teeth in the discipline of Risk Management by force to be honest. It was during the Local Government Risk Management revolution in England (90’s), when authorities across the country were ‘forced’ to find better solutions to ‘ground up’ insurance programmes, through a monopolistic insurance provider, MMI (Municipal Mutual Insurance), which finally went belly up. It was simple maths, the annually escalating premium costs couldn’t keep pace with the minefield of legal claims that were emerging in the borough councils. The sexual abuse of children in the Social Services care homes was one particular risk explosion that changed the local government insurance landscape. I was already in the hot seat as an Insurance Officer when the decree to introduce the brand new concept to thousands of departmental directors and staff was passed. Overnight (well, after specialist training), we emerged as Risk Managers & Insurance Officers, charged with spreading the gospel of Risk Management to sometimes reluctant heads of Education, Social Services, Leisure, Environmental Health, Housing, Highways etc. departments. All with their very diverse services and peculiar risk exposures. Some insurance officers panicked, but the adventure-freak in me dived right in and was excited to ride the new Risk Management wave. It was no longer business as usual.

  

CANNABIS RISK MANAGEMENT

 

 

 

The fundamental principles of Risk Management will of course apply to the Cannabis industry as they do with most others, however, the newness of so many players to the differentially legislated sector, means that unprecedented risk exposures (that will continue to evolve) must be identified and holistically viewed, to plug any gaps in security, best practice processes/international standards e.g. G.A.P., protection and in due course, insurance.

 

It is imperative that the usual parameters of Risk Management review are set down and expanded to incorporate all risk possibilities, including Physical, Financial (Pecuniary), Legislative, Human and Energetic…yes, ENERGETIC. We are after all dealing with a natural living plant that will be transformed to support the health of natural living human beings…both energetically comprised and potentially compromised.

 

 

Newcomers to the industry, unless it is critical or compulsory, insurance policies should ideally be considered after a thorough survey, meetings with key stakeholders and the establishment of your risk tolerance levels. It’s not wise to put an-off-the-shelf policy in place without determining its suitability for your peculiar exposures. The insurance sector worldwide has, to be honest, tended to move at dinosaur pace in regards to modernising scopes of policy covers over the years, preferring to stay closer to the Lloyds Coffee Shop (embryonic birthplace of our insurance industry) models of policy wording. An opportunity now presents itself for forward thinking insurers to underwrite more creatively tailored polices for the Cannabis businesses mushrooming around the globe. Take the risk!

 

WHO ARE THE JAMAICAN PLAYERS?

 

  

 

Currently in Jamaica, the main licensed players include persons/companies in the categories of Cannabis growers, manufacturers, dispensers, researchers, medical practitioners distributors/exporters. Other legally recognised players are for another story. Each branch of the sector comes with its own particular risks, which must be carefully and methodically explored. Tracking the journey from the seed to the consumer across company divides and multiple processes, means that a bird’s eye view is needed to weed out (sorry) contractual overlaps and fill gaps in risk responsibilities.

 

LET’S LOOK AT JUST ONE OF THE RISK AREAS…CYBER RISKS!

 

 

 

Dispensaries: The cannabis industry, like so many others, utilises technological systems to support operations in a number of areas e.g. POS (Point of Sale) or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning).

 

Regardless of the safeguards built into your systems, there is always a clever youngster somewhere that has reached the peak of their cyber hacking career and is looking for greener pastures. Along comes the lucrative Cannabis industry.  Reports in the US market of some pretty serious cyber hacking situations are a cause for concern. Just ask MJ Freeway, a company recently subjected to an attack that caused two weeks of server outage. Breaches in your cyber-defenses can arise through a number of channels, affecting areas as unexpected as transportation and delivery information.

 

Robust cybersecurity is a must as a preventative measure, though insurance covers for the aftermath of those unstoppable hacks, may be needed. These cyber-ninjas are proliferating at a rapid rate, with each new wave of bored genius teenagers.

 

What if one of these youngsters could shut down the most vulnerable part of your Cannabis retail system? They might change prices through your POS system. Or ask your system provider to talk you through the levels of security they have in place to protect your data, their servers, and the privacy of your patients.

 

Growers: Whether you are a grower only or a Cannabis dispensary that has vertically structured to grow your own cannabis, don’t be naïve. Your systems can be breached directly or even indirectly via other operational seemingly obscure systems. Case: Target’s POS system was breached through its HVAC system (the store’s heating and cooling system). Through that network the cheeky hacker gained access to the store’s POS system and consequently customer information. Imagine one of your competitors hiring hackers to mess up the heating/cooling/lighting settings within your operations, destroying your crop by throwing off the delicate growing cycle. Ok, don’t imagine it; just make a mental note to tighten up cyber controls where you can. I mentioned your competitors, but you might find an internal team member that decides they have a beef (tofu, for my fellow vegetarians) with you and throws the proverbial spanner in the networks.

 

Bottom line, ensure your systems are optimally protected and that integrated platforms (that will allow a hacker to hop from one to the other) have equally high levels of cybersecurity, leaving no gaps in the integration process that could leave your information vulnerable.

 

Access restrictions at varying staff levels is also advisable to minimize infiltration from without and foul play from within. Monthly cybersecurity checks at management level are one way to heighten vigilance in this vast area.

 

 

SERVICES OF A CANNABIS RISK MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT

  

Whether you are in the Cannabis business already or teetering on the brink of jumping in, it’s never too early to start the process of looking at your risk exposures. My mother used to say ‘too late, too late shall be their cry’…I’m not sure where the dramatic phrase came from, but it certainly hastened my steps to cut procrastination and take the relevant course of action. Be proactive in taking your steps towards implementing your Risk Management Programme.

 

Effectively communicating the philosophy to your team members should also form a part of the Risk Manager’s charge. A persuasive presenter that can break the information down into non-stress inducing levels is key. Buy-in and commitment of all staff is a vitally important Risk mitigation factor, as it only takes one person forgetting to log out of your POS portal, in a public space, to throw your business doors wide open to cyber risks! I’m not trying to scare you in a Trump-esque way, just raise your awareness. 

 

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER RISKS?

 

 

  

Now I could continue with a list and description of other Cannabis industry risk exposures, but I think it will be more fun if we ‘walk the floor’, then sit together over a coffee or red wine and compile a comprehensive list of risks that face YOU in particular! No two enterprises are exactly alike and the industry is brand new, so why approach the process from a pre-prepared, tick-boxed template? With a clean slated, birds-eye vantage point, we can work together to create the best Risk Management and Insurance solutions for our fledgling Cannabis industry and perhaps your entity in particular. 

 

SOLOMONIC WISDOM

 

 

 

Whether inspired by the Solomonic connection to the sacred herb or the vast opportunities emerging in the once legal, then illegal, now partially legal Cannabis industry, I am excited to be alive and witnessing the attention being bestowed on the plant that has been called ‘The healing of the nation’. Evidence now points to the fact that our wise King Solomon, or at the very least the bones of a male from that era and area, was laid to rest in a Cannabis shroud. I trust that the plant will continue to heal minds, bodies and elevate the souls of humankind. Finally, may social conscience lead (or ‘jook’) those positioned to benefit financially from the Jamaican market, so that they will pay homage and due regard to the stalwart farmers that kept the Jamaican Cannabis flag flying high over the years. Take it from me, there is enough room for all to ‘eat a food’.

 

C. MAKEDA SOLOMON ACII, CIP

 

CANNABIS RISK MANAGEMENT & INSURANCE CONSULTANT

 

Sep 4

FROM CONSUMERISM TO COMMUNALISM…A PIPE DREAM?

 

 

Question. If the goods/services being advertised in the various media were absolutely necessary…that is to say they were ‘needed’ by the average human being (based on disposable income indicators), why do they hire actors or superstars to convince us? Why do they use near-naked males/females to stimulate the senses? Subliminal signs and sounds. Colour codes. And that’s just scratching the surface. If these goods/services were indeed necessary (not compulsory like motor insurance :)) wouldn’t the natural need for ‘things’, coupled with affordability, direct the human flow of customers to the respective ‘thing’? Furthermore, I just listened to a radio advertisement and, having a keen ear for voices, word choices, the authenticity and connection of the speaker to the overall message being conveyed, I found the tones of the characters used to be very robotic. Could it be the digital age compelling us to accept the monotonic tone of a robot to tell us what we MUST buy, lest we be haunted by a neighbourhood of fully equipped Joneses, left man/woman-less, lose street cred…or whatever the penalty implied in the ads for our NOT purchasing the goods/service being advertised. It all sounds like a subliminal stick up of the mind to me. There you are, torn between the items you absolutely MUST purchase and those you don’t get and then have to endure the shame, lower social ranking, poor self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy…in general the stresses arising from the knowledge that you don’t have the said high end commodity or the new brand of human weave, it’s much the same (especially if Mrs Jones/Lacretia respectively has one!!!). Exaggeration for some of you, but a real dilemma for others!

 

NO AGE LIMITS

 

 

Take your average teenager…my son for example…just 16 yrs of age and he has already developed a mild fixation on ‘the latest IPhone’. He is NOT working! How did the consumerism-wizards get a hold of these young minds that don’t earn a cent AND get them to convince us parents (whether by coercion/emotional blackmail) to spend so much (as a ratio of earnings) of our hard earned cash? Remember, I’m referencing the average and below teenager and don’t get me wrong, my son has an IPhone, but it’s certainly not the latest version…and he didn’t get this one ‘as it drop’ in the Apple stores! Case in point. I watched a YouTube video recently showing that a certain community in Liverpool (England), which was designated the ‘poorest’ part of the country, had record crowds at its Apple store in the town, on the morning of a new IPhone launch. Lines (‘queues’ for the British-British), were extremely long! The consumer bug had clearly bitten hard and embedded itself deeply in the psyche of those folk. Matter over mind you could say.

 

 

But what about us? Have you ever stopped to consider how badly bitten you are by the consumerism bug? How many things in your home, for example, are regularly used and not just giving you or the home-helper grief to dust each week? How triggered are you when the advertisements for, or even the second hand news about, the launch of the latest IPhone, BMW, Nike, Dolce & Gabbana …(I’ve run out of name brands as I’m a hopeless non-follower of fashion)…add your own brands here…then answer the question J. Now don’t be defensive. I am by no means judging anyone here, God forbid, I too am working daily towards a re-balancing of my life, re-evaluating what I need more of (which by the way is ostensibly non-material) and what I can identify as non-essential clutter (be it physical, mental or human), to lighten and simplify my life somewhat. My hardest trigger to resist comes from the vicarious pangs of wanting to help my son keep up his street cred amongst his peers, while pointing out to him that he must not put material things before people and a conscious livity, that the yearning for the IPhone is fed by the marketers who use their mind manipulation tricks, that keep persons reaching and reaching perpetually for ‘things’ that they don’t need. But heck. He’s been a great son, doesn’t ask for much, he did well in his CXC’s. Maybe just this once…let me check the cashflow? See, I’m not perfectly de-consumerised, but I plead Maternalism! 🙂

 

WHO IS AT THE CONTROLS?

 

 

So if we are all the consumer puppets, who/what is pulling our strings? Perhaps those benefiting most from the consistently turning consumerism treadmill, supported greatly by highly paid marketing houses and not forgetting the Joneses, who never fail to bring attention to their latest acquisitions. I heard recently on BBC Radio, which is one of the few media sources I still get a sense of ‘factual-ness’ from (remind me, that’s a different blog topic), that the top advertising agencies in the world now hire the top neurologists, to assist them in knowing how the human mind and brain work!!! Now that struck me, as a person fascinated by neurology, to the extent of becoming a Neuronet therapist to assist children with learning challenges, but I digress. Those corporately hired neurologists…by all accounts,  are not hired to find out what the REAL needs of consumers are…more so to further manipulate minds, to steer wealth/last pennies in the direction of capitalist giants. Case in point, right now ladies, count (in your head if you are not in close proximity to your closet); how much shoes yu have? Now, how many do you wear regularly? Ok, then. Nothing new here I hear you say, but as the mind manipulation will now be based on the latest neuroscientific research, developed by privately hired neurologists…advertisers will be taking the term ‘getting into our heads’ to new levels. As I think about it, these same neurologists could, if more morally than materially guided, be more useful to humanity by devoting their time and expertise to developing mental skills that foster universal harmony. Anyway. It’s not for me to judge, but I’m just saying, as a born-again marketer, preying on highly stressed and strategically targeted masses, through mind-bending advertising, just seems wrong-up! I don’t know if I will be classified as a whistle-blower, but I recall my marketing course had us exploring strategies for, ‘capturing’ the minds of the consumer, persuading them that they ‘need’ this or that product/service that they never knew existed. Keep them purchasing, working to purchase more, borrowing to purchase yet more, then, financially extended, family relations strained, health compromised and consistently exhausted, you convince them to take the commercially advertised drugs that will keep you going that little bit longer, without checking the cause of the pain, in between the commercially advertised 2 weeks vacations…after which, the pain still exists.

 

 

Wow. Not a very pretty picture, now that I’ve stopped to read back. So, let me change gear and share what possible alternatives there are for those of us still hooked by the consumer-chain yet open minded enough to explore an alternative ‘livity’… or at least ease up on the throttle of our racing consumption engine. I’m not advocating a cold turkey extraction from the consumer train…that would be tantamount to jumping off an actual moving train and experiencing the shock and resultant psychological disorientation…as you realise you have just taken your whole wardrobe of Gucci shoes and matching handbags to the charity shop! I know it’s not easy once you are entwined, to unravel the old livity and re-ravel a new one…without the proverbial ‘trappings’. See, we even give the ‘things’ a name representing bondage! So, let’s get creative, like the marketers of these multi-billion dollar advertising agencies…with their highly paid neurologists.

 

 

If George Orwell did it, picture this. We are now in the year 2030…

 

There will now be a one month intermission.

 

Log in again the first week of October to…

 

FIND OUT MAKEDA’S PROPOSED ALTERNATIVE LIVITY STRATEGIES IN PART 2 OF “CONSUMERISM TO COMMUNALISM…A PIPE DREAM?

 

 

May 14

MINISTRY OF HAPPINESS AND WELLBEING

Just imagine for a moment that a Government of a modern day country chose to establish a ministry dedicated specifically to the happiness and well-being of its citizens and residents. Sounds outlandish, right? I mean, a Government  (according to Wikipedia and the Business Dictionary) is a system or group of people governing an organized community or state…that sets and administers public policy and exercises executive, political and sovereign power through customs, institutions, and laws within a state. Not much room for the exploration of happiness and well-being in such a stiff-necked, protocol following world of Government one might say. Having worked within the structures of local government in the UK, I can testify that I witnessed no proactive strides to foster happiness and well-being within either written policies or human practices. Job descriptions were flooded with to do’s, but no attention was given to how the civil servants felt. Feelings were simply not questioned unless they rose to high levels, spilling over into ‘misconduct’ that interfered with the carefully planned out functions. No wonder there is so much talk of ‘extended tea breaks’ in our public sector world.

 

Image result for uae government

 

Anyway, imagine how surprised and delighted I was upon recently visiting the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and discovering that the Emirates had the foresight to establish a fully staffed government ministry…not just a department…dedicated to the happiness and well-being of persons living in/visiting each of its seven (7) federate areas (emirates). Now I was part of a theatrical delegation from Jamaica, proudly representing a monodrama piece, “Who Will Sing For Lena?” by Janice Liddell, at the biennial Fujairah International Arts Festival. From the moment of landing at Dubai airport, there was an immediate sense of feeling welcomed and respected. The feeling permeated the entire visit. It may not sound like a big deal, but having lived the majority of my life in England and had opportunities to travel, I can tell you that ‘welcome’ and ‘respected’ are not words that readily come to mind when recalling arrivals on the tarmac (in the earlier years) at many world airports. Even when returning to my UK ‘home’ soil I did not feel the warm and dignified welcome I got upon landing in Dubai. The point I am working to make here is that our Arab brothers and sisters, contrary to the stereotypical portrayals in the western media, took me aback with the genuine and consistent royal treatment meted out to our Jamaican delegation from the day we landed, right up to the day we left!  Are we following the right models?

 

 

Now back to the UAE Government’s bold and refreshing move to establish a ministry for happiness and well-being. It became apparent as our festival package unfolded that many of the volunteers coordinating same were high ranking government personnel, including a Chief Happiness and Positivity Officer (what a job title!), that willingly answered my many questions about life in the UAE and the practical work of my now, favourite ministry. It was clear to me that the work of this ministry is more than just words on paper or that the officers pay more than just lip service to the cause/mission of the ministry.  It was in the air. In the smiles. In the social conduct. I was impressed.

 

 

Having packed up and relocated my life from England to Jamaica some years ago, I, for the first time, found myself considering whether or not another relocation was now in order. Had I become complacent in my assessment of the place I call home? Had my love for Jamaica blinkered me to really examine whether or not it is STILL the best place for me to continue calling ‘home’? What criteria have I been working with? Being the birthplace of both my dearly departed parents, Jamaica is a place I fell in love with even before first setting foot on the island in 1989. I recall vividly hearing my father’s stories of the land he loved and yearned to return to. I remember the first vacation here, when I bawled on a dingy, out at sea, at Doctors Cave Beach, because I didn’t want to go back (to England). I wonder now if all of these retained reflections are mere sentimentality. Dare I take off the rose tinted glasses and take a real hard look at my perception of my tropical island home. The unique, world emulated culture, natural beauty and spiritual potency of this island are just a few of the things that still tick my boxes. But are these enough? If so, why then, after 23 years, has a visit to a distant land, with a very different culture, a language that I can’t speak, got me (re)considering my love affair with Jamaica? Like any relation-ship I must now ask, is it sailing in the right direction? Have I given back to the country as much as it has blessed me or was it a one sided relationship? Are we still compatible after our respective evolving?  Why all the questions all of a sudden? (Sorry, that was another one!). Was it the potent sense of peace, consistent civil order or just the reciprocal respect that prevail on a daily basis in the UAE that caught my eye? Could it have been the reverence and respect shown to the country’s women and children that wood me?  It is do-able, I kept telling myself! I am not ignoring the fact that the nations common practice of Islam must certainly play a role in fostering greater unity and social cohesiveness, but short of a wholesale conversion to Islam in Jamaica, perhaps we could start with a simple Government implemented solution, that we might make our people happier and healthier…perhaps?

 

 

When asked about the crime rate in his area, a senior UAE police officer (who invited us to be guests at his home) had to scratch his head to recall the one (1) murder that happened back in 2013. A domestic dispute. I remember blowing down heavily at his response, as I reflected on the lives of those lost and being lost in Jamaica daily. The officer spoke of doors and gates to compounds being left open at night. I immediately recalled hearing my father speak of the same comfort in his rural home community in Manchester, back in the day. Today’s Jamaica has two States of Emergency, multiple murders daily, women and children looking over their shoulders, young disenfranchised men being rounded up in packs and detained at police stations for days without ‘due’ processing…we know the rest. Don’t get me wrong, while it saddens me to reflect on the dark side of our island, I remind myself and others often that the majority of my country folk are kind, loving, decent and honourable people, that will light up your day with the wittiest one liners…stop to help a roadside damsel experiencing vehicular distress and sing sincere hit songs of love! All is certainly not lost, but while we witness the media hyped destabilization of our peace and security, perhaps it’s time for our government officials to try something outside the box…as their Emirati counterparts have clearly had the foresight to do. In the meantime, while we await the injection of conscience for our leaders, we can each be our own Chief Happiness and Well-being Officers, taking stock of the contribution we are making to the happiness and well-being of our fellow country folk? How about a little more compassion and empathy for ALL Jamaicans, non-judgement of those outside our circles and a refocused perspective of hope for starters? Wouldn’t hurt us, neither on an individual nor collective level right about now.

 

 

Radical changes do not have to come from revolutions by fed up citizens. Should, perchance, the collective conscience of our government officials, led by our current commander in chief, give rise to a commitment to work towards the happiness and well-being of EVERY citizen…(more) bloodshed may just be averted. I’ve been called the eternal optimist a few times in my life, so should you at this point scoff at my lofty idealistic notion of putting government and conscience in one sentence, my only retort at this point is …”God nah sleep”. Mystical magical manifestations were not confined to the biblical era.  Let your consciousness be focused on the positive attributes of our land, the many possible solutions and Love. We will always attract what our powerful collective minds dwell on most. It’s divine order.

 

 

While the state of ‘Wakanda’ is being brought from fiction to reality, for now, I’ll continue to assess my relationship with Jamaica and determine whether or not we need to take a little break or work to re-ignite the passion!  What do you think?

 

Happiness, Wellness and Plenty Blessing!