After being deemed essential businesses in many states, cannabis companies have been busier than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and product manufacturers like Platinum are no exception.
Co-founder George Sadler says it’s business as usual for the California-based company, which produces vapes and edibles for sale in California, Michigan and Oklahoma.
In early March, Platinum foresaw potential supply shortages for its vape cartridge hardware and batteries, which are produced in China. The company secured a large volume of these items from a United States-based supplier to avoid interruptions in the supply chain, which has proven to be a large advantage, Sadler tells Cannabis Business Times.
“That was probably the most critical point for us, was the fact that we got into that early enough and were able to do that,” he says. “Other than that, our packaging is made right here in the U.S., [so] we don’t have the issue with that. As far as product goes, there aren’t any change because in the cannabis space, everybody’s still up and running. We haven’t seen any slowdown in any flower or trim or anything else.”
As long as the company’s cultivation partners continue to operate, Sadler does not anticipate any product shortages.
“It wouldn’t be the first time that I was wrong, but I just don’t see it being an issue because a lot of people have always carried a large inventory and backstock,” he says. “If the cultivators were shut down, then we’d have huge issues looking forward because you wouldn’t have a supply. But on the cultivator’s side, … we are deemed essential, [and] there hasn’t been a call to shut down. … There shouldn’t be anything drastic when it comes to shortages or supply and demand. I think it’s just business as usual.”
Seemingly, the only issue Platinum has run into is dispensaries postponing scheduled patient appreciation days in their stores, where manufacturers would normally spend time educating customers on their products. Platinum has a full team in California dedicated to operating patient appreciation days in partnership with the state’s retailers, and these employees have since been brought into the manufacturing facility to work for the time being.
Like many other essential businesses, Platinum has increased its cleaning and sanitation measures at its facility to keep its employees safe. Doors, knobs, bathrooms, tables and computers are regularly wiped down, and while employees are encouraged to stay home if they have symptoms of illness, only one employee has been unable to work, and that is due to childcare issues rather than illness, Sadler says.
More broadly speaking, Sadler says the cannabis industry has many lessons to learn from this unprecedented moment in history. First and foremost, he says cannabis businesses need to understand the importance of being deemed an essential business during this uncertain time, and the responsibility to employees and customers that goes along with that.
“We’re really being recognized as a need,” Sadler says. “That’s huge, and we’re going to see that probably come to light when this all starts to get back to normal … [with] decisions being made on deregulation … [and] banking.”
While many other businesses have been forced to close, leaving their employees out of work, the cannabis industry has a unique opportunity to keep people employed, he adds, and Platinum recently hired 15 new employees for its Michigan operations.
“We’re just one company that employs 160 to 180 people, but all these cannabis companies [are] doing a big part in keeping people working and keeping people active,” Sadler says. “You have to make everybody feel secure in coming to work every day. … It’s educating your employees, talking to them, understanding their positions. … There are a lot of great companies out there in the cannabis space that are doing everything that they can to keep their part going. … There are a lot of people out of work right now—a lot of people who aren’t that fortunate."