Founder and CEO Chase Eastman officially launched Rootwurks in January 2022. But that effort began a few years ago and crossed industries like food safety training, digital media and television. The core of Rootwurks is training his platform. The cannabis industry deals with a very complex system of regulatory environments that vary greatly from state to state.
Rootwurks will be attending the Seed to Sale Safety Workshop at CQC on October 16th. Click here for more information.Understanding the various and evolving rules across this patchwork of regulations is a very difficult undertaking that every cannabis company must grapple with. Rootwurks helps companies meet compliance demands while maintaining quality standards across state borders and jurisdictions.
We caught up with Chase to talk about his background, his thoughts on regulatory compliance in the industry, and how the future of training could shape the cannabis market.
Cannabis Industry Journal: Can you tell us about your background? How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?
Chase Eastman: Both my parents were career entrepreneurs. On some level, I was always destined to try this. As a teenager, I started working at my father’s company, his Alchemy Studios. Before Alchemy Studios was the training company it is today. At the time, we were a small marketing studio selling creative services and learning development to Fortune 500 companies.
About ten years later, I started working for a home shopping network and quickly fell in love with the fun, fast-paced environment of the marketplace. Eventually, I became head of the company’s digital media department, which was around 2012-2013, right around the time Groupon was starting to make headlines.
For home shopping networks, content was the key to sales. At the same time, learning platforms such as Linda.com (LinkedIn Learning) and YouTube have exploded in popularity, and my father and I have had many conversations about the role these new technologies have in the adult learning environment. Ta. I went back to work with my dad at her Alchemy Systems and decided to focus on end-user learning content.
Our specialty is the food manufacturing space, and we were constantly experimenting with different strategies for mixed learning, mixed media formats, and adult learning. The focus on using technology to connect people to their expertise is at the heart of what Rootwurks offers.
This was my 20 year journey into education and training, but my path to cannabis began at home with my family as my mother was battling cancer. Many years ago, neighbors and dear family friends encouraged my mother to try cannabis to treat the side effects of chemotherapy.
Cannabis helped my mom cope with pain and nausea, and she was able to eat and build strength. I witnessed all of this firsthand and cannabis has found a special place in my heart as an instantly life-changing drug.
My mother, father and I began looking for ways to leverage our expertise in training and compliance systems to help the cannabis industry ensure the safety and efficacy of cannabis products. We quickly realized that the best way to help the industry was to make it easier for companies to deal with compliance demands and their frustration with the lack of universal standards and consistency in cannabis. Ta.
Food regulation is never simple. But cannabis is much more complicated, especially for small businesses that grow cannabis and just want to help people find the best products for them.
CIJ: So what is Rootworks? Tell us about your company.
Tracking: Rootwurks is first and foremost a training platform that fuses education and compliance.
We believe compliance is achieved when people do what they need to do, when and where they need it. We also know that employees need real-time access to the information they need in a simple and understandable way.
The Rootwurks Learning Experience Platform is also a communication and learning aid tool dedicated to the goal of connecting people with their expertise. For certain use cases, such as sales training for bidders, the authoring tools and templates make it easy to widely disseminate communications and training.
I like to talk about the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve. This is basically the theory that adults are forgetful and will quickly lose a lot of information if it is not reinforced. The Rootwurks platform has built-in operational hardening tools built into the Audit, Validation and Validation modules. All this information is input into the corrective action engine to help companies develop and deploy preventive actions.
The ecosystem is premised on nurturing and strengthening. You can tailor the checklist module to create training that powers your micro-learning models that are fast and easy to understand. Videos embedded in modules can include checklists for employees to follow. You can also reinforce your learning, for example by watching a video at the end of a training module.
Employees can use the dashboard to instantly see all learning activity for the day. Companies can use the platform for onboarding new employees while providing ongoing education and training to longtime employees.
Flexibility is at the core of the system. Cannabis regulation contains an enormous amount of unnecessary complexity, all of which varies from state to state. Large carriers entering multi-state phases must have different SOPs in each state to maintain quality standards across all company locations. That’s why we’ve built every program as a template so our clients can tailor it to meet the compliance guidelines of every state in which they operate.
But this is not an “off-the-shelf” platform. Companies can customize the system with their own branding and training materials. This solves the “blank screen paralysis” companies face in their training programs.
Our goal is to remove these hurdles and help companies schedule, assign and validate training.
CIJ: A culture of safety and quality is standard practice in the food industry. What does the cannabis industry look like in your eyes and what areas do you think need improvement? What’s the problem?
Tracking: The food industry expects safety and quality to be ingrained in its daily operations. The food industry also fully understands the importance of having a culture of positive workplace accountability backed by internal audits. FDA has partnered with the food industry to advance these principles for more than a decade. So you shouldn’t expect this to happen overnight in the cannabis industry.
But the food industry has had a head start over the cannabis industry for decades, pushing back unrealistic regulations and building partnerships with state regulators.
In many ways, the biggest need the cannabis industry needs is time. Industry will need time to work with regulators to respect the intent of the rule while remaining practical. It’s hard to be a successful cannabis business without taking into account these regulations that introduce all sorts of inefficiencies into the manufacturing and distribution process.
With so many states having such different regulations, it’s no wonder we face so much confusion. We are seeing companies of all kinds really struggling because the current situation is not as sustainable as it seems.
We need to find ways to build partnerships with industry and regulators while respecting the fun, disruptive, and life-enhancing aspects of cannabis culture. It will take time, but I am sure we will get there.
CIJ: How do you envision the future of education and compliance in the cannabis industry, and where do you see this market headed in the next decade?
Tracking: The short answer to that is that there are limits. We timed the launch of Rootwork to coincide with the global recession, which is facing unprecedented headwinds for the cannabis industry. SAFE Banking is still needed to cross the finish line and fully access the financial system. I think we’ve reached a tipping point with cannabis going too strong.
Going forward, I believe successful brands will be those that implement training and education programs and treat them as an integral part of their day-to-day operations.
The next 24-36 months will not be easy. But we’re learning a lot as we go, and we haven’t figured out all the different ways plants can be utilized. The industry only goes one way and at Rootworks we are excited to help more companies achieve their dreams in the cannabis space.