Ask the Experts: Distribution: 5 Questions with Duane Roebuck

April 15, 2020

Accurate track and traceability software coupled with reliable hardware are the lifeline of any reputable cannabis business. Here, Duane Roebuck, BlueStar retail and IoT channel manager, takes a closer look at why it’s important to select a distributor partner that can pair you with some of the best seed-to-sale software and hardware providers.

1. Why is the ability to track/trace essential today?

If your business is in a Metrc® (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance) state, you know the penalties associated with not having accurate inventory and traceability solutions. That’s why it’s critical to ensure you have enterprise-grade solutions to ensure you’re meeting stringent regulatory standards.

2. Why should a company in the cannabis industry consider working with a distributor such as BlueStar?

First, if you’re a grower, processor or dispensary owner, we cannot sell anything directly to you, so we can be a trusted adviser for you. We operate in a channel strategy, meaning we sell using a reseller channel. Although we cannot sell directly to you, we can be a valuable partner in regards to informing and introducing you to some of our software partners as well as hardware manufacturers that not only embrace, but have strategies that include the cannabis industry and invest in the industry.

3. I’ve heard people mention the need for enterprise-grade devices. Why is this important in the cannabis industry?

That is a great question, and one that I often see companies within this space not take seriously enough. As an owner in this space, your primary concern is growing your core cannabis business. Laws require that you track and trace everything. Why would you trust something so vital to a device most teenagers have? Enterprise-grade devices are purpose-built, meaning they offer functionality and ruggedization that consumer-grade devices simply do not have in most cases.

4. What are some of the key differences between enterprise- and consumer-grade devices?

I’ve seen growers and processors using consumer-grade printers only to find they don’t hold up to this environment. Some of the print heads get gunked up and stop performing due to the pollen and dust often present in this industry. As a result, growers go through a number of consumer printers before realizing there are enterprise-grade solutions—offered by suppliers such as Zebra Technologies—that are not only built to withstand this environment but have print-head warranties that provide lifetime protection.

Digital media is another area where I see people cutting corners. Commercial displays are not only designed for 20-plus hours of continuous use, but there are often management solutions that allow you to effortlessly manage not only multiple screens but multiple locations, ensuring there are consistent themes, specials and educational content.

These are just two areas. There are also scanners and other point of sale hardware that are durable enough to continue working for you as your business grows.

5. Who are some of the trusted manufacturers you have partnered with as a distributor?

Many of our manufacturing partners not only have solutions that are suited for this industry, they are expanding their business plans and marketing to embrace this industry. Companies such as Zebra Technologies®, Elo®, Star Micronics, Hikvision®, Watchguard® and LG Business Solutions®—all have products that are suited for your needs.

For more information, contact Duane Roebuck at or (859) 371-4423 ext. 3298