As we continue to see the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis and psychedelics (CHP) take root around world, it is important to understand that these changes don’t come easy. In order to see a successful roll out of what, until very recently, have been considered – and in the case of psychedelics still are considered— controlled substances, strict regulatory and compliance framework is necessary to guide and facilitate safe and consistent cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of these products.
Undoubtedly, regulatory compliance is complex and often seen as burdensome. And justifiably so, the volume and built in redundancies found in regulatory compliance guidelines can be overwhelming. But just because they are lengthy, doesn’t mean that the regulatory and compliance guidelines are without purpose. These guides are in place to prioritize the health and safety of employees and consumers alike.
With regulations and compliance procedures here to stay, it goes without saying that if you’re working, or looking for work, within this sector, then having a good grasp of regulatory and compliance requirements will go a long way to ensuring your continued success in this field.
To better help you understand some of the requirements, we’ve assembled a list highlighting five regulatory and compliance tips from industry experts.
The CHP industry is still getting comfortable in the mainstream. This means that while there are current regulatory and compliance guidelines in place, they’re not set in stone.
No, this doesn’t mean you can ignore the rules. What it means, is that you need to expect the rules to change as more information becomes available and as the market grows into itself.
Staying up to date with regulatory and compliance in your specific jurisdiction can prove challenging as regulations can be different between countries, states, cities, and even municipalities. That’s right, at every level of the CHP industry, there are rules that need to be followed. Staying on your toes with current regulatory standards is a surefire way to avoid being penalized for failure to comply. Penalties for failure to comply can be steep, including fines, loss of employment, and even loss of license for your business.
The best way to stay up to date with the latest regulatory and compliance information for your CHP business is to subscribe to industry publications and keep an eye on any guidance or news” coming from regulators in your area.
Keep Detailed Records
Probably one of the most important pieces of advice that anyone working in the CHP industry can heed is: Keep impeccable and detailed records of everything.
Yes, that might sound tedious, but in a heavily regulated industry like cannabis, hemp, and psychedelics, you never know when the regulators will come knocking and requesting proof of compliance. And there is no better way to show them you can follow the rules than by pulling up detailed records that shows that every aspect of your CHP business, including cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, sales, and disposal are done in complete accordance with the law.
Having a list of the record keeping and reporting requirements for every stage of your business, in addition to a comprehensive collection of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to inform staff how to document the process compliantly is absolutely necessary. Whether you’re a cannabis business or a psychedelic business, there are specific requirements for your industry to adhere to.
Infallible Quality Control and Quality Assurance Measures
When you work in a regulated industry like cannabis, hemp, and psychedelics, you will become well-versed in terms like Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA).
Quality control is a product-oriented measure put in place to ensure that there are no quality issues with the products you manufacture (or grow) that could impact customer experiences. Quality assurance, on the other hand, is the process you need in place to avoid or handle any quality issues that might arise. Put simply: QA describes the actions needed and QC are the results you want.
Establishing a QC program means defining the standards that you are looking for and outlining the specific action (QA) that will be taken to ensure the program and results are compliant.
Your QC program should include:
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): And easy to follow, step-by-step guide that outlines the procedure required to ensure that products meet required standards. SOPs can cover everything from product intake, handling to disposal to and cleaning.
Quality Control Testing: It’s one thing to follow procedures, it’s another to test the results. Quality control testing is the means in which you verify that your process worked, and your result is what you are expecting. Testing can include potency, microbial, pesticides, weight verification.
Documented Processes: Documenting your process is an added layer of control to any heavily compliant environment. Not only are you following an SOP, but you’re verifying that each step was followed precisely.
Qualified Personnel: Consider your QP an expert. They will have the specific training, and qualifications to ensure that your process adheres to the quality control measures you’ve got in place for your business.
Calibration and Maintenance of Equipment: To ensure you get the same results time and again, calibrating and maintaining your equipment is hyper-important. Even if your equipment is “a little bit off” your end result could fall completely out of compliance resulting in a rework or a complete loss of product.
As part of regulatory and compliance measures focused ensuring quality control measures are in place, regulators typically required that third-party accredited laboratories are used to verify QC measures. The additional step goes a long way to validate the information that your QC program has put into place and can be helpful indicator if something isn’t working.
Training, Training, Training
Every job should have an on-boarding process. This is usually the first step to training new employees on company policies, processes, and best practices. For CHP businesses, having a strong and comprehensive training program goes a long way to ensuring that your staff understands what is expected, what measures are in place to ensure regulatory compliance and how to navigate what is sure to be an overwhelming about of information relating to the regulatory nature of your business.
To simplify your process, here are some training tips to consider:
Develop an Employee Training Program: When designing a training program, be sure to provide information about regulations, procedures, and quality control. Let your team know who they can speak to with any questions and be sure to give them plenty of hands-on training to reinforce the knowledge.
Incorporate Regulatory Compliance into Job Descriptions: Be upfront about the requirements of the role. When you create the job posting, be sure to include regulatory compliance into job descriptions. Make it a part of the employee evaluation process. By providing this information at the beginning, you are going to attract candidates who understand the compliant nature of the work.
Provide Ongoing Training: Regulations are constantly changing. Building in an on-going training program will ensure that your employees are always up to date with the regulations. This can also function as part of your QC measures, to ensure that proper procedures are being followed.
Use Clear and Concise Language: The CHP business is full of technical jargon. When creating a training program, use plain language. and explain concepts in simple terms that employees can understand. They will pick up on the more technical terms as they grow comfortable in their roles.
Provide Feedback and Encourage Questions: If you don’t know, ask. With all the rules, regulations, and compliance measures required to succeed in CHP, being accessible you’re your staff to answer questions will help employees improve their skill. Regular feedback can also prevent errors from recurring.
Compliance as a Culture
Your CHP business needs to live and breathe the regulatory and compliance you want your employees to adhere to. By fostering a culture where compliance is a key pillar, you are setting your business up to succeed.
How do you set up a compliance culture?
Lead by Example: There is nothing worse for an employee than being told to follow the rules while the leadership shoots from the hip. If you want to create a culture with compliance at its core, the Leadership and management needs to set the example. Make regulatory excellence and compliance part of your company values.
Training and Communication: Your work environment needs to be one that supports learning and communication. It’s easy fit in training and communication about new processes and procedures when your team feels well trained and heard. This will ensure that everyone understands the importance of compliance and is aware of any changes or updates to regulations.
Empower Employees: In a compliance-heavy work environment, you need everyone on the same side. Encouraging and empowering employees to report any compliance concerns they may have, is key. More importantly, doing so without fear of retaliation or repercussion. Give your teams the tools and resources to report issues. Create a safe space for them and encourage them to ask for clarification if needed.
Regular Audits and Reviews: Complacency is normal. But in an environment that required strict adherence to compliance, complacency has no place. By scheduling regular audits and reviews of compliance policies and procedures, you will be able to identify areas of improvement and ensure that all employees are adhering to regulatory requirements.
Encourage Ethical Behavior: Encourage ethical behavior and create an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting any ethical violations. This will help prevent compliance issues from arising and will foster a culture of transparency and trust.
Recognition and Rewards: In fostering any positive work environment, recognize and rewards go a long way. Giving employees who prioritize compliance and contribute to a culture of compliance in the workplace the recognition for their dedication will encourage others to follow suit and reinforce good compliance practices across teams.
Creating a positive and compliant is necessary to remain viable in the CHP industry. Adhering to compliance is more just a primary business focus, but one that has a ripple effect across the industry. A good compliance culture will help legitimize businesses and further help businesses set themselves apart..
The Bottom Line
With cannabis, hemp, and psychedelics still struggling for a foothold in mainstream society, it’s important to ensure, despite their complexities and dynamic nature, the regulatory and compliance rules are following. While they might not be something everyone agrees with, regulatory compliance is put into place to ensure the CHP industry can grow.
Over the coming years, more changes are likely to be made. Whether it’s legalization parameters, potency allowances, consumption methods, etc., we’re still in the start-up phase for cannabis, hemp, and psychedelics. That’s why staying up to date, keeping good records, training, and QA/QC measures and a compliant work culture are absolutely necessary to not only grow businesses, but solidify positive public opinion about the industry.