Creating a Culture of Compliance

Written by Jenny Germano

Workforce culture is nothing new in any industry you work in across the United States, but creating a culture of compliance is especially important in the cannabis industry. The Culture of Compliance stems from my own personal experience working in the Cannabis Industry as an employee and how I witnessed the difference between operations that took compliance seriously and those that did not. Having organized and mapped-out systems in place really can make or break a business, especially when compliance is a huge factor in running a business. Creating a healthy culture in a work environment starts with structure, standards, and how things are implemented. 

For example, if we have an unhealthy compliance culture at a licensed cannabis facility and corners are being cut like not tracking inventory properly, operating with untrained staff, working from outdated (SOPS) Standard Operating Procedures, doing the bare minimum, and staying under the radar, not following all the rules - just some, not having any clear leadership or direction, lacking employee handbooks, lacking processes, etc. These nuances are examples and provide a better understanding of why employees might struggle to care about their positions or the company they work for or that the compliance culture is unhealthy and non-existent. 

If the operator/cannabis business needs to create a well-defined road map by:

  • Creating, implementing, and maintaining good business practices
  • Providing structure, standards, processes and systems  

These actions combined create a healthy culture inherently. When employees experience things going wrong and never working, and the support they need to run the business is lacking - the culture becomes 100% affected and deteriorates. If there is always chaos and drama in the workplace due to a lack of structure and leadership, that is what gets created continually until a solution is implemented. 

Remember a lot of the structure has been already created by the Regulatory body which regulates commercial cannabis in the State you’re operating in. The Regulations are set in place, use them as the road map for compliance, and for creating the culture of compliance. 

Here are some examples of what contributes to creating a Healthy Culture of Compliance:

  • Responsible Document Management – have professional record-keeping standards implemented. Knowing where all required records are located for regulators during inspections. 
  • Keep up with Current Regulations – Ensure the compliance team or person or in house counsel is keeping up with the Rules, including any government cannabis website, social media campaigns, industry bulletins, and public hearings. Stay on top of changes.
  • Employee Onboarding – ensure the staff understands the rules and regulations for the license type, their specific job role, and is trained on current SOPS and company policies.
  • Implement Self-Auditing Practices - It is important for the compliance officer or management to audit the facility weekly and additionally have a third-party audit scheduled at a minimum of once a year.
  • Materials - Have SOPS and an employee handbook created and in place prior to operating the business. 
  • Employee Training - Be sure all employees have met State mandated training requirements and ongoing training. Keep clear training attestations.
  • Team Meetings - Curate weekly team compliance meetings and have a plan in place for managing the buckets of compliance.
  • Update SOPS - Ensure SOPs are getting updated properly when there is a material change, and/or a procedure changes. 
  • Have A Map - Have a compliance program in place to manage the buckets of compliance.This helps with making compliance a lot more manageable whether you're a smaller operation or an MSO. 
  • Federal Standards - Follow federal guidelines pertaining to your operation such as OSHA, Food Safety and Good Manufacturing Practices.

The examples listed are just a few ways to contribute to building a solid compliance culture. Most of the bullets are areas that are already woven into the requirements for commercial cannabis operators. 

Creating a healthy compliance culture does not happen overnight, it is something that gets built upon through the creation and implementation of standards, and having a good compliance plan in place. ICS has been in facilities where they are well-oiled machines, they follow every letter of the law, employees are trained regularly on compliance, and they go above and beyond the requirements - their compliance culture is solid like a rock. 

Other ICS blogs that might be helpful to read  Managing the Buckets of Compliance or The Importance of Creating a Compliance Program. 

ICS Consulting specializes in Compliance based services, such as Third-Party State Regulatory Audits, State and Local License Application Support, Technical Writing, Standard Operating Procedures Development, Compliance Operations Training, Employee Retention Solutions, and Employee Onboarding. For more information on how ICS Consulting Service can help your Cannabis Business, book a free 30-minute consult and we'll help you map out your next steps to be successful in the Regulated Cannabis Industry.