The Importance of Creating a Compliance Program

Written by Jenny Germano

When it comes to operating in the Regulated Cannabis Industry, there are a lot of different moving parts, and it is vital to create a system that can track and manage all of the company processes, no matter what type of licensed operation it is. Each facility license type such as a Testing Lab, Processor/Manufacturer, Dispensary, Cultivation, and Transporter all have their own specific set of regulations they have to follow along with commonly shared regulations as well like security. More than ever companies are implementing Federal Standards in their business day-to-day operations, as they prepare for future Federal Legalization and utilizing the Standards as Industry Best Practices. Creating a compliance program will help create the road map to keeping overall compliance organized and attainable, not only for the owners but for employees as well.

Creating a compliance program can help your company in the following ways:

  • It creates an inherent Culture of Compliance
  • Creates a healthy workforce environment
  • It is an essential component in Risk Management
  • It assists in implementing important compliance standards and processes
  • Provides valuable structure for employees to thrive in  
  • Minimizes the risk of fines and violations – or potentially losing a license
  • Promotes compliance excellence in the eyes of regulators
  • It create the foundation for day-to-day operations

With Cannabis companies under the regulatory microscope on a daily basis, it is important to know exactly what is going on internally in the business at all times. Having a program in place to manage all of the processes and procedures creates a healthy roadmap. Not having some type of plan for compliance and how it will be implemented and integrated into the company can cause a variety of risk based issues. Being proactive versus reactive in this Industry is the difference between getting violations or not. 

Here are some examples of what could go into a compliance program for a licensed operator: 

  • Internal & External Employee Training
  • Self-Audits & Third-Party Audits
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS)
  • Environmental Controls
  • Certifications like cGMP, ISO:17025, 9001,22000, Food Safety, OSHA, Responsible Vendor etc.
  • Recall and CAPA plans
  • Security
  • Packaging and Labeling
  • Product Management & Safety
  • Testing Panels and Sample Collection
  • Inventory Control & Management
  • OSHA Standards 

The purpose of the program is to break down all of the different areas of compliance for each facility operation, or what we like to call “buckets” and standardize a plan in making them all manageable. I am sure you’ve heard the saying “How do you eat an elephant? Well, one bite at a time”. Compliance is handled in the same manner, and breaking it down into smaller digestible buckets makes it easier to approach, manage and implement.