The Ins and Outs of Cannabis Compliance for Cultivation

Article Author: Atlas Seed
Article Posted: June 28, 2021

The cannabis industry has a reputation for being subject to tough regulations. Therefore, it’s best to know ahead of time which steps you’ll need to take to be successful. Not only will you have to follow countless rules set by local, state and federal agencies to ensure top-of-the-line compliance; you’ll also be subject to compliance audits, learning new systems, and keeping track of abundant documents. You may remember our blog about hemp farming regulations by state, which you can refer back to here and here. The process for medical cannabis is a bit different — but we’ll go into depth more about that another time. 

Today, we wanted to guide you through the basics of cannabis compliance to get you in the know about all of the unique aspects of cannabis regulations. Then we’ll show you what good compliance looks like so you can maintain your cannabis cultivation business to the best of your ability.

What is Good Cannabis Compliance?

If you want your cannabis seed or cultivation operation to stay in business, you’re going to want to practice good cannabis compliance. Good cannabis compliance is the practice of following all of the proper policies and procedures to align your business with regulatory guidelines. The practice of good cannabis compliance shows prioritization of transparency for consumers and commitment to rules adherence to ensure top-notch safety for both your employees and customers.

Obtain Proper Licensure 

Strong cannabis compliance is at the core of any thriving commercial cultivation facility, cannabis seed company, or any other business within the cannabis industry. Before even launching your business, be sure that you are well versed in the procedures needed for licensing, and be sure to fill out necessary applications and forms.

Nothing says “good cannabis compliance” like keeping your cannabis cultivation business up-to-date on licensing and permits for operation. Licenses will expire, and letting them lapse can cause huge headaches that are easily avoidable. Be prepared and fill out proper documentation ahead of time to avoid any problems that may arise. Furthermore, ensure that your licenses are both easily accessible and on view. When a compliance officer comes to your operation you’ll want to prove that you’re a trustworthy business. Visible licensing can play a huge role in building that trust.

Pay Attention to Detail

Strong cannabis compliance is at the core of any thriving commercial cultivation facility, cannabis seed company, or any other business within the cannabis industry. Before even launching your business, be sure that you are well versed in the procedures needed for licensing, and be sure to fill out necessary applications and forms.

Nothing says “good cannabis compliance” like keeping your cannabis cultivation business up-to-date on licensing and permits for operation. Licenses will expire, and letting them lapse can cause huge headaches that are easily avoidable. Be prepared and fill out proper documentation ahead of time to avoid any problems that may arise. Furthermore, ensure that your licenses are both easily accessible and on view. When a compliance officer comes to your operation you’ll want to prove that you’re a trustworthy business. Visible licensing can play a huge role in building that trust.

Keep Up and Document Everything

Good cannabis compliance relies on your cannabis seed or cultivation business to stay on top of happenings throughout the industry. Since the cannabis industry is always changing, be sure to keep up with regulatory changes and record everything.

Keeping up with current regulatory forms can be tricky. Much like your license paperwork, you’ll want to plan ahead — especially for forms with deadlines. There are numerous key forms that must be completed, from pre-planting and harvesting reports to commercial registration applications. Furthermore, although states often have mandated state compliance software in place to store documents, it’s still best practice to keep files on hand and stored in case something goes awry.

Cannabis Cultivation Standard Operating Procedures

When it comes to top-of-the-line cannabis compliance for your commercial cannabis operation, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are critical. SOPs are basically the user manual for your cultivation operation. SOPs host vital information, such as how to perform certain tasks and when to do so. Envision SOPs as a comprehensive organization system that keeps all of your documents in a succinct spot and ensures no box goes unchecked.

SOPs can help cultivation operations stay compliant in myriad ways. SOPs keep tabs on everything that could ever need to be reported. They will contain all pest control methods used in the cultivation process, nutrients used to grow cannabis plants, document sanitary procedures and even security protocols. SOPs also provide the framework for filing any updates or changes to processes or procedures your cultivation operation may make. Though SOPs are good practice to keep yourself compliant, they are also often required by the regulatory bodies that govern the cultivation process.

Money Matters

Track all of your company’s financial moves by keeping a ledger. Use this to document each of your spending activities such as paying salary, buying products like cannabis seeds or clones, or otherwise. In the cannabis industry, changes to banking regulations could occur at any point, so you’ll want to ensure that your financial records are up to date and easy to find. Additionally, it’s good practice for you to keep up on business taxes. By managing both of these aspects, you can ensure your cannabis cultivation operation won’t be in trouble in the event of financial auditing. All aspects of cannabis compliance are immensely important to your operation, and it’s crucial that nothing is left behind.  

Seed-to-Sale Cannabis Compliance 

Cannabis compliance is fundamental to cultivation operations across the country and must exist at every step of your cultivation process. Coined “seed-to-sale” with good reason, regulatory bodies monitor each step of the cannabis cultivation process. This means you’ll have unique regulations to follow during each step: first while purchasing your seeds; next while growing and harvesting your autoflower; finally during postharvest procedures such as storage and processing. 

State compliance software exists to help make the process run more smoothly. States like Colorado and Oklahoma employ Metrc, a seed-to-sale cannabis software meant to keep your operations in check no matter where you are in the process. Seed-to-sale cannabis tracking allows companies to remain compliant with multistep processes. Seed-to-sale software like Metrc employs the use of RFID tags, which keep tabs on cannabis from beginning to end. These special tags follow cannabis at every step of the process. Seed-to-sale procedures also focus on other aspects, such as packaging compliance.

To keep in line with good cannabis compliance, these programs ensure your cannabis is suitable for use. State regulations set boundaries and metrics cannabis and hemp must meet to pass. Testing products is generally good practice to ensure you’ll meet inspection standards and be compliant with state regulations. Seed-to-sale software helps to ensure your cultivated cannabis and hemp avoid cross-contamination, elevated levels of pesticides, and unacceptable spraying. State compliance software like Metrc keeps track of each element to keep cultivation operations in line, making it easier to follow the rules in keeping your business thriving from seed-to-sale.

Prepare for Cannabis Compliance Audits

Following the rules of your cannabis compliance software will prepare you in part for any compliance audits. It’s good practice to prepare for potential audits by preliminarily running them on your commercial cultivation operation as sort of a checkup. As a cannabis cultivation operator, you know your business better than anyone else. Accordingly, you’re more likely to identify any problems before audit time comes around and avoid possible penalties or violations. 

If you’re able to afford it, work with cannabis compliance professionals. If you’re unable to afford a consultant, there are programs that can help you stay compliant with the necessary processes and procedures. This is the best way to ensure you’re following appropriate rules and regulations to the best of your ability and ensure your cannabis compliance is top-notch. 

We hope this post gave you insight into what cannabis compliance is all about and how to get you off to a good start. Remember to have a plan in place to regularly check in with your compliance metrics. If you have any questions about your cannabis seed company and how compliance fits in, reach out to us.