Of all of the compliance issues surrounding cannabis, cultivation is the least understood. There are three primary concerns for licensees cultivating cannabis.
Regulators have a number of critical issues they primarily review to ensure the licensee is in compliance. They include:
Employee Health and Safety
OSHA, along with its corresponding state agency, is tasked with ensuring workplace safety, and despite cannabis being federally illegal, it is still subject to federal workplace regulation.
OSHA offers a free onsite consultation program to review safety hazards. There are four dominant OSHA and related state workplace safety issues:
• Proper signage for hazards, fire exits, chemical storage, warning signs
• Adequate and tested fire safety plans including exit markings, fire wardens ensuring everyone’s safe exit, contact information, and protocols for fire emergencies
• An inadequate hazard communication plan. Who is responsible for: calling the police during an emergency, shutting down the facility and ensuring everyone is out, alerting everyone to a chemical leak or spill?
• Improper or lack of personal protective equipment. Do all employees who need it have the proper personal protective equipment? Is it readily accessible?
Is the cultivation facility part of the overall security plan? Are there adequate and regularly tested locking systems for access?
Does the alarm system have adequate storage and backup, and do all cameras and systems work? Does the camera coverage blanket the entire area?
In order to preserve your investment, the security system should be tested quarterly to ensure it can respond successfully to any issues.
Cleaning, Contamination, and Sanitation
The growing, processing, storage, and packaging of cannabis requires a very clean facility, with proper protocols and operating procedures in place.
Are all work surfaces cleaned and sterilized properly, and then documented by the person doing the work? Is all processing equipment taken apart and sterilized according to the manufacturer’s requirement?
Are soil, water, and chemicals safely stored to avoid spillage and contamination? What about the actual ventilation system filters?
Does your plant count match what you have in METRC or the other state-mandated inventory system? How often is the plant, seed, or clone, harvested? How often is commercially-packaged inventory audited and counted?
Learning how to control inventory through the state’s mandatory system is critical. One of the first tasks regulators will perform is ensuring that none of the product is unaccounted for, untested, or being sold on the illicit market.
If there is an inventory mistake, find it. Are there count discrepancies? Trace it to the source. Is the product disappearing? Monitor the camera system closely.
How do I avoid compliance issues in cannabis cultivation?
Perform your own compliance audit to identify your compliance weaknesses. List every state regulation for cannabis, then honestly appraise your conformity with it. Repeat the procedure with the state’s employee safety regulations, fire regulations, worker safety regulations, etc. From each, develop a worksheet that can be filled out daily and train your employees on your compliance documentation.
In compliance, strict consistency is your best friend.