What to expect after you receive your licence
You finally have your licence, now what? What are the immediate challenges that you can expect to face? It is likely, you have already been asking yourself this question well before receiving your licence, so that you are prepared and can hit the ground running. New production companies that are required to meet strict regulations face many hurdles in the start-up phase and the cannabis industry is no exception.
It’s a good time to consider some of the challenges you may face as a new cannabis licensee and how to prepare so that the road ahead will be as smooth as possible. The most obvious challenge will be the cash flow crunch that you will face until Health Canada gives you the authorization to sell. If you are running a cultivation only facility this will be compounded by the fact that you will have to wait for a crop to be grown, harvested, dried, cured etc. before it can be released. In the instance of a cultivation licence, it would be wise to enlist the help of an experienced Master Grower. An expert who is very familiar with integrated pest management, cross contamination principles, crop disease issues, crop management and pest control products will be one key to success; and they’ll help provide the quickest path to obtain a saleable product. Lack of experience in a commercial setting could mean additional delays before you produce a crop that meets Health Canada’s specifications and Good Production Practices (GPP).
A not-so-obvious hurdle is that staff will be operating as a team under the Cannabis Regulations for the very first time. As the Cannabis Regulations are new, and the industry is new, it is likely that many of your have no experience operating within the confines of these regulations. The best thing to do to prepare for this inevitable challenge is to train your staff in advance of being granted a licence. Apart from basic job responsibilities, training should be provided on: GPP, record keeping and biosecurity procedures. Also consider training on: what are the regulations, why you need to take an active role in compliance, what would happen if operations do not occur following these principles and who needs to follow them. Take your staff through the training as if the facility were already operational. An experienced quality assurance person can help train staff, but they themselves should be very familiar with the regulations, operations and the Health Canada inspection requirements in order to sufficiently prepare the staff. If they are not, search for outside help, it will be well worth the investment.
After receiving the licence, expect long days for staff involved in operations and quality assurance as a keen eye will have to be kept on staff operations versus the new procedures to ensure they are followed as written. Also ensure that equipment required for operations is functioning as required prior to licencing, so that valuable time is not spent trouble-shooting issues that could have been resolved before becoming fully operational.
The challenges to be met post-licencing are bigger than those that were met in trying to obtain the licence itself. Be prepared, arm yourself with individuals who can help you succeed, train your staff for success and be sure that the facility in which you are going to operate in is a flick of a switch away from being fully operational.
Cannabis Compliance Inc. can provide full service operational readiness support from QA training and SOP review to cultivation training, inspection support and auditing. CCI is one of the first full-service Cannabis consulting firms in Canada and abroad who provides subject matter expertise on compliance in adherence with cannabis regulations.
Written by: Georgina Rodrigues, Quality & Regulatory Consultant