The Complete Cannabis Cultivation SOPs Guide (2022)

Are you looking to better understand cannabis cultivation SOPs? Operating a cannabis cultivation facility is no easy task. There are several moving parts to developing a successful cannabis cultivation operation, from documenting cultivation procedures to quality control to employee onboarding and training. To strike a balance and achieve all of your objectives, developing a cultivation standard operating procedure (SOP) may be beneficial and is often necessary to meet state licensing requirements.

A standard operating procedure is a document that helps you organize and maintain consistency in your business. Cannabis cultivation SOPs serve as a guide for how your production facility will function smoothly and in compliance with legal regulations.

It is essential to follow well-defined procedures in order to manage a successful cannabis cultivation business. Here’s all you need to know about developing standard operating procedures for cultivation.

What are the standard operating procedures for cultivation?

SOPs are the established procedures that cannabis firms follow to guarantee that processes are carried out accurately and reliably on a regular basis. Simply put, standard operating procedures (SOPs) are control papers that detail, step-by-step, how to accomplish a certain operation or process.

Standard operating procedures guarantee that a systematic quality control system is in place and that everyone in a company understands how to execute their jobs effectively and efficiently. SOPs are used to show compliance with regulations. In addition, SOPs are utilized to show compliance with applicable state rules or business policies.

In order to go through the stages of growth, procedures, measurements, team members, and resources must be tailored to the stage in question. The equipment you’ll need, the production environment, maintaining the plants at each development stage, and regulating the environment are all part of the standard operating procedures for cannabis cultivation.

Why is it important to have cultivation standard operating procedures?

Standard operating procedures guarantee that you have a dependable and consistent method for generating high-quality marijuana. The specifics of repeatable procedures are explained in detail in this document, including what, how, and when to do something, materials you need, and what information you’ll have to record.

The use of SOPs is also needed by licensing and regulatory agencies to demonstrate proper preparation for license and operation. Some growers may also like to have their SOPs comply with the standards of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

It is easier to stay compliant when work practices are standardized, especially in a highly regulated business. Having SOPs in place may help you reduce risk, which can be quite beneficial if you are audited or evaluated by your local regulatory authority.

Standard operating procedures provide clear standards and help save time when onboarding and training new personnel. Every new employee receives consistent, standardized information rather than depending on existing employees to pass on process expertise.

SOPs help to ensure critical tasks are accomplished even if you are not there. When they comprehend the why and how behind each procedure in your facility, they can not only do their duties more effectively but also make informed choices in your absence.

SOPs contribute to the establishment of a safe work environment. If the staff at your facility are unfamiliar with how to do a certain activity, they may guess or just avoid performing the task entirely. This creates a risk for your organization since the personnel may do the work in a dangerous or inconsistent manner.

As SOPs may help your business save time and maintain a safe workplace, having a comprehensive set of SOPs can definitely help your organization save money in the long term.

Documented standard operating procedures (SOPs) make it simpler to grow your organization if you’re planning on expanding your operations. Additionally, if you end up selling your business, a well-crafted cannabis SOP will ensure that your cultivation facility functions properly and that it can be handed over to new management without incident.

Tips for Writing Cannabis Cultivation SOPs

SOPs should be simple and clear

To avoid misunderstanding while creating cannabis SOPs, utilize simple terms and plain language instead of jargon. Define cultivation words, and use acronyms and abbreviations with caution. Your employees will grasp their tasks faster if your instructions are simple, concise, and explain the process efficiently.

It is important that SOPs are accurate

Maintain an up-to-date set of cannabis SOPs as your company’s practices and processes change. Maintaining consistency between paperwork and instructions provided to staff is crucial. Effective training programs are dependent on accuracy and are crucial to the success of your business.

Consider the factors and risks

When designing your cultivation SOPs, take the time to consider all of the scenarios that may go wrong and choose the best method for mitigating them. Your treatment or risk management strategy should take into account any restrictions on pesticides and procedures imposed by local or state legislation.

Define roles and responsibilities clearly

There should be no finger-pointing when it comes to assigned jobs and obligations. Teamwork is more efficient and successful when there is a clear chain of command. Establishing a clear chain of command is also required by many states in order to get a license.

Integrate checkpoints

Every cultivation SOP should have checkpoints and verification methods for tasks to guarantee that processes are followed, and accountability is maintained.

How to create cannabis cultivation SOPs

Make a list of your procedures

The first step is to know and understand how you operate and then think about how you should go about accomplishing your procedures. Identify jobs that everyone does in a different manner and select which method will be the standard.

Consider starting with the initial planting or cloning activity and working your way up the growth phases to the harvest and drying stages before moving to the packing and selling stages.

Workflows from seed to sale may be complicated. As a result, be specific and comprehensive in your documentation of the processes.

Ask for input from staff

Count on your employees, the individuals who really do the jobs, to assist you in developing standard operating procedures. They are aware of how things are done in practice as well as how they should be done. Involve them in the process of writing down the stages.

Create SOPs by department

As SOPs vary by department, you can also create SOPs per department. For instance, the propagation team, trimmers and technicians, vegetable and flower managers, and compliance team can each develop their own set of standard operating procedures.

Conduct a review

Have your team members in various roles evaluate the SOP after they have been completed to identify any missing information or places that may be improved upon.

Prepare documentation

As soon as you’ve determined which processes need to be documented, it’s time to document and create a formalized set of standard operating procedures. Include all of the relevant details while keeping the document as concise as you can.

Disseminate and implement

The communication and enforcement of standard operating procedures to your employees are necessary after they have been developed. Even in the most stable of environments, procedures may get sluggish, and some workers may take shortcuts, but in the cannabis industry, this is not acceptable. It is essential for each and every employee to adhere to every standard operating procedure. 

Keep SOPs secure and conduct frequent reviews

Maintain SOPs in a central location accessible to all personnel, and conduct periodic reviews to ensure they are up-to-date as your business’s needs evolve.

What should cultivation SOPs include?

If you’re running a growing business in the cannabis sector, the following are some of the information you’ll most likely include in your standard operating procedures:

  • The medium you’ll use
  • Specifications for the substrate for clones and plants
  • Scheduling lighting
  • Conditions in the environment
  • Guidelines for obtaining measures at different stages of development
  • Procedures for caring for plants at various stages of growth
  • Instructions for feeding
  • Prevention of insect infestations, bacteria growth, and fungus growth
  • How to deal with issues like pests and nutritional deficiencies
  • Protocols for harvesting
  • Protocols for waste management
  • Processes for controlling and planning cannabis inventories

Different types of SOPs

Checklist SOP

A checklist-style SOP is a clear and easy method of creating cultivation SOPs. This kind of SOP is ideal for simple procedures since it enables you to record your operations in a clear and concise manner. What is often absent, however, is a high level of information as well as any graphics or diagrams.

Step-by-Step SOP

A step-by-step standard operating procedure (SOP) is suited for more straightforward tasks. This style divides a process into a numbered list of steps, with comprehensive instructions for each step included.

Hierarchical SOP

A hierarchical SOP breaks down corporate operations using a top-down methodology. The hierarchical SOP style is appropriate for complicated processes that include a large number of stages, such as customer onboarding and maintenance of equipment.

Flowchart SOP

Flowcharts are an excellent tool for graphically communicating a complicated procedure, such as the seed-to-sale process. It is possible to benefit from a flowchart depiction of a long, complicated procedure. Flowcharts are simple and rational to understand, but they need more effort and expertise to construct.

Conclusion

In every quality management system, standard operating procedures serve as the cornerstone.

Having legally sound SOPs can help your cannabis cultivation business thrive.

To learn more about cannabis cultivation SOPs or how to manage a legally compliant cannabis business, please feel free to get in touch with our team of specialists.

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