The Complete Cannabis Cultivation Sop Guide

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Are you looking to find more information about cannabis cultivation SOP (Standard Operating Procedures)? Any grower who operates a cannabis cultivation business can tell you that the job is not easy. There are many different aspects of the cannabis industry that can be challenging. Whether it’s understanding legislation and regulations in your area or documenting the processes your business uses to ensure the plants grow their healthiest, there are several moving parts to deal with. Managing all of these moving parts is where a cannabis cultivation SOP can be helpful. A standard operating procedure, commonly called an SOP, is a tool that every cannabis business should have. 

A standard operating procedure is a type of documentation that a business owner can use to organize all aspects of their company. SOPs also help you ensure that your business practices and protocols are consistent. 

Cannabis cultivation SOPs serve as a guide for growers to follow when cultivating cannabis. By having a set of guidelines to follow, growers can ensure that they are producing a high-quality product, that production runs smoothly, and that they comply with federal, state, and local legislation. 

What Are Cannabis Cultivation SOPs?

The goal of SOPs in the cannabis industry is to be a bank of information regarding the business’s procedures and processes. These SOPs also allow the processes and procedures to be done accurately and consistently. Documented standard operating procedures act as a company’s code of conduct; without them, accomplishing specific tasks, operations, processes, and procedures would be much more difficult. 

The primary purpose of an SOP is to guarantee there is systematic quality control in your business. Also, this large information bank can be a great tool to inform and educate employees and other members of the organization on the best practices required to execute their roles efficiently. Another type of aid that an SOP can provide is strict guidelines regarding compliance requirements with federal, state, and local regulations. 

The best way to grow and scale your cannabis operation is to have established protocols for your cannabis manufacturing processes, employees, and resources. An SOP can be the information hub that you use to record so many different types of information, including 

  • The Equipment Your Business Requires To Operate 
  • The Production Environment 
  • Proper Plant Management At Varying Growth Phases
  • Growing Conditions And Climate Control Preferences
  • And So Much More!

6 Reasons Why Cannabis Cultivation SOPs Are So Important

Why is cannabis cultivation SOPs so crucial? The answer to this question is multifaceted, and there are many different reasons as to why. Below are six key reasons why standard operating procedures are so vital in any business in the cannabis sector. 

  1. Improving Consistency

One of the most important reasons is that SOPs help to ensure consistency in business practices. SOPs help ensure that the cannabis being produced is of high quality. With an SOP to act as a guidebook for any employee to look at, it ensures that everyone is following procedures the same way and that they get the same results. 

  1. Improving Regulatory Compliance

Certain regulatory agencies also require the use of SOPs so they can see that your company is following a prescribed procedure and is adhering to specific safety guidelines. Many cannabis growers out there tailor their SOPs to comply with the standards of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

It is much less of a challenge to be in compliance when your work practices are standardized. Standardization is extremely important in the cannabis industry especially. Businesses in the cannabis world that fall short of compliance requirements can find themselves fined and shut down quickly. SOPs are one of the many tools at your disposal to help you avoid compliance-related issues. 

  1. Creating Effective Training Programs For New Staff Members

SOPs can be a great tool to utilize during employee onboarding, considering that when created correctly, standard operating procedures are an information hub for all aspects of your business model. When employers can use SOPs during onboarding, it ensures that every new employee receives the same standardized information. When new staff have this standardized information to rely on, they will not have to depend on existing team members to answer all of their questions. 

  1. Improving Workplace Safety

When an SOP exists for employees to refer to, the business is more likely to establish a safer workplace experience. Suppose a staff member tries to handle a task they were never trained to handle and then ends up getting injured. In this case, your business is not only down an employee, but you could find yourself paying for worker’s compensation, medical bills, and legal fees. With an SOP, a business can provide employees with the information they need to do the job safely. 

  1. Fostering A Smooth Operation, Even While You’re Away

With the help of a well-structured SOP, you can rest assured knowing that even when you’re away, your employees have the tools at their disposal needed to ensure the operation runs smoothly. SOPs give staff members the knowledge and context they need, allowing them to quickly make informed decisions if business leaders can’t be reached. 

  1. Saving You Money

SOPs are a tool that can provide many different benefits, and these benefits can save you money. This information hub can keep your employees safe and improve onboarding processes, regulatory compliance, product consistency, and more. All of these improvements can quickly add more cash to your bottom line.

With the help of standard operating procedures (SOPs), it is easier than ever to grow and scale your business. Also, this documentation can be quite helpful if you ever make the decision to sell your company. When selling a cannabis growing business, a high-quality SOP can ensure prospective buyers that your operation runs smoothly and management powers can change without any issues. 

How To Create Cannabis Cultivation SOPs

Below are some of the many tips and tricks that if followed, can help you create SOPs that your cannabis cultivation operation needs to thrive. 

List Out Your Business Processes

The first thing you should do when looking to create a cannabis cultivation SOP is ensure you have a complete understanding of your operating processes. Think about what procedures and protocols happen within your business and the steps that are required to complete them. 

Writing SOPs can take time. Look for tasks that can be completed in a variety of ways, and think about which approach you would like to use as a standard. Because the cannabis industry often has so many moving parts, it is crucial to be as specific and descriptive as possible throughout the documentation process. 

Talk To Your Employees And Get Their Input

Reach out to staff members in your organization. In most cases, these employees are the ones actually tasked with handling the routine procedures and protocols. They could have tips and tricks that simplify specific tasks. If you don’t include your employees in the conversation, you could end up with SOPs with guidelines that unnecessarily slow down the operation process. 

Make ‘Mini’ SOPs For Each Department

If tasks and procedures vary by department, the SOP should also. For example, the waste management guidelines may look very different for the compliance team than it does for the plant management team. If the duties are different, each department will benefit from helping to create a ‘mini’ SOP that explicitly addresses their roles and responsibilities. 

Ensure Your SOP Is Evaluated Before Completion

It is vital that you have a wide variety of staff members and partners evaluate your drafted SOP before it is formally completed. These evaluations can catch mistakes and misinterpretations that, when in practice, could create challenges. Evaluations can also be a great way to improve already accurate information so that it is more detailed or easier to understand.

Communicate And Enforce Your SOP Guidelines

At this point in the process, your SOP should be completed. Now that you have all of your operation’s important information in one place, communicate to your staff the importance of it. Your team needs to know that the newly created SOP is not an optional framework but a new set of guidelines they need to follow. Ensure that if there are situations where the SOP is deliberately ignored, effective disciplinary action is taken. 

Keep Your SOP Accessible 

As many different employees and other partners within your organization will likely need to access information that is kept in the SOP, it is vital to keep yours in a location that is easy to access. If employees and staff members cannot find your SOP, how can they be expected to follow the guidelines inside it?

Frequently Conduct Reviews

As your business grows, the needs of your business will evolve. As the business’s needs are involved, you should also update the guidelines and protocols recorded in your SOP. Imagine if you do not conduct SOP reviews frequently? You could find yourself in a situation where large amounts of the information inside your standard operating procedure are out-of-date and no longer helpful.

What Should Cannabis Cultivation SOPs Include?

If you are looking to create an SOP for your cannabis business, there are many things specific to the industry that should be included in it, such as:

  • The Medium You Plan To Utilize
  • Substrates For Initial Planting, Mature Plants, And Clones
  • Lighting Guidelines And Schedules
  • Climate Control Conditions 
  • Plant Measurement Guidelines At All Different Development Stages
  • Plant Care Protocols At All Different Development Stages
  • Fertilization Guidelines And Schedules
  • Insect Prevention Guidelines 
  • Bacteria Prevention Guidelines 
  • Fungus Prevention Guidelines 
  • Nutrition Deficiency Prevention Guidelines
  • Plant Harvesting Protocols 
  • Waste Management Protocols 
  • Cannabis Inventory Management
  • Cannabis Inventory Control Protocols

Different Types Of Cannabis Cultivation SOPs

Checklist Style Cannabis SOPs

  • The checklist cannabis SOP template is clear and easy to comprehend.
  • It is the ideal option for displaying simple protocols and guidelines.
  • It allows a cannabis business to create a concise list of its operations.
  • It often lacks: 
    • More Detailed Information
    • Diagrams 
    • Data Graphics

Step-by-Step Style Cannabis SOPs

  • The step-by-step cannabis SOP template is suited for tasks with low opportunity for error.
  • It breaks down a protocol into a numbered list of steps.
  • Each numbered step within the actual procedure has thorough instructions.

Hierarchical Style Cannabis SOPs

  • The hierarchical cannabis SOP template displays information regarding business operations with a top-down methodology.
  • It is the ideal option for complicated processes with many different stages, such as:
    • Employee Onboarding
    • Equipment Maintenance
    • Climate Control 

Flowchart Style Cannabis SOPs

  • The flowchart cannabis standard operating procedures can be an excellent resource if you’re trying to explain complicated protocols and guidelines with a diagram. 
  • It breaks down guidelines into bite-size pieces that are easier to understand.
  • Flowchart-style cannabis SOPs often require more expertise to create and implement.

4 Mistakes To Avoid When Creating Cannabis Cultivation SOPs

  1. SOPs Are Too Complex, And Hard To Understand 

Avoid using words and phrases that can be misinterpreted. Also, ensure that the SOP you create uses concise and straightforward language, that way, every staff member can understand the guidelines they are required to follow. 

  1. SOPs Are Inaccurate And Out-Of-Date

If you do not review and update your SOP as your business continues to grow and scale, your information can quickly become inapplicable and unhelpful. Keeping your SOP updated is especially important for a cannabis business, considering that legal regulations are more likely to change than in other industries. 

  1. SOPs Do Not Consider Possible Risks And Dangers 

When you create your SOP, ensure that you consider any possible issues that may arise within the cultivation facility. If you lack this consideration, you may find that your staff is uninformed or unaware of particular challenges that could create risk. 

  1. SOPs Lack Checkpoints

Maintaining accountability should be a significant point of importance for any business, especially one that is operating in such a highly regulated industry. Ensuring accountability can become a major challenge if your SOP lacks checkpoints and verification methods. 

Quality Cannabis Cultivation SOPs Help You Succeed

Any business with a focus on quality assurances and good manufacturing practices can benefit from a standard operating procedure. When you have an SOP that is high-quality and effective, your cannabis cultivation facility can thrive.

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