Creating A Cannabis Standard Operating Procedures Doc for Cultivation

When creating cannabis standard operating procedures, many business owners think about the frontlines of the dispensary itself. To be certain, the frontlines are important, but it’s equally critical to formalize standards for cultivation as well.

The cannabis industry is heavily regulated. Failing to meet these standards can result in serious consequences, including hefty fines. Creating a cannabis SOP will help keep you compliant while allowing you to grow your business.

What Are the Benefits of Cannabis Standard Operating Procedures?

SOPs (standard operating procedures) are documented procedures that ensure every member of a cannabis company is on the same page. No matter which employee is performing the task, having an SOP ensures that the process is performed correctly and consistently.

Because the cannabis industry is so heavily regulated, it’s vital to ensure that every employee is fulfilling their responsibilities — and completing those responsibilities correctly.

A good cannabis SOP template is one that reads as a step-by-step list of procedures. The idea is that any employee can pick up the SOP and understand exactly what needs to be done. SOPs can also streamline and strengthen the employee training process.

What makes SOPs so important?

Many cannabis business owners put off creating an SOP because the process can be daunting at first. Some owners even think, “I’ve made it this far without an SOP. Do I really need one now?”

Without an SOP, there can be quite a lot of uncertainty among your team. Every single business does face challenges, and that is to be expected. However businesses with an SOP will rise to the occasion consistently while ensuring effective compliance. Essentially, businesses without SOPs are taking a risk.

Cannabis SOPs can be critical to ensuring legal compliance. They also create official processes to ensure that your business runs both efficiently and profitably.

How to Create a Cannabis SOP Template

There is no right or wrong way to create a cannabis SOP template.

Yes, the industry is highly regulated, but your SOP will not be under scrutiny by any external agency. Instead, think of the SOP as a roadmap for your internal processes. The more clearly defined these processes and expectations are, the easier it will be to scale your business and onboard new employees.

Tips for Success

Make it easy to understand.

Because SOPs are formal documentation, it’s tempting to make them long-winded and filled with technical jargon. Focus on making your SOPs team-oriented and understandable for everyone on your team.

Remember, the SOP is designed to set expectations, so these expectations should be easily understood. Technical language can read too much like a legal contract. Instead, present information in a way that simply explains the process and expectations, as if the manager was speaking to the employee.

Pinpoint areas for improvement.

Are there any errors that keep popping up on a regular basis? Do you have to keep explaining how to perform the same process over and over? These are processes that you will likely want to formalize through an SOP. Not only does an SOP create clear expectations, it also saves time by creating efficiency.

Always seek feedback from employees and customers.

A successful SOP is created with the input of team surveys and customer feedback. The bigger your business, the more important internal feedback becomes, especially if you’re no longer heavily involved on the frontlines or in cultivation.

Employees can easily pinpoint workflows that are inefficient. On the other side of things, customer feedback also provides an objective view on how your business is performing. SOPs already feel like a “top-down” order. Involving your team helps create a sense of inclusion and true teamwork.

What Should be Included in a Cultivation SOP?

An expert grower can tell you countless ways to grow and maintain healthy plants. However, specificity is key if you want to yield the same results time and time again. A cultivation SOP ensures that you can replicate the process, even if it’s being implemented by different team members.

When it comes to creating a cultivation SOP, the following points may be important to include:

  • Details on lighting, including distance from the plants and scheduling
  • Instructions on how to care for plants during the various stages of growth (propagation, transplanting, defoliation, pruning, etc.)
  • Watering and fertilizing instructions, with emphasis on schedules and flush guidelines
  • How to respond to pests, bacteria, and fungi
  • Standards for environmental conditions, including humidity, temperature, and CO2 levels
  • Harvesting protocols that outline when plants are ready, how to properly record plant weight, and how to transfer the product to the processing stage
  • Cannabis inventory control and tracking
  • “Seed to sale” processes to ensure compliance
  • Protocols for waste management

These are just some of the considerations to include in your cannabis standard operating procedures, and what you include should also be very specific to your business and needs.

What Other SOPs Should Your Cannabis Business Create?

Cultivation is certainly important, but of course it’s not the only aspect of your business. Frontline processes are extremely important to outline as well.

One of the most important aspects of your business is customer interactions. Creating SOPs for customer service ensures that the customer experience is positive and consistent every single time. These SOPs should address everything from how customers are treated during peak hours to how check-in processes are handled.

This is an excellent opportunity to get feedback from frontline staff. Inquire about the challenges they regularly face, then craft the SOP to help make their responsibilities as clear and easy to understand as possible.

Other frontline SOPs can revolve around cleanliness, restocking inventory, and opening and closing procedures. Of course, always leave the door to communication open and provide all of the resources your team needs to succeed in their roles.

Final Considerations

Creating a cannabis SOP is only one piece of the puzzle. Actually implementing and adhering to the SOPs is just as important as creating them.

Because the cannabis industry is so heavily regulated, you’ll want to ensure that your SOPs are followed properly and that your business is meeting compliance standards.

When creating your dispensary SOPs, remember that implementing them properly results in positive customer experiences in the long run. This can earn you many loyal customers, that return time and time again.


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