Have you paused to take into consideration that quality assurance is a moving target instead of a destination? It is culture in a company that requires constant improvement and alter, as opposed to the work of a select few to achieve one defined end goal. Quality, therefore, is not a box that must simply be checked but an overarching and driving force propelling organizations forward.
For anyone within the cannabis industry and specifically cannabis testing labs, quality assurance is critical to getting a successful and thriving business within the rapidly evolving industry. Dr. Kim Ross, who earned her Ph.D. on the University of Colorado in Molecular Biology, and also has dealt with multiple cannabis labs, says, “It is not that usually that you receive a new testing industry born today and people are scrambling to borrow processes off their industries and apply those to the cannabiscultivationconsulting.com.” Those within cannabis testing labs are seeking towards established industries like water and food testing labs to serve as a quality assurance beacon. Ross elaborates:
The cannabis market is operating in the lack of federal oversight. If you think about this, the water, food, and pharmaceutical industries have federal oversight. In lieu of that, it is up to states to adopt regulatory practices and enforcement techniques to uphold a degree of compliance and data defensibility that these sorts of regulators have witnessed inside their careers doing work in the FDA, EPS, NELAC or ISO.
For cannabis testing labs, the stakes are high. First, there is a need to keep up with the rapidly evolving industry climate as more and more states and governing bodies are setting requirements and expectations for quality and compliance. It is actually in nobody’s interest to get behind or be a late adopter to the increasingly regulatory compliance environment.
Additionally, untrustworthy data sets can have detrimental impacts on people and patients. Medical applications of cannabis require specific results to guarantee the safety of patients, a few of which are immunocompromised. Beyond damage to people and patients, businesses themselves may be hurt in case a cannabis testing lab would present inaccurate or flawed data sets. Ross shared hypothetical samples of potential negative impacts:
If, for example, you fail a product or service for microbiology based upon false-good results this incurs damages for the client because now their product can’t head to market. Additionally, falsely inflated THC outcomes are additionally a huge problem in the market, and can result in downstream issues with edible dosing or consumer satisfaction.
An excellent assurance system can minimize risk and maximize adherences to proper procedure, causing reliable data. Recalls, product issues and lawsuits cost organizations tremendous levels of time and money, both to handle the problem on hand preventing future incidents. Not to mention, the immeasurable damage done to the manufacturer & industry by being considered untrustworthy-especially as being a consumable product. “Ensuring data defensibility and data integrity protects the laboratory from lawsuits,” says Ross. “That is a really important piece of a top quality assurance system for a laboratory.”
One common misconception is viewing quality assurance as being a cost center as opposed to a profitability maximizer. A robust quality assurance product is a competitive advantage-especially for those who are not yet mandated to become compliant to a particular standard, like ISO/IEC 17025, but decide to pursue that accreditation knowing it reflects reliability. In several ways, quality assurance could be summarized as “say whatever you do, and do whatever you say”, having a willingness to permit third-party confirmation of your own commitment and practice. “Accreditation gives a neutral stamp of approval that assists ensure data defensibility in the laboratory,” affirms Ross.
Accreditation because of quality assurance ultimately contributes to reliable and trustworthy data sets. Ross shared: It might look like easy to buy expensive instrumentation, accept samples, and provide data. There are so many ways to do that, many of which are incorrect, and for that reason accreditation is really an opportunity to have professionals evaluate methodology and post-analytical data processing to make sure that it is actually scientifically sound. It is an chance of a laboratory to become certain that their processes and reporting procedures are robust and error free.
Remember: this is a new industry. There aren’t firmly established methods and operations like other legacy industries. “We are operating in a some time and space where there is not any standard methodology which makes oversight by a third party much more important,” shares Ross. Each time a company opts to pursue accreditation they are indicating a willingness to tell the truth and transparent with their business processes, procedures, outcomes and data. Accreditation, therefore, is important with this emerging industry. Having a robust, inclusive quality assurance system set up will ease and quicken their search for accreditation.The anxiety on an audit day should there be a digitized product is vastly less than a process which is printed and physically maintained.
Its not all quality assurance systems are the same. There are still some companies wanting to implement systems that lack the modernization required to truly propel them forward towards continuous improvement pxordk scalability. Quality assurance software with widespread use and adaptation across organizations is both scalable and in support of continuous improvements. Binders, rows of filing cabinets and sophisticated excel spreadsheets are not a scalable backbone to get a quality system.
Beyond the accessibility and traceability that a digital system creates, additionally, it protects. “We can protect that data with credentialed logins for key personnel and also have information at our fingertips to reduce the regulatory stress on all personnel,” says Ross. The stress on an audit day should there be a digitized system is vastly less than a method that is printed and physically maintained.
For all those in the cannabis industry, specifically cannabis testing labs, there is an unequivocal benefit to implementing a system that supports continuous improvement, reliable data sets and the most effective running a business practices. Accomplishing this can help sustain and grow the business, and can be pivotal in transforming the production, market and research of cannabis.