Have you paused to take into consideration that quality assurance is actually a moving target rather than a destination? It is culture in a company that requires constant improvement and change, instead of the work of a select few to arrive at 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 those inside the cannabis industry and specifically cannabis testing labs, quality assurance is crucial to owning an excellent and thriving business inside the rapidly evolving industry. Dr. Kim Ross, who earned her Ph.D. in the University of Colorado in Molecular Biology, and also has worked with multiple cannabis labs, says, “It is not that usually that you receive a brand new testing industry born today and folks are scrambling to borrow processes off their industries and apply those to the cannabiscultivationconsulting.com.” Those within cannabis testing labs are looking towards established industries like water and food testing labs to serve as a quality assurance beacon. Ross elaborates:
The cannabis sector is operating in the lack of federal oversight. If you think about this, 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 seen in their careers working in the FDA, EPS, NELAC or ISO.
For cannabis testing labs, the stakes are high. First, you have the need to take care of the rapidly evolving industry climate as increasing numbers of states and governing bodies are setting requirements and expectations for quality and compliance. It is in nobody’s best interest to fall behind or perhaps be a late adopter to the increasingly regulatory compliance environment.
Additionally, untrustworthy data sets may have detrimental impacts on people and patients. Medical applications of cannabis require specific results to guarantee the protection of patients, a few of which are immunocompromised. Beyond harm to people and patients, businesses themselves can be hurt in case a cannabis testing lab would present inaccurate or flawed data sets. Ross shared hypothetical types of potential negative impacts:
If, for instance, you fail a product or service for microbiology according to false-great results then it incurs damages for the client because now their product can’t head to market. Additionally, falsely inflated THC outcomes are another huge problem in the business, and may result in downstream difficulties with edible dosing or consumer satisfaction.
A quality assurance system can minimize risk and maximize adherences to proper procedure, resulting in reliable data. Recalls, product issues and lawsuits cost organizations tremendous quantities of time and expense, both to handle the issue at hand preventing future incidents. In addition to, the immeasurable damage completed to the brand & industry because they are 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 part of a top quality assurance system for any laboratory.”
One common misconception is viewing quality assurance as a cost center instead of a profitability maximizer. A robust quality assurance product is a competitive advantage-especially if you are not yet mandated to get compliant to particular standard, like ISO/IEC 17025, but elect to pursue that accreditation realizing it reflects reliability. In several ways, quality assurance could be summarized as “say what you do, and do whatever you say”, using a willingness to enable third-party confirmation of your own commitment and exercise. “Accreditation gives an unbiased stamp of approval that assists ensure data defensibility within the laboratory,” affirms Ross.
Accreditation as a result of quality assurance ultimately contributes to reliable and trustworthy data sets. Ross shared: It may look like simple to buy expensive instrumentation, accept samples, and produce data. There are plenty of ways to do that, a few of which are incorrect, and thus accreditation is actually a chance to have professionals evaluate methodology and post-analytical data processing to ensure that it is scientifically sound. It is an chance for a laboratory to be confident 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 time as well as space where there is not any standard methodology and this makes oversight by a 3rd party much more important,” shares Ross. Whenever a company opts to pursue accreditation they may be indicating a willingness in all honesty and transparent making use of their business processes, procedures, outcomes and data. Accreditation, therefore, is essential with this emerging industry. Having a robust, inclusive quality assurance system in place will ease and quicken their search for accreditation.The anxiety with an audit day when there is a digitized method is vastly below a process that is printed and physically maintained.
Not every quality assurance systems are created equal. You may still find some companies trying to implement systems that do not have 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 then in support of continuous improvements. Binders, rows of filing cabinets and complicated excel spreadsheets are certainly not a scalable backbone for any quality system.
Beyond the accessibility and traceability that the digital system creates, it also protects. “We can safeguard that data with credentialed logins for key personnel and have information at our fingertips to minimize the regulatory stress on all personnel,” says Ross. The strain on an audit day if you have a digitized product is vastly less than a process that is printed and physically maintained.
For all those inside the cannabis industry, specifically cannabis testing labs, it comes with an unequivocal advantage to implementing a system that supports continuous improvement, reliable data sets and the most effective in business practices. Doing this will help sustain and grow the market, and can be pivotal in transforming the development, market and research of cannabis.