Have you paused to take into consideration that quality assurance is actually a moving target instead of a destination? It is culture within a company that requires constant improvement and alter, instead of the work of a select few to arrive at one defined end goal. Quality, therefore, is not a box that must just be checked but an overarching and driving force propelling organizations forward.
For anyone in the cannabis industry and specifically cannabis testing labs, quality assurance is essential to getting a successful and thriving business inside the rapidly evolving industry. Dr. Kim Ross, who earned her Ph.D. on the University of Colorado in Molecular Biology, and has dealt with multiple cannabis labs, says, “It will not be that usually that you receive a new testing industry born these days and individuals are scrambling to borrow processes off their industries and apply these to the cannabiscultivationconsulting.com.” Those within cannabis testing labs are looking towards established industries like water and food testing labs to function as a quality assurance beacon. Ross elaborates:
The cannabis industry is operating in the absence of federal oversight. If you think regarding it, the water, food, and pharmaceutical industries have federal oversight. Rather than that, it is perfectly up to states to adopt regulatory practices and enforcement strategies to uphold a degree of compliance and data defensibility that these types of regulators have witnessed in their careers employed in the FDA, EPS, NELAC or ISO.
For cannabis testing labs, the stakes are high. First, you have the need to keep up with the rapidly evolving industry climate as increasing numbers of states and governing bodies are setting requirements and expectations for quality and compliance. It is actually in nobody’s welfare to get behind or perhaps be a late adopter towards the increasingly regulatory compliance environment.
Additionally, untrustworthy data sets can have detrimental impacts on people and patients. Medical applications of cannabis require specific results in order to ensure the safety of patients, many of which are immunocompromised. Beyond harm 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 types of potential negative impacts:
If, for instance, you fail a product or service for microbiology according to false-good results this incurs damages to the client because now their product can’t go to market. Additionally, falsely inflated THC effects are another huge problem in the industry, and may result in downstream problems with edible dosing or consumer satisfaction.
A quality assurance system can minimize risk and maximize adherences to proper procedure, leading to reliable data. Recalls, product issues and lawsuits cost organizations tremendous amounts of time and expense, both to manage the problem available preventing future incidents. Not forgetting, the immeasurable damage performed to the brand & industry when you are thought of as untrustworthy-especially being a consumable product. “Ensuring data defensibility and data integrity protects the laboratory from lawsuits,” says Ross. “That is a very important part of a quality assurance system for any laboratory.”
One common misconception is viewing quality assurance as a cost center as opposed to a profitability maximizer. A robust quality assurance method is a competitive advantage-especially for those who are not yet mandated to get compliant to a particular standard, like ISO/IEC 17025, but choose to pursue that accreditation knowing it reflects reliability. In lots of ways, quality assurance can be summarized as “say everything you do, and do everything you say”, having a willingness to permit third-party confirmation of the commitment and rehearse. “Accreditation gives an impartial stamp of approval that assists ensure data defensibility within the laboratory,” affirms Ross.
Accreditation as a result of quality assurance ultimately results in reliable and trustworthy data sets. Ross shared: It could look like easy to buy expensive instrumentation, accept samples, and produce data. There are numerous ways to achieve that, some of which are incorrect, and therefore accreditation is really the opportunity to have professionals evaluate methodology and post-analytical data processing to ensure it really is scientifically sound. It is an opportunity for 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 time as well as space where there is absolutely no standard methodology and that makes oversight by a third party even more important,” shares Ross. Each time a company opts to pursue accreditation these are indicating a willingness in all honesty and transparent using their business processes, procedures, outcomes and data. Accreditation, therefore, is essential with this emerging industry. Possessing a robust, inclusive quality assurance system set up will ease and quicken their pursuit of accreditation.The strain on an audit day when there is a digitized system is vastly lower than a method which is printed and physically maintained.
Not all quality assurance systems are created equal. There are still some companies wanting to implement systems that lack the modernization necessary 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 usually are not a scalable backbone for a quality system.
Past the accessibility and traceability which a digital system creates, it also protects. “We can safeguard that data with credentialed logins for key personnel and possess information at our fingertips to reduce the regulatory stress on all personnel,” says Ross. The anxiety with an audit day if you have a digitized system is vastly below a method that is printed and physically maintained.
For those in the cannabis industry, specifically cannabis testing labs, there is an unequivocal advantage to implementing a system that supports continuous improvement, reliable data sets and the top running a business practices. Doing this can help sustain and grow the industry, and may be pivotal in transforming the production, market and research of cannabis.