Have you paused to consider that quality assurance is a moving target instead of a destination? It is culture in a company that needs constant improvement and alter, instead of 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 inside the cannabis industry and specifically cannabis testing labs, quality assurance is crucial to having a successful and thriving business within the rapidly evolving industry. Dr. Kim Ross, who earned her Ph.D. in 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 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 absence of federal oversight. If you feel about it, the water, food, and pharmaceutical industries have federal oversight. In lieu of that, it depends on states to adopt regulatory practices and enforcement techniques to uphold a level of compliance and data defensibility that these sorts of regulators have witnessed within their careers doing work 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 more states and governing bodies are setting requirements and expectations for quality and compliance. It really is in nobody’s interest to fall behind or perhaps be a late adopter towards the increasingly regulatory compliance environment.
Additionally, untrustworthy data sets may have detrimental impacts on people and patients. Medical applications of cannabis require specific results in order to ensure the protection of patients, a few of which are immunocompromised. Beyond damage to people and patients, businesses themselves could be hurt if a cannabis testing lab were to present inaccurate or flawed data sets. Ross shared hypothetical types of potential negative impacts:
If, as an example, you fail a product for microbiology based upon false-positive results it incurs damages to the client because now their product can’t head to market. Additionally, falsely inflated THC effects are additionally a huge problem in the business, 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, resulting in reliable data. Recalls, product issues and lawsuits cost organizations tremendous quantities of time and expense, both to handle the situation on hand and prevent future incidents. Not to mention, the immeasurable damage performed to the company & industry when you 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 very important part of a quality assurance system to get a laboratory.”
One common misconception is viewing quality assurance as a cost center rather than a profitability maximizer. A robust quality assurance system is a competitive advantage-especially for those who are not mandated to become compliant to a particular standard, like ISO/IEC 17025, but decide to pursue that accreditation realizing it reflects reliability. In several ways, quality assurance can be summarized as “say what you do, and do whatever you say”, having a willingness to permit third-party confirmation of your own commitment and practice. “Accreditation gives an unbiased stamp of approval that assists ensure data defensibility in the laboratory,” affirms Ross.
Accreditation due to quality assurance ultimately leads to reliable and trustworthy data sets. Ross shared: It may appear to be simple to buy expensive instrumentation, accept samples, and create data. There are plenty of ways to do that, many of which are incorrect, and for that reason accreditation is actually a chance to have professionals evaluate methodology and post-analytical data processing to make sure that it really is scientifically sound. It is really an opportunity for a laboratory to be certain that their processes and reporting procedures are robust and error free.
Remember: this can be a new industry. There aren’t firmly established methods and operations like other legacy industries. “We are operating in a time and space where there is absolutely no standard methodology and that makes oversight by a third party a lot more important,” shares Ross. Whenever a company opts to pursue accreditation they are indicating a willingness in all honesty and transparent making use of their business processes, procedures, outcomes and data. Accreditation, therefore, is important for this emerging industry. Using a robust, inclusive quality assurance system in place will ease and quicken their quest for accreditation.The strain upon an audit day if you have a digitized system is vastly lower than a system which is printed and physically maintained.
Its not all quality assurance systems are the same. There are still some companies trying 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 as well as in support of continuous improvements. Binders, rows of filing cabinets and sophisticated excel spreadsheets usually are not a scalable backbone for any 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 possess information at our fingertips to reduce the regulatory stress on all personnel,” says Ross. The strain upon an audit day when there is a digitized method is vastly below a method which 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 process that supports continuous improvement, reliable data sets and the most effective in operation practices. Doing this can help sustain and grow the industry, and may be pivotal in transforming the production, market and research of cannabis.