Have you paused to consider that quality assurance is actually a moving target rather than a destination? It is culture within a company that needs constant improvement and change, as opposed to the work of a select few to reach 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 an effective and thriving business within the rapidly evolving industry. Dr. Kim Ross, who earned her Ph.D. at the University of Colorado in Molecular Biology, and has dealt with multiple cannabis labs, says, “It is not really that often that you receive a new testing industry born today and people are scrambling to borrow processes from other 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 industry 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 perfectly up to states to adopt regulatory practices and enforcement approaches to uphold a level of compliance and data defensibility that these types of regulators have witnessed inside their careers employed in the FDA, EPS, NELAC or ISO.
For cannabis testing labs, the stakes are high. First, there is 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 really is in nobody’s welfare to get behind or be a late adopter for the increasingly regulatory compliance environment.
Additionally, untrustworthy data sets might have detrimental impacts on people and patients. Medical uses of cannabis require specific results to guarantee the protection of patients, many of which are immunocompromised. Beyond injury to people and patients, businesses themselves can be hurt if a cannabis testing lab would present inaccurate or flawed data sets. Ross shared hypothetical types of potential negative impacts:
If, for example, you fail a product or service for microbiology according to false-great results then it incurs damages towards the client because now their product can’t go to market. Additionally, falsely inflated THC results are also a huge problem in the market, 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 levels of time and money, both to control the issue at hand and prevent future incidents. Not forgetting, the immeasurable damage completed to the company & industry when you are thought of as untrustworthy-especially as a consumable product. “Ensuring data defensibility and data integrity protects the laboratory from lawsuits,” says Ross. “That is a really important part of a quality assurance system for a laboratory.”
One common misconception is viewing quality assurance being a cost center as opposed to a profitability maximizer. A strong quality assurance product is a competitive advantage-especially for those who are not yet mandated to become compliant to particular standard, like ISO/IEC 17025, but decide to pursue that accreditation realizing it reflects reliability. In many ways, quality assurance can be summarized as “say everything you do, and do everything you say”, having a willingness to allow third-party confirmation of the commitment and practice. “Accreditation gives an impartial stamp of approval that can help ensure data defensibility in the laboratory,” affirms Ross.
Accreditation due to quality assurance ultimately results in reliable and trustworthy data sets. Ross shared: It could look like easy to buy expensive instrumentation, accept samples, and provide data. There are numerous ways to do that, some of which are incorrect, and therefore accreditation is actually a chance to have professionals evaluate methodology and post-analytical data processing to ensure that it is scientifically sound. It is really an chance for a laboratory to get certain that their processes and reporting procedures are robust and error free.
Remember: it is a new industry. There aren’t firmly established methods and procedures like other legacy industries. “We are operating in a time as well as space where there is no standard methodology and this makes oversight by a third party much more important,” shares Ross. Each time a company opts to pursue accreditation these are indicating a willingness in all honesty and transparent making use of their business processes, procedures, outcomes and data. Accreditation, therefore, is necessary for this emerging industry. Having a robust, inclusive quality assurance system in position will ease and quicken their search for accreditation.The anxiety with an audit day if you have a digitized product is vastly below a process that is certainly printed and physically maintained.
Not all quality assurance systems are the same. There are still some companies trying to implement systems that lack the modernization essential 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 complicated excel spreadsheets usually are not a scalable backbone to get a quality system.
Past the accessibility and traceability that the digital system creates, additionally, it protects. “We can protect that data with credentialed logins for key personnel and have information at our fingertips to lessen the regulatory stress on all personnel,” says Ross. The anxiety upon an audit day when there is a digitized product is vastly below a system which is printed and physically maintained.
For anyone inside the cannabis industry, specifically cannabis testing labs, there is an unequivocal advantage to implementing a method that supports continuous improvement, reliable data sets and the most effective in business practices. Doing this will help sustain and grow the business, and can be pivotal in transforming the development, market and research of cannabis.