After months of planning, team-building, raising capital, and overseeing construction and build-out, you are finally ready for your State’s regulators to inspect your site and declare your cannabis facility operational. Inviting inspectors to your site without adequate preparation and an understanding of common pitfalls is not only dangerous—a failure can derail your timeline and prevent you from opening your doors—it is also a recipe for disaster. To help you prepare, below are 5 helpful tips and tricks to help make sure you can breeze through your final inspection and get your business off on the right foot.
1. Ready Your Staff
In conducting their inspections, investigators look beyond the four corners of your site and often speak to and interview staff. You should prepare your staff for inspection by making sure that they have all received training on your State’s regulations, your business’s operating procedures, and all safety and security plans. Prior to an inspector arriving on site, conduct role playing exercises where you direct your staff to run through procedures responsive to various risks (theft, robbery, fire, employee altercations, evidence of diversion), as well as how they are to behave when inspectors are present. Make sure that your staff is not only knowledgeable about your facility, SOPs, and applicable law and regulations, but also the products that you cultivate, manufacture, and/or sell. Cross train your employees and staff to ensure that, in the event they are asked a question outside of their core competency, they are able to answer without too much fumbling.
2. Ready Your Site
Seemingly self-explanatory, making sure your site is ready for inspectors is of vital importance. Tidy up debris, remove hazards common to building sites, sweep, dust, mop, and give your facility a deep clean. Make sure not to forget bathrooms, breakrooms, and public areas of your site. Regardless of whether cleanliness is a regulatory requirement, you can be sure that inspectors will look to the cleanliness of your facility as an indication of your seriousness and dedication to remaining compliant. As such, you should take time to make sure that the interior of your building and your equipment is spotless (or as close to spotless as you can reasonably achieve).
3. Ready Your Paperwork
Often overlooked by new operators, inspectors will seek to ensure that your standard operating procedures and plans are available and well-organized. Regardless of whether required under your State’s regulations, print out several copies of all procedures, plans, and policies, and organize into tabbed and color-coded binders. Place these binders throughout your facility at key areas and locations where employees tend to congregate. Very important policies (including but not limited to safety, diversion controls, and efforts to keep pests at bay) should be printed in large type and hung on the wall. Make sure that you have completed any supplemental requests or application materials and either submitted to your State prior to inspection or have the same available for review.
4. Ready Your Security
One of the most common issues inspectors will be looking for is security. Make sure that all surveillance cameras are on and in good working order. Ensure that each is recording with the requisite level of detail (e.g., a certain pixel setting) and that data is being written to and stored on servers in a manner and format consistent with your regulations. Check for surveillance blind spots by instructing a member of your staff to pick up a small box and carry it throughout your entire facility; you should be able to clearly see the box and the staff member (including facial detail) at all times and in all locations. Make sure that your access controls function correctly and with appropriate restrictions (e.g., an authorized employee is able to enter a restricted area but an unauthorized employee is not). Make sure that entrances and exits are well-marked and locked down as appropriate.
5. Ready Yourself
It is important when undergoing a final inspection to be patient, responsive, and friendly. Try to keep in mind that, with respect to this final inspection, inspectors are not visiting your site for the purpose of shutting you down. Rather, they are there to work with you to make sure that you have built a facility which is capable of operating in accordance with applicable law and the regulations the inspectors are charged with enforcing. Do not take a defensive tone when asked questions about your facility or plans, and do not try to hide the ball; respond to inspectors completely and honestly. If you do not know the answer to a question or discover something that is non-compliant, be open and forthright with your inspector. Many times inspectors are former law enforcement officers trained to detect whether you or your staff are being less than forthright. Dishonesty or an air of opaqueness will merely cause you more headaches.
Getting ready for a final inspection can be a daunting task, but it is important to remember what is at stake. To help ensure that your countless hours of hard work pay off, preparation is essential. Rushing through the above tasks—or any others—for the purpose of luring an inspector to your site more quickly is an unwise strategy which can have the effect of ultimately delaying you from obtaining your operational status and/or final license. Take the time to adequately prepare your staff, your site, your paperwork, your security measures, and yourself, and you will be best positioned for success.
ABOUT DARREN WEISS
A Principal and Co-Founder of the firm’s Cannabis Practice Group, Darren H. Weiss is a frequent author and speaker on legal and business issues and affecting the legalized cannabis industry, a cannabis industry thought leader, and a seasoned business counselor. A passionate and experienced legal advocate, Mr. Weiss’s practice focuses primarily on cannabis and corporate law, including formation and organization of cannabis companies; corporate financing; drafting and negotiating investment documents, licensing agreements, and vendor contracts; and providing business advice and counsel on competitive licensing applications and cannabusiness design and strategy. Mr. Weiss has been counsel to cannabis industry investors, entrepreneurs, business owners, and ancillary service providers, and has helped negotiate and close numerous multi-million dollar transactions and provided counsel in the creation of multi-state brands and products.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
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