The Massachusetts Adult Use Cannabis industry is highly regulated. Depending on business type, every Adult Use license applicant is required to have policies and procedures covering some or all of the following topics: security, prevention of diversion, storage, transportation, inventory, quality control, personnel, dispensing, record keeping, training, maintaining financial records, and diversity. To meet these requirements, most Adult Use businesses build – and more often buy – policies and procedures that form part of their license application. The policies and procedures are expertly drafted to check off every regulatory box and paint a brilliant compliance picture, but are they sustainable? If compliance in other regulated fields is any indication, the odds are that many Adult Use compliance programs will be difficult to maintain. Here are five cost-effective tips for Adult Use Cannabis Businesses to keep their compliance programs working.
Tip No. 1 – Responsibility– Each policy and procedure needs to have someone expressly responsible for its implementation and enforcement and, conversely, every person covered by a policy or procedure (including senior management) needs to be held accountable for a failure to comply with it. Assigning clear responsibility ensures that compliance remains a priority, and evenhanded enforcement ensures buy-in at all levels of the organization.
Tip No. 2 – Relevance– A common flaw in compliance policies and procedures adopted early in the life cycle of a business is that they are drafted with an eye towards meeting regulatory requirements rather than to reflect actual business practices. Having a policy or procedure that doesn’t match practices is often worse than not having one at all. Make sure your policies and procedures match your practices on the ground.
Tip No. 3 – Record Keeping– There is well worn adage in the compliance field that “if you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen.” The same holds true for compliance in the Adult Use Cannabis industry. If your policies and procedures say that you’ll document activities such as training, inspections, or maintenance, be sure to keep your records accurate and up to date. Needless to say, going back to create or alter records only adds to the problem.
Tip No. 4 – Reporting– One of the most reliable ways to keep track of the effectiveness of your compliance programming is to create regular progress reporting. It can incorporate a compliance calendar, as well as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like how many employees have completed mandatory training. This is a very efficient way for senior management to monitor compliance programming without requiring direct supervision.
Tip No. 5 – Remediation– While it may seem counter-intuitive, a record of discovering failures to comply with the policies and procedures of your business – and remedial steps you’ve taken to address them, is a strong indicator that your compliance program is actually working. Finding and fixing gaps in your compliance programs is one of the hallmarks of an effective system.