The success of a Cannabis Processor relies heavily on their Quality Assurance Person (QAP). Under the Cannabis Act & Regulations, a holder of a licence for processing must retain the services of one individual as a Quality Assurance Person who has the training, experience and technical knowledge related to the requirements of Part 5 of the Cannabis Regulations (otherwise known as Good Production Practices).
The QAP is responsible for assuring the quality of the cannabis product before it is made available for sale, and investigating every complaint received in respect of the quality of the cannabis, as well as taking any necessary corrective and preventative measures. The QAP is also responsible for the implementation and maintenance of the overall Quality Management System (QMS).
To help you select the right person for your team, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 things to look for when hiring a Quality Assurance Person, so you can ensure your cannabis processing business runs smoothly and successfully.
1. TRAINING AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
When it comes to running a cannabis business, there is much to know. It’s important that your QAP has a strong educational background with relevant hands-on training. At minimum, they should possess a degree in a field of science related to the work to be carried out (agriculture, biology, chemistry, etc.), which has been awarded by a Canadian university or, if awarded by a foreign university, that is recognized by a Canadian university or a Canadian professional association. Furthermore, the candidate should have additional training or education on quality assurance operations. This can be achieved through post-graduate certificate programs, such as the one offered by Seneca College (Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs and Quality Operations), or through training programs and seminars, such as those offered by the Academy of Applied Pharmaceuticals Sciences (AAPS). Ultimately, the QAP is responsible for reading and understanding the applicable legislation around cannabis, as well as the entire production process that will take place on site, from receipt of raw material to release and sale of finished product. Therefore, the more supporting education and knowledge they have, the better!
2. APPLICABLE WORK EXPERIENCE
Your QAP must have previous work experience in a quality control or quality assurance position at a site where regulated products are manufactured. When screening resumes/CVs, you should look for an individual that has 5-10+ years of experience in these types of positions (head of quality assurance, quality control manager, director of quality, etc.). They should also have familiarity with regulated industries such as food, pharmaceuticals, natural health products or medical devices.
But beware – even the most qualified individuals can be refused by Health Canada to fulfil the role of Quality Assurance Person if they do not have sufficient quality assurance experience in a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Production Practices (GPP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulated environment, with proficiency in quality assurance systems.
Another important point to consider is that your QAP should have applicable experience which relates to the product classes and activities under your cannabis licence. For example, if you are making edibles, you will need an individual who has experience with Food Safety and Preventive Control Plans (PCP). Likewise, if you are producing cannabis extracts, your QAP should have the technical knowledge and experience required to conduct extractions.
3. DEMONSTRATION OF LEADERSHIP
Your QAP will be in charge of ensuring the quality of your cannabis products before they are made available for sale. This means they will be leading your team in quality and compliance through the entire production process. Therefore, it is crucial that they are able to demonstrate good leadership skills. The ideal QAP will have experience leading and/or training a team of individuals in quality assurance or quality control. When reviewing resumes/CVs, keep an eye out for key words such as “trained”, “led”, and “guided”, which can help identify if a potential candidate has the leadership skills your team is looking for. Producing a high-quality product isn’t the responsibility of a single person or department – it is the responsibility of every person working on the production line or in the building. Everyone, including upper management, should be focused on quality and should be properly trained. As such, the QAP will need to act as a leader and ensure this is the case for the business to be successful.
4. GOOD FIT WITH THE TEAM
The QAP is a key member of your team. At some point or another, they will interact with just about each and every employee at your site. For this reason, you’ll want to ensure your QAP is outgoing and personable, as they will be working with many individuals on a daily basis. In addition, they will often have to make tough decisions based on opinions that may differ from the ones upper management has. This will involve strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and your QAP should not be afraid to speak up and voice their opinion. These qualities in a QAP are extremely valuable as they will help ensure your business stays in compliance with the regulations. Try your best to engage potential candidates for a face-to-face interview so that you’re able to gain an understanding of their personality and identify if they have the necessary skills and traits you’re looking for.
5. POSITIVE ATTITUDE
The most important element in producing a quality product or service is the attitude of the people doing the work. Your QAP’s attitude about the product, the work, the team, and the company will pretty much determine the quality of their work. The QAP that you choose to hire must have a positive attitude when it comes to embracing new methods, ideas, and processes. They should show excitement towards starting a new role and facing a new challenge. For success, attitude is equally as important as ability!
There you have it – our top 5 things to consider when hiring a Quality Assurance Person. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you get started on the path to obtaining a processing licence and running a successful cannabis business!