What Are SOPs and Why Do You Need Them?


If you’re thinking of starting a cannabis business, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are absolutely essential (and required under the Cannabis Act and Regulations) to ensure you have a reliable and repeatable process for producing consistent, high-quality cannabis.

What Are SOPs?

Simply put, SOPs are “control” documents that provide specific, step-by-step instructions on how to perform a particular task or procedure, to ensure that it is conducted consistently each time it is performed. SOPs are used to demonstrate compliance with the regulations or company policies, and to document how tasks are completed.

SOPs should never be difficult to read, or vaguely worded. They should be brief, easy to understand, and contain actions or steps that are simple to follow. SOPs should be the basis for training new employees, and they should also be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they are relevant and compliant with the most recent regulations.

Why Do We Need SOPs?

SOPs are very important in the cannabis industry, as there are many regulations and requirements that must be complied with. Without a fulsome and effective set of SOPs, you drastically increase the chance of mistakes and non-compliance at your site. Here are some reasons why you need SOPs:

  • SOPs ensure consistency and high quality – Whether you have new hires or different individuals performing the procedure, SOPs will ensure that the task at hand is performed the exact same way, every time, resulting in a consistently high-quality product.
  • SOPs can help your company save time and money – By establishing streamlined procedures, employees will save time in performing tasks, as the SOPs will outline exactly how to perform the procedure without any confusion or delays. As the saying goes, “time is money!” So, having a fulsome set of SOPs can definitely help your company save some big bucks in the long run.
  • SOPs ensure compliance – Sometimes there are certain regulations or company policies that must be followed. SOPs will ensure that no matter who is performing the procedure, their actions will be compliant.
  • SOPs create a safe workplace – If employees at your facility do not know how to perform a certain task, they may take it upon themselves to guess at, or simply not perform the task at all. This presents a liability for your business, because the employee may perform the task unsafely or inconsistently. Therefore, SOPs help eliminate liability.

Who is Responsible for SOPs?

Anyone can write an SOP if they have the knowledge to do so. However it is generally a senior official of a company or a department who reviews and approves SOPs once they are written. For cannabis companies, the Quality Assurance team is responsible for establishing the quality system, which involves preparing a set of SOPs. The Quality Assurance Person (QAP) on file provides the final approval and sign off to make the SOPs effective.

Once SOPs are reviewed, approved and signed off (making them effective), employees should be trained on them. For example, if a new SOP was prepared on providing nutrients to cannabis plants, the entire cultivation team at your facility should be trained and evaluated on this new procedure.

Writing SOPs for your business

A good SOP should be organized into some/all of the following areas:

  • PURPOSE – Identifies the intended use of the procedure.
  • SCOPE – Identifies when the procedure is to be used.
  • REFERENCES – Where any applicable references in the body of the procedure can be cited, such as regulations or other SOPs.
  • EQUIPMENT & MATERIALS – Where any equipment and materials necessary to perform the procedure should be listed.
  • RESPONSIBILITIES – Identifies any positions having responsibility for the activity being described.
  • PROCEDURE – Lists the specific steps required to perform the procedure.
  • RECORD MANAGEMENT – Identifies any necessary forms to be completed and/or location of associated files.
  • REVISION HISTORY – Tracks the history of procedure revisions.
  • AUTHORIZATION – Signature of approval indicating that the procedure has been reviewed and approved by management.

We hope the information above has helped to clarify what SOPs are and why you need them. Remember, investing time and money into a complete and effective set of SOPs can save your company from unnecessary errors and non-compliance down the road. This will ultimately lead to a successful and profitable cannabis business in the future!

How we can help you

At Cannabis License Experts, we provide you with the guidance to plan your cannabis business, acquire funding, navigate the legal requirements, and acquire the appropriate licence for your operations. As the Canadian cannabis industry develops, more and more licensed producers will be needed to meet the demands of consumers.

Cannabis License Experts offers support from day one of starting your cannabis business, including strategic planning, floor plan preparation, site audits, SOPs, Preventive Control Plans (PCPs) and more.

Our Edibles Compliance division can provide you with a solid plan for your edibles business to help get your products on store shelves.

Contact us today to discover how we can license and legalize your cannabis business to meet federal or provincial regulations.



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