Going from at-home cultivation or small-scale grows to licensed large-scale cultivation operations is no simple feat. From licensing requirements to documenting cultivation procedures on paper to training staff, there are several moving parts to creating a successful commercial cannabis cultivation business plan. 

What helps, and is required for many state licenses, is the creation of standard operating procedures, or SOPs. Cannabis cultivation SOPs serve as the manual for how your cultivation facility will operate successfully and within regulatory requirements. 

This begins the question: what are the top tips for writing a cannabis SOP for cultivation that works? Keep reading for the latest cultivation SOP best practices and the top cannabis cultivation tips to include. 

Tips for Writing Cannabis Cultivation SOPs 

When writing your commercial cannabis cultivation business plan, you’ll not only need to outline the procedures of keeping your plants healthy and consistent for profitability sake. You’ll also need to address the inner-workings of the daily operation as well as the maintenance of compliance requirements. Generally, we recommend that every cannabis cultivation SOP include the following:

  • Medium specifications and procedures for seeds, clones, veg plants, and flowering plants
  • Environmental controls and conditions 
  • Lighting type, schedule, settings, distance, and responsibilities 
  • Procedures to monitor and measure growth stages 
  • Distinct protocols for acquiring seeds or clones, propagation, cloning schedules, transplanting, defoliation, pruning, training, etc. 
  • Clearly defined nutrient schedules, feeding systems, frequency, and flushing 
  • Integrated pest management, and preventative procedures for bacteria, fungi, and molds
  • Procedures for harvesting, i.e. systems for checking the readiness of plants, recording weights, processing, storage and transfer
  • Waste management as well as inventory storage, controls, and purchasing 
  • Odor mitigation 
  • Seed to sale tracking protocols for compliance reporting
  • Employee onboarding and training 

How can you ensure your cannabis cultivation SOP is up to the standard? Continue reading for top tips.

Address variables and risk 

In cultivation, time is critical when it comes to unknown variables and risks. When a virus like hop latent viroid (HpLVd), molds like powdery mildew, or a male plant emerge, your action plan needs to be in writing and quickly followed to minimize the risk to the rest of your crops.

When writing your cultivation SOP, take time to explore all of the situations that could go wrong and what the best strategy is for mitigation. Keep in mind that your treatment or risk management plan should also consider limitations on pesticides and procedures from state regulations. 

Ensure your SOP is clear and concise 

An SOP shouldn’t be rushed just to gain licensing. Instead, it should be a well-thought out, clear, concise plan for the day-to-day operations of your facility to scale growth and profits.

Additionally, an SOP shouldn’t be considered a manual put away for safe-keeping. Rather, it should be easily accessible, communicated, and integrated into your organization’s daily functions and routines. By crafting a digitized SOP that’s easy to understand, your organization will be more capable of providing the consistent care that cannabis cultivation requires. 

Clearly define responsibilities 

The last thing you want in any business, especially cannabis cultivation operations, is finger-pointing on tasks and responsibilities. When using visual tools like flow charts of plant labor required from seed to harvest or organization charts of employees and responsibilities, you can easily plug in who does what for optimal growth and success. Defining a clear chain-of-command will not only help your teamwork efficiently and effectively but it’s also required by many states like Michigan for licensing. 

Incorporate checkpoints and verification 

Though state regulations typically require for your whole operation to be monitored and surveilled 24/7, you don’t want to be continually watching tapes, confirming simple tasks were completed, or checking to see who did them at what time. To ensure procedures are being followed and accountability, every cannabis cultivation SOP should have checkpoint and verification systems in place for tasks, no matter how big or small. 

Manage revisions 

With all the time, effort, and thought you put into your cannabis cultivation SOP template, it should be considered just that a template that can be revised, re-worked, and updated whenever necessary.

When updating a central document that your business heavily relies on, it’s extremely important to track changes to understand when changes were made, how they were made, and if the new language was distributed to employees. This means every successful cannabis cultivation SOP should have procedures in place to manage revisions and checkpoints for communicating changes. 

Review with compliance experts 

In the end, your commercial cannabis cultivation business plan is only as good as regulations allow it to be. Incorporating the advice of experts or working with a specialized compliance consultant can help craft a successful cannabis cultivation SOP. Compliance experts are able to provide cultivation SOP support for receiving licenses, ensuring processes meet compliance requirements that will help your business scale growth and stay licensed. 

Innovating SOPs with technology solutions 

Once you’ve crafted your cannabis cultivation SOP, what’s next? For operational excellence, you’ll want to put your SOP to good use. To do so, innovating your systems with tech-based solutions is ideal. 

With mobile-friendly and cloud-based software like ProCanna USA, you can digitize and activate your SOPs to sync with state-specific regulatory requirements. These systems ensure your employees are well-trained on your SOP, which are always available digitally to access when questions arise. Plus, you’ll have the ability to seamlessly make changes when new regulations arise. 
Stay ahead of the competition with tools and features designed by industry leaders for industry leaders. Learn more and schedule your own personal demo of the top-tier software solution now!