Mastering GACP: Misconceptions and Solutions

February 15, 2023 | Category : Cannabis Knowledge | Posted By : Deon Maas

There are quite a few common misconceptions around adhering to GACP. In another edition of our acronym-series we translate the bureaucratese, point out some issues and show you how to solve them… and as an extra bonus we tell you how an audit happens.

These four letters, GACP, fully written out Good Agricultural and Cultivation Practices, might sound complicated at first. But although one might think it is just another bureaucratic hurdle that needs to be overcome, it goes beyond that. In fact it will help you cultivate your cannabis in way that it will provide the highest possible benefits to the patients, and ultimately put your process in order, so that you can achieve your goal. Conquering it stands between you and your crop’s acceptance in a bigger, wider and more moneyed market. By understanding exactly what is at play here, things start becoming clearer. With the help of our Head of Compliance & Regulatory Affairs, Luis Soares, we have made a list of common misconceptions people have with following the GACP and how to solve them. At the end of the article, we also give you a breakdown of how an audit works and what to look out for.

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Before we go into the details, Luis summarises the importance of GACP as follows: “The GACP has two major objectives: Making sure that contamination of the cultivation is kept to a minimum and secondly make sure that your operations and actions are done consistently.  To accomplish this, you have to record every critical step along the way to make sure that everything you do in is documented,  It’s not just about how you do it, but about how you show you do it.Some flaws will happen and are common to anybody who works under a regulated area and some are unique to cannabis.Make an effort to have a good understanding of the GACP standard and you will succeed”.

The list of misconceptions and solutions

The main body responsible for making sure regulations are applied is the company, not the auditors or inspectors. It is the responsibility of the company to pick up and point out discrepancies.

Most mistakes that are made, are not due to human error but system failures. These mistakes may be due to SOPs that are incorrect (more about that later) or other internal processes which are not streamlined and that should be corrected or optimised.

Risks have to be addressed and mitigated before something happens. People wrongly use risk retrospectively to justify previous mistakes. Risk has to be constantly assessed and every time you do that, you have to start a new cycle of risk assessment.

Inspectors and auditors are not looking for mistakes. They assume in general that you comply and it is your role as a company to show that you are complying, and to explain that you are following the rules.

Humans are a resource and whenever we do an action mistakes can happen, or as the auditors like to put it “deviations”, therefore they need to be in the centre of the business. They need to be taken care of and trained.

Passing on information is a communication exercise. Any message (such as a SOP) that you send to workers should be as clear as possible. Not only does the company have to answer the question, they also have to understand the reason behind the question.

Communicate SOPs and work instructions (SOPs that describe how to perform certain tasks in detail) effectively and explain to people why things have to be done in a certain way

Do not just do something because the inspector told you so. Understand why something is asked or expected of you. Don’t follow instructions blindly, understand why you are being asked to do something in a specific way and remember: Auditors and inspectors follow a script which is based on an existing regulation or guideline. Make sure you know your regulations.

If it’s not written down, it never happened. Every single thing should be documented. or as the auditors say, there needs to be an “objective documented evidence”

Writing down a SOP is not a time to show your knowledge. The purpose of a SOP is for you to give a clear-cut instruction. It should assist the person to perform a clear-cut task.

An SOP should serve a specific purpose or be applicable to a given task one does in the field.

SOPs should be practical and straight to the point, using objective definitions and words, and in an imperative style.

If you want to know more about GACP, check our articles on standards and third party verification in general or the importance of GACP and GMP. Or streamling your business and learn how to write SOPs for your cannabis cultivation.

Oh right, of course and we promised you a breakdown of how an audit happens: