Flag Box Display Case Plans

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  1. Cannabis Business Times
  2. December 2018

Columns - 2018 Tips Issue | Tomorrow In Cannabis

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for There is a lot to learn from other industries with respect to methods used to achieve commercial scale production of essential oils.

January 2, 2019

botstocks | iStock Photo

Recently, I consulted for a cannabis operator that was producing 2 acres of greenhouse-grown cannabis. I had worked with this client before, helping them set up their indoor cultivation operation and processing lab. In the time since, this company partnered with a nearby farm and expanded into half of a 4-acre greenhouse.

But the team did not have the systems in place to efficiently process 2 acres worth of cannabis, so they called me to figure out how to harvest thousands of plants (of multiple cultivars) without compromising quality, and to do it efficiently with the minimum amount of labor, product drying, curing and transport required.

Here are 12 tips that I offered to this group to help them tackle a large harvest quickly and efficiently during my two-day facility assessment visit.

1. Let sales guide your decisions.

I explained that having a game plan for what the cannabis products will ultimately be grown for is the first requirement when planning a harvest. They needed to know how much of their crop is destined for flower sales and how much would be processed into extracts.

For example, if only 10 percent or 20 percent of a cultivation operation’s top-quality flowers is to be dried, cured and hand-trimmed, and the remaining product set to be extracted into various concentrate forms, that will affect everything from extraction methods to transportation.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for In this case, the majority of the non-flower end product was to be created through fresh-frozen extraction, which involves taking the buds straight off the vine and freezing them without drying. (Drying destroys up to 40 percent of terpenes.)

2. Move plants, not people.

The goal is to prep all the products for extraction as quickly and efficiently as possible. In this case, we used human labor combined with machinery—more specifically, conveyor belts—to eliminate unnecessary human traffic and reduce time spent on mundane tasks. A 10-minute walk across the facility and another 10-minute walk back can add up, and that is a poor utilization of time and resources.

Conveyor belts move product more efficiently than humans. Some situations are not designed for conveyor belts (e.g., grows with narrow halls, many turns, odd angles), but they should be employed whenever possible. The equipment is fairly expensive, but there may be options to rent the equipment so that you can experiment with layout, workflow and see if it fits or is advantageous before you purchase.

3. Start an assembly line.

The layout of the facility at which I was consulting was perfect for an assembly line harvest: it had long corridors with little to no twists and turns. I recommended they set up a team of five to remove the fan leaves of all the plants while they were still in their pots. Anything without resin glands on it should be removed, as they contain little to no active ingredients (cannabinoids and terpenes).

After de-leafing, I advised that another team of five should remove all branches containing buds and place those branches into a bin. Once the bin is full, workers can put the branches onto a conveyor. It is much more efficient to move the product from one station to another via conveyor belts than it is to have humans walking buckets back and forth.

4. Automate stripping.

I also advised they set up the assembly line so that the de-leafed branches travel to a separate work station, where five more workers could strip the buds from the branches utilizing a bucking machine. (A bucking machine accelerates stripping buds from branches by drawing in the stalks through different-sized holes, leaving the stripped buds to fall into a bin.) When the bin is full, the worker can place it onto another conveyor belt.

phonlamaiphoto | Adobe Stock

5. Sort product on the line.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for From there, the stripped buds travel to a sorting table where any material that does not contain resin glands is discarded, and quality control processes are performed by another team of five. These processes include looking for any signs of pest and disease. During sorting, large buds can be broken down further into smaller buds and unnecessary stems removed.

6. Plan for extraction methods early.

Once sorted, there are multiple options for what to do with the separated buds—it all depends on the final concentrate desired. Product destined for distillation via CO2 or ethanol extraction is typically dried prior to extraction, as terpene preservation is not paramount. This means you must have racks ready in a suitable drying environment (roughly 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity levels of approximately 45 percent to 50 percent). This operation had adequate space and conditions for drying product in the form of retrofitted semi-tractor trailers.

Conversely, if the desire is to utilize cannabis for hydrocarbon extraction with a focus on terpene preservation (as in this case), the cannabis should be frozen fresh, not dried.

7. Utilize nitrogen freezing tunnels.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for As this group was looking to freeze large amounts of cannabis quickly for hydrocarbon extraction, I advised they use a freezing tunnel: a covered conveyor the 1 last update 2020/06/04 belt system that flash- freezes the cannabis by utilizing liquid nitrogen. As this group was looking to freeze large amounts of cannabis quickly for hydrocarbon extraction, I advised they use a freezing tunnel: a covered conveyor belt system that flash- freezes the cannabis by utilizing liquid nitrogen.

As the cannabis passes through the freezing tunnel, liquid nitrogen solidifies all water, fats and waxes within the material and eliminates the odor and flavor of chlorophyll (i.e., wet plant). This is a superior method to placing fresh, harvested material into a freezer and letting it freeze slowly over a period of hours, which causes concentrates to have a higher level of undesirable compounds (e.g., chlorophyll).

Freezing tunnels come in a large variety of sizes and prices. For large-scale applications, it’s best to search scientific and manufacturing auction sites (LabX.com, BioSurplus.com, or any other clearinghouse sites), where freezing tunnels are more affordable.

Once the freshly harvested cannabis is thoroughly frozen, the available terpenes evaporate more slowly, resulting in an extract that has monoterpene levels much higher than extracts made from dry cannabis. At this point, the fresh frozen cannabis is in a perfect state for hydrocarbon extraction. The resulting extract can be processed into many forms ranging from shatter, budder, wax and others. As of late, the focus of live resin extractors is the production of raw terpene-rich extracts (also called “sauce”). That sauce can be classified as HTFSE (high-terpene full-spectrum extract) or HCFSE (high- cannabinoid full-spectrum extract). Sauce can also be utilized to produce crystallized THCA, while other extractors focus on products containing select terpenes or cannabinoids. Flash-freezing allows extractors to specifically focus on THCA production, as some other methods of extraction only produce decarboxylated THC.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for 8. Store for safekeeping.

The flash-frozen cannabis can also be properly dried later for CO2 extraction, or even utilized frozen or dry for ethanol extraction (although a percentage of the preserved monoterpenes would be lost in the drying process).

9. Transport biomass using subzero trucks and freezers.

Once we figured out how to best process the 2 acres of harvested cannabis, it was time to determine how to transport it. One transportation option is to use a diesel truck (or several, depending on the volume) with subzero trailers for the frozen product, as well as another diesel truck with a basic refrigerated trailer for the dry product. Once at the destination, a large subzero freezer is necessary to store the material until it can be extracted. Large and small walk-in freezers can be rented for short-term use.

Elroi | Adobe Stock

10. Extract the active ingredients before transporting.

As this group had its own lab, I advised them to remove the active ingredients from the biomass (the vegetative material) before transporting it, as it has no real use at this time. This method’s main advantage is that you minimize both transportation cost and storage cost. Look at it this way: It is far more economical to transport a few kilos of raw resin than hundreds of pounds of bulk plant material, and it is much easier to store that amount of raw resin compared to that amount of frozen bulk plant material.

Since we opted in this project to extract the active ingredients before transporting, we were left to determine how to efficiently remove the active ingredients from the biomass. We discussed a couple of methods currently commercially available: a basic dry sieve or scaled water-extraction technologies.

11. Use dry-sieving to collect all active ingredients.

Industrial sieving apparatuses are readily available in many sizes and configurations, from rotating drum separators that employ dry ice to maintain frozen conditions in subzero environment conditions, to particulate separators utilized in industrial applications. Both are capable of dry-sieving and separating all active ingredients from the biomass.

12. Use water-extraction if you plan on distilling your extract.

Currently available large-scale water extraction apparatuses utilize multiple screen sizes to separate various-sized resin glands and separate the resin glands from the biomass, but many water-soluble terpenes dissolve in the water and are lost. Therefore, water-extracted resin glands have fewer available terpenes. This may not matter to someone intending to distill the cannabinoids in the end.

These aren’t the only methods to extract active ingredients, however. Many industries have been producing flavor and fragrance compounds and oils for decades (and still are). There is a lot to learn from those industries with respect to the equipment and methods they employ to achieve commercial scale production of essential oils, flavors and fragrance. I predict we will soon begin to see those industrial applications employed in the cannabis industry.

Kenneth Morrow is an author, consultant and owner of Trichome Technologies™. Facebook: TrichomeTechnologies Instagram: Trichome Technologies Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for [email protected]

Columns - 2018 Tips Issue | Growing Pains

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for 5 tips to help you navigate the future of the cannabis industry.

Illustration by Matthew Laznicka

A year has passed since we wrote our first column for the January issue of Cannabis Business Times. Much has changed as normalization of the maturing cannabis industry unfolds and evolves. In our immediate futures, we will experience even faster and more profound changes. Successful entrepreneurs will be those who stay light on their feet and are able to make creative decisions as the legal and economic terrains shift. Here are five tips for navigating the regulated cannabis industry of the future.

1. Maintain clean nursery stock by starting from seed.

Consumers were once happy to buy virtually any cannabis they could find, but those times are long gone. Early growers sprouted seeds from imported shipments, grew plants in concealed gardens and harvested whichever ones matured. Each year’s crop was grown from different seeds, and no two plants were exactly alike. Few growers even considered taking cuttings until the 1980s.

Sowing seeds is still the initial step for many modern commercial cannabis cultivators, but these seeds are now grown into selected sinsemilla plants that may represent a farm, and potentially a popular brand. Once a plant has been selected, the usual approach is to root vegetative cuttings in order to perpetuate the proprietary cultivar indefinitely. Nurseries can offer these specially selected plants to other companies so they can grow fine flowers and define their own brands. In any scenario, the ability to access and maintain clean, healthy cuttings of important varieties becomes critical to establishing a satisfied customer base and a profitable company.

In our industry, the difficulty in maintaining clean mother plants of desirable cultivars has been compounded by the tandem necessity to scale up operations quickly. Growers also must remain in compliance with constantly shifting pesticide and fungicide regulations while providing consumers with whichever flavor-of-the-month they desire. This puts a great burden on plant breeders, nursery systems and growers. One result is the early release of plants into the market for cultivation that are agronomically challenging to propagate and may be contaminated by a host of pests and pathogens such as viruses, fungi, insects and mites. While scrambling to introduce new varieties, the cannabis industry spreads diseased plants that in turn infect the next cultivation facility, and so on down the line. In addition, as common insect pests such as whiteflies, thrips, fungus gnats and aphids infect a facility, they can quickly spread other pests and pathogens. Soon your chances of eradicating the 1 last update 2020/06/04 these problems become slim. In our industry, the difficulty in maintaining clean mother plants of desirable cultivars has been compounded by the tandem necessity to scale up operations quickly. Growers also must remain in compliance with constantly shifting pesticide and fungicide regulations while providing consumers with whichever flavor-of-the-month they desire. This puts a great burden on plant breeders, nursery systems and growers. One result is the early release of plants into the market for cultivation that are agronomically challenging to propagate and may be contaminated by a host of pests and pathogens such as viruses, fungi, insects and mites. While scrambling to introduce new varieties, the cannabis industry spreads diseased plants that in turn infect the next cultivation facility, and so on down the line. In addition, as common insect pests such as whiteflies, thrips, fungus gnats and aphids infect a facility, they can quickly spread other pests and pathogens. Soon your chances of eradicating these problems become slim.

For years, cannabis growers have viewed these simply controlled pests as one of their primary agronomic challenges. Today, we take lessons from other agricultural crops and view these common pests as the vectors of far more damaging and difficult problems. Even relatively benign soil-borne critters such as springtails, whose presence is normally a sign of a functioning soil biome, can become vectors of pests and diseases, spreading them to healthy plants. Some fungal and viral pathogens may only require an open wound such as a broken leaf, or a stem cut for rooting, to find an entry point. Once living happily in mother plants, pathogens are spread far and wide through shared cuttings.

Sowing seeds offers growers the promise of a clean start. Vigorous pest-free plants, multiplied in a sterile facility and flowered in a clean environment, are three key elements of establishing an effective strategy for preventing catastrophic crop loss.

2. Choose a suitable growing environment.

Cannabis cultivation is largely about location. Once you have chosen the right variety to grow, it is imperative that you grow it under conditions most appropriate to that variety. Some varieties abhor heat, and others have little cold tolerance. Some are susceptible to local pests while others are resistant. As our cannabis industry matures, regions around the world will become known for environmental and economic conditions that favor profitable and successful cannabis farming. These “sweet spots” will become major production centers, and they will attract more, and bigger, businesses. Smaller companies established in less favorable and more challenging locations may find it difficult to compete.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for By far, the most detrimental environmental factor is either a lack of or excess humidity. Outdoor grows across North America are subject to cooler and more humid autumn weather. Greenhouses easily warm a cold climate, but removing excess humidity can be challenging. Indoor grow rooms are often operated far too hot and dry. Outdoor and greenhouse growers should search for production sites in more arid regions where molds and mildews pose less of a natural threat. Indoor and greenhouse growers must be careful to maintain a beneficial balance between temperature and humidity. If these are not viable options, then cultivators should only grow varieties with inherited resistance to molds and mildews.

3. Avoid cannabis commodification.

As cannabis is increasingly produced by agribusiness, it will become increasingly commodified. Intense competition will bring down wholesale prices to as low as producers can tolerate. This is the way of agribusiness, but there will always appear opportunities for small-scale producers.

The more that cannabis is processed, the closer it comes to being a commodity. Isolates of CBD and THC are prime examples. The unique traits of cannabis varieties become less important when the targeted products are refined extracts or isolates rich in a single cannabinoid compound. Trading in these commodities is the 1 last update 2020/06/04 as simple as picking up the phone. Each step along the path—from buying flower biomass through whole flower extractions to isolating individual cannabinoids—results in relatively small profits. The more that cannabis is processed, the closer it comes to being a commodity. Isolates of CBD and THC are prime examples. The unique traits of cannabis varieties become less important when the targeted products are refined extracts or isolates rich in a single cannabinoid compound. Trading in these commodities is as simple as picking up the phone. Each step along the path—from buying flower biomass through whole flower extractions to isolating individual cannabinoids—results in relatively small profits.

Vertical integration (in states where it is permitted) is the best way to fight commoditization. It is certainly a lot simpler, cheaper and easier to supply flower and extract feedstocks to the industry via the commodities market than to invest the time, money and effort to develop a product line and promote a brand. However, the trade-off for ease of production and sales is a much lower profit margin. Companies that grow their own cannabis, and produce, package, distribute and sell their own products, create many more stages in the supply chain where they can profit.

For instance, whole flower extracts containing several cannabinoids, as well as a host of aromatic compounds (terpenes), present a wider range of potential effects than cannabinoid isolates, and they typically command a higher price. Producing, marketing and selling retail products made with these complex extracts will likely return much more profit than selling the same extracts to other companies that will sell them retail and glean much of the profit. There will remain a consistent high-end market for such sophisticated products, but their ultimate economic success will rely upon successful branding.

Normalization will certainly allow larger companies with huge marketing advantages to enter the cannabis sphere, and much of the market will soon be saturated with average-quality, mass-produced consumer products. This presents a great opportunity for smaller, specialized craft cannabis producers to fill the high-end connoisseur niches that should provide increased profits.

It is important to focus on a special product that you are comfortable producing, ideally from start to finish. Fresh start-ups must create, establish and promote their points of difference. What makes your brand stand out from the rest? Establishing a narrative describing the roots of your business and your personal vision is vital. Presenting unique cannabis varieties, natural production techniques, attractive packaging, boutique image, niche marketing and active promotion campaigns are becoming ever more important to running a profitable cannabis business.

4. Explore new directions in cultivar selection.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for The search for new cannabis varieties is increasingly driven by selection of favorable agronomic traits such as ease of growing, high yields and enhanced pest resistance. No matter how wonderful a variety may be, it still must be produced economically to be profitable. Some popular varieties are quite difficult and therefore expensive to grow, and are often relatively low yielding as well. We will soon see more “grower’s varieties” that produce aromatic and potent flowers, but are also easier and more economical to grow—with lower water, fertilizer, pesticide and labor costs. Modern varieties are also being developed for targeted end uses such as dry flowers, sieved hashish or aromatic extracts.

Now that cannabis is becoming a global commodity, the opportunity to grow modern cultivars under ideal conditions, in appropriate regions worldwide, is greater than ever. As international cannabis business spreads into a range of environments, cannabis cultivars will be developed that perform well in these newly available environments and will become popular in regional markets. That said, these widely dispersed cultivars must prove themselves to the new wave of industrial-scale cultivators whose production standards will likely be more advanced from those of the old guard.

To provide customers with the confidence that the products they are consuming are and will remain consistent, and to protect the brands of licensed producers, the cannabis industry requires a varietal protection and certification system. This type of mechanism assures that the grapes used to make the wine consumers purchase are indeed Cabernet Sauvignon, and that the apples they are eating are really Honeycrisps. Currently in the U.S., cannabis companies may trademark the name on their packaging and patent the packaging itself, but they cannot trademark or patent the product inside.

There exists some cannabis patenting precedence, in that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a utility patent on cannabis plants expressing a designated cannabinoid and terpenoid profile, but whether that patent will be challenged in the courts, and how it will be dealt with commercially, remain uncertain. Crop plants are not required to be patented to enter the market, but companies’ abilities to trademark their products and attach their brands to particular varieties is a very important component of marketing agricultural crops.

When a specific cultivar expresses a unique chemical profile that satisfies certain medical conditions, then the requirement for access to this cultivar, grown under consistent conditions, becomes critical. (Editor’s note: See “Validating ‘Fire’: 10 Tips to Produce Consistent Perfection” on p. 56.) The need to provide consumers with the assurances they require calls for a more robust and informational naming system than simply allowing growers, distributors and budtenders to decide which flashy names should sell well this week.

5. Continue to promote cannabis legality and normalization.

We believe that soon, adult-use cannabis products will be legalized in the U.S. at the federal level. Momentum is clearly building toward that outcome. For the time being, American cannabis companies must continue to operate within a jigsaw puzzle of widely varying local and state legislation.

Simultaneously, nations around the world are softening their cannabis policies, and we should see export opportunities appear in the relatively near future. Each country will write its own rules determining what its citizens will be allowed to consume. International trading companies must become particularly sensitive to these developing regulations.

Much progress has already been made on the legalization and normalization fronts, and it is natural to focus on one’s own business and the local regulations. However, we have a long way to go before cannabis is universally legal and approved cannabis products become available in regulated marketplaces everywhere. We would not be benefiting from the positive opportunities we are offered today were it not for those who blazed the trail to normalization before us.

Prohibition has kept the price of cannabis high and thereby enriched a multitude of cannabis growers and dealers, while simultaneously financing drug warrior’s agendas. Many cannabis businesses operate today in an economic gray zone, in part supported by the lingering drug war mentality. Governments realized long ago that their wars on drugs are unwinnable; yet only recently have they begun to collect a wealth of fees and taxes they can redirect toward public issues, and most importantly to realize the powerful stimulus that cannabis businesses can provide to local economies. The drug wars will finally be reconciled, by governments and companies alike, through the spread of profitable cannabis business models. In order to understand how we came to our present position worldwide, and where we will go from here, just follow the money!

Mojave Richmond is the developer of many award-winning varieties such as S.A.G.E., which served as a springboard for creating many notable cultivars. Richmond is a founding member of the international consulting company BioAgronomics Group.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for Robert C. Clarke is a freelance writer, photographer, ethnobotanist, plant breeder, textile collector and co-founder of BioAgronomics Group Consultants, specializing in smoothing the transition to a wholly legal and normalized cannabis market.

[email protected]

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for Columns - 2018 Tips Issue | Technically Speaking

15 tips to produce consistent perfection.

jpgon | Adobe Stock

Each element of Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions’ production system works in sequence to produce top-shelf cannabis, aka ‘fire.’ No excuses, no exceptions. Excuses and exceptions produce schwag, and that’s not for us. But how do you make fire—all the time? Believe it or not, it’s not hard. Your production process simply must be consistently perfect. The concept of ensuring consistent perfection is called process validation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines process validation as “the collection and evaluation of data, from the process design phase throughout production, which establishes scientific evidence that a process is capable of consistently delivering quality product.”

Here are the six concepts we focus on to produce consistent fire.

What Materials Have We Started With?

TIP: Audit your suppliers. As appropriate, we audit our suppliers. In each and every case, every process input arrives with its certificate of analysis (COA) or equivalent quality assurance (QA) that the ingredient is pure and appropriate for our purpose.

TIP: Require your suppliers to document that each ingredient is precisely what it is supposed to be and exactly what you ordered. No bait and switch, no nonsense.

TIP: Inspect all inputs. Once ingredients arrive, we visually inspect the exterior packaging for damage. We evaluate the interior contents, too. Often, we pull a laboratory sample for identity and purity testing. We check the results against the COA and our internal quality specifications to ensure the ingredient will work in our process.

TIP: Always keep a retained sample of the ingredient on file and archive all testing records the 1 last update 2020/06/04 and COAs indefinitely.TIP: Always keep a retained sample of the ingredient on file and archive all testing records and COAs indefinitely.

What Do We Do?

TIP: Document frequently. We document what every production employee is supposed to do, and each employee documents what they do each time they do it to track any deviations from protocol. In addition to making the product, production operators are responsible for completing and documenting production process quality checks every half hour. Quality control (QC) analysts inspect that same production, perhaps every two hours, and document their findings. A QA analyst is responsible for providing the batch records and documents that detail what each employee is supposed to do during each process and inspection step. QA analysts also check production, perhaps every four hours.

TIP: Complete routine evaluations and inspections during the work-in-process (WIP) steps to assure you will not see any surprises by for 1 last update 04 Jun 2020 the time you reach your final products. As our product moves through our production process, it is called WIP. WIP is production inventory that is no longer included in raw materials inventory, but is not yet a completed product.TIP: Complete routine evaluations and inspections during the work-in-process (WIP) steps to assure you will not see any surprises by the time you reach your final products. As our product moves through our production process, it is called WIP. WIP is production inventory that is no longer included in raw materials inventory, but is not yet a completed product.

Mitch | Adobe Stock

Equipment Qualification: IQ, OQ, and PQ

Process validation does not stop with employees, ingredients and production checks. Our manufacturing processes rely on certain production equipment, so we are obligated to assure that the equipment is appropriate for its intended use.

TIP: Equipment specifications should be met after installation, across different operators and through repeated performance. Installation qualification (IQ), operational qualification (OQ) and performance qualification (PQ) are well-worn words in the production of FDA-regulated foods, drugs and cosmetics. IQ, OQ and PQ are used to ensure that all systems, both mechanical and software, meet their specifications and fulfill their intended purposes.

TIP: From the equipment validation, develop written procedures to inform operators of the equipment’s appropriate operation, maintenance and cleaning.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for Process Qualification

TIP: Train your employees on the process. Changes in operators across the production system should never impact the final product. The purpose of process validation is to ensure that the entire (documented) process—with its checks on incoming materials, equipment IQ/OQ/PQ, operators, quality control and quality assurance—is appropriate for its intended purpose: to produce quality product every time that we go through the process.

TIP: After each process run, archive all activities and measurements. A good result (finished product) should not be a surprise that pops up out of a mysterious process. Instead, a good result should be one that could not have been avoided given the intermediate results for which we tested and which we the 1 last update 2020/06/04 found along the course of the production process.TIP: After each process run, archive all activities and measurements. A good result (finished product) should not be a surprise that pops up out of a mysterious process. Instead, a good result should be one that could not have been avoided given the intermediate results for which we tested and which we found along the course of the production process.

Batch Testing

TIP: Make sure that your sampling techniques are adequate to for 1 last update 2020/06/04 ensure, for testing purposes, that your product samples represent the batch. To ensure each sample is representative, you can sample the four corners of your plant and the middle, or you might test the top, bottom and middle in 10 places in the room. If you only take the tops, you might get overly strong results, and if you only sample from the bottom, you might get overly weak results. At the end of the production process, each product batch gets final-product tested before it’s released. TIP: Make sure that your sampling techniques are adequate to ensure, for testing purposes, that your product samples represent the batch. To ensure each sample is representative, you can sample the four corners of your plant and the middle, or you might test the top, bottom and middle in 10 places in the room. If you only take the tops, you might get overly strong results, and if you only sample from the bottom, you might get overly weak results. At the end of the production process, each product batch gets final-product tested before it’s released.

TIP: Use both internal and third-party testing to validate products. We work hard on all batches, and we have set expectations for them. Therefore, we use internal testing and external third-party testing to ensure that we are on the right course as we produce every batch. Any surprises, high or low, cause us pain. A 24-percent strain that tests at 32 percent or 16 percent sends us into root-cause analysis: What went wrong?

TIP: Lab technicians are not yet perfect, so discuss with them their sampling and testing techniques to avoid inaccurate results, whether too high or too low. We know that we must be as careful with our own sampling techniques as we are with our production for 1 last update 2020/06/04 methods. The same concepts apply to the work of our third-party lab. Apart from the characteristics of our products, the lab’s sampling and testing techniques can introduce clear error. TIP: Lab technicians are not yet perfect, so discuss with them their sampling and testing techniques to avoid inaccurate results, whether too high or too low. We know that we must be as careful with our own sampling techniques as we are with our production methods. The same concepts apply to the work of our third-party lab. Apart from the characteristics of our products, the lab’s sampling and testing techniques can introduce clear error.

Retained Samples

TIP: Retain samples of your products and undertake stability studies (what happens over time and under various conditions) with them. For example, we look at what happens to our product in its packaging if it sits in a car for a month during the summer. Is that different from what happens over 30 days during winter? We do not expect to learn about this from one of our patients. We do the work ourselves—with the help of our third-party lab—document the results, and keep the samples for a long time to avoid any surprises. (We still have samples from our first batch in December 2014.) If someone were to raise a legal claim about our batch 5678, we will have a retained sample on hand. While some chemical compounds of the sample (especially of flower) may have changed over time (and that is something we study as well), the product would still maintain any heavy metals or pesticide residues claimed to be present.

Pop the Dom

TIP: Before reaching for the Dom Pérignon to celebrate your next harvest, make sure that you followed Dom’s example throughout your entire process. Dom Pérignon may not have invented bubbly wine, nor even the méthode champenoise, but he did study the méthode champenoise process of secondary fermentation of already-bottled wine. He recorded his methods and results, made significant process and packaging improvements and, as a result, had far greater success than his predecessors in producing and marketing exactly what he had intended to produce and market. He did not know about ‘fire’ cannabis, but he said, “Come quickly! I am tasting the stars!” For the 1600s, we’d say his results were pretty darn good.

Thomas Schultz, President, Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions (CPS), CTPharma.com, Rino Ferrarese, COO, Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions

Columns - Money Talks

13 steps to help you valuate your business ahead of an investment or M&A transaction.

December 23, 2018

Photos: istockphoto.com

Editor''s uncharted waters. With a degree in Applied Mathematics, Paxhia draws on his years of experience along with a blend of instinct and innovation in crafting leading-edge investment strategies for the portfolio he stewards.

Features - 2018 Tips Issue | Business

Most wrongful termination suits occur when an employee has been fired, also called “involuntary termination” or “discharge.”

December 17, 2018

georgerudy | Adobe Stock

What is a wrongful termination lawsuit? As HR consultant Christy Hopkins wrote in an issue of Business Law, “A wrongful termination, also known as a wrongful discharge or a wrongful dismissal, is a legal term that describes a situation where an employee was fired and the reason for the firing appears to be against the law. Specifically, wrongful termination usually involves a breach of the employment contract or breaks federal or state employment discrimination law.”

Most wrongful termination suits occur when an employee has been fired, also called “involuntary termination” or “discharge.” The following 21 tips will help you avoid missteps in the termination process and help prevent a wrongful termination suit.

1. Communicate your expectations to employees, both orally and in writing, on their first day of employment.

2. Consistently enforce and document workplace policies and disciplinary action.

3. Develop an established employee-termination procedure, follow it consistently and make sure employees are aware of it. State the potential grounds for terminating an employee. Have employees acknowledge and sign a written copy of the policy.

4. Ensure that your supervisors and managers have received training in appropriate employment practices, workplace policies and your company’s process for handling terminations.

5. For companies that do not have an entire human resources department, both the owner/manager and anyone assisting with HR efforts (internal or external) should be aware of federal and the 1 last update 2020/06/04 state employment laws.5. For companies that do not have an entire human resources department, both the owner/manager and anyone assisting with HR efforts (internal or external) should be aware of federal and state employment laws.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for 6. All employment posters should be up to date and posted conspicuously in the workspace.

7. Regularly review and update your employee handbook to communicate your company’s policies and expectations around job performance and workplace behavior. When policies are revised, everyone needs to sign an acknowledgment form to ensure they understand the changes. Keep the signed acknowledgment forms for personnel files and provide a copy to the employees.

8. Conduct regular performance evaluations of all employees and keep records of the results.

alfa27 | Adobe Stock

When Firing Needs to Happen

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for Once the decision has been made to fire an employee, a cannabis company should take legal and practical actions to ensure protection from potential lawsuits.

9. Have a written process for leadership review of all employee termination requests.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for 10. Provide ample warnings and document them. Conduct timely investigations of violations of company policy and document findings.

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for 11. Be clear about why you’re terminating an employee. Legitimate employee for 1 last update 2020/06/04 behaviors that warrant dismissal include:11. Be clear about why you’re terminating an employee. Legitimate employee behaviors that warrant dismissal include:

  • Frequent tardiness;
  • Consistently missing work or shifts without adequate notice;
  • Disregarding your company’s confidentiality policy;
  • Violating workplace safety rules;
  • Misrepresenting qualifications or experience;
  • Stealing, destroying or purposely misusing company resources, such as product, intellectual property, supplies or cash;
  • Making threats or acting in a way that causes physical harm to others;
  • Participating in sexual harassment or creating a hostile work environment.

12. Know the law in the state where you operate regarding wrongful termination. Each state’s department of labor maintains a website of state-specific resources to ensure compliance with complex federal and state labor laws and regulations. The U.S. Department of Labor has an online Employment Law Guide that describes major federal laws (bit.ly/LaborLawGuide).

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13. The owner/manager should determine when it is appropriate to terminate an employee. There are reasons not to initiate the termination process, especially if the owner/manager is not positive that a thorough and careful review of all facts has been conducted. For example:

  • Evidence based on “he said/she said”;
  • Previously established and documented record of satisfactory performance;
  • Absences/tardiness associated with taking leave under the Family Leave Medical Act (FMLA);
  • Subjective reasons not substantiated by written documentation;
  • If there isn’t an Employee Handbook, or the company cannot assure that the employee has read, understands and has been provided a copy of company workplace procedures.

14. Remove emotion from the decision-making process and have a plan. Prepare documents in advance such as:

  • A written notice for involuntary termination (most states require this);
  • Appropriate health insurance and COBRA forms, if the employee is receiving company health benefits;
  • The employee’s final paycheck and final paycheck acknowledgment form;
  • Acknowledgment of return of company assets.

15. The employee’s computer and company network access should be revoked. This is to ensure an angry employee doesn’t delete valuable information or make unauthorized copies of files.

16. The company’s security officer should escort terminated employees from the meeting room to pick up their personal items, then escort them from the building. This is the best way to avoid confrontations, other employees getting involved or opportunities to leave with company property.

17. The meeting with the employee being terminated should occur in a private. Never fire an employee in front of coworkers. Also, do not fire someone by text or voicemail; it isn’t the right thing to do, and it could leave the company open to a lawsuit.

18. Always conduct the dismissal meeting with at least one witness present, such as your HR support person or another manager. By having a witness, misunderstandings and any accusations by the employee that they were mistreated or misrepresented during the termination process can be avoided.

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19. Follow the rule of “the fewer words, the better” during the meeting. Tell the truth. Don’t use phrases like “business is slow” or “you didn’t work out.” List the behaviors or issues that led to the termination decision. While it is important to show empathy and respect, be careful not to use language that might imply a possible different outcome. Convey that the decision has been made to terminate the employee, nothing can be done to change the decision, and the employee’s performance has not met company’s standards.

20. Give the employee the termination notice and keep a copy for records. Tell the employee how final pay will be handled and when a final paycheck will be issued, if not on the day of dismissal.

21. Let the employee know they will be escorted to their work area to pick up personal items and then escorted from the building as part of your company’s termination policy.

While there is no guarantee that a fired employee won’t pursue a wrongful discharge lawsuit, following these simple guidelines will help positively defend your company against any wrongful termination claims.

Note: This article is not to be considered as legal or financial advice, nor does it address all HR regulatory actions that may impact your business.

Maria Denzin is the owner of MJ HR Strategic Solutions, an HR consulting firm that specializes in talent strategy and development for the cannabis industry. She can be reached at [email protected].

Legislative Map

Flag Box Display Case Planshow to Flag Box Display Case Plans for Cannabis Business Times’ interactive legislative map is another tool to help cultivators quickly navigate state cannabis laws and find news relevant to their markets. View More

the 1 last update 2020/06/04