Operating Plans


Most US States, as well as Canada as a whole require the cannabis business applicants and licensees submit operating plans to prove adequate preparedness for operations. These plans are like SOPs, but they are written for the government regulators, to assure them of the safety and security of 1) the licensee’s building 2) the workers at the business 3) the general public, including minors 4) consumers of the products to be produced and 5) the environment.

The common plans I’ve encountered in North America thus far are:

  • A Security Operating Plan – describes how the building is going to be protected and how the product will stay confined to certain Limited or Restricted Access Areas.

  • A Cultivation Operating Plan – describes the layout of the production space, major equipment choices, environmental controls and settings, plant management methods in each stage of growth, media and substances to be used in and on the plants, and day-to-day mechanical maintenance requirements of the site.

  • A Waste Management Operating Plan – describes how all waste will be managed at the site, including THC-containing waste, liquid and solid waste, and hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

  • An Inventory Control Operating Plan – describes how THC-containing materials will be tracked throughout the production, storage, destruction and transfer stages of running the business.

  • A Quality Assurance Operating Plan – describes how the site, the plants, and products made from plants will be inspected, tested and labeled to ensure easy traceability in the event of an adverse reaction by a consumer. Also describes how a product recall will be handled.

  • A Record Keeping Operating Plan – describes all of the records that will be needed in each of about 10 departments that usually function inside a cannabis facility. This ranges from business deeds to employee files to sales/tax records to shipping manifests to lab testing results. This plan helps you set up your cannabis business’ master file system.

  • Staffing and Training Operating Plan – describes the organizational hierarchy of the business (Organizational Chart), the job requirements of each position (for hiring), and the job responsibilities of that position (once they’ve been hired). This plan is a foundational document in the set because it contains over 140 site functions in an appended Training Matrix that teach new cultivation businesses all of the topics they need to learn, document and then teach to their managers and employees.

  • A Pesticide Control/Pest Management Operating Plan – I rolled these two plans into one. Pesticide Control shows how growers will keep pesticide residues from affecting site workers, consumers and the environment. Pest Management is oriented around the protocols for preventing, inspecting, identifying and treating particular cannabis pest problems, including molds and microbial problems.

All of the Cannabis Operating Plans are written to represent average industry standards and contain all of the topics we’ve encountered reading various sets of regulations, with placeholder text that shows standard information.

The applicant or licensee who needs cannabis operating plans can use these documents to save quite a lot of time and money getting them custom written. That said, these cannabis operating plans are templates that still need to be customized and reviewed by a local attorney before submittal. Rules vary somewhat from one jurisdiction to another, and they also change quite frequently given the newness of the industry. Because of this, a local cannabis business compliance expert (usually an attorney) should approve the customized operating plans before they are submitted. Otherwise, the licensing process could be delayed.