by David Vaillencourt
Now in its 12th year, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most effective trade association representing legal cannabis businesses, continues to move the industry forward through its advocacy, education, and commitment to inclusion and cultivating community.
The volunteer members of NCIA’s Facility Design Committee, currently in its third year, bring expertise and cross pollination from other industry organizations that predate the legal cannabis industry, publishing blog posts and leading industry webinars. Liaising with data-driven and sustainability-focused nonprofit organizations like Resource Innovation Institute and the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition increases our access to knowledge sharing, validating that knowledge that was anecdotal, no thanks to nearly a century of federal prohibition and harsh enforcement that drove an underground economy. Many members are taking the knowledge a step further and supporting the development of cannabis standards within ASTM International’s Committee D37 on Cannabis.
The 15 members of this year’s Facility Design Committee represent a breadth of expertise spanning architecture, energy and construction management; supply chain solutions; mechanical electrical, and plumbing; and GMP and sanitary design fields. With decades of experience in traditional industries, we bring knowledge to the cannabis industry, holding one of NCIA’s core values of education. As volunteers and experts in our field, we are dedicated to raising the bar within the industry by providing valuable information through regular educational events that elevate sophistication throughout the cannabis sector and through in-depth policy analysis and information on best practices for business leaders, lawmakers, and regulators.
Much of the discussion in this year’s committee meetings have been focused on planning, a common theme that many cannabis business owners, in a rush to be first to market, consistently overlook, resulting in costly retrofits and operations that don’t run efficiently. You can keep up to date with the latest best practices and thought pieces from the NCIA’s Facility Design Committee and the 13 other expert committees at https://thecannabisindustry.org/ncia-news-resources/blog/.
The days of hodgepodge operations in basements and converted warehouses with hand watering and manual nutrient mixing are coming to a close. Since legalization, Colorado alone has hit $10 billion in cannabis sales. Facilities cultivating, extracting, processing, and packaging cannabis products must be designed, constructed, and operated in a way that ensures safe, consistent, and attractive products for patients and consumers.
While we await federal legalization with its formal USDA and FDA regulations like cGMP, state cannabis regulators are increasingly working together to “identify and share best practices that safeguard public health and safety and promote regulatory certainty for industry participants.” Designing proper facilities, and planning for future regulatory requirements, is a critical prerequisite to ensuring the safe and consistent production of cannabis products for patients and consumers. The leaders at the Facility Design Committee are committed to volunteering their time to impart knowledge from traditional horticulture and agriculture, drug, and food manufacturing to the maturing cannabis industry so businesses can be successful today and prepared for tomorrow.
David Vaillencourt is CEO of The GMP Collective, chair of NCIA’s Facility Design Committee, and vice-chair of ASTM International’s D37 Committee on Cannabis Standards.