Some people view regulations as being restrictive, but with regulations comes a greater need for creativity and innovation. Knowing the limits in which you can work can foster a design strategy that can meet the needs of your program and requirements.
Within the cannabis industry, we do not only have to implement state regulations and standards, but we must follow municipal zoning and federal regulations and standards which can be a challenge in itself. Having understood all the regulations and standards needed to be followed, the design team with it consultants, look for ways to be compliant. Depending on the regulations, solutions can be simple, such as location of means of egress and ADA compliance. On the other hand, solutions related to location of explosion proof rooms, or what can go into the municipal sewer/septic can be a bit more complicated and requires a unique approach to the solution.
Knowing the program of the project and the processes and activities occurring inside and outside of the facility early in the design phase can reduce the need for re-design.
Cost of Conformance vs. Cost of Non-Conformance
Cost of Conformance is the costs which ensure quality. In terms of regulations, this is the cost needed to have a compliant facility when you open the doors. You have followed what the municipal, state and federation regulations are, commissioned the building, trained you staff to work in the facility, and documented all your processes (SOPs). These are all things to think about as you are building you schedule and doing cost estimates.
Cost of Non-Conformance is the costs associated with failures. If you do not follow regulations put forward by the municipality, state and federal, there is the potential for costs associated with any resulting problem. This may include, but is not limited to, re-work to become compliant, damage to reputation, and lawsuits.
The governing bodies pay special attention to the compliance of cannabis facilities; therefore, time is spent during the design process to ensure compliance which can be expensive but not as expensive if you are found to be non-compliant.
Federal Regulations and Standards to consider:
- NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
- OHSA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
- FDA/CGMP (Food and Drug Administration / Current Good Manufacturing Practices)
- ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
State Regulations and Standards to consider:
- State Building Code
- State Code on Adult Use Marijuana
- State Code on Medical Use of Marijuana
- State Architectural Access Board
Municipal Regulations and Standards to consider:
- Conservation Commission/wetlands
- Board of Health
- Chief of Police/Fire Chief