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Lab Design Notes; Specifications

When asked by clients if I can tailor an extraction lab to meet their production needs, I always answer yes. Simple enough. But afterwards things get complicated fast. The next step requires detailed clarification and explanation.

As you may know, the range in "regulated" manufacturing practices across the Cannabis industry varies greatly. There also exists a colossal and unregulated illegal market. I've seen extraction labs placed in Good-Manufacturing-Practice (GMP) controlled pharmaceutical-grade clean-rooms. But I've also encountered them in fire-rated closets and in un-regulated basements and garages. My point being there exists a spectrum of what one might call an "extraction lab."

If hemp and Marijuana licensing and permitting weren't problematic enough, complete GMP certification carries additional large investments of time and resource to achieve. The impressive pharmaceutical grade GMP production lab described above strives to meet a seemingly impossible standard for operation. Costs to achieve these certifications can be so onerous that large bio manufacturing companies turn down contracts with clients requiring them. The burden of compliance can be too high and/or deemed unnecessary for safe production.

So, yes, some very large profitable companies execute business models and attain sales goals without any of the legally un-required and burdensome overhead of doing business completely GMP. Of course, at the other end of the spectrum, the Illegal and shadier operators extract in basements and garages with little concern for the health and safety of themselves, much less for that of others. And while neither extreme seems desirable, one costs a heck of a lot more to design, install, and maintain than the other... and both pretty much still accomplish the same things.

Proper specifications at the outset play a huge role in navigating the successful start-up. Designing and building a situationally appropriate extraction lab requires a comprehensive vision of future operations including the following essential details:

What are the specific and explicit tasks of the lab?

Does the lab support innovation and development (basic research) and to what extent?

Or is the lab currently a fire-rated closet designed with minimal investment and maximum return in mind?

Do we have basic targets like daily, weekly, or monthly processing goals to build to?

Do we have explicit certification goals like GMP to achieve and at what cost?

Do we have longer term use projections for use and growth of the facility that justify overbuilding certain specs?

Do we currently have dedicated or otherwise "securable" space to house the lab we want? Or are we intending to build a free-standing structure? Or are we looking at prefab and/or mobile options for a quick start?

Again, at a minimum, appropriate pro-forma development depends upon guidance on these questions with many additional clarifications to follow. So after I answer "yes," we tackle specifics.