Pot Certification Program Aims to Set Industry Standards

By Willis Jacobson Oct 16, 2020
Willis Jacobson is an award-winning journalist whose career has spanned both coasts. Now based on the Central Coast of California, he has covered cannabis news and issues since 2015.
See my articles
Willis Jacobson is an award-winning journalist whose career has spanned both coasts. Now based on the Central Coast of California, he has covered cannabis news and issues since 2015.
See my articles

An organization that develops standards for a wide range of industries has teamed with a cannabis trade association and others to launch a pot certification program they hope will set uniform standards across America’s hemp and cannabis markets.

ASTM International announced Thursday that it has partnered with the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH) and the Policy Center for Public Health and Safety to establish a pilot program to certify quality systems and facilities for cannabis and hemp producers. The certifications provided by the program, already underway, could also be used as vetting tools by financial institutions that serve the cannabis industry, organizers say.

The program is managed by ASTM International’s Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) in partnership with The GMP Collective, a consulting firm. Program leaders have drawn from a list of already approved standards developed by an ASTM International cannabis committee, and they will look to incorporate other established best practices specific to cannabis manufacturing and agriculture, ASTM International reported.

The results of the pilot program, according to ATACH, will be submitted to the Attorneys General Association cannabis policy committee, a bipartisan group of state attorneys general, for review and consideration. The organization did not provide a timeline for when that might occur. 

Ultimately, the final certifications are expected to be implemented through an independent nonprofit, ATACH reported.

“We are proud to administer this pilot to fill a marketplace need,” said Kathie Morgan, president of ASTM International. “This effort coincides with the work of ASTM International’s cannabis committee (D37), which includes over 900 members and governments from 28 different countries. We believe delivering the first certification program for cannabis and hemp by an accredited body is a critical step.”

ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, started developing cannabis industry standards three years ago. SEI, an affiliate of ASTM International, offers certification programs for law enforcement, fire and emergency services, athletics, and more.

The new cannabis pilot program is open to all cultivators, extractors, producers and processors. It includes testing of cannabis flower samples using ASTM International standards, as well as full quality audits of facility operations.

Once certified, cannabis businesses will be able to use their newly acquired certification mark on product packaging and to highlight in promotional materials. 

“The certification mark will demonstrate to key industry stakeholders and customers that a company is committed to best practices that ensure consumer and patient health and safety,” ASTM International said in a statement.

Fred Niehaus, chair of the Policy Center for Public Health and Safety, said the pilot program will address a range of concerns from state attorneys general by “assessing marketplace issues, filling in regulatory gaps, and taking into account consumer protection in this emerging market.”

Currently, there are no national or international standards for cannabis and hemp production. They are usually set by each jurisdiction.

“We are excited for this next step in certification for the cannabis and hemp industries,” said Morgan, ASTM International’s president. “SEI has a decades-long history of distinction in certification programs and the support of the many professionals that make up the cannabis committee should make for an excellent partnership.”

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