Standards Could Get Professional Treatment with ASTM’s Cannabis Committee

Standards Could Get Professional Treatment with ASTM's Cannabis Committee

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You’ve found a strain that you love and it’s available at your local dispensary, but do you know under what conditions it was grown or how it was handled when infused into your favorite edible? Maybe the budtender guarantees you’ve selected a quality product, but you may soon be empowered beyond blind trust as the next level of universal standards are on the horizon.

On Feb. 28, 2017, ASTM International, an international voluntary consensus standards organization, announced the launch of a volunteer committee on cannabis. If approved by ASTM’s board of directors, the committee would develop technical standards for cannabis cultivation, products and processes, benchmarks that producers, consumers and regulators can trust.

“With its decades of experience in industries such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, packaging, agriculture, pesticides, and more, ASTM International is the perfect place for standards development for the cannabis industry,” said Dr. Ralph Paroli, chairman of the pending cannabis committee.

Considering legal cannabis is currently guided by a patchwork of state-by-state regulations, the significance of this announcement has not been lost on members of the cannabis industry.

Andy Joseph, founder and president of Apeks Supercritical, sees ASTM’s announcement as further legitimization of the cannabis industry.

“ASTM is the world leading standards organization and is followed globally by nearly every industry. The creation of a cannabis standards committee is a huge step, and the cannabis industry needs it — badly,” Joseph told MJINews.

Joseph also sees this as an opportunity for cannabis businesses to set standardization in motion. “Now is the time to start doing things correctly — creating SOPs, testing your products, and following an approved Quality System. Get in front of it so when it comes you are ready!”

Joseph isn’t alone in his welcoming of ASTM. According to Stephen Goldner, Senior Forensic Toxicologist at Quantum 9, “ASTM’s announcement is very positive for the cannabis industry. Cannabis products must have a single reliable source of standards and laboratory analysis methods, like all other industries. Every patient and every customer deserves to know the products are safe, consistent, with the correct potency and highest quality.”

ASTM isn’t the first organization to make moves in the international cannabis standardization. The Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards was launched in 2014, with a mission “to protect public health, consumer safety, and safeguard the environment by promoting integrity in the cannabis industry.”

If ASTM’s cannabis committee is approved, it won’t compete with FOCUS, but rather work with it.

“FOCUS is partnering with ASTM in developing these methods; therefore this partnership validates the importance of FOCUS to the cannabis industry,” said Goldner, who is also the chairman of the FOCUS Cannabis Standards Committee for Pharmacology and Laboratory Testing. “FOCUS provides the integrated program for personnel training, SOPs and 3rd party certification required to run these operations. ASTM standards will be integrated into the FOCUS certification program when ASTM completes it’s development program. Then I expect FOCUS will provide even greater value to the cannabis industry through the FOCUS certification program.”

If ASTM’s board of directors approves the cannabis committee, the committee will have its first meeting in the first half of 2017, so it can start the process of developing technical standards for indoor and outdoor horticulture and agriculture; processing and handling; quality management systems; laboratory; security and transportation; and personnel training, assessment and credentialing.

Caroline Cahill is the Managing Editor of MJINews. She earned her BA in Communications from College of Charleston and her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has previously worked in higher education, development and radio. You can follow her on Twitter @CtheresaC.

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