Allay Consulting January Newsletter: Certifications Available to the Cannabis Industry

Certifications Available to the Cannabis Industry

Third party certifications have become increasingly popular among the cannabis industry. Receiving and maintaining certifications is a worthwhile endeavor that will set up your business for long term success, give you a competitive edge and ensure a safe product to customers. Many certifications are available to the cannabis industry, but which are right for your company? Certifications offered to the industry may vary from hemp to marijuana, more details below! Until federal legalization of marijuana, some certifications are not available. Although certification restrictions are limited in cannabis, some states are requiring certain certifications and will even reduce testing requirements if companies have certifications. Sounds like a win, win scenario!

There are plenty more certifications, these are the most sought after within the cannabis industry. No matter which certification you choose, ensure the certifying body is accredited, meaning that the certifying company has been audited and approved by a higher authorization to abide by a certain set of standards. 

 

Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP)

Current Good Manufacturing Practices (aka cGMP) is a set of standards that were created by the US Food and Drug Administration under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and cover manufacturers of food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, medical devices, and prescription drugs. cGMP requires a systematic quality approach to manufacturing, including the development and implementation of procedures and documentation for the design, monitoring, and control of all manufacturing processes. cGMP certification is specific to the facility, each production facility will need their own certification. This quality management system helps to ensure products are made consistently and reliably to product specifications for identity, strength, quality, and purity.  Not only does cGMP help businesses prevent hazards such as contamination or errors, it also ensures that products are safe for consumers, every time. Most large retailers (such as Walmart, CVS, etc.) require this certification prior to selling products.

 

ISO 9001

ISO 9001 is a standard that sets out the requirements for a quality management system holistically within the entire company. It helps businesses and organizations to be more efficient and improve customer satisfaction. This set of standards is based on the idea of continual improvement. In contrast to cGMP certification, ISO 9001 is suitable for organizations of all types, sizes, and sectors, not just the production facility. Similar to cGMP, some enterprises require ISO 9001 prior to engaging in business.

 

ISO 22000

ISO 22000 is an internationally recognized standard that combines the ISO 9001 approach to cGMP standards, food safety management and HACCP for the assurance of food safety at all levels. The standard maps out how an organization can demonstrate its ability to control safety hazards to ensure that food is safe.

 

Organic

There is a growing interest in purchasing organic products. A way to attract consumers is obtaining organic certification. Organic certification helps to demonstrate transparency to consumers that your product is grown or handled in an organic way that (according to the USDA) contributes to increasing water quality, conserves energy, increases biodiversity, and improves soil health. Both cultivation and processors may receive this certification. Unfortunately, the marijuana industry cannot yet receive organic certification but may continue organic practices. Hopefully, organic certification will be available to marijuana companies when federal legalization occurs. 

Are certifications required for cannabis companies?  It ultimately depends on individual states.

 

SURPRISE – Some States Require Certain Certifications,
While other States Provide a Benefit with Gaining Certification

 

Michigan

Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) requires infused beverage manufacturers to obtain or provide evidence companies are in the process of obtaining cGMP certification by an accredited certifying body. Other cannabis producers and cultivation have an incentive to receive cGMP certification through MRA’s reduced sampling and testing requirements. MRA will publish these allowances and information on how to obtain approval for allowances, stay tuned!

 

New York

New York allows only hemp infused products sold as dietary supplements. Products labeled with CBD as an ingredient shall be manufactured in accordance with FDA’s dietary-supplement standards. Under New York State Department of Health Cannabinoid Hemp Program’s proposed regulations, processors are required to maintain a third-party cGMP certification for the duration of the license term or provide a detailed plan for obtaining the certification within six months of approval of the application and before beginning operations as a processor.   

 

Florida

Florida Department of Health requires processing facilities to obtain a cGMP certification by an accredited certifying body within 12 months after licensure. If the facility does not pass their audit, the facility is required to immediately stop processing until it can demonstrate to the department that the facility has met the requirement.

 

Certification Requirement Trending Amongst States

 It seems more and more states are either requiring or incentivizing cannabis cultivation & manufacturing companies to receive certifications from accredited companies. This might be trendy now, but if cannabis regulations are aligning with the FDA’s requirements surrounding quality and safety, obtaining certification is one easy way to ensure you’re in compliance when FDA regulation begins. Even if your state doesn’t require or incentivize certification, the long-term success of your business should focus on the safety and quality of your products. If this trend attracts more states, are you preparing for certification?

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