Increased Certification of Medical Marijuana Businesses in Washington State Ensure Quality and Safety for Patients Patient Focused Certification Program Director Kristin Nevedal will speak Thursday to the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics

February 25, 2015 | Kris Hermes

Seattle, WA -- Two Washington State-based laboratories -- The Werc Shop and Phytalab -- have recently been certified under a nationwide program that verifies quality control standards, calibration, and evaluation processes for labs that test medical marijuana products. These certificates were awarded by the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program, which also certifies the quality and reliability of products sold at licensed medical marijuana businesses.

The Werc Shop and Phytalab test medical and recreational marijuana products produced, manufactured, and sold throughout Washington State. PFC is a project of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the only nonprofit, third-party certification for the medical marijuana industry based on new quality standards issued by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the American Herbal Pharmacopeia (AHP).

This Thursday, PFC Program Director Kristin Nevedal will speak on the importance of certification to members of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics (CCSE), a Washington State-based nonprofit that seeks to perpetuate the highest levels of ethics, education, standards and quality throughout our industry. The CCSE recently endorsed the PFC program.

What: Meeting of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics, featuring PFC Program Director Kristin Nevedal
When: Thursday, February 26th at Noon
Where: Swedish Cultural Center, 1920 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

"The Patient Focused Certification program is not waiting around for Washington legislators to develop industry regulations," said Nevedal. "By encouraging the industry to adhere to important product safety and quality standards, we're paving the way for state officials and regulators once a policy is established." Last year, Dockside Co-op of Seattle became the first medical marijuana dispensary in Washington State to become certified under the PFC program.

The recent certifications come as the State legislature is debating a number of medical marijuana bills. Patient advocates are putting their weight behind House Bill 2058, co-sponsored by Representatives Luis Moscoso (D-Mountlake Terrace), Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla) and Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo). The legislation would reinstate the same language passed by the 2011 Legislature but vetoed by then-Governor Christine Gregoire, and is considered the most practical regulatory solution while ensuring continued access to safe and affordable medical marijuana.

With more than one million qualified medical marijuana patients in 23 states and the District of Columbia, a new industry has developed in order to meet the needs of this rapidly growing population. Many states and localities have created regulations to govern the location, size, taxation, and even the ownership and management of the businesses and organizations that serve patients, however PFC can now ensure adherence to the regulatory guidelines AHPA and AHP have established for the purity and identity of the products being sold and the methods for producing and distributing them.

In 2013, AHPA issued a series of recommendations for state regulators, providing standards for the medical marijuana industry in the areas of cultivation and processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, dispensary operations, and laboratory practices. More recently, AHP released a cannabis monograph that set standards for the methodologies used during laboratory testing and ensuring the plant's identity, purity, quality, and botanical properties.

ASA has been offering trainings to the medical marijuana industry for over a decade and holds a permit from the District of Columbia for mandatory industry trainings. PFC industry trainings are co-produced with the Cannabis Training Institute (CTI) and certify cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, and laboratory technicians to ensure adherence to local and state regulations as well as AHPA and AHP standards. Such trainings are mandatory in some states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, and the District of Columbia, however the PFC program is now available to the medical cannabis industry in all 23 states and the District of Columbia. A total of 15 PFC certifications have been awarded in the District of Columbia and five states, including Arizona, California, Maine, New Mexico, and  Washington.

Further information:
Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program: http://PatientFocusedCertification.org
AHPA Standards: http://safeaccess2.org/sites/patientfocusedcertification/standards-development/apha-guidelines
AHP Cannabis monograph (Abridged version): http://www.safeaccessnow.org/ahp_cannabis_monograph_preview

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