Seattle Medical Marijuana Dispensary is First in Washington State to Achieve National Certification New Patient Focused Certification program brings quality, safety standards to medical marijuana industry

March 20, 2014 | Kris Hermes

Seattle, WA -- The first medical marijuana dispensary in Washington State was certified today under a recently launched nationwide program that verifies the quality and reliability of products sold at licensed medical marijuana businesses. Today's certificate awarded to Dockside Co-op of Seattle is based on the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program, 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).

"In the face of failure by state legislators to develop sensible dispensary regulations in Washington State, the Patient Focused Certification program encourages the industry to adhere to important safety and quality standards," said Maria Moses, Co-founder and Director at Dockside Co-op, which has been located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle for more than 3 years. "This program gives the industry a baseline to affirm what we're doing right and to improve upon the service we provide to patients."

Today's certification comes a week after legislators abandoned efforts to establish statewide medical marijuana regulations in Washington. However, Dockside and other city-licensed medical marijuana businesses are not waiting for the state legislature to catch up with the pressing needs of patients in their communities, and have decided to move ahead with a program that will ensure adherence to industry standards. It is estimated that more than 200 medical marijuana dispensaries are currently licensed and operating in the City of Seattle.

With more than one million qualified medical marijuana patients in 20 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.

Last year, AHPA issued a series of recommendations for state regulators, providing standards for the medical marijuana industry in the areas of manufacturing, packaging and labeling, dispensary operations, and laboratory practices. AHPA has since issued standards for commercial medical marijuana products, as well as the reliability and quality of related services. More recently, AHP released a cannabis monograph that set standards for 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 AHPA and AHP standards. Such trainings are mandatory in some states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, and the District of Columbia. Following a successful beta phase over the past few months, the program is now available to the medical cannabis industry in all 20 states and the District of Columbia.

The certification process, which is overseen by a review board of scientists, doctors, and industry and regulatory experts, includes a scheduled physical audit, a staff training audit, a complaint process and at least one surprise audit annually. PFC-certified products and businesses will exhibit the PFC seal on their marketing, promotions and packaging to help patients make educated purchasing decisions. In addition to today's certification, there are pending applications in six states, including Harvest of Tempe in Arizona; BASA and Peace in Medicine in California; Werc Shop Laboratories in California and Washington; Remedy Compassion Center in Maine; New Mexicann and Page Analytics in New Mexico; and The CPC and Solstice Co-op in 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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