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The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) released its medical marijuana manufacturing guidelines to complete its compendium of industry standards, which include regulatory recommendations from seed to sale.
A new nationwide program called Patient Focused Certification (PFC), a project of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), aims to bring greater standardization to the medical marijuana industry. The PFC program uses the recently completed AHPA guidelines in combination with standards set by American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) for the plant's identity, purity, quality and botanical properties. Together, these standards have the means to bring greater accountability to the industry and increased safety for patients.
"Although medical marijuana is one of the safest medicines used today, it's important for patients to have industry standards that ensure the highest product quality and reliability," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "The AHPA guidelines issued today not only provide a blueprint for product recalls, like the one in Denver, but also establishes sound manufacturing procedures that will help avoid such recalls in the future."
The recent product recall of medical marijuana-infused edibles was announced by the Denver Department of Environmental Health on July 17 because of "possible contamination from unsanitary equipment" and "use of equipment not intended for food manufacturing." Although there have been no complaints or reports of sickness so far, the line of edible products has been recalled from the dozens of dispensaries across the state of Colorado where they are being sold.
Patient advocates have voiced concerns that while the recall procedure for the County of Denver appears adequate, numerous other counties in Colorado, as well as many medical marijuana states, do not have an agreed-upon protocol for ensuring product safety. States that have adopted requirements for testing of medical marijuana include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. A smaller subset of these states also requires training of industry staff.
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 and certifications 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.
The PFC 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. Fifteen medical marijuana businesses have either achieved or initiated PFC certification in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, Washington, and the District of Columbia.