ASTM International has announced the approval of a new standard in development that could have potentially wide-reaching influence on the cannabis industry throughout the world. ASTM’s cannabis committee (D37) has approved the new standard (D8449) for development that aims to develop internationally aligned label specifications for all products containing cannabinoids.
According to the press release, The new labeling standard is the first of its kind, attempting to harmonize regulations throughout the cannabis industry with universally recognized labels that could be adopted by regulators anywhere in the world. ASTM member Darwin Millard has spearheaded the development of this new standard and believes it will have countless practical applications.
“Having the same information presented in the same manner across jurisdictions means consumers of products containing cannabinoids will have consistent information conveyed to them in a way they are familiar with,” says Millard. “This ensures consumers have the information they need to make an informed purchase decision, and will ultimately lead to increased consumer safety and confidence.”
ASTM International is a nonprofit, voluntary consensus-based standards development group. They are inviting feedback and input as they refine the standard and work on presenting it to the international cannabis community. “We welcome regulators, producers, and consumers from around the world to give us feedback,” says Millard. “This is intended to be a living document to remain relevant throughout this ever-changing landscape.”
According to a press release emailed this week, ASTM International’s subcommittee focused on cannabis, D37, is in the midst of developing two new standards surrounding cannabis safety and education.
One standard, WK84667, is designed to “help document engineering controls for air filtration and person protective equipment (PPE) in cannabis processing facilities,” says ASTM member Trevor Morones. The premise of this standard appears to be employee safety; with proper, standardized air filtration and PPE, the standard will help companies keep their workers safe and prevent inhalation of potentially harmful particles, like cannabis dust, stalk fiber, florescence and crystalized dust. “We are working to develop a robust community of cannabis professionals who can share their experiences in workplace and personnel safety,” says Morones.
The other proposed standard, WK84589, seeks to develop a uniform metric for “determining the intoxication level of a cannabinoid.” Initially focusing on delta9-THC, the standard will help raise awareness and promote public health and safety by informing consumers how intoxicating a cannabis product is for the average adult.
ASTM Pamela Epstein says this standard will hopefully develop a form of measurement akin to ABV in alcoholic drinks, allowing consumers to see how potent a certain cannabis product is. “Beyond providing consumers with a complete assessment of a product’s total intoxicating/impairing effects, the proposed standard may provide regulators with a methodology to meaningfully account for public health and safety,” says Epstein. “The specification can unify consumer awareness and can be used across all product types and jurisdictions.”
Earlier this month, ASTM International announced that the D37 cannabis committee has approved four new standards for the cannabis industry. Just a few days ago, the same organization announced the development of a new standard that will be published soon.
According to a press release, the four new standards that are already approved will help those working in the cannabis space, as well as regulators and consumers. The four new approved standards are as follows:
D8375: This standard provides a method to establish cannabinoid content in cannabis and hemp samples. ASTM member Garnet McRae says, “the standard will help ensure products are labeled properly in jurisdictions where they are legally produced and sold.”
D8399: This standard “will aid laboratories in analyzing cannabis and hemp samples to establish pesticide concentration levels – or lack thereof – to ensure products meet regulatory requirements within appropriate jurisdictions,” reads the press release.
D8442: This standard aids stakeholders in the cannabis supply chain with quality control measurements. It provides a method for testing terpenes and cannabinoid levels using gas chromatography.
D8469: This one provides a new metals testing method for cannabis using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).
David Vaillencourt will be discussing standards and more at the Cannabis Quality Conference on October 17. The fifth standard that ASTM International announced this week is D8439. This one is designed “to support sound and reproducible research” by providing specifications for medicinal-use cannabis flower. ASTM member David Vaillencourt says it will help establish consistent testing for safety and quality. “With a fragmented cannabis industry marketplace, there is no common set of requirements around reporting cannabinoids and terpenes, which are the primary constituents that are linked to therapeutic benefits,” says Vaillencourt. “This lack of consistency harms public health and prevents evaluation of product safety and efficacy across jurisdictions. This standard provides a solution to this problem.”
Cannabis testing laboratories are one of the major players in the industry for protecting public health. Ensuring that laboratory test results are reliable and valid requires a multipronged approach involving method validation, proficiency testing and performing frequent reviews of equipment and processes.
Cannabis testing laboratories often use a variety of different methods to conduct proficiency testing. Laboratories can either participate in programs run by ISO/IEC 17043-accedited proficiency testing providers or through intralaboratory comparison. Comparing different instruments, methods, technologies against pre-defined criteria is a must when validating methods for a specific type of test and ensuring the competence of the laboratory.
Beyond proficiency testing, there are a number of other stopgaps at a laboratory’s disposal for ensuring valid results, like using accredited certified reference materials, performing checks on measuring equipment frequently, reviewing reported results and retesting retained items. All of that and more is outlined in the ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standard, section 7.7.
There’s a lot that goes into making sure laboratories provide valid results, much of which is detailed in the accreditation process. For more information, we sit down with Keith Klemm, senior accreditation manager for ANSI National Accreditation Board to learn about laboratory accreditation, method validation and other certifications and credentialing available in the cannabis industry.
Q: Why is method validation important for cannabis test methods?
Keith Klemm: Because cannabis production, testing, and sales is regulated by each individual state, there are very few standard methods for testing cannabis and cannabis-derived products. Non-standard methods or methods developed by the laboratory must be validated to ensure the methods are fit for their intended purpose. What good is a test result if you cannot attest to its validity? There would be no confidence that the results are accurate. Additionally, while organizations such as ISO, AOAC and ASTM are developing standard methods for use in the laboratory, the wide range of products and matrices being tested require modifications to standard methods. Standard methods used outside their intended scope must also be validated, again to ensure the method remains fit for the intended purpose.
Q: We’re pretty familiar with laboratory accreditation. What other accreditations are available in the cannabis industry?
Klemm: Accreditation programs are available for product certification and personnel credentialing, in addition to laboratory accreditation. ANAB’s product certification program was launched in 2020 and is based on the requirements of ISO/IEC 17065. The program combines the requirements of this standard with specific scheme requirements to attest to the competency of certification bodies who then certify products within the scheme. Two schemes are in development specific to the cannabis industry: Cannabis Safety and Quality (CSQ) and PurityIQ. For personnel credentialing, a new Cannabis Certificate Accreditation Program (C-CAP) was developed and is based on ASTM D8403, Standard Practice for Certificate Programs within the Cannabis and Hemp Industries. It also includes any additional state Responsible Vendor Training requirements.
Q: What are the steps to becoming an accredited cannabis testing laboratory, product certification body, or C-CAP organization?
Klemm: The process begins with a request for quote. The organization prepares for the initial assessment by implementing the requirements of the applicable standards, regulatory requirements, and scheme requirements. ANAB believes in a partnership approach to accreditation with a focus on customer needs while ensuring accreditation requirements are met. Once the organization is ready, an initial document review is performed. The accreditation assessment is then performed on-site by technically skilled and knowledgeable assessors. If any nonconformities are encountered, the organization provides a response with cause and corrective actions. Once all nonconformities are resolved and technical review is completed, a scope of accreditation and certificate are provided to the organization. The technical review may vary depending on the accreditation that is being sought, but the general process of accreditation is the same. After accreditation is achieved, the organization moves into a cycle of surveillance and reassessment as defined by the accreditation program and any scheme requirements.
About Keith Klemm
Keith Klemm is a graduate of Manchester University with a B.S. in Biology. Keith is an experience laboratory director and operations manager with 30 years’ experience in the laboratory environment and has worked as a senior accreditation manager for ANSI National Accreditation Board for the past five years.
Keith’s areas of expertise include:
Microbiological assays for food, medical device, and environmental test matrixes.
Environmental chemistry of water and wastewater.
Biocompatibility testing of medical devices.
AOAC International – guidelines for food laboratories program requirements
21 CFR Part 58, GLP program requirements
EPA NLLAP program requirements
AAFCO program requirements
FDA ASCA Pilot program for Biocompatibility
Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency program requirements
According to a press release sent out today, ASTM International’s D37 cannabis committee has approved three new standards for environmental conditions during packaging, shipping and storing cannabis and hemp flower. The three new standards are:
Standard Specification for Environmental Conditions for Post Packaged Storage and Retail Merchandising of Cannabis/Hemp Flower (soon to be published as D8423);
Standard Specification for Environmental Conditions While In-Transit for Packaged Cannabis/Hemp Flower (soon to be published as D8432); and
Standard Specification for Environmental Conditions While Packaging Cannabis/Hemp Flower (D8450).
ASTM members will be presenting at the Cannabis Quality Conference & Expo, October 17-19 in New Jersey. Click here for more information. Jonathan DeVries, a member of ASTM, says these standards are designed for the entire cannabis supply chain, from cultivation, manufacturing and transportation all the way to the end consumers. “These standards are designed to support the safety and quality of packaged cannabis and hemp flower as it moves through the supply chain,” says DeVries. “This includes the activities following curing and drying, namely packaging, transit, and storage, until it reaches the final end user.”
A new ASTM International standard seeks to create an internationally recognized symbol that indicates a product contains intoxicating cannabinoids. The cannabis technical committee at ASTM, D37, developed the standard for the International Intoxicating Cannabinoid Product Symbol (IICPS).
The standard is labeled D8441/D8441M and is supposed to be used with all finished consumer use products, including topical use, ingestion and inhalation. ASTM International members David L. Nathan, M.D. and Eli Nathan designed the symbol with a group of volunteers from the D37 led by Martha Bajec, PhD of HCD Research. The symbol was concurrently developed by Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) and Subcommittee D37.04 on Cannabis Processing and Handling. The symbol is designed “to create a truly universal cannabinoid product symbol, mindful of its importance as a means to communicating to adults and children the need for caution with products containing cannabinoids,” says Dr. Nathan. “The symbol has the potential to facilitate a spirit of collaboration among experts, regulators, and all other stakeholders in the cannabis industry.”
Darwin Millard, subcommittee vicechair for ASTM D37.04 and subcommittee co-chair for ASTM D37.07, says this is perhaps one of the most important standards to come out of the committee. “It serves to establish a harmonized warning symbol that is truly international,” says Millard. “It is not intended to replace symbols that have already been established, rather it is intended to be used by marketplaces that have yet to establish a symbol.” As more and more marketplaces adopt the symbol, the hope is that markets with their own symbol will harmonize with the ASTM symbol over time.
Millard says the symbol uses the ISO standard warning triangle, the ANSI standard warning orange/yellow and defines a standardized icon for cannabinoids, the leaf. “There are a number of cannabinoids that are intoxicating, not just delta-9-THC, therefore the symbol is designed to be used to identify any cannabinoid that can be classified as intoxicating,” says Millard. “The symbol doesn’t care if the cannabinoid is naturally derived, isolated and purified, synthesized by yeast or created in a lab; if it is ‘intoxicating’ and a ‘cannabinoid’ the symbol can be used to identify a consumer product containing it. ‘Intoxicating’ was used over ‘inebriating’ or ‘psychoactive’ since neither term is correct. Impairing was recently used by Washington State and might be worth considering down the road.”
The IICPS became the official symbol for the state of Montana as of January 1st. New Jersey and Vermont have also incorporated the IICPS design into their state symbols, already making it the most widely adopted cannabis product symbol in fully legalized states. Alaska and other states are currently discussing use of the symbol as well.
If you are interested in contributing to the development of this and other D37 standards, you are encouraged to join the committee. In addition, they will be hosting a free webinar on June 1 to discuss the development of the international symbol, how to use it and how the marketplace and consumers will benefit from it.
On December 2, ASTM International, released a whitepaper called “Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol and the Need to Develop Standards to Protect Safety of Consumers.” On the same day, the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) launched an expert panel, drafting commentary and providing recommendations to protect public health. The two organizations are working in tandem to better educate the public as well as regulators on the science behind the risks that delta-8-THC products pose to the public.
ASTM has been working in the cannabis industry through their D37 committee since March of 2017. Soon after the D37 committee launched, they began crafting cannabis standards and have grown their membership and subcommittees considerably over the past few years. USP has also been involved in the cannabis space for quite some time, developing reference standards and offering guidance for the cannabis testing market.
The ASTM whitepaper details the current landscape for hemp-based products that contain delta-8-thc derived from CBD. It includes information on what the cannabinoid is, how it’s produced, the emergence of delta-8-thc in hemp markets and the need for better safety and performance standards.
David Vaillencourt, frequent CIJ contributor and ASTM International member, says they want to identify how we can maintain public safety when it comes to delta-8-THC. “Products containing delta-8-THC are widely available to consumers despite the known and unknown risks to consumer health and safety,” says Vaillencourt. “The topic is much deeper than simply the presence of delta-8-THC. Rather it is about defining how to label products containing potentially intoxicating cannabinoids and identifying what safeguards need to be in place to minimize the risk of impurities that can further impact consumer health.”
In addition to the technical information provided, ASTM’s whitepaper also discusses the risks of synthetic cannabinoids to public health and the regulatory landscape surrounding delta-8-THC. USP’s whitepaper discusses the chemical process that creates delta-8-THC, the unregulated market and offers guidance on how to regulate the cannabinoid with labeling and testing rules.
Dr. Ikhlas Khan, chairman of USP’s expert panel on cannabis, says we need a lot more research. “The fact of the matter is that little is known about the products labeled as containing delta-8, so much so that the FDA and CDC have both released advisories about the products,” says Khan. “Depending on how the products are produced, unknown impurities may be introduced, including minor and synthetic cannabinoid compounds that are not naturally occurring in cannabis.”
Delta-8-THC is not inherently unsafe, says Dr. Nandakumara Sarma, Director of Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines for USP. But as we’ve covered this before, the methods that manufacturers use to produce delta-8-THC could have harmful byproducts present in final products. “Synthetically derived cannabinoids are not necessarily inherently unsafe if they are quality controlled and shown to be safe,” says Dr. Sarma. “By using public quality standards, we can help in controlling the quality of the products and set appropriate limits for impurities.”
The folks at USP and ASTM will host a presentation on the two papers during ASTM’s 2nd Global Workshop on Advancing the Field of Cannabis through Standardization, to be held virtually Dec. 14, 2021.Click here to register.
ASTM International, the renowned global standards body, has established a new subcommittee, D37.92, aimed at facilitating the exchange of ideas and information between policymakers, regulatory bodies, scientists, stakeholders and the public.
According to a press release, the new subcommittee, at the request of the U.S. Senate, has provided comments on the proposed Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). The comments including the sharing of ASTM’s work in the cannabis industry, their organization, membership information, defining cannabis terms and their published standards related to facilities, consumer safety and other areas.
The subcommittee is headed up by David Vaillencourt, founder & CEO of The GMP Collective and frequent contributor to Cannabis Industry Journal. “With a patchwork of regulations across state, federal, and international levels, this subcommittee will be valuable to industry and government stakeholders as a means to collaborate,” says Vaillencourt, current chair of the new government liaison subcommittee. “It’s really going to facilitate dialogue that will be key as we look ahead to a global marketplace in the coming years.”
ASTM has been working with the cannabis industry through their D37 committee since March of 2017. Soon after the D37 committee launched, they began crafting cannabis standards and have grown their membership and subcommittees considerably over the past few years. In August of this year, they announced the development a new voluntary, consensus-based standard, the Change Control Process Management standard. The new committee, D37.92, is currently seeking public participation in their work to develop the new standard. To learn more about cannabis committee participation and membership, click here.
Change control, when it comes to quality management systems in manufacturing, processing and producing products such as cannabis edibles or vape pens, is a process where changes to a product or production line are introduced in a controlled and coordinated manner. The purpose of change control process management is to reduce the possibility of unneeded changes disrupting a system, introducing errors or increasing costs unnecessarily.
ASTM International, the international standards development organization, is developing a new standard guide that will cover change control process management for the cannabis and hemp market. The guide is being developed through the D37 cannabis committee.
The WK77590 guide will establish a standardized method for change control process management for cannabis companies so that they can document and track important decisions in manufacturing and quality systems.
For example, an edibles manufacturer would utilize change control process management if they want to use a different type of processing equipment or introduce a new shape or design of their product. Without change control process management, that edibles producer might switch to a new piece of processing equipment without knowing that it requires more energy or uses different raw materials, thus making production unexpectedly more expensive.
While that’s a very cursory example, the premise is simple: Before you undergo a change to your process, plan it out, analyze it, review it, test it out, implement it and make sure it works.
Change control process management can often be summarized in six steps:
Maribel Colón, quality assurance consultant and vice chair of the ASTM subcommittee on cannabis quality management systems, says producers and testing labs will benefit the most from the guide. “As the cannabis industry grows, the quality, expectations, and control challenges grow within,” says Colón. “The creation and implementation of this standard guide will increase cannabis business efficiency and minimize risk, time, and potential cost of poorly managed changes.”
According to a press release, ASTM International is open to collaboration on this as well. Specifically, they are looking for professionals with change control who might be interested in helping advance and develop this guide.
ASTM International, the international standards development organization, has proposed a cannabis standard for establishing retail cybersecurity protocols. Their D37 cannabis committee is currently working on the development of the standard.
The standard is designed to establish best practices for protecting critical databases in dispensaries, like inventory data, customer and patient information. The guide, developed by subcommittee D37.05, addresses “the company or government organizational need to mitigate the likelihood of cyberattacks and reduce the extent of potential cyberattacks, which can leave sensitive personal data, corporate information, and critical infrastructure vulnerable to attackers,” reads the scope of the project.
Technical Lead for the subcommittee and president of ezGreen Compliance, Michael Coner, says they hope to provide SOPs for retail operations to protect business data while staying compliant. “Cybersecurity is among the most prevailing issues concerning the cannabis industry as well as the global cannabis economy,” says Coner. “Establishing strong cybersecurity protocols for dispensary retail owners will help ensure the protection of data to maintain the integrity of cannabis consumers’ personal information.”
The ASTM committee is currently inviting stakeholders such as retailers and regulators to help with things like “identifying new data security issues that arise while operating active retail dispensary businesses.”
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