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Global standards group wants to guide marijuana industry

Setting the standard: ASTM International, a century-old organization, launches cannabis committee with eye on cultivation, production, personnel development and more

A 119-year-old international organization that develops voluntary standards for items ranging from children’s toys to commercial spaceflight could soon do the same for cannabis operations.

ASTM International on Tuesday launched a volunteer committee on cannabis to discuss and develop standards in areas such as personnel training, cultivation and security, officials and committee members told The Cannabist. The committee was formed following an all-day meeting and vote of 60 stakeholders — representatives from inside and outside the cannabis industry — who gathered at ASTM’s headquarters in West Conshohocken, Pa.

If approved by the organization’s board of directors, the committee would become one of more than 140 standards-writing committees at ASTM.

“I think it provides a solid foundation for the industry to develop strong, ethical (standards),” said Jeremy Applen, a consultant with the cannabis industry who focuses on regulations, product quality and product safety.

If established as expected, the cannabis committee could be churning out standards in a matter of months, ASTM officials said.

“The cannabis industry touches different pockets of industry,” said Christine DeJong, ASTM’s director of business development. There’s so much applicability for this.”

The new cannabis committee plans to develop standards in the following technical areas:

  • Indoor and outdoor horticulture and agriculture
  • Quality management systems
  • Laboratory
  • Processing and handling
  • Security and transportation
  • Personnel training, assessment and credentialing

The standards publications for the specific cannabis-related sectors would then join the 12,000 standards ASTM has in its portfolio. Those standards, which range from a couple pages to a couple-hundred pages, are used to develop best-practices and regulations by businesses and governments alike.

“Other associations work on best-practices and guidance,” but they’re not accredited, DeJong said. “What we’re doing is bringing them under the umbrella of the ASTM and try to harmonize those efforts.”