Education and standardization sought for cannabis

     File - In this Nov. 21, 2014 file photo, former U.S. Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin smokes medical marijuana at his home in Belfast, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

    File - In this Nov. 21, 2014 file photo, former U.S. Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin smokes medical marijuana at his home in Belfast, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

    It’s not an unfamiliar story to Americans. People are still arguing about marijuana; whether or not their state should allow it to be used in their hospitals, their senior centers, prenatal care or even in their homes.

    The grey areas in the discussion across state lines may be less vague after a Tuesday meeting that gathered 60 industry experts, scientists and associations that questioned whether these standards need to be codified. The answer was clear: they want more information and more standardization across the board when it comes to their product and education.

    ASTM International in Conshohocken hosted the day-long meeting, and eventually determined that a committee is needed to improve performance in manufacturing and materials, processing systems and services, understanding commercial needs and consumer priorities. Chairing the committee will be Ralph Paroli, a director of research and development in Measurement Science and Standards at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario.

    The committee will be brought for approval by ASTM board member and then shortly get off the ground weeks after that. Jeremy Applen, the committee’s elected vice chairman for the main standards committee and an industry consultant hopes to see standards coming out of the committee in the next few months.

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    Applen said he’s glad to see more discussion, and possibly the formation of concrete standards for the market. For years, even as the industry evolved, there have been no consistency (or many efforts for standardization) between industry people and regulators.

    Applen will head more technical standards that may be used for reference moving forward— like minimum requirements for sustainability, manufacturing standards and consistency with health standards. Even as detailed as the water used to grow the marijuana plants could be up for discussion.

    “The standards really provide a platform for data-driven conversation around if whether a cannabis industry should exist or not,” he said.

    This committee may be the missing piece in the puzzle of the partisan issue to include standards for best-practices in the processes of growing, producing, sustaining, processing, transporting and training growers across the U.S. And many of Applen’s conversations with government, he said, have been focused on education.

    “Most of the folks that I’ve dealt with inside the government are intrigued by this and don’t hold an opinion one way or another,” he said. “They’re interested in learning about the challenges … and learning what companies are doing that may be harmful to public health and then how to resolve or mitigate those issues.”

    The formation of the committee comes at a time of political unrest under the Trump administration. Contrary to Trump’s original statements on the drug—mainly his support of a localized approach—the administration seems to be switching sides on the issue. The White House has recently spoken out about the discrepancies between legalizing recreational marijuana, as defined by federal and state laws.

    In a press conference last Thursday White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there would be “greater enforcement” when it comes to compliance across the states, emphasizing the difference—and the President’s take—between medical and recreational uses of marijuana.

    But so far, eight states have legalized medical and recreational marijuana, and 29 have legalized the medical use.

    These standards may contribute to more industry growth, whether that’s inside the medical field or not.

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