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How Clean Is The Cannabis Industry?

By Marguerite Arnold

As the CannTrust scandal continues to reverberate around Europe, a question is clearly in the room this fall – is this problem just isolated in one country in Europe (Denmark) or is it more widespread?

Specifically, in a mostly import driven business, has Germany, the largest medical cannabis market in the world right now, dodged this bullet?

The answer? Probably not.

The question right is, of course, why not?

GMP Is Still Bein Implemented In The Industry

The production standard for the cannabis industry that is evolving out of the medically focused industry in Europe is called ‘GMP.’ It is a pharmaceutical standard, used far beyond cannabis, that is supposed to set best practices for the cleanliness of the pharmaceutical industry. GMP is the highest and most expensive standard. It requires that production centers are hygienically and biologically “clean.” But it does not stop there.

One of the most common misperceptions on the production end is that the production environment of crops does not have to be EU GMP compliant at the time of growth. Many producers, for example in Canada, still believe that using domestic pesticide-free “green” production is good enough to meet EU-GMP if it is taken to a processing plant.

That is a very expensive mistake to make, and in many cases requires retooling to fix. But even beyond the production and processing of the product, the entire supply chain must be up to snuff, including product packaging and employee backgrounds.

In part what also seems to be happening across Europe is that GMP cert was required by July – namely the date of full implementation of the large pharma trade deal between the US and Europe. However, some companies clearly did not meet the July deadline.

There are also other factors. Widespread misadvice about compliance measures required in both Europe and Germany is widespread.

This issue is not just limited to the medical industry. Novel Food, which so far is only hitting the CBD market, is also a licensing discussion in the room and has so far likely committed violations not only on the product side but also on the labeling front as well.

Who Rings The Alarm Bells?

The CannTrust debacle proves one thing clearly, that the best regulatory structure in the world does not work if the industry itself (including employees) does not comply. In a world where the product itself is still rare and hard to find, this creates disincentives for distributors to report producers.

This is especially true in foreign markets, and even more so in a country like Germany. The regulatory framework is not only present and high in foreign markets, but interaction and communication between federal and state agencies are also difficult to penetrate, particularly for foreigners which are still the majority of those who work in the vertical.

In other words, who sounds the alarm is a fragmented answer, and often impacted by business decisions far beyond consumer safety.

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