It was the same conference last year where many in the vaping industry realised that changes were coming with regards to the regulations. One year on and there has undoubtedly been a huge shift in...
Green Gold Rush: Ensuring Safety in the Booming Cannabis Industry
Oct 6, 2023 | Published by Cristelle Santos
The cannabis industry has been on an unprecedented journey in recent years. This has been led by a surge in acceptance and staged-state legalization across the United States. However, the rapid growth of the cannabis market has outpaced the establishment of comprehensive safety standards and regulations not only in the U.S. but across the world. The expansion of business opportunities cannabis brings comes with the responsibility to ensure the safety and quality of cannabis products. The Cannabis Science Conference (CSC) East in Providence, Rhode Island, shed additional light on the pressing need for a comprehensive safety and toxicological assessment framework within the industry.
With more states moving towards legalization in the U.S., the cannabis industry has the potential to become a significant economic force, generating high revenue and creating thousands of jobs. However, it is crucial to establish strong foundations from the beginning to ensure that the industry operates ethically and responsibly. The industry is starting to understand the importance of this and is taking some steps in the right direction. After speaking with several industry players at the conference, it became clear that many of them were unsure about what more they should be doing to improve the quality and safety of their products. Due to the absence of standardized testing requirements and adequate guidance, many are uncertain about the specific actions required to improve the overall safety profile of their products. It is imperative that greater attention is paid to these matters to safeguard public health and maintain consumer confidence in the sector.
One of the most pressing issues is the establishment of robust safety standards that can withstand the risks and uncertainties associated with the sector's growth. Developing such standards requires the involvement of all stakeholders, including government agencies, private organizations, and industry experts, to support the sector's growth while safeguarding public health, building consumer confidence, shaping future regulatory requirements, and ultimately supporting the longevity and sustainability of the cannabis industry.
The need for safety standards
In an industry that has long operated in the shadows, transitioning to a regulated market demands a rigorous commitment to safety. Cannabis consumers deserve products that are adequately risk-assessed for the presence of harmful contaminants, like solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, and microbes. As well as tested for degradants, flavoring ingredients, and naturally present terpenes that can cause allergies. Safety assessments are vital to build trust with both consumers and regulatory bodies.
Navigating regulatory hurdles
One of the most discussed topics at the cannabis conference was the evolving landscape of regulations and lack of guidance and standardized requirements. As the industry matures, state and federal agencies are working to establish clear guidelines for cultivation, processing, and distribution. Safety assessments, including comprehensive toxicological studies, will be at the forefront of regulatory conversations. Understanding the risks of these products is crucial to the industry, and at this point in its development, we cannot ignore that the cannabis industry has a significant role to play in enhancing product safety standards through best practices and self-regulation to ensure the sustainability of the industry.
Addressing industry concerns
From conversations at the conference, it was evident that the cannabis industry has concerns about safety. This was evidenced by the many questions asked about the subject to the experts presenting. It was clear many attendees fear the introduction of stringent regulations that may hamper innovation and burden smaller businesses with compliance costs. However, regulations will eventually come. So, companies should seek expert support before this regulation to be better prepared to adapt and survive future changes.
The Safety Assessment Framework
I had the opportunity to present the safety assessment framework I developed for cannabis products at the conference. This was a significant moment, as I had the opportunity to share my research and experience as a toxicologist in the cannabis industry with a highly engaged and knowledgeable audience. My framework, the culmination of extensive research and a passionate commitment to elevating industry standards, aims to provide a robust and reliable process for evaluating the safety of cannabis products, addressing every angle that can pose toxicological concerns to regulators.
What made this moment even more gratifying was that regulators were present at my presentation and actively engaged with me afterward. Their attendance highlighted the importance of the conversation and demonstrated a genuine commitment to fostering a safe and responsible cannabis industry. Engaging with these regulators provided a unique opportunity to share our knowledge, address some of their main concerns, and potentially open the door to future exchanges of ideas and collaboration that could yield future benefits for the industry.
Throughout the conference, the stakeholders from the cannabis industry actively participated by asking insightful questions and joining discussions. This emphasized the importance of collective effort in establishing robust safety standards for the industry. The interactions also demonstrated the industry's growing maturity, as stakeholders, experts, and regulators were united by a shared purpose of ensuring the safety of consumers and the long-term success of the sector.
Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing
The conference allowed stakeholders from across the industry to come together and exchange ideas. From cultivators and processors to researchers and regulatory experts, the collective goal was clear: to establish a safe, reliable, and transparent cannabis market. The spirit of collaboration is impressive, highlighting the industry’s shared commitment to the safety of consumers.
The conversations were enlightening and reaffirmed my belief in the importance of safety and toxicological assessments in this rapidly evolving industry. The industry has a keen interest in enhancing the safety profile of its products. As cannabis continues its journey toward widespread acceptance, it is imperative that businesses prioritize the safety of their products to safeguard their brands and the entire industry’s reputation. By adopting rigorous toxicological assessments, being transparent in areas like testing and reporting, and adopting high-quality standards, responsible marketing practices, and youth access prevention measures, the cannabis industry has the potential not only to thrive but to set a new standard for product safety and quality.
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