The Top Five Reasons Cannabis and Hemp Industry Businesses Should Become cGMP Certified
People often ask me why cannabis or hemp cultivators should get cGMP certified. The question is understandable. cGMP Certification takes a lot of time, it’s hard work, and it’s not cheap. Why go through the trouble if cGMP isn’t required? I’m here to tell you that there are many, many reasons accredited certifications matter when it comes to your cannabis business. If I listed all the ways it’s good for a company, this article would be pages long, so I decided to make a top-five list instead; here we go.
1) Product Safety
cGMP requirements are based on current FDA regulations, and they’re designed to make your product as safe as possible for human consumption. The certification not only shows consumers that you care about them, but it’s also a significant risk mitigator when it comes to liability and regulatory fines.
Not only that, but cGMP certification drastically reduces the likelihood that you will have to go through a recall or dispose of products due to a contamination oversite. Announcing to the world that you messed up and potentially (or actually) harmed some of your customers is a big black eye on not only your brand but the entire industry. Having acceptable food safety practices in place can make or break a company.
Don’t be the last company to prioritize food safety; you may soon regret it.
2) Worker Safety
cGMP certifications include requirements for documentation, training, and logs of some – but not all – OSHA standards.
In my experience, 90% of the cannabis industry companies that I conduct audits for have no OSHA documentation in place in their facility other than the informative poster on the wall.
The documentation that cGMP requires is also required by OSHA and is the perfect starting point to complete worker safety compliance.
Many of our clients will finish their cGMP Certification and then have Allay Consulting complete their OSHA required documentation and training. Once you have a couple of OSHA items in place, I think company leaders see how important it is to protect their employees and decide it’s a good idea to become fully compliant.
Also, OSHA is one of the highest fining departments in the US. If there is a complaint, they have jurisdiction to investigate all cannabis facilities, so having anything in place will reduce fines if a visit does happen.
3) Brand Recognition
Brand recognition is probably the number one reason potential clients call me wanting the cGMP Certification. Companies want to brand their products as cGMP certified, and many other cannabis/hemp companies won’t buy or sell products that weren’t made in a cGMP certified facility.
Today, this is a trend, but it’s where I see the industry moving in the not-so-distant future. Consumers are far more likely to buy a product they know is safe and held to a high standard. Putting on your branding, website, and product displays that you are a cGMP Certified company can make a significant difference to consumers and ingredient buyers.
It also lets consumers know that you aren’t just in this to make money – you care about the people using your products. cGMP certification helps consumers trust your brand and ensures loyalty; that’s the goal. Accreditation sets your company apart, especially when many brands are entering the cannabis industry only for the money grab.
4) Media Opportunities
Businesses usually publish press releases and articles when there’s something worth celebrating. cGMP certification is an excellent opportunity to brag about your accomplishments, and why not – you’ve earned your bragging rights! Accredited health and safety certifications aren’t easy to get. You should post the certification on your brand’s website, work with an agency to get media hits, spread the word on podcasts, and put out a press release.
These tactics have greatly helped companies we’ve worked with. You should have pride in your company’s accomplishments, and when you have an achievement like this, you should be talking about it.
5) Business Longevity
Our clients are on a certification path where they first receive cGMP Certification, then ISO 9001, and then ISO 22000. This grouping of certifications will eventually be the way of the world. The longer hemp/cannabis is on the market, the more these kinds of regulations and certifications will be required.
Eventually, cannabis and hemp will be federally legalized, and not only will you be dealing with all state and local regulatory factions, but you’ll have to contend with the FDA and OSHA as well.
Receiving these certifications will make the federalization transition practically painless because most of what is required by the FDA will be already addressed and implemented in your facilities. Companies that aren’t thinking about the big picture, and aren’t even thinking about becoming compliant with these standards, will eventually pay the price.
We set our clients on this path because, like many wholesale foods, there is evidence that ISO 22000 will be required for international commerce. The Canadian government is even thinking about requiring all of their cannabis facilities to comply with this standard. That ideal will probably spread to other countries, including the US.
Without these certifications, you will seriously be limiting your future growth potential. I want to help our clients be as successful as possible. Being compliant and getting certified is a cornerstone of success in this industry. Someday, storefronts and ingredient buyers won’t work with you without these kinds of safety assurances in place. Businesses falling behind won’t be around long enough to make their mark.
Getting cGMP certified is a smart decision; it’s that simple.
There are many reasons why getting cGMP certified is smart. Becoming compliant with federal regulations like the FDA and OSHA can save you hardships and money. Receiving brand recognition for a job well done and going above and beyond is always a good thing, and the outgoing media can only help you find new consumers.
But here’s the real takeaway I want to leave you with: if you’re going to build a quality brand that lasts longer than a few measly years, you will need cGMP certification (and likely other certifications). The cannabis industry is changing, and people want products they know are safe and consistent; this is how you prove that.
If you have any questions about cGMP or other certifications, please visit www.allayconsulting.com.
About the Author
Kim Stuck is the founder and CEO of Allay Consulting, a compliance strategy, and services provider serving the hemp and cannabis industries nationwide. She brings a regulator’s keen eye and wide-reaching knowledge on evolving compliance and safety mandates to support businesses in tightly regulated industries. Previously, Ms. Stuck held a pioneering role as the nation’s first cannabis and hemp specialist for a major metropolitan public health authority. During her tenure with the City of Denver, home to hundreds of cannabis businesses, she worked as an investigator covering cultivation, manufacturing, and retail. Her duties included facility inspections, conducting investigations into improper pesticide use and worker safety, creating regulations, instituting recalls, and public outreach. Ms. Stuck holds numerous accreditations, such as certified quality auditor (CQA) and certified professional of food safety (CP-FS), among others. In addition to serving on several industry advisory boards, she has been a member of ASTM International’s cannabis standards committee since its 2017 inception.