09 Jul Hemp Authority Certification Designed Specifically for Hemp Industry
In a recent discussion of industry thought leaders, all of whom are members of the US Hemp Round Table, we took an opportunity to drill further into the extensive work being done by the Hemp Authority, including the developing Hemp Authority Certification.
Patrick McCarthy, ValidCare: Why is the approach of using the Hemp Authority better than using some preexisting associations?
Marielle Weintraub: The US Hemp Authority Certification Program was designed for the hemp industry specifically. We took into account the need for those that are using dietary supplements in order to follow specific dietary supplement code that would be expected later down the line. Because we aren’t normal dietary supplements and the fact that hemp is a bio accumulator, we also take into account the need for good agricultural practices like soil testing and making sure that THC levels are below 0.3%. Where that gets more complicated, and the reason we developed the program the way we did, is because of the patchwork of regulations coming from all across the US from different states.
Specifically, one of the first ones we had to deal with was when Indiana required not only third party testing for laboratory testing but also required the laboratory be ISO accredited. Then they went further by telling you whose ISO accreditations they would accept. Within our seal, we wanted to make sure we not only took into account the patchwork across the US, as well as hemp-specific industry testing, but also helped the hemp companies. As they grow and we all evolve, we all need to fall in line with the FDA regulations as we become a larger and larger industry.
PCM: Does the Hemp Authority have an opportunity to work with companies that might bring seed from outside US or bring product that might be grown outside of US and allow for certification of those products?
Weintraub: Yes. Because it is the hemp industry and we’re constantly growing and evolving, in our 1.0 version, companies can have products coming in from outside the US. Exporting was originally the only way for these companies to create and then blaze the path for the rest of us, who now have CBD and hemp products. We’ve started working on 2.0 and our new guidelines will be posted online so people can make comments. We need those comments. With 1.0, the comments we got most often were questions about GMOs and country of origin. We have a standards technical committee that takes comments and questions and works them into the new draft. You’ll see very specific information now regarding country of origin and genetically modified plant material and how we plan on developing that, and dealing with that with audits and certification.
Joy Beckerman: If I could just elaborate, as Vice President of the US Hemp Authority, and it’s not just for genetically modified plant material, which I’m not sure we’d even be allowing under version 2.0, but all non-GMO ingredients would need to be put on that label. And country of origin is extremely important to many organizations, it was an overwhelming area of comment for version 2.0 was for this labeling. US Hemp Authority is partnering with WhereFoodComesFrom as the third party auditing service. It’s the nation’s leading premier verification service on a number of ag food and feed programs, such as US Organic and the NON-GMO project.
We need to be able to verify those seals. There is a big problem internationally on counterfeit seals. Then we need to make sure that whatever seal it is actually meets our standards. While that is happening on some levels, the reality is that under version 2.0, it’s going to have to be included on the label. Groups like the US Hemp Authority, the US Hemp Round Table and the US Hemp Farming Alliances are here to nurture and deliver on the US industry, and our farmers, manufacturers, and our processors here.
Chris Stubbs: We’ve got 25 or 26 farms that’ll go through the growers audit soon, we’ve done our CGNP and BRC audits and accreditations as well. I don’t think there’s ever really one answer. The consumer – the marketplace – speaks to the demand and what they’ll require on labels. There’s a lot of interest in farm to table transparency. Larger retailers and distributors coming online with interests in CBD products are requiring a lot of this work to be done. It’s been interesting to put it all together and meet those needs in an organic way. We know that the plant is healthful and helpful, and what we do as an industry is professional. We’ve said, “we’re producing food and to be regulated that way, it shouldn’t be overly complicated.” We appreciate the efforts of the round table and the candor to say, “Look, we know this is version 1.0. Now, let’s reach out and see what else the industry is going to require.”
We need to garner that input and continue to improve going forward. I don’t think any of us today are trying to say, “We’ve solved it. We’re done. It’s all over.” This is going to be a process. We have to do it together.
ValidCare is committed to the implementation of standards. With the development and adoption of standards, everyone involved in the industry – from supplier to consumer – can achieve their goals. We aim to provide our clients with data driven solutions to advance research, product development and commercialization of cannabis derived products to improve human and animal health. ValidCare is working to reveal insights from global communities to fuel healthier generations.
This blog post includes excerpts from a recent webinar featuring key industry leaders(1), who came together for a round table discussion on Why Standards Matter.
(1) Round Table Discussion Participants:
- Steve Bevan, President, GenCanna Global
- Joy Beckerman, Regulatory Officer and Industry Liaison, Elixinol; President, Hemp Industries Association
- Robert Kaufmann, Director of Research, Shaman Botanicals
- Christopher Stubbs, Chief Science Officer, GenCanna Global
- Marielle Weintraub PhD, US Hemp Authority