The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is helping to foster growth in the market for medical marijuana through recommendations that are aimed to ensure regulated cannabis is safe and subject to quality control measures.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that promotes access to medical marijuana, announced last week that Maryland adopted AHPA’s recommendations to regulators in the areas of cultivation, distribution and manufacturing. Twelve states with marijuana laws have included components of AHPA’s guidance and a cannabis monograph developed by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), according to ASA.
“I think the industry is always just a little ahead of where the regulations are," said Jane Wilson, director of program development for AHPA, in a phone interview.
About half the U.S. states have been working to legitimize through regulations what has traditionally been a black market controlled by street-corner dealers, small-time pothead growers and wholesale drug lords. Cannabis regulators have faced challenges along the way, including in Colorado where marijuana foods or so-called edibles were linked to the 2014 death of a college student.
“I think it’s going to be a while until a definitive regulatory model is created in terms of what’s the best way to have safe and quality products out there while still providing for a good marketplace that’s not overregulated," Wilson said.
Twenty three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. ASA estimated the United States is home to around 2 million medical marijuana users, and the number is continuing to grow.
In Maryland, final regulations governing the medical marijuana industry take effect on Sept. 14. The Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission anticipates that cannabis will be available to patients in the second half of 2016.
ASA has been selected to provide training for compliance inspectors operating under the cannabis commission’s authority. Auditor training will be offered through the Patient Focused Certification program, a project of ASA that has trained thousands of employees in the medical marijuana industry, according to the nonprofit organization.
Noted AHPA’s Wilson: “I think regulators recognize there is value in working with the industry."