Lab Matters Spring 2017 - Page 13

feature Given that almost 20 million Americans aged 12 and up reported marijuana use in 2013 (7.5% of this population group)—and that one in five Americans now lives in a state that has legalized recreational cannabis—it seems likely that more state and local laboratories will be tasked with some form of cannabis oversight and will need supplemental funding to accommodate this work. Jahan Marcu, PhD, chief science officer for Americans for Safe Access—an advocacy group pushing for greater availability of cannabis for therapeutic use and research—said, “Patients have a right to have medicine of known purity and quality.” Marcu, who is also chief auditor for a nonprofit, third party certification program for the medical cannabis industry, said, “It is time for us to look at all available research and to have an adult conversation about cannabis as a medicine. We have the standards documents and we have the ability to regulate this product.” In 2014, the American Herbal Products Association published its own standards for cannabis business operations. And in February, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) announced that it would be developing voluntary, international standards for cannabis farming, quality management systems, laboratory testing, processing, security and personnel practices. Already, many accrediting groups, including A2LA and the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board, offer external assessments of medical marijuana-testing laboratories to ISO/IEC 17025 standards. Jeremy Applen, vice chair of the ASTM Cannabis Standards Committee, said, “I think it would be very difficult for the US to try to take away this industry.” He noted that Israel is already a global leader in medical cannabis research and that Canada, Germany, Uruguay, Australia and Chile either have a cannabis program or are in the process of developing one. Applen said, “I think the future is looking really good for the cannabis industry, and as that growth occurs, I think there will be big changes around cannabis testing. ... Labs providing testing for pharmaceutical or dietary supplement companies will start to bring cannabis testing on-line as well. That speaks to the need for standardization across the industry.” Last August, the DEA denied a petition to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs. It was the fourth denial. PublicHealthLabs @APHL Spring 2017 LAB MATTERS 11