quality management systems for cannabis cultivation facilities

Cannabis cultivation facilities require large scale cultivation of Cannabis plants, guided by rigorous and methodical Quality Management Systems. Due to increase in these facilities worldwide, Quality Assurance Bodies have adapted existing Quality Management Systems to allow for the inclusion of activities undertaken by a Cannabis cultivation facility. Specifically speaking to cultivation, there are two popular standards to follow to plan and execute the activities of the farm, entitled Global Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices.

Global Good Agricultural Practices (GlobalG.A.P.)

Any agricultural farm can get their produce certified under GlobalG.A.P. if their processes, facility, human resources and hygiene protocols are in place. GLOBALG.A.P. refers to a brand of smart farm assurance solutions, based in Germany with the intent to promote food safety worldwide. Development of Good Agricultural Practice guidelines is tasked to FoodPLUS GmbH and is approached with cooperation from producers, retailers and other relevant stakeholders across the food industry. GLOBALG.A.P. offers you one core product: GLOBALG.A.P. Certification, available for 3 scopes of production: Crops, Livestock, Aquaculture and consisting of a total of more than 40 standards.

The processes included in the scope of a GlobalG.A.P. system speak specifically to the cultivation of Cannabis or Hemp and generally do not include processing and extraction. These processes would include, among others, the following:

  • Germination / Propagation
  • Transplanting
  • Clone and Mother plant maintenance
  • Vegetation
  • Flowering
  • Harvesting
  • Drying
  • Feeding
  • Track and traceability
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Hygiene and Cleaning
  • Workers’ Health, Safety & Welfare
  • Environmental Management

Due to increasing demand, GlobalG.A.P. now includes certification specifically aimed at Cannabis and across four key areas: the production and consumption of cannabidiol (CBD); the use of recreational Cannabis; medicinal Cannabis; and the use of Cannabis for the production of seed and fibers that can be used for applications from bioplastics to textiles to construction materials. There are certified auditing bodies in South Africa that now include this specification as part of its auditing services.

Good Manufacturing Practices

Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) describes a set of principles and procedures that, when followed, ensure that medicines and related substances are of high quality, safety and efficacy. SAHPRA is a participating authority of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme (jointly known as PIC/S). PIC/S aims to develop international standards between countries and pharmaceutical inspection authorities, to provide harmonised and constructive co-operation in the field of GMP. PIC/S affiliation is subject to initial and periodic assessment of the participating authority to ensure that it has equivalent legislation, regulatory and enforcement procedures and inspection capacity.

Having one’s facility GMP certified doesn’t only grant access to SAHPRA’s licensing for medicinal purposes, but also testifies about the facility’s control over its procedures and operational activities. The scope of the GMP standards speaks more specifically to sound harvesting or gathering processes, drying, primary processing, extraction and manufacturing of medicinal Cannabis products.

The main processes addressed in GMP cultivation facilities include:

  • Quality Assurance
  • Legal Compliance
  • Cultivation
  • Facility & Product Handling
  • Maintenance
  • Security
  • Inventory Management

With a commercial recreational Cannabis industry on the cards for South Africa in the near future, the value and application of both GlobalG.A.P. and GMP standards and systems will soon to be seen. One can only hope that the value and methodical control of such a system can benefit the Cannabis industry.

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