October 11, 2022
Since Canada federally legalized adult access to recreational cannabis in 2018, a lot has changed. There are now 18 states, three territories and Washington, D.C. in the United States (U.S.) and five other countries, Georgia, Malta, México, South Africa and Uruguay, where legal cannabis can be grown with restrictions, purchased and used for medical and recreational purposes. This change is in addition to the 27 countries and 38 U.S. states that already allow the use of medical cannabis. Meanwhile, legislation for some form of cannabis legalization is under consideration in dozens of countries across the globe.
Due to the fast pace of global legalization, the emerging legal cannabis industry does not yet have rules, regulations and standards to ensure the safety, security and sustainability of facilities and operations. Newly formed companies and entrepreneurs frequently create infrastructure or repurpose facilities and equipment to suit their needs.
“Governments, authorities having jurisdiction, regulators and code-making bodies grapple with the lack of consistent rules and guidance. Generally, regulations are built over time, and as technologies change, the standards also evolve to meet an industry’s current needs. However, there's little to go on when an industry is new. Regulations have to play 'catch up',” David Lefebvre, general manager for UL Solutions in Canada, said.
Since 2019, UL Solutions has contributed to the development of U.S.-Canada binational standards, national standards and technical guides specifically focused on the safety and security of legal cannabis facilities and extraction operations.
In November 2020, in partnership with the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), UL Solutions, then UL, hosted an ISO international workshop (ISO IWA 37). The workshop focused on the safety, security and sustainability of facilities and operations of the legal cannabis industry. Over 200 people located in 22 countries participated in the workshop. The delegates were from across the supply chain, such as entrepreneurs, cannabis producers, engineers, and consultancy firms, and regulators, government policymakers and scientists. They gathered to take the first steps toward providing the legal cannabis industry with documents that can be used as blueprints for countries entering this emerging industry.
The workshop resulted in the completion of three international workshop agreements:
- ISO IWA 37-1:2022, Safety, security and sustainability of cannabis facilities and operations – Part 1: Requirements for the safety of cannabis buildings, equipment and oil extraction operations
- ISO IWA 37-2:2022, Safety, security and sustainability of cannabis facilities and operations – Part 2: Requirements for the secure handling of cannabis and cannabis products
- ISO IWA 37-3:2022, Safety, security and sustainability of cannabis facilities and operations – Part 3: Good production practices (GPP)
“There is a great opportunity to share the learnings from Canada’s experience with legalization with many countries tlooking to build their legal cannabis market infrastructure,” Tess Espejo said. Espejo is program manager for Fire and Security Service Solutions at UL Solutions and the secretary of the ISO IWA 37.
“We are pleased to help address the needs of the legal cannabis industry, which was severely underserved in areas of standardization and regulation,” Lefebvre said. “A strict regulatory framework is crucial to evolve the current legal cannabis market into an industry that is more responsible, effective and sustainable.”
With the ISO international workshop and key services for the legal cannabis industry, UL Solutions leads the efforts to bring conformity assessment services to this market as it emerges worldwide.
Canada´s commitment to offering global thought leadership started by proposing the creation of an ISO technical committee on legal cannabis. This new activity will help push the newly published ISO IWA documents forward to become full-fledged international standards.
“SCC is proud to call UL Solutions a partner on this journey of collaboration with many of the world’s top experts in legal cannabis production,” says Chantal Guay, CEO of SCC. “This path forward is an exciting step in ensuring industry best practices are leveraged to protect the health and well-being of consumers while helping businesses worldwide access new markets.”
About UL Solutions
A global leader in applied safety science, UL Solutions transforms safety, security and sustainability challenges into opportunities for customers in more than 100 countries. UL Solutions delivers testing, inspection and certification services, together with software products and advisory offerings, that support our customers’ product innovation and business growth. The UL Certification Marks serve as a recognized symbol of trust in our customers’ products and reflect an unwavering commitment to advancing our safety mission. We help our customers innovate, launch new products and services, navigate global markets and complex supply chains and grow sustainably and responsibly into the future. Our science is your advantage.