Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024: Jimmy Farrell Discusses ASTM International Meetings

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In this interview, Jimmy Farrell explains more on this opportunity to shape standards and methods in the global cannabis industry.

Here, Jimmy Farrell, Standards Development Manager at ASTM International, shares details of the four meetings taking place during the Cannabis Science Conference, each led by an industry expert. These meetings will be one of three types: a subcommittee meeting, initiatives, and a standards development draft.

ASTM is an international standards development organization. The D37 Committee on Cannabis was founded to continuously develop consensus standards to ensure the safety and quality of cannabis products through testing methods, cultivation guides, laboratory considerations, and more. Learn more from Jimmy Farrell, Standards Development Manager at ASTM on the important role ASTM plays in safety and quality of the global cannabis industry.

The four ASTM meetings being held on May 7th, 2024:

  • ASTM Subcommittee D37.93 on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Meeting • Scheril Murray Powell, Esq., Cannabis, Agricultural, and Dietary Supplement Attorney
  • ASTM Subcommittee D37.04 Initiative on Equipment & Facility Cleaning • Darwin Millard, Technical Director at CSQ
  • Joint ASTM Subcommittee Initiative on Vape Device Safety & Testing • Darwin Millard
  • ASTM Task Group on developing a Standard Guide for Cannabis/Hemp Laboratory Out-of-Specifications (OOS) and Retesting (WK85874) • Jini Glaros, Chief Scientific Officer at Modern Canna Laboratories

Attendees do not need to be an ASTM member to participate.

Learn more the video, read the transcript below, and register here for Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024! See you in Kansas City, Missouri May 7–9, 2024!


Read more about the three types of ASTM meetings at the upcoming Cannabis Science Conference:

What will the pre-conference ASTM meetings cover?

Jimmy Farrell: You're going to have the opportunity to see what is a full subcommittee meeting, and that would be the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee. So that subcommittee’s focus is applying a lens to the content of all standards that are proposed to ensure that they aren't written in a way that would be potentially exclusionary to anybody interested in entering the marketplace. But they're also focused on the development of terms that will be applicable to the cannabis industry, like the term “legacy operator,” and also defining “diversity, equity, and inclusion” as it relates to the cannabis industry, so that if there is a need for that specific term to be applied, you could look to ASTM, you can come to ASTM, for those definitions. And the other thing that that subcommittee is working on is coming up with a guide related to either the sacramental use of cannabis or even potentially the process by which you would create a sacramental use plant. So that you'll get a full overview of what that subcommittee is doing, where the work is, and basically, how you can plug in.

Two of the other meetings that are taking place are these overarching initiatives, and one is dedicated to equipment and facility cleaning, and the other is dedicated to vape, device safety and testing. And basically what these are is you have this overarching subject matter, but there's likely going to be multiple standards that address equipment and facility cleaning or vape device safety and testing. And so the technical contact that is shepherding that work is essentially looking for ideas on what does clean mean, or how to verify whether something is clean, talking about cleaning agents, and whether or not existing ones are appropriate, or you need to develop specific product specifications for the cannabis marketplace. And then sort of a similar approach to what's going on with vape device safety. So you're not actually getting involved in a specific draft or drafting a standard, but it's introducing you to the concept of what ASTM technical work is like and what it means to roll up your sleeves as a member.

The third type of meeting is actually a development of a draft standard. So that technical contact, Jini, she is working on a guide for laboratory added specifications and retesting. She has volunteered—ASTM is a volunteer organization—to lead that effort where she's essentially drafting this standard. And ultimately, that draft goes into the balloting process, and everybody on the committee gets to weigh in on its content. But until it gets there, somebody actually has to write it. Jini has volunteered to do that and Jini has taken the opportunity that was afforded to D37 by the Cannabis Science Conference, to pull on expertise from people throughout the marketplace, to inform the content so that it could be a more market relevant document. So that would give you the idea of what it's like to actually participate in the development of a singular standard. So you have these three tiers and if you have the opportunity to participate in any of them, you're going to learn something but certainly if you're available for all four of the meetings—but three of the types of meetings—it really get a good idea as to what ASTM participation is like.

What are you excited to see at Cannabis Science Conference?

Farrell: I have a genuine curiosity. A lot of this stuff is very, very interesting to me, especially as research has certainly been delayed or stifled and you're seeing all of this for maybe the first time, things are being presented. And one of the nice things about my position is, I'm not a technical expert in cannabis or I'm not a technical expert in the committee on concrete pipe that I manage, but when I get to go to these events, where I get to watch people within a marketplace be excited about one thing that they love, it energizes me, because I'm mostly focused on process—I'm helping you through the ballot process and things like that. But seeing the energy that members or potential members have about their subject is a very empowering thing for me to kind of trudge on with some of the administrative functions that that I mostly deal with. So I really love events like the Cannabis Science Conference for that.

From a D37 management standpoint, I'm interested in learning about what people think needs to be standardized, and how I can help them facilitate that. And then even from more like a personal interest standpoint, this relationship with the plant to medicine is a fascinating topic to me. I'd love to kind of consume that information anywhere I can because I think that it certainly does have a lot more applications than just maybe a recreational type approach to it. So learning about how to apply it in medicinal ways is of a very big interest.

Any final takeaways for consideration?

Farrell: I think people who are going to be able to see some of these ASTM meetings or talk to some of the members, it'll start to click and me saying process-related things are—it really sinks in when you're able to experience it. So the only thing that I could say that maybe would be a nice takeaway is you will talk to people like Scheril, you will talk to people like Darwin, and you will talk to people like Jini, and there are a number of other ASTM members that will be at this conference. And they are so involved in so good at being ASTM members, it'll almost seem like, “they've got that under control. I can kind of see what comes out of ASTM.” But the only way that you get out of ASTM what you are you're interested in the marketplace is, if you joined and is if you participate. And the only way that a volunteer organization can move any faster is if there's more hands helping out. So you may watch in awe as Darwin rattles off a bunch of ideas about equipment and safety cleaning, facility cleaning, things like that. But Darwin can't write those thirty standards by himself or at least if he could it would take a significant amount of time and I'm sure he would love to try. But knowing that you have the opportunity to participate and be part of that is the biggest take home that I'd like people to consider as they're hearing more and more about ASTM and D37.