Challenges and Opportunities in (Inter)National Cannabis and Hemp Regulations: Perspectives from A GMP Webinar

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This hour-long webinar covered consumer safety, interstate commerce, and the need for global standards, highlighting collaboration and evidence-based approaches for future regulatory frameworks.

On April 24, 2024, the GMP Collective presented “Bridging the Gaps: Navigating Current Challenges in the Global Cannabis and Hemp Industry,” the twentieth episode in the webinar series, When Things Go Wrong. This episode centered around both the challenges and opportunities in cannabis regulations across the US and internationally. The guest speakers discussing their experiences on this topic were Gillian Schauer, the Executive Director of the Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA), and Martin Woodbridge, a consultant with Woodbridge Research who provides regulatory advice on cannabis-based medicines in Asia, Australasia, and Europe.

The first question presented by moderator Bethany Moore, Director of Content Strategy and Market Growth for the GMP Collective, asked “what are the biggest challenges regulators are facing and how do they differ by jurisdiction and by cannabis versus hemp?” Gillian Schauer clarified the role of regulators, noted the challenges facing laboratories and product safety, and discussed the ubiquitous challenge of regulating without federal minimum standards. Overall, she stated, the number one common issue is keeping consumers safe in the landscape of cannabinoids products. Martin Woodbridge offered an international perspective, first explaining the different designations of the cannabis plant based on its various uses (industrial, medical, recreational) and how markets are segmented and licensed for each use. Clarity and common ground around the globe is needed in these definitions, he explained, in order to create effective standards. He referred to the ASTM International article Adult-Consumer Use vs. Medical Use, which he co-wrote with David Vaillencourt, CEO of the GMP Collective, and as the upcoming ASTM committee workshop on June 10 2024, as the beginnings of a global approach to harmonization of standards and practices in the industry.


Next, the presenters discussed the challenges they’ve heard from industry operators and if they differ by location. The webinar also discussed interstate commerce, MSOs, and international trade. Schauer noted, “[interstate commerce] is here through legacy markets that have been interstate for decades, centuries. Arguably, it’s here through cannabinoid and hemp which can be sold online, which can be sold across state lines…one of the challenging discussions we've been having at CANNRA for over a year now is challenging states to think about what their landscape will look like when all of the boundaries drop and what will be particularly successful in their state.”

Also discussed was a review on the gaps in regulatory compliance and safety standards and how they impact the long-term sustainability of the cannabis and hemp industries. From an international perspective, Woodbridge stated, “Licensing helps decide who can be involved in the industry and what are the scope of the activities that they can be involved in. And it’s then that we can start developing those applicable standards and what is associated for those products for that licensed activity for that industry for that particular use type. And when we have a lot more clarity about this, it’ll be the greatest step that we can take going forward.”

Finally, the presenters offered steps that stakeholders, regulators, and lawmakers can take in order to collaborate proactively and shape future regulation.

In closing, David described the value in bringing multiple perspectives to the table when constructing regulations in the cannabis industry. “It’s challenging and complicated, but by doing so in a safe space, and being constructive, and bringing evidence and data to inform your perspectives, I think we have maybe the best chance in history to date to really create a future framework that actually works.”

Find more information on GMP Collective webinars here or watch the full recording of this episode here.