Selecting a Certifying Body

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Blogs | <b>Stuck on Compliance</b>

Third party certifications have become increasingly popular amongst cannabis and fungi cultivators and manufacturing companies. Receiving and maintaining certifications is a worthwhile endeavor that will set up your business for long term success, give you a competitive edge, and ensure a safe product for customers. Whether you’re seeking organic, current good manufacturing practices (cGMP), good agricultural and collection practices (GACP), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and other certifications, you will be tasked with deciding which certifying body to work with.

Certifying bodies (CB) are independent third-party companies handling the certification process. The first step is preparing for the certification. Allay Consulting helps to prepare companies for their certifications: we support our clients with facility plan reviews, document gap analysis, standard operating procedure (SOP) creation, and audit preparation. The certifying body is the last step in receiving your certification. We are often asked, “which certifying body is the best?” This is a tough question to answer because the decision is based on many factors. These factors will be specific to your company, not every certifier will be the same, and not all will be a good fit for you. Every certifying body is different and has unique requirements. All your SOPs, documentation, and implementation will be specific to the one you choose, so make sure you find the one that fits best. To make choosing your certifying body an easier decision, take into consideration the aspects discussed in more detail below.

Check If the Certifying Body Will Certify in Your Industry

Because tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and psilocybin are not federally legal (. . . fingers crossed, not federally legal yet!), a limited number of CBs will certify these companies. Back in 2017 when I started Allay, not one CB offered certifications to the industry. After many months of calls and convincing, a couple of brave leaders decided that the cannabis industry would benefit from these certifications just the same as wholesale food companies do. To this day, many certifying companies still refuse to certify hemp companies even though they are federally legal. This talking point should be one of the first discussion topics when speaking with a certifying company. Make sure to communicate all cannabinoids, chemicals, active ingredients, and products that you make in the initial call. Be very clear about what you are doing in the facility and what your certification goals are. If they can’t work with your specific industry, you need to know right away, and obviously you will need to find a company that will.


Any person or company can create a certification, but how do you ensure they are being held to best practice? Seeking a CB who is accredited fixes this issue. Having accreditation means a higher authorization independent third-party oversight checking their standards, credentials, and competence. An accreditation ensures the CB’s standards meet and/or exceed a recognized set of standards, usually influenced by already-existing federal regulations. An accreditation means the certifier is being audited regularly and isn’t just making a standard that doesn’t hold any water. There are many companies out there that just create their own certification to make some money, but when it really comes down to it, the certification means nothing. A certifier should not be owned by a consulting company or owned by a company in the industry—this causes huge ethical dilemmas, and those situations should be avoided. No matter which certification you choose, ensure the CB is accredited by an international accreditor such as American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB).



The reputation of the certifying body must be considered when selecting your certifying body. Many CBs have been in business for several decades, whereas others are relatively new. The CBs that have been around for decades have industry clout and hold marketing value, but sometimes the newer certifiers are just as sound and have newer technology or have great customer service. The bigger older companies may have an industry-known logo and that may help with marketing efforts for the brand. If you’re using the certification as a marketing tactic, selecting a reputable company is a must. I always recommend looking at websites and reading testimonials or asking your consultant who they would recommend working with. Sometimes it is best to also get on the phone with someone in the company to really understand their values and how they have treated other companies. It never hurts to do a little research before signing on with a CB.


Price typically drives company decisions. Because there are so many certifying bodies to choose from, it allows companies to shop around to best decide which company is a good fit for their business needs. Some certifying bodies offer significant discounts when working with consulting firms, which is sometimes a big help to companies on a budget. Make sure to get a quote from several companies so you can know how much it might cost; we have seen anywhere from $4000–$20,000 for a certification audit depending on what company you go with. Not all CBs are the same, and you always want to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze, so to speak.

Industry Experience

Allay Consulting highly recommends working with a certifying body who is experienced with your industry. The downside is that not all companies will work with cannabis (either THC, hemp, or psychedelics). It is always a difficult certification audit if the auditor has never been in a cannabis facility. Many times, when that happens it feels like you are actually training the auditor during the audit instead of the other way around, and to be truthful, you usually are. In contrast, some CBs have standards specific to the THC cannabis and hemp industry. Many auditors specialize in cannabis. In this case they have been in many facilities and are used to the nuances of the industry. Using a CB that specializes in your unique industry tends to make for a smooth audit experience.

Customer Service

Customer service is key when working with a certifying body. Companies seeking certification will communicate often with their CB: you will need to determine audit dates, corrective action follow-ups, renewals, communication with questions, and more. After all, you are the customer and should be their priority. If a CB has good customer service they respond to questions, emails, and many times you can reach out to the auditor directly if you need something. I have certainly had many experiences where the certification takes much longer than expected, because the CB dropped the ball and forgot to submit an audit report or corrective action plan. Thankfully this doesn’t happen too often. Many certifying bodies offer amazing customer service, so ensure this is a topic of discussion when selecting your certifying body.

Narrowing Down Which Certifying Body to Use

Narrow down the potential certifying bodies to a few satisfactory contenders based on the above criteria. Interview each CB based on talking points listed above. Talk with industry leaders who have used their services. Then you should be able to find a single company who you believe will be the best fit for your certification needs. I have been helping companies find the right CB fit for years, and it isn’t something that is easy. If you take the time to learn about them and choose the right one, it will save you lots of time, money, and heartache throughout the certification process. Certifications are a huge commitment, and it is important to move forward with confidence that you will have a good partnership with your CB. In most cases, you will be working with them for years to come.

About the Author

Kim Stuck is the CEO and founder of Allay Consulting. Direct correspondence to: