Short list of GMP-certified cannabis companies fighting a larger battle for industry legitimacy

Interest in the Cannabis Manufacturer of the Year category in the Colorado Manufacturing Awards is heightened this year by a fascinating convergence of storylines.

Federal legalization aside, the most intriguing may well be the impact that new FDA regulations will have on the industry. The common theme that binds the 2020 CMA finalists is preparedness: All have set a course toward manufacturing safer, more highly tested products. If there’s any certainty in the FDA’s pronouncements, it’s that cannabis will be held to higher standards already required of their food and pharmaceutical counterparts.

Here are the Colorado finalists for Cannabis Manufacturer of the Year:

Hemp Depot, Colorado Springs

Medically Correct, Denver

Stillwater Brands, Denver

The effort to elevate the industry comes at an important time. For one, pro-cannabis legislators and lobbyists continue to struggle to move the needle on sorely needed outcomes like banking. A change in tactics would seem a good idea.

The push to raise industry standards fits the bill — a means to build trust in a landscape that today sorely lacks it.

Last summer, I wrote:

Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, alluded to manufacturing’s role in moving cannabis into the mainstream in a Washington Post article last week. In suggesting a path forward for the agency relating to CBD, Gottlieb wrote: 

“In the meantime, the FDA could exercise enforcement discretion to allow CBD to be marketed in food so long as the products meet certain conditions. These criteria can include meeting good manufacturing requirements, demonstrating traceability, adhering to safe levels for the purity and potency of the CBD being added, and demonstrating that CBD is being added to food products only in very low concentrations that are unlikely to pose health risks.”

The leading cannabis manufacturers are taking note. Some are operating on par with food and drug companies. One difference is that while many claim to operate in compliance with best practices, fewer are documenting their progress. It’s a crucial step.

GMP certification — Gottlieb’s “good manufacturing requirements” — is a good example. GMP, or Good Manufacturing Practice, is “a set of ever-evolving standards that have the force of law in guiding food and pharmaceutical production in the U.S. and other countries.” (Read CompanyWeek Editor Eric Peterson’s “Certification Primer: GMP.”)

THC and hemp cannabis companies can achieve GMP certification today, but our research suggests only a handful of companies in the U.S. have reached the high bar of certification. More have completed a GMP audit or inspection — usually a one-time evaluation that identifies corrective action to be audited again in the subsequent certification process – in operations that are monitored on an ongoing basis.

GMP audits are only a step along the path to certification. Landing on the registry of certified companies is a must for established food and pharma companies. It’s likely the same will be the case for cannabis manufacturers, and a good bet that a trust gap will persist for the industry until it’s leading brands are certified and registered.

Here’s the Cannabis Manufacturing Report‘s list of cannabis companies with documented, registered GMP certification. It’s a short list:

Charlotte’s Web, Boulder, Colorado

Products: Hemp oils; CBD products

Type: NSF Dietary Supplements GMP Registration

Hemp Depot, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Products: Hemp seeds and oils; CBD products

Type: NSF Dietary Supplements GMP Registration

Mile High Labs, Broomfield, Colorado

Products: CBD and hemp extracts

Type: SGS Good Manufacturing Practice Certification/ISO 9001:2015 certification


Among those with GMP audits:

Bluebird Botanicals, Loiusville, Colorado

Products: Hemp extracts

Type: Eurofins GMP audit/GMP for Dietary Supplements audit

Commonwealth Extracts, Louisville, Kentucky

Products: Hemp oils; CBD products

Type: AIB International GMP Audit

Stillwater Brands, Commerce City, Colorado

Products: THC- and CBD-infused beverages and edibles

Type: Eurofins Dietary Supplements GMP Audit


List your operational benchmarks including GMP audits and certifications here and send us a note with documentation. We’ll follow up.  Our goal is to provide companies an opportunity to showcase all sourcing and manufacturing-related achievements, from farming to product and ingredient testing to manufacturing operations. Those companies traveling the last, tough mile deserve the recognition.

Consumers need it, regulators and new business partners demand it, and progress requires it.

Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Contact him at btaylor@companyweek.com.

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Article: Short list of GMP-certified cannabis companies fighting a larger battle for industry legitimacy, Company Week

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