By Kimberly Stuck
Success for most food manufacturers stems in part from their commitment to food safety and this is no less true for those who specialize in cannabis food products. At this time, there are no official federal regulations for the manufacture of cannabis food products and, as a result, cannabis companies are at a higher risk of unknowingly producing unsafe products. The most vulnerable populations in the world use cannabis as medicine, and companies owe it to their customers/patients to produce a safe product.
In Denver, where cannabis possession and use are legal, some local public health departments have taken on the responsibility of regulating the safety of cannabis food products, although many counties don’t regulate cannabis product facilities at all. As a result, a huge percentage of products for sale in dispensaries have never been through any kind of government safety audit. This means that it’s critical for dispensary owners to vet the manufacturers of the cannabis food products they sell: they need to know if their local health department regulates them, if any safety audits are being performed—and, if so, by whom—and how frequently. It’s expected that, eventually, all local public health departments will regulate cannabis. But, for now, it’s up to manufacturers to be proactive and find out what the local health department regulations are, hire a food safety professional to help implement a HACCP-based food safety system, pay attention to recalls, and learn from the mistakes of others.