GLOBALG.A.P. has selected ADAS, part of the RSK group, to lead a project assessing the interest in a responsible agriculture standard for the cannabis sector.

The project, which started in January 2020, seeks to review the regulatory frameworks that control cannabis use issues in key countries around the world and across four main areas:

  • the production and consumption of cannabidiol (CBD),
  • the use of recreational cannabis; medicinal cannabis,
  • the use of cannabis for the production of seed,
  • fibres that can be used for applications ranging from bioplastics and textiles to construction materials.

Cannabis has been a highly controversial plant for many years, but the legislative framework around it is changing; recreational use is now legal in countries such as Canada and regulations permitting medicinal use are increasing in countries such as the UK. In many countries, CBD is a booming product for the health and well-being market. Cannabis can no longer be ignored or treated only as an illicit substance, though staying on top of the legislation for how it can be grown and used in countries around the world is a challenge.

GLOBALG.A.P., as a leader in the certification of responsible agriculture, is working with stakeholders to consider developing a standard aimed at the agricultural producer level of the cannabis sector. To help support research and investigation into the potential uses and benefits of a standard, GLOBALG.A.P. has chosen ADAS to take a lead in market analysis.

The project will enable GLOBALG.A.P. to gain an understanding of what the market expects from a cannabis standard at the agricultural level and thus to design an industry-leading relevant standard.

GLOBALG.A.P. selected ADAS because of its independence and objectivity with respect to cannabis issues. At this still relatively early stage in the development of the cannabis market, ADAS will be able to share the results of the investigation with GLOBALG.A.P. and offer market perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders across key potential countries that could benefit from a potential future standard.

In recent years, ADAS has been supporting knowledge building in the cannabis sector. The company has an established track record in this sector because, in 2004, it carried out initial trials and a major study on cannabis and flax for Defra, the UK government department overseeing agriculture. With experts in crop production, sustainability and agricultural supply chains, ADAS is well-positioned to support the aims and objectives of GLOBALG.A.P.

“We were delighted to be selected by GLOBALG.A.P., a well-respected organisation in the development and ownership of standards, to deliver a project that requires an independent mindset and knowledge of agriculture and standards in the rapidly expanding cannabis sector,” said Dr Colin Morgan, Business Development Director at ADAS. “The cannabis sector is both fascinating and confusing and everyone in the sector is learning every day. Even the word cannabis is used interchangeably with terms such as hemp, so we wanted to bring clarity to an area of analysis that could contribute to the development of standards in the sector and drive trust and confidence in the entire cannabis value chain across a range of applications. In the UK, for instance, we have seen a massive increase in the use of CBD, but consumers are not always clearly aware of the origins, traceability and production methods of the products they are consuming. However, standards such as those from GLOBALG.A.P. could be used by the cannabis value chain to support trust-building if that is what the market is looking for. At ADAS, we can bring our extensive connections with a range of cannabis value chains to the research so that we can provide GLOBALG.A.P. with fundamental insights into the views of the sector.”

Kristian Moeller, Chief Executive Officer of GLOBALG.A.P., commented:

“GLOBALG.A.P. currently allows certification of low-tetrahydrocannabinol hemp under the Integrated Farm Assurance standard. Restrictions apply to hemp grown for medicinal and recreational use. We are receiving an increasing number of inquiries about expanding our scope to allow certification of legally grown cannabis regardless of the tetrahydrocannabinol content and/or end-use.

In the summer of 2019, GLOBALG.A.P. sought input from stakeholders on the market need for this scope expansion and the associated risks. We received a large and positive response during this public comment process. We are pleased to be working with ADAS to dig deeper into market needs, particularly in countries with robust legal and regulatory frameworks for cannabis production. Their input will guide our next steps for a potential cannabis standard.”

For more information, please contact Sarah Wynn, Sustainable Food and Farming.