ASTM International’s Cannabis Subcommittee Sets to Work on Sustainability Standards

The cannabis committee at ASTM International, a century-old organization that has released more than 12,000 global standards for a wide range of industries, has turned its attention to sustainability standards.

The cannabis committee, D37, has published auditing and security standards in the past, and recently launched a subcommittee on sustainability to develop standards aligned with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

RELATED: Standardizing the Cannabis Industry: A Look at ASTM International’s Process for Writing Standards

The standards will create consistency in an industry that has historically been regulated through a patchwork of state rules, according to Shawn Cooney, chair of D37’s subcommittee on sustainability.

“[The cannabis industry can] wait for [regulators] to even off the differences state by state, or the industry could stand up through the utilization of something like ASTM and get what the industry sees as standards into view, and then let the regulatory agencies mirror what the industry is basically saying the regulations should be,” Cooney told and Cannabis Dispensary.

Cooney co-founded the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition and said the organization saw an opportunity for businesses in the space to lend their voice to the creation of sustainable practices.

“We started blogs, podcasts, and we got great traction,” Cooney said. “Companies were learning that this was something they needed to learn about also. … We looked at sustainability as a space where there could be some good traction and some good input and some good action that could happen.”

Cooney and his colleagues approached the D37 committee about launching a “specific subcommittee that would encompass all things sustainable,” he said. The committee then decided it would be a good addition to the other subcommittees within the cannabis group at ASTM, which include subcommittees on cultivation, laboratory testing, quality assurance, manufacturing, processing, security and retail.

The new subcommittee’s overall goal is to help the cannabis industry be more efficient, transparent and well-regulated, and the standards it ultimately publishes will promote measurement, reporting and improvements made toward sustainability goals.

The subcommittee’s only action so far was to name Cooney as its chair and Jen Rumble, the director of communications for the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition, as its co-chair.

ASTM International writes standards in one of two ways. In some instances, a group of people who are interested in a particular standard will come together and collaborate on it, as Cooney and the other members of the cannabis subcommittee on sustainability plan to do.

Other times, one individual will volunteer to write a standard, and in that case, the author will send a draft of the standard out for ballot, where it is posted online for subcommittee participants to review and submit feedback. The author can then choose to revise the standard based on the comments, and then it would be put out for ballot a second time before being finalized and released as an approved standard.

Each ASTM International committee meets twice a year. The cannabis subcommittee on sustainability will hold its first meeting Nov. 5.

The subcommittee will relate its standards to five of the 17 United Nations SDGs:

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