The industrial hemp industry is thriving — and the rising popularity of CBD products has a lot to do with that!
As public awareness of CBD products continues to rise, more and more people become curious enough to add CBD to their wellness routines. Some simply trust that any CBD product that makes it onto the shelves of their local health food shop is good enough, but others demand the best.
How do you know that the cannabidiol you buy meets your high standards? Good manufacturing practices play an essential role in the regulation and self-regulation of the CBD industry. Find out what good manufacturing practices are and why they matter to CBD enthusiasts here.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoids found in industrial hemp and marijuana plants.
In contrast to tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound famous for producing a high, CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects. It’s non-addictive and generally used to support overall health and relaxation.
CBD is generally extracted from industrial hemp plants, which naturally have a low THC content. Authorised CBD products with a THC content of up to 0.02 per cent are legally available in the UK — no prescription needed.
Consumers should remember that not all CBD products are equal in quality, though! Discerning shoppers can look out for CBD products that meet their high standards by:
- Looking for CBD products that were third-party lab tested to ensure quality.
- Buying CBD products with third-party certifications — depending on your needs, you may want to shop for organically farmed, GMO-free, gluten-free, vegan, and cruelty-free CBD products.
- Learning about the extraction processes CBD manufacturers use. Many people prefer CO2-extracted CBD, as the CO2 extraction process does not use chemical solvents that could leave harmful residues.
A GMP certification is another important mark of quality.
What Are Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)?
“Good manufacturing practices” (GMP) is a general term referring to the set of government-determined guidelines intended to ensure that products meet minimum safety standards. Products with a GMP certificate have met the standards of the relevant regulating body.
Good manufacturing practices apply to a wide variety of products, including medicines, food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and medical devices.
Varied regulatory bodies set relevant GMP standards across industries and in different jurisdictions, but all good manufacturing practices have the same basic aims.
To obtain a GMP certificate, a product typically has to adhere to high standards in each of the following areas:
- Clean and hygienic manufacturing facilities.
- A controlled environment to prevent cross-contamination.
- Tightly-controlled and predictable manufacturing processes, ensuring predictable quality.
- Skilled, trained, and healthy employees or equipment operators.
- Meticulous record keeping.
- Regular audits and clearly-defined quality-control processes.
- Clear documentation defining all these practices.
Why Do GMP Regulations Matter in the CBD Industry?
Cannabidiol is not new — this cannabinoid naturally occurs in Cannabis sativa plants (including marijuana and industrial hemp). As people have been consuming parts of these plants for thousands of years, it’s safe to say that humankind has been consuming CBD for just as long.
However, the ability to selectively extract CBD from industrial hemp and marijuana plants is relatively new. It’s no surprise that regulations have been unclear and subject to frequent change over the last couple of years.
CBD consumers should have high standards — and should be able to shop for premium-quality CBD effortlessly. Good manufacturing practices can help with that.
Discerning CBD consumers should know that each jurisdiction sets its own standards and that regulations continue to change.
CGMP Standards in the United States
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates current good manufacturing practices (abbreviated as cGMP) in the United States.
Following cGMP standards is compulsory for manufacturers in some industries, including pharmaceuticals, biologics (like vaccines), and dietary supplements. Meanwhile, cGMP standards are voluntary in some other areas, like cosmetics.
The FDA’s cGMP standards are frequently updated to match current best practices. As of 2023, the FDA has said it is working on a “new way forward” regulating CBD products. Current CBD manufacturers can, however, voluntarily follow cGMP standards.
GMP Regulations in the European Union
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is responsible for regulating medications within the European Union, including by producing and enforcing guidelines for good manufacturing processes.
The EMA covers cannabis-based medications but not novel food items like consumer CBD products. However, manufacturers of CBD products can and should absolutely follow good manufacturing practices, and the production of CBD may be more tightly regulated in the future.
It is important to note that EU-based GMP regulations no longer apply to the UK.
GMP Regulations in the UK
Since leaving the EU, the UK has established its own separate body to govern good manufacturing practices — called the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The MHRA regulates good manufacturing practices for medicines, medical devices, and adjacent items such as blood products. It also regulates their safe distribution. These standards apply to all relevant products made in the UK or manufactured elsewhere and imported into Britain. (As of 2023, that includes products made in the EU, as Britain no longer recognises EMA GMP standards.)
As in other countries, CBD regulations in the UK are subject to frequent change. However, the MHRA has ruled that CBD products used for medicinal purposes may be considered medicines. Therefore, good manufacturing practices likely apply. The MRHA works with individual manufacturers to ensure they are compliant.
Why Should CBD Manufacturers Apply for GMP Certifications?
A certification indicating that a CBD product adheres to good manufacturing practices can help CBD manufacturers build an excellent reputation. GMP certificates are one way to show that CBD products are high in quality and that manufacturers follow strict guidelines.
It’s a good idea to voluntarily follow GMP standards even when it’s not required. This can help manufacturers stay ahead of potential regulatory changes and inspire confidence in consumers.
Why Should CBD Consumers Be Aware of GMP Regulations?
CBD Consumers buying cannabidiol products that adhere to good manufacturing processes can rest assured that they’re purchasing from ethical manufacturers who take safety and quality seriously.
Of course, consumers looking for quality CBD can also look for other important signs of quality. They include transparent information about the CBD extraction process, third-party lab testing, and third-party certifications such as GMO-free, vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free labels.
Good Manufacturing Practices in the CBD Industry: A Recap
The global CBD industry is thriving. As more and more CBD products enter the market, it’s up to consumers to decide which cannabidiol products meet their high standards.
Looking for GMP certification issued by the relevant body can help with that. Consumers should remember that CBD regulations frequently change, however. GMP certifications are not required, or even available everywhere, but voluntary compliance is always a big plus.