Author Archives: Michael Boone

How To Get a New Jersey Cannabis License

How To Get a New Jersey Cannabis License

To operate a recreational or medical use cannabis business in New Jersey, you must first apply for an NJ cannabis business license. The application process might appear complicated at first, but it’s actually quite streamlined.

If your business performs any commercialized activities involving legalized cannabis, you need an NJ cannabis business license. This includes:

  • Growing cannabis or hemp
  • Storing cannabis or cannabis-related products
  • Manufacturing cannabis products
  • Transporting anything containing cannabis
  • Selling anything containing cannabis
  • Testing cannabis products
  • Delivering cannabis products to consumers

Failing to follow the proper steps and procedures during the licensing process can result in a rejection of your application. And operating unlicensed is a recipe for disaster. With New Jersey officials cracking down on unlicensed cannabis businesses, it’s a risk that will result in catastrophic damages to your business and your life.

Understanding the cannabis license process is critical for a successful application. In this article, I’ll outline the basic information you need to know to apply for a cannabis business license in New Jersey. Keep reading to learn more.

New Jersey Cannabis License Types

Since the CREAMM Act (Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act) was established and signed into law by Governor Murphy, six types of cannabis businesses are now eligible for licenses in New Jersey. 

The CREAMM Act provides the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission the authority to further expand and develop the current Medicinal Cannabis Program. This includes the provisions for further regulation and enforcement provisions of the rules and activities associated with recreational cannabis for adults 21 years or older. The Act also addresses other important issues related to cannabis.

New cannabis businesses can apply for a conditional license. This allows business owners to operate legally for a temporary period of time as they develop the systems required to obtain one of the six official licenses. 

There are significant differences in the application process—in particular, the cost of fees—between mid and micro-sized companies, but the general process is similar.

Here are the six cannabis license types available in New Jersey:

  • Class 1: allows cannabis cultivators to grow adult-use crops
  • Class 2: allows cannabis manufacturers to create adult-use products
  • Class 3: allows cannabis wholesalers to facilitate the sale of, store, and transport adult-use products
  • Class 4: allows cannabis distributors to transport and sell large quantities of adult-use products within state lines
  • Class 5: allows cannabis retailers to purchase and sell adult-use products
  • Class 6: allows cannabis delivery companies to transport adult-use products to customers

NJ Cannabis License Social Equity Initiative

In an effort to increase social equity in the New Jersey cannabis industry, the state has implemented a prioritization program that provides application preference to marginalized groups and those from economically disadvantaged areas.

The prioritized groups are outlined below. They are designated for:

  • Members of marginalized communities: businesses owned by those the New Jersey Department of the Treasury classifies as minorities, women, disabled people, or veterans
  • Members of economically disadvantaged communities: business owners who have lived in specific state-designated areas, or those who are impacted by a cannabis-related criminal offense
  • Impact Zone businesses: businesses located in, owned by a resident of, or employing residents of Impact Zones
  • Microbusinesses: businesses with fewer than ten employees operating in less than 2,500 square feet

How to Get an NJ Cannabis Business License

The New Jersey Cannabis Trade Commission oversees all cannabis licenses in NJ through its online platform. 

To begin an application, you’ll need to register for an account, confirm your email, then log in to your account. Once in the portal, you’ll be taken through the following steps:

  • Create a new application
  • Add all relevant information under the General Information tab
  • Complete the license information
  • Include detailed information about applicants and answer the required questions
  • Add all information about the primary contact
  • Include detailed location information and answer the required questions
  • Provide the required documentation
  • Complete your payment
  • Review all information for accuracy and completeness

Once you’ve submitted your application, you may review your application status in the dashboard. Here you can also review information about payments and invoices, and make updates to your application and account.

How Much Does an NJ Cannabis License Cost?

The cost of a New Jersey cannabis business license varies depending on the size and category of your business.

How Much Does an NJ Cannabis License Application Cost?

First, business owners must consider application and certification fees. Both conditional and full license applicants can expect to pay $4,000 for a standard business and $3,000 for a microbusiness. 

Additional fees that range from $100,000 to $1,000,000 apply to those seeking certain medical cannabis expansions or vertically integrated alternative treatment centers.

How Much Are NJ Cannabis Licensing Fees?

Licensing fees for New Jersey cannabis businesses are as follows:

  • Fees for cultivators: between $5,000 and $50,000 depending on size and $1,000 for microbusinesses
  • Fees for manufacturers: between $20,000 and $30,000 depending on size and $1,000 for microbusinesses
  • Fees for retailers: $10,000 for standard businesses and $1,000 for microbusinesses.

Get Your Cannabis Business License in NJ

The key to a successful New Jersey cannabis business license application is preparedness. Before you apply for your license, ensure your business is compliant with federal, municipal, and state regulations. You must enter the application with an understanding of what type of business license you’re applying for and whether or not you meet certain requirements for prioritization.

Once you’re ready, complete the pre-application checklist:

  • Ensure compliance with all regulations
  • Prepare a solid business plan
  • Select a business structure
  • Obtain tax ID numbers
  • Select and register your business name
  • Open a business account with a New Jersey bank
  • Get insured and create a plan for remaining insured
  • Research local commercial spaces
  • Gather documentation to prove eligibility for application priority
  • Gather documentation to prove compliance

Streamline the Cannabis Licensing Application Process With Qredible®

Once you’ve obtained your license, you can validate it on your Qredible® profile. Qredible is the industry’s only digital registry of validated and verified legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp companies. Qredible can also assist you by finding a qualified attorney in the state through our community of professionals.  

Qredible makes it easy to prove your compliance and gain trust with investors, retailers, and consumers by demonstrating the validity of your license. But it also makes the pre-application process simple with a series of tools and functionalities designed to ensure compliance and quality assurance.

At Qredible, we’re working hard to ensure trustworthy businesses outperform their corner-cutting competitors. To learn more about how we can support your team, set up a discovery call.

How To Open a Dispensary in 7 Steps

As more states introduce legislation that legalizes adult-use or medical cannabis, many savvy businesspeople are curious about the process of opening a dispensary. The upfront investment of opening a dispensary may be intimidating, but the projected growth of the industry is, for many, worth it.

Opening a dispensary involves a lot of moving parts: accessing capital, building an inventory, and remaining compliant are critical for anyone interested in operating in the legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp industry. Additionally, there are significant differences in fees for companies of different sizes.

In this article, I’ll break down the process of opening a dispensary into seven steps. Keep reading to learn how to get your business started on the right foot.

How to Open a Dispensary

So, you’ve decided to start a dispensary. What’s next? You might have a great name and a solid understanding of the industry or products, but it takes a lot more than just that. 

Here’s how to open a dispensary in 2022.

1. Assess Your Eligibility

Before you set out to start a dispensary, you should confirm that your business is eligible in your state. The majority of states have legalized either medical or adult-use cannabis, but there are still plenty of restrictions surrounding the type of businesses that can operate. 

Check out the legislation in your state and confirm that you’re eligible before you proceed with the following steps. Most experts believe that universal regulation is fast approaching, so you may need to put your plans on hold for that day. 

Until then, it’s best not to waste your time and resources if you are ineligible. 

2. Research the Market

If you have previous experience as a business owner, this step will be easy for you. Conducting research on your local cannabis market will involve the same processes as conducting research in any other market. 

Challenges could arise, however, if legislation has only recently passed in your state. In this case, you may only have information regarding the illicit market in your area. Here are a few things you can do when facing this problem:

  • Conduct research on neighboring states with legalized cannabis
  • Examine cities with similar population sizes and demographics
  • If you’re opening an adult-use cannabis dispensary, take a look at the medical market in your area, if one exists
  • Consider meeting with a consultant

Market research is an essential step in opening a cannabis dispensary, so don’t skip over this part. Be sure to conduct thorough research and gather credible sources. It will pay dividends when you start applying for funding, insurance, and licenses.

3. Find a Compliant Commercial Space

Most states have regulations about where dispensaries are allowed to operate. These vary by state, but typically you can expect to have to steer clear of schools and churches. Consider partnering with a commercial real estate agent who specializes in dispensaries or cannabis businesses to help you understand what spaces will be compliant with local regulations. 

If your state has just recently passed legislation regulating adult-use cannabis, many commercial landlords could feel hesitant to lease to you. This is one of many times when your market research will come in handy. Demonstrating the success of other dispensaries in similar neighborhoods could go a long way.

4. Create a Business Plan

At this point, it’s reasonable to begin composing a comprehensive business plan. Gather your market research and create some data visualizations. Add all the necessary information about your commercial space. Confirm and validate your eligibility.

Some other information you can begin to gather in this stage are outlined below.

Obtaining Capital

This is one of the most challenging parts of opening a dispensary because financial institutions are uniquely stringent with any cannabis-related businesses. 

For this reason, you’ll have to obtain funding from investors which is no easy task. Also, the barrier to entry for dispensaries is significant in most places across the country. 

You don’t actually have to access capital at this point, though you certainly need a realistic and detailed plan for how you plan to meet this requirement. 

Create a Budget

In the planning stage, you should also prepare a detailed, scalable budget. 

Include information such as: 

  • Rent costs
  • Licenses and licensing fees
  • Salaries
  • Hiring costs
  • Inventory cost
  • Transportation and storage of inventory
  • Security costs

Since you’ve already conducted extensive research and found a compliant property, you should have most of the information you need. 

Do Your Research

Any good business plan should include information about your competitors and the local market. If you completed the previous steps thoroughly, this should already be complete. Include information about unlicensed and licensed competitors, demographics, and psycho-demographics. 

Be sure to present the data you obtain in a visually pleasing way, and remember that this document will need to convince investors and other business partners to believe in your plan. 

5. Apply for a Business License

Like most of the other official processes on this list, the steps for applying for a cannabis business license will be different in each state. 

More than requirements, many states even have license prioritization programs designed to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in their state’s cannabis industry. In New Jersey, for example, officials prioritize certain businesses based on a specific set of criteria.

In this stage, you’ll have to have access to capital, since many of the licensing fees and application fees are expensive. In an effort to make the cannabis industry more equitable, however, dispensaries that don’t exceed a state’s requirements for microbusiness status can qualify for more affordable licensing fees. 

6. Obtain Inventory

Once you’ve applied for and obtained your license, it’s time for the fun part: building out your inventory. The process for this will vary depending on whether you are an adult-use or medical dispensary.

Although this stage is exciting, it can also be filled with risk. A significant number of cannabis product manufacturers routinely mislabel or mishandle their inventory. This can be done through falsified or outdated lab reports and inaccurate claims

Products that are mislabelled or not tested properly pose a significant liability risk to every member of the supply chain. Not to mention the reputational harm that can be inflicted upon your business in the case of a customer complaint, FDA warning letter, FTC warning, or product recall.

Take extreme caution when selecting products to carry in your store. Not only could these choices make or break your business, but they could also cause catastrophic harm to your customers.

Unfortunately, there are very few ways to ensure you are getting the best cannabis products for your dispensary. One strategy is to work with a licensed, reputable distributor. This could unlock specialist knowledge about the manufacturers and brands available to you. But distributors don’t always have access to verified and validated sources such as authentic COAs and lab reports.

The best way to have complete confidence in the products you stock in your dispensary is by using Qredible®. Qredible is the legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp industry’s only digital registry of validate and verified products and businesses. 

Using advanced blockchain technology, Q-Verified labs submit all data directly from the testing equipment into a blockchain registry, making it impossible to modify the original document.

Without a doubt, all professionals that want to protect and grow their business need to be in Qredible. It is quickly becoming the industry standard for quality and those who do not opt-in will soon notice their customers, business partners, investors, and others in the industry turn away to seek more trustworthy options.  

7. Create a Marketing Plan

Once you’ve established yourself and selected products you can stand behind, it’s time to let your city know who you are. Set up a website and social media accounts, then set up Google My Business so you can begin gathering customer reviews as soon as you open.

Marketing for cannabis companies is complex. There are few universal pieces of advice since many marketing and advertising regulations are governed by the state. 

I won’t lie—it’s difficult to keep up with the changing rules regarding cannabis marketing. But there are resources that can help.

But by signing up for Qredible, not only can you monitor the compliance of your manufacturers and business partners, but you can also monitor your own messaging. It’s one of many ways Qredible helps you to stay on top of the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape in your state.

Qredible’s AI-driven technology actively monitors your brand messaging on packaging and online to protect you from any potential liability. It also monitors the products you sell, so you can make sure every product that leaves your dispensary is compliant. 

Find Support for Opening a Dispensary in Qredible® 

Starting a dispensary is a challenging but rewarding process. With a tool like Qredible, you can make that process infinitely simpler and less risky. 

To find out more about our resources designed to help you stay compliant, select the right products, and even obtain funding from financial institutions, set up a discovery call today. Our team would love to learn more about how we can support you.

Trust, transparency, and support to protect and grow your business: that’s what you’ll find in Qredible. Want to learn more? Get started today.

How to Get an ISO-9001 Certification

Curious about getting an ISO-9001 certification? For legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp companies, few certifications hold as much weight. It is a globally recognized standard for quality control (QC) and its standards are the most commonly used in the world. 

Simply put: the certification demonstrates that your organization has sufficient quality management systems (QMS) to produce products that consistently meet QC standards. This signals to customers that the brand that they are using is serious about its pursuit of quality and that they can be more confident in their purchase.

In our industry, trust is difficult to come by. So the ISO-9001 certification is one of many steps a company can take toward the pursuit of quality standards. It can make a difference in the way customers perceive your cannabis or CBD product.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to get an ISO 9001 certification for legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp products. Keep reading to learn more.

Benefits of an ISO-9001 Certification

An ISO-9001 certification is an important tool for building trust with your customers, buyers, retailers, and financial partners. As the industry matures, it could follow in the footsteps of others and become necessary, either to stay competitive or as a legal requirement for certain business agreements. 

In addition to improving public perception of your products and business, an ISO-9001 certification can improve the following aspect of your business:

  • Efficiency and productivity
  • Environmental impact
  • Waste management
  • Overall profitability

The certification also helps operations minimize the risks associated with noncompliance or a lack of quality control.

How to Get an ISO-9001 Certification

The process for obtaining an ISO-9001 certification is less complicated than it appears. Here are the basics:

  1. Develop and implement robust and reliable QMSs compliant with CASCO standards
  2. Select a certifying body
  3. Submit to an audit by the certifying body
  4. Display your certification and follow labeling requirements

First, the ISO is not a certifying body. To obtain a certification, your operation will have to coordinate the process with an accredited certifier.  

When selecting a certifying organization, confirm the following:

  • The certifying body follows the CASCO standards
  • The certifying body is accredited

As a best practice, evaluate multiple options in order to select one with a good reputation and efficient certifying process.

Steps for Obtaining an ISO-9001 Certification

Once you’ve decided on a third-party certifying body, it’s time to begin the process of internal auditing and preparing. Internal auditing will ensure your team avoids mistakes that could result in a failed certification audit.

Here’s a brief checklist of what to do to ensure your internal audit is successful:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the standards
  2. Plan your internal audit processes, including departments and frequency
  3. Hire a third-party auditor
  4. Prepare for the audit
  5. Review the audit results
  6. Perform corrective actions
  7. Plan the follow-up audit

Repeat this process until your facility passes without the need for corrective actions to avoid failing the certifying body’s audit.

The ISO-9001 Audit Process

Once your company has, at minimum, two months of required documentation, you can conduct an official certifying audit. ISO-9001 audits are comprised of three parts: 

  • An initial meeting: The representative from the certifying body and the manager of the company being audited will meet to discuss the company’s goals, the audit schedule, and the process. 
  • The audit: The representative will conduct a thorough audit of all departments to ensure compliance with your documentation. This can include employee interviews.
  • A concluding meeting: At this meeting, the representative will present their findings and discuss any noncompliance issues. Depending on their conclusions, you may either be required to perform corrective actions, or you will be given your certification. 

What are the ISO-9001 Standards for Cannabis and Hemp?

The Committee on Conformity Assessment is the initiative responsible for the standards businesses must follow to obtain a certification. These standards are generic and can be applied to most products, including cannabis, CBD, and hemp.

As a general rule, a company must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Its ability to consistently produce quality products
  • Its ability to consistently produce products that satisfy the needs of its customers
  • It has sufficient systems in place to ensure consistent compliance with relevant regulations
  • It is actively implementing systems to improve products for customers

During the certification process, a representative from a certifying body will conduct an audit of the following:

  • The context of your organization
  • Your leadership team
  • Your planning processes
  • Your risk mitigation strategies
  • Your support systems
  • All operational systems and processes
  • Design and development processes
  • Performance evaluation processes
  • Improvement systems

The goal of the certifying body is to determine whether or not a company has sufficiently proved its ability to produce consistently high-quality and compliant products.

Additionally, they will assess the way the company addresses risks and opportunities, and its efforts to improve customer satisfaction.  

Validate and Verify Your Certifications with Qredible®

Once your auditor awards your certification, you can then verify its validity in Qredible’s Q-Trust platform. Qredible will confirm the validity of the certification and then issue a smart contract ID in our blockchain and provide a tamper-proof seal validating the authenticity of the certification. 

Qredible is not a compliance enforcement office, regulatory initiative, or certification body like ISO, the U.S. Hemp Authority, or the USDA. Our technology and platform were designed to support the collaboration of quality assurance programs and brands to ensure safer commerce for everyone in the legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp supply chain. 

ISO is setting and upholding standards that uplift responsible businesses and create a safer industry. We are proud to do our part to support their work.  

Qredible is the only digital registry of verified and validated legalized cannabis, hemp, and CBD brands. Want to be in Qredible? Get started today.

How to Get a USDA Organic

Organic legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp are subject to stringent quality assurance processes. As such, certified products are more likely to be of higher quality than uncertified products. In our industry, which suffers from a lack of trust, the certification is a powerful value driver that can increase customer trust and demand, leading to overall business profitability. 

Until recently, it has been incredibly difficult for consumers to trust the validity of legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp products that are claimed to be organic. This is because these products were not eligible for USDA certification programs until the Farm Bills of 2014 and 2018 were amended to include hemp and cannabis as certifiable crops. 

Today, the USDA is one of many valuable keys to unlocking a safer cannabis industry. Although Qredible is not affiliated with the USDA, we are supportive and bullish on the work that they are doing to drive quality, safety, and transparency in the industry.

In this article, we’ll discuss the process to obtain a USDA organic certification for legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp products. Keep reading to learn how to become a USDA-certified organic grower.

Benefits of a USDA Organic Certification

Studies have shown that customer perception of organic products is largely positive, with respondents reporting the following associations:

  • Healthy
  • More nutritious than non-organic
  • Natural
  • Environmentally friendly

This is because organic certifications mean a product was cultivated without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides that have been found to have a significant negative impact on human and environmental health. 

Cannabis plants are cultivated for multiple uses including, industrial hemp, medical marijuana, and cannabidiol (CBD) oil. They have the inherent ability to absorb whatever is in the soil which includes heavy metals, pesticides, and other harmful contaminants. This is one of the reasons that cannabis has been used in the past for remediating the soil of contaminated sites. 

Cannabis acts like a sponge as it grows, which places an emphasis on the importance of safety measures during the farming process. For this reason, organic farming holds even more value from a safety perspective for cannabis. 

Organic farms are required to employ strategies to maintain soil health and prevent environmental degradation while also minimizing the harmful absorption danger common in the cannabis plant. Soil health has a direct impact on food nutrition density, which means that consumers perceive organic cannabis, CBD, and hemp products as a more sustainable and health-conscious choice. 

Moreover, the market for organic products has grown consistently for over a decade. Since the USDA organic seal is among the most recognized certifications in the country, it will go a long way in establishing trust with American cannabis and CBD consumers. 

How to Get a USDA Organic Certification

The process for obtaining a USDA Organic certification is less complicated than it appears. That being said, the certificate may take time to obtain due to a requirement of soil readiness and testing, prohibiting certain substances from being applied to the soil for three years prior to harvest. Here are the basics:

  1. Develop and implement an organic systems plan (OSP)
  2. Submit an application and pay the required fees
  3. Have your plan, processes, and facility audited by an accredited agent
  4. Receive your certification from the certifying agent

Once you’ve earned your certification, it will be valid for one year. In order to maintain USDA-certified organic status, a business will need to submit to an annual review of its processes. You will also be responsible for following labeling requirements

What are the USDA Standards for Organic Cannabis and Hemp?

The USDA’s standards for organic crop cultivation are complex. It’s important to review them closely and consult with other organic farmers and specialists to ensure all appropriate steps are taken.

USDA Crop Standards

At a glance, organic crop standards ensure:

  • No land has been exposed to prohibited substances for at least three years before an organic harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. 
  • Soil and crop nutrient levels are effectively and accurately managed with strategies such as appropriate tillage and cultivation practices, rotating, cover cropping, animal waste, crop waste, and permitted synthetic additives
  • Permitted management practices are the main form of control for pests and weeds
  • Permitted biological, botanical, and synthetic control methods are used only if control practices are not sufficient 
  • All crops come from organically grown seeds and stock
  • Absolutely no GMOs, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge are present

It’s important to note that the process for obtaining a USDA Organic certification is not swift. The organization requires three years of approved inputs before you can get certified. This means that auditors will require detailed documentation and records proving the success and consistency of your OSP. 

The transition to organic farming is a huge learning curve, and the record-keeping requirement can be overwhelming at first. It’s recommended that businesses start slowly to work toward the goal in measured steps. 

Documentation for Becoming USDA Certified

Record keeping is a critical part of the certification process. Agents use your records to confirm the effectiveness and implementation of your OSP. 

Some of the records you may be required to submit for audit include:

  • Basic audit process records such as correspondence, notices, and complaint logs
  • Land information such as maps, field history, soil test, and production records
  • Information regarding seeds and stock such as non-GMO status verification, labels, and planting records
  • Records pertaining to crop harvests such as yield and equipment information
  • Records pertaining to the storage of crops
  • Documentation of the sale of crops including invoices, transportation records, and weight tags

Preparing For Your Inspection

On audit day, a certifying agent will come to your facility to review your plan, documentation, and processes. 

Here are a few tips to prepare:

  • Review the relevant USDA regulations
  • Review your OSP and processes
  • Review the communications from your certifying agent
  • Gather and organize your records

Ultimately, there is no way to cheat the audit. The best way to prepare is to have well-established and solid systems that are compliant and consistent. 

Validate and Verify Your Certifications with Qredible®

Record keeping in Qredible simplifies the complicated process of obtaining a USDA certification. Qredible®’s blockchain-secured registry of immutable documentation expedites the audit process and highlights your commitment to quality and compliance. 

Storing documentation in an accessible, secure digital location will streamline the audit process, while also increasing trust with buyers, investors, financial institutions, and business partners.

Once your agent submits the results of your audit, they will assign your certification status. You can then verify the validity of your certification in Qredible’s Q-Trust platform. After confirmation of your USDA Certification, Qredible will issue a smart contract ID in our blockchain and provide a tamper-proof seal validating the authenticity of the certification. 

Qredible is not a compliance enforcement or regulatory initiative nor is it a certification body, like the USDA or NOP. Our technology and platform were designed to support the collaboration of quality assurance programs and brands to ensure safer commerce for everyone in the legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp supply chain. 

The USDA is setting and upholding standards that uplift responsible businesses and create a safer industry. We are proud to do our part to support their necessary and very important work.  

Qredible is the only digital registry of verified and validated legalized cannabis, hemp, and CBD brands. Want to be in Qredible? Get started today.

Understanding Cannabis Certifications

Improving trust and transparency in the legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp industry begins with developing a shared understanding of what certain claims and certifications mean.

According to a recent study, 51% of Americans find claims and certifications to be important when making purchase decisions, yet they struggle to trust the sources of many claims or understand what different certifications mean.

At Qredible®, we’re working to increase trust and transparency in the legalized cannabis, CBD, and hemp industry. As a part of that commitment, we’ve compiled a list of claims and certifications used in cannabis product messaging.

Keep reading to learn more about what can and cannot be said in legalized cannabis product messaging, and to learn about the most common certifying and regulatory bodies in the U.S. medical and legalized cannabis industry.

Health Claims in Legalized Cannabis, Hemp, and CBD Product Messaging

Ultimately, as cannabis is still considered a schedule 1 substance, the claims that businesses are legally allowed to make generally vary by state. 

On the federal level, however, it is illegal to make health claims about legalized cannabis, CBD, or hemp products.

Some common health claims that are not allowed in cannabis marketing include claims that suggest a product can:

  • Cure, lessen, or relieve any physical disease or illness
  • Cure, lessen, or relieve any mental health condition
  • Alleviate pain, physical disease symptoms, or mental health symptoms
  • Prevent mental or physical disease or illness

Common ways companies make health claims include:

  • Labeling a product as “anti-” something (anti-inflammatory, for example)
  • Suggesting usage for specific conditions
  • Naming physical or mental illness in the product labeling or marketing messaging

The reason that legalized cannabis products are not allowed to make medical claims is that the FDA requires all products intended to address disease to be classified as pharmaceutical drugs. These drugs and supplements are subject to the most stringent regulation of any ingestible substance. 

Cannabis, CBD, and hemp are not yet approved by the FDA as drugs. As such, there are no recommended dosages, proper use guidelines, or information about potential side effects and interactions with other FDA-approved substances.

Certifying Bodies for Legalized Cannabis, Hemp, and CBD Products

There are many certifying organizations, regulatory bodies, and compliance enforcement initiatives that serve businesses and consumers in the legalized cannabis industry. Due to their public reputation, many certifications and designations can be used by businesses in marketing messaging to increase trust and establish authority.  

The following list contains some of the most popular certifying and regulatory agencies operating in the industry.


The USDA is a government agency that regulates and manages federal rules surrounding agriculture and natural resources. 

Cannabis growers who meet the USDA standards for organic can apply for a USDA Organic certification that demonstrates their commitment to: 

  • Promoting ecological balance
  • Preserving water quality
  • Fostering resource cycling 
  • Improving soil quality 
  • Improving biodiversity
  • Limiting synthetic materials

In order to determine eligibility, a USDA certifying agent must confirm a business follows all USDA organic regulations. They must also ensure the company is not using prohibited methods or substances at any stage in its production process. 

Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the federal regulatory body for all ingestible substances available for public consumption. Their mission is to protect public health by limiting the risk of contaminants, toxins, and product misuse. 

Currently, the FDA has only approved a limited number of cannabis-derived products. They are as follows: 

  • Epidiolex (cannabidiol)
  • Marinol (dronabinol)
  • Syndros (dronabinol)
  • Cesamet (nabilone)

These products are approved for medical use only and require a prescription from a licensed health practitioner. Presently, there is no federally approved policy for recreational or medical cannabis. 

However, the FDA has recently hired Norman Birenbaum as a senior public health adviser for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As the former head of marijuana programs in Rhode Island and New York, it is expected that more guidance will be forthcoming as Birenbaum will be working with the Center for Regulatory Programs on projects involving cannabis research and marijuana regulation.

U.S. Hemp Authority

The U.S. Hemp Authority is a certifying organization that enforces high production standards, safe commerce practices, and transparency in the legalized cannabis industry.

To obtain a U.S. Hemp Authority Certification, a company must prove compliance with strict regulatory standards. Applicants are required to undergo a third-party audit of their facilities and products.


The National Industrial Hemp Council’s Verify Program focuses on ensuring compliance with testing and labeling standards for cannabis, hemp, and cannabidiol (CBD) products. 

The program was announced in November of 2021. Since then, the council has been developing its own testing standards and labeling protocols. The goal of the Verify Program is to increase consumer trust, ensure transparency, and establish the hemp industry as reliable and trustworthy.

ISO 9001

ISO 9001 is a quality designation that can be used in any enterprise of any size, location, or industry. It is used to demonstrate a company’s success in its commitment to providing products that comply with regulatory requirements and consistently satisfy customers.

In order to obtain an ISO 9001 certification, a company must demonstrate:

  • A focus on customer satisfaction
  • Management intention and motivation
  • Responsible processes
  • Commitment to continuous improvement

An ISO 9001 certification represents customer satisfaction and quality products or services. 

State Health Departments

Each state with medical and/or recreational cannabis regulations has a governmental body overseeing the quality control processes. 

Some states have multiple agencies designated to oversee specific areas of the industry, whereas other states place cannabis, CBD, and hemp under the jurisdiction of their state Food and Agriculture Department or Department of Health.

Cannabis Safety and Quality

The Cannabis Safety & Quality (CSQ) Standards provide a framework for companies to demonstrate their commitment to cannabis and cannabis-infused product excellence. The standards were informed by the ISO and the Global Food Safety Initiative

To become certified, companies must prove the following processes adhere to best practices:

  • Growing and cultivation
  • Manufacturing and extraction
  • Food and beverage manufacturing and infusion
  • Cannabis dietary supplement manufacturing

Each of these processes has a different set of requirements.


Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) is a certification process conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for ensuring consistency and quality in the manufacturing of cannabis and other products.

Companies that earn GMP certifications must submit to an audit of the following information:

  • Testing of raw materials
  • Testing processes
  • Facilities, equipment, and personnel
  • Confirmation of SOPs
  • Testing of the effectiveness of products

Qredible®: Validating and Verifying Legalized Cannabis, CBD, and Hemp Claims

There are many regulatory and certifying organizations working hard to ensure a safer and more trustworthy industry for everyone. 

While Qredible is not a compliance enforcement initiative or regulatory body, we are proud to support and promote the work that these organizations do by validating and verifying claims, certifications, licenses, registrations, and other documentation.

In doing so, we also support companies that are committed to ensuring the quality, safety, and effectiveness of their products. We do this by distinguishing them from competitors that make claims without putting in the effort to earn or substantiate them. 

Being committed to quality and extending the extra resources to become certified and ensure best practices in safety and quality is extremely important to gain trust. This is why we believe so strongly in validation and verification. 

It simply is not fair, nor is it safe for a company to misrepresent these certifications. Any company that is Q-verified means that all of its badging and certifications have been vetted and verified as true!  

Our mission is to facilitate and foster safer commerce that will result in increased trust in the entire industry.

Qredible is the only digital registry of verified and validated legalized cannabis, hemp, and CBD brands. Want to be in Qredible? Get started today.