How Standards Will Shape the Future of Cannabis

Cannabis has experienced a long, harrowing journey from underground operations to slowly becoming a legal, legitimate industry, and while it still has a ways to go for federal legalization, standards for operation are already becoming prominent and necessary amongst operators. 

Every consumer-facing industry in the world is required to meet a set of standards to be considered safe, accessible, and high-quality, and cannabis is no exception. 

While the ever-fluctuating regulations continue to confuse the industry and cause setbacks for success and profit, that hasn’t stopped operators from setting their standards for cannabis excellence that work to get ahead of the curve in regards to government intervention – and it’s these standards that will continue to pave the way for federal legalization and overall industry success.

The Current State of Cannabis Standards

Cannabis standards are already in place, but there isn’t a whole lot of consistency when it comes to how they are approached. As each legal region develops its own sets of regulations, they’ve also had to figure out what standards need to exist to maintain licensure with local government and appease law enforcement.

This varies from state to state – and will eventually need to be uniformed when cannabis becomes federally legal – but for now, these are some general categories that regions have put a microscope over in terms of compliance, quality, and safety.


Of course, the most obvious first step for operators to be compliant with legal cannabis standards is to obtain a legal license. Many operators have experienced trouble in this first step, which has forced the ongoing flourishment of the underground market. 

However, these underground operators are also forced to keep looking over their shoulders at every turn. As complicated as it may be to obtain a cannabis license, it’ll be a major help and peace of mind for the future and continued success of your operation. 


Like any other industry, legal cannabis has to meet a set of standards regarding sanitation. This mainly applies to cultivators and manufacturers, but also comes into play in dispensaries and other retail locations offering cannabis products.

From minimum sanitation requirements within grow facilities to strict standards for product sale presentation, these rules ultimately exist to benefit and protect the consumer. 

Staff Training

Training your staff is essential for meeting quality standards in any industry, and from cultivation to the retail floors, more operators are instilling staff training as a requirement. This is a great idea, as it ensures all employees are not only compliant with industry standards but familiarized with the plant itself and all of the education that comes with it.

Packaging and Labeling

Packing and labeling are notorious for being strictly scrutinized within the industry, particularly to ward off children from being drawn to the products. This is especially important in the edible market, where many products might appear tailored for children at a glance.

No matter your region, it’s essential for cannabis operators to utilize packaging that is both child-proof and doesn’t contain any designs that might be interpreted as appealing to minors – a.k.a., cartoons, colorful drawings, etc.

Marketing and Branding

Since cannabis is federally illegal, marketing and branding is another incredibly murky area for operators to navigate – specifically when it comes to online advertisement. 

As an operator, it’s important to ensure you are familiar with your region’s standards for marketing and branding, as this is a surefire way to get shut down.

Who is deciding the standards?

When it comes to cannabis standards, it’s important to understand where they’re coming from and how they’re being set, measured, and calculated. While regulators mandate the majority of industry standards, there are other organizations examining things from a trade perspective.

Here are a few of the main organizations – both within the industry and out – that work to ensure cannabis operators are compliant.

ATSM International

ATSM International is a global leader in standards, spanning 150 industries and counting. In cannabis, they focus on standards around cultivation, production, labs, research, regulators, and more. 

Foundation of Cannabis Standards

The Foundation of Cannabis Standards (FOCUS) is a non-profit organization that has worked to develop industry-wide standards that work to usher operators into federal legalization when the time comes. 


AccuStandard is a leader in cannabis manufacturing standards, ensuring the earlier stages of the supply chain are compliant and responsible.

Standard Wellness

Standard Wellness works to simplify cannabis access for medical patients by making sure this arena of the industry is compliant and designed to prioritize helping patients in need.

How standards will shape the future

With federal legalization on the industry’s horizon, standards are an unavoidable parameter to be set for operators across the nation – and eventually, throughout the globe. 

Thankfully, educational platforms like Cannabis Community College exist to help the industry through these confusing times. We provide you with the information and training you need to ensure your operation is fully compliant and optimally beneficial to everyone involved.


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