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ASTM International Committee Week Recap: A Conversation with David Vaillencourt

David Vaillencourt recaps ASTM committee week on cannabis regulations

We recently sat down with David Vaillencourt of S3 Collective to discuss the highlights from the ASTM International Committee Week, which recently took place in Louisville, Kentucky.

Read the transcript below or watch the video on YouTube.

Qredible: Welcome to this week’s Qredible live broadcast. We’re joined by our CEO, Brian Fitzpatrick, and David Vaillencourt. David is a cannabis industry standards expert and the founder and CEO of the GMP Collective. He’s here to discuss the highlights from the ASTM Committee Week in Louisville. Thank you for being here again today, David.

David: Thanks for having me back. It’s been 7 years since I’ve been actively involved in the cannabis industry. My background is in science and standards and meeting regulatory best practices. I’ve become a bit of a standards nerd and love solving industry problems and creating marketplaces. That’s how I got to spend time with Brian in Louisville in January.

ASTM International’s committee on cannabis standards met for three days, with regulators like the FDA, Health Canada, and the CDC participating remotely. We discussed the future of the industry, what it could look like in five years, and how we get there by creating a relevant framework.

Brian: Before we get into ASTM International Committee Week, can you give a brief update on the latest with cannabis rescheduling?

David: The DEA is on its own timeline for this. Based on past history with petitions to reschedule cannabis, it’s taken one to four years, depending on the case. We have some politics at play here, with the Biden administration expediting this process. That resulted in the 254-page U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report recently released.

While we wait on the DEA, we have to build the framework for the industry. Rescheduling will help remove 280E and provide an injection of R&D and innovation investment. We need to develop market-relevant standards and prepare for emerging global markets that can produce cannabis very cheaply. I see the next five years being focused on building that framework.

Brian: At ASTM, it was great to see the diverse group representing different perspectives. The process of collaborating, voting, and finding consensus was impressive. Can you describe some of the work groups and highlights?

David: We had task groups focused on specific problems like defining THC. Subcommittees covered areas like security and processing. We also networked and got to know each other. With the brain trust assembled, real work gets done by going to the root of issues and finding compromise.

Anyone wondering what this is about should attend in June when we meet in Philadelphia. It’s open to all, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to get involved. We need those smarts represented.

What’s in Store for Cannabis in the Near Future?

Brian: Based on the event and what’s happening in the industry, what do you foresee in the coming months?

David: Getting the science on record with the HHS report is hugely important. For the first time, the U.S. acknowledges cannabis has medical value. This further sets the stage for rescheduling and expanding state marketplaces. When that happens, we need to reinvest wisely into R&D, innovation, and standards development.

We can’t forget the $30 billion hemp marketplace with no oversight. That’s going to come to a head with the Farm Bill this year. We have to think of cannabis as a one-plant solution. The FDA exists because of past problems with uncontrolled products. We can’t repeat history in cannabis.

Brian: It really comes down to safety, transparency, and quality. Consumers and buyers need true differentiators. Companies that can prove quality and reduce risk will succeed. We have to start thinking differently because the game is changing rapidly.

Common Sense Cannabis Frameworks are Necessary

David: Absolutely. We need frameworks and data to scale, operate, and differentiate. No company succeeds on one person’s intuition. We need guardrails and industry minimums to drive improvement and innovation. Brand recognition and quality are what survive in other industries. We need real quality measures consumers can count on. That’s what we’re driving toward with standards and consistency.

Brian: Well said. Please tell us about the S3 Collective and how people can get involved.

David: We’re bridging research and standards to inform policy for product safety. I’ll be speaking on this at SXSW and other events. Check out our website, sign up for our newsletter, or donate. There’s a lot of volunteer work needed to help the industry survive and future-proof itself. We’re excited about our partners like Qredible, but we need more support. Anything you have to offer—expertise, donations—please reach out.

Brian: Thank you, David, for all your great work. Let’s keep the focus on quality.

David: Thanks, Brian, take care.

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