Good Agricultural Collection Practice Certification

Good Agricultural Collection Practice – commonly referred to as GACP is a key certification in the production of cannabis. The general certification covers the specific concerns of growing, collecting and primary processing of medicinal plants and herbs that are used for medicinal purposes. However, there have been specific modifications made to the certification program for medical cannabis purposes

In Cannabis, Control Union is the largest certifying agency globally. In fact, they created a specific standard for Cannabis; the Control Union Medical Cannabis Standard GAP (CUMCS-GAP) which is globally recognized as the leading certification standard for medical cannabis certification.

In December 2020, the UN recognized the medical value of cannabis, and as a consequence, the global market began to require quality systems and cultivation procedures with guidelines in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Good Agricultural & Collection Practices (GACP). Therefore, independent verification for compliance by third parties is becoming common practice in the industry.

GACP certification for Cannabis is very comprehensive encapsulating requirements from leading organizations focused on best practices in agriculture, combined with requirements for best practices in medicinal plants and herbs. This includes:

  1. The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines:  (GACP) for medicinal plants – Geneva 2003
  2. European Medicines Agency (EMA GACP):  (GACP) for starting materials of herbal origin – July 2005;
  3. Guidelines of the Dutch Government for Cannabis for Medical Use: Cultivating cannabis for medicinal purposes, December 2002;
  4. International Standard for Good Agriculture Practice: GLOBALG.A.P., March 2013.

GACP certification in cannabis is focused on medical cannabis, but rightfully should be applied to any cannabis cultivation as the process ensures consistency and quality of product. Specifically, this certification covers medical Cannabis propagation, cultivation and post-harvest processes.

GACP does not cover extraction or other processing steps. It is an input to each of the GMP processes and can provide the raw materials at a standard required for EU-GMP production, but how to process to that standard is discussed elsewhere.

GACP certification is not trivial. Without experienced guidance, it is more common than not for firms to fail at their first attempt at certification. Multiple attempts are costly, in time, money, and morale. A solid preparation program will help your cannabis company succeed. Success involves documenting every step of your production process, and creating SOP’s that everyone follows religiously. Continued success is only achieved if the successful process is adhered to in permanence, and not just for inspection purposes. It’s a philosophy and a key part of a corporate culture focused on quality.

  • Cannabis Industry Certifications
    • Good Agricultural Collection Practice – GACP
    • Good Manufacturing Practice – GMP
    • Current Good Manufacturing practice – cGMP
    • European Good Manufacturing Practice – EU-GMP

Other certifications that would be helpful, and whose processes definitely should be considered are:

  • Global Certifications of relevance:
    • ISO Certifications: ISO-9001; ISO-13485; ISO-14001;

To learn more about GACP standards, the European Agency Website is a great place to start.