From gardener to cannabis producer: New producers of medical cannabis face challenges

The production of medical cannabis in Denmark is growing rapidly. Thanks to our expertise in manufacturing plant design, NIRAS is able to help traditional gardeners redesign their horticultural operations into growing medically approved cannabis.

19. Feb 2020

So far we have only seen the beginning of medical cannabis production in Denmark. It is an industry that in the future could be worth billions of dollars for both producers and investors.

“In Denmark, horticultural production facilities that can be converted into cannabis production, already exists. But to exploit the growth potential for these facilities, cannabis producers must draw on expert knowledge in the manufacturing of plants, GACP (Good Agricultural and Collection Practices) and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), to ensure that the production conditions meet the requirements of the Danish Medicines Agency, ”says Jens Ulff Skriver, Project Manager at NIRAS.

With the strict requirements of The Danish Medicines Agency's for production of cannabis mean that Danish produced cannabis also meets most GMP requirements (Good Manufacturing Practice) in the other European countries.

New cannabis producers are facing major challenges

Production of medical cannabis can represent a number of complex challenges for gardeners, as the finished product is classified as a medical drug. This requires special conditions for the production and purity of the products.
In NIRAS’ experience, there are two main issues to focus on in this type of production.

“Firstly, it is crucial how the plant is handled. Whether it is cut or trimmed is significant for defining when the plant - or rather the flower – should be treated as GMP material. The second issue that helps define the production facility, is what the cannabis plant should subsequently be used for,” says Jens Ulff Skriver.

He emphasizes that the design of the production facility and equipment itself is crucial to the quality of the final product. A very important issue is to avoid mold in any of the processes and equipment, including any spread.

Therefore the ventilation design is crucial for preventing the spread of fungal spores, mildew and similar plant diseases.

Medical cannabis production requires expert GMP assistance

Often cannabis producers wish consulting partners who understand their business and challenges. Therefore they tend to seek consulting partners whose experience extends beyond pharma and biotech in a narrow sense.

“Through our wide experience from the entire Life Science industry, NIRAS can contribute with all disciplines needed to build a suitable cannabis production facility. NIRAS can implement systems that ensure compliance with the required GMP level for the facility and product to be approved, without exaggerating the requirements as this will unnecessarily increase production costs,” says Jens Ulff Skriver.

Quick to market

In order to meet the specific needs of cannabis producers, NIRAS has developed a standardized qualification concept, which means that each company can save a considerable amount of time and work. This means that customers can get their products to market faster.

The Quality Management System (QMS) developed by NIRAS specialists ensures adherence to requirements set by the Danish Medicines Agency, and at the same time a profitable production.

Non-committal meeting with NIRAS on cannabis production

"At NIRAS, we can help new cannabis producers overcome their challenges and design their production facilities, whether they are setting up brand new production facilities or rebuilding existing horticultural facilities to meet the requirements of the Danish Medicines Agency," says Bo Vestergaard, Marketing Manager at NIRAS.

He points out that often it is crucial for start-up cannabis producers to get the advice of independent experts when embarking on a major investment:

“If a company is considering starting a cannabis production - or if you are facing challenges with ongoing medical cannabis production, then we would be available for a non-committal meeting so you can hear more about NIRAS's expertise in the field and get solutions” Says Bo Vestergaard.