Distribution of Medicinal Cannabis

Storage & Wholesale Distribution of Medicinal Cannabis


Medicinal Cannabis Vault

A medicinal cannabis vault is a secure facility or storage area where medicinal cannabis products are stored. It’s a controlled environment designed to preserve the quality and potency of cannabis for an extended period.

The primary goal of a medicinal cannabis is to provide optimal conditions for maintaining the quality of medicinal cannabis products. This typically involves controlling factors such as temperature, humidity, light exposure, and security. Proper storage conditions are crucial to prevent degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Medicinal cannabis vaults are typically equipped with advanced security measures to prevent unauthorized access, theft, or tampering. This can include surveillance cameras, access control systems, alarms, and other security features to ensure the integrity and safety of the stored cannabis.

Wholesale Distribution of Medicinal Cannabis products

If you are cultivating and / or manufacturing medicinal cannabis products, then you will be supplying them to pharmacies, dispensaries or other outlets either in Australia or in overseas markets like Germany or Canada.

The process of storing, supplying or exporting medicinal cannabis products (but not supplying products to the public) is called the wholesale distribution of medicinal cannabis products. The wholesale distribution process is regulated due to its potential impact on product quality.

You can imagine the potential risk to your medicinal product if it is stored next to corrosive cleaning products, pesticides in a warehouse or left in a hot truck for hours or days. There’s also the risk of theft or tampering if someone sees your clearly labelled medical marijuana / medicinal cannabis product on the back of a truck, on its way to your customers.

A licence to manufacture (GMP) medicinal cannabis products issued by a competent authority, covers every step of the process up to and including the supply of the medicine to the point of release for supply. This includes warehousing and distribution. The competent authority like the FDA, MHRA or TGA will expect you to follow Good Wholesaling Practice (GWP) / Good Distribution Practice

GMP and GDP for cannabis businesses include the following aspects:

  • Buildings & grounds
  • Personnel
  • Stock handling and stock control
  • Inwards goods
  • Damaged goods from stock
  • Returned goods from customers
  • Returns goods – from a product recall
  • Transport of your products
  • Customer complaints
  • Records

Wholesale distribution of Medicinal Cannabis in more detail

(1) Buildings and Grounds – Warehousing

The design of your warehouse can have a big impact on the efficiency of your product dispatch processes. A good design can minimize the time spent locating product in the warehouse, packaging it and shipping it. This translates to lower labour costs for you and less potential for product loss or damage.

You need to consider future growth and how to minimize the size of your warehouse (and the associated costs) by using an efficient design. Just to illustrate how important this is, a major pharmaceutical manufacturer in Australia ‘lost’ $1 million worth of product in their warehouse. It wasn’t located until after the product’s expiration date. Ouch!

(2) Storage Facility Designs

You need to consider the following when planning/selecting your storage facility / medicinal cannabis distribution warehouse:

  • Temperature and humidity control – you need to know how to store your product(s) to ensure they maintain their quality until the expiry date
  • Cleanliness – you must have processes in place to ensure the warehouse remains clean and tidy. Auditors will be looking for things like pest control and documented cleaning processes.
  • Storage solutions – you may need to cater for different products that are used at different rates. You don’t want your warehouse staff having to pull out stock that is used infrequently, just to access the more popular products.
  • Separate storage areas – if an auditor walks into your warehouse and sees non-medicinal products (e.g., cleaning supplies) stored next to your medicines they won’t be happy. You need to have separate areas for the storage of your medicinal products and other goods.
  • Storing materials at from different stages of your product’s lifecycle – raw materials, final products and returned products must all be considered in the design of your warehouse.

(3) Secure storage areas

For example, the Australian Office of Drug Control requires that you have a secure storage area if you have a licence to produce medicinal cannabis / medical marijuana. There may be a similar requirement if you hold a state-based poisons licence.

A vault is a walk-in safe where you keep reference samples, as well as stability testing samples and if needed; rejected or returned samples, including those associated with a product recall. Depending on your situation, you may not need a bank-like vault, but you should seek advice on what sort of secure storage area you should have.

(4) Records

Using a software system to manage inventory is almost essential. The Australian Office of Drug Control expects all licence holders to keep records of all the activity relating to the source, supply, storage and destruction of medicinal cannabis. You must be able to account for everything you’ve produced (and who you shipped it to), including product that went to waste.

Note that if you are manufacturing product (and thus have a TGA licence to do so) all software must be compliant with the 21 CFR Part 11 / Annex 11 regulations (read a Blog post about selecting Seed to Sale software). You will find it much easier to prepare the quarterly reports the TGA requires on the quantities of medicinal cannabis you have sourced, supplied, stored and destroyed if you have an inventory management system in place.

(5) Transport of your medicinal cannabis products

Shipping your product to your customers is another important part in the supply chain. Good Wholesaling Practice requires that you ensure that your products are transported under the labelled storage conditions. You must have data that shows you have validated your product’s transportation to your customers. This data must prove that the product was maintained at the correct temperature, humidity etc to ensure its quality at the point of supply to the final consumer.

Part of that validation process is a risk assessment – what are the things that might go wrong and impact the quality of your product? This might be things like transport delays, failure of monitoring devices, contamination from other products or extreme weather events.

Based on the risk assessment you will then gather data from the transportation of your product to prove that the risks are managed. This means that you can’t ship product with any old courier. You must have contracts with logistics companies that define their responsibilities in terms of ensuring you’re the conditions your product must be kept in. Auditors may ask to see these contracts.

How can PharmOut help?

Our pharmaceutical facility design architects, cleanroom validation, testing and processing engineers are experts in assisting cultivators and medicinal cannabis manufacturers with environmentally minded designs for efficiency and GMP compliance. Pharmout consultants have been involved in projects that range from facility design and cultivation and all the way up to wholesale distribution. Our consultants can assist you with all licensing applications, medicinal cannabis processing and regulatory requirements for GMP / EU GMP (PIC/S).

For more information contact PharmOut with your enquiry or view the medicinal cannabis services we offer.

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