Currently cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance under Federal Regulations. As a result of this classification cannabis cannot be regulated under Federal Organic standards which creates a “wild west” effect for the cannabis industry in terms of claims for growing crops “organically.”
While consumers can feel protected and offered a choice when going to the grocery store and purchasing “organic” and “non-GMO” items the same choice is not currently available in the cannabis industry.
If cannabis was deemed legal under Federal guidelines farmers could be eligible for organic certification under the USDA National Organic Program. These standards would help consumers feel better about the cannabis they are consuming being ensured that growers are meeting USDA guidelines for organic growing practices.
It is important to note that under USDA guidelines being certified as “organic” does not mean that pesticides are not used in production, instead there are limits created to organically use pesticides according to their label restrictions. The good news is the typical synthetic pesticides used in large-scale farming are prohibited in the cannabis industry because of how cannabis is consumed.
States are also implementing regulations and testing requirements to further protect consumers from harmful chemicals and pesticides such as the new heavy metals regulations passed in CO in 2019. There are also guidelines for how and when the allowed pesticides can be used on the plant.
To offer protection to consumers a few organizations have taken it upon themselves to create clean cannabis certification programs that meet such goals. It is important to note that since “organic” is a federally controlled term these certifications will not use the word “organic” to approve standards that are pesticide-free and produced in an environmentally conscious manner.
The Cannabis Certification Council is a non-profit holding body committed to providing consumer and industry education, transparency and choice in the cannabis industry with a mission to support these certifications and those who have gained such stamp of approval.
We have compiled a list of three clean cannabis certifications available in the U.S.
Clean Green Certified
Clean Green Certification has been around since 2004 and is advertised on their website as the “closest thing you can get to organic.” It is also the number one cannabis certifier nationwide for cultivators offering sustainable, organic, and natural practices. Cultivators and processors/handlers are eligible to apply for the certification.
Applications go through a three step certification process including: a legal compliance review, a thorough review of how the cannabis was grown, and a standard agricultural crop inspection.
Recipients are also subject to yearly reviews and third-party laboratory testing.
Kind Certified is another cannabis certification program based out of Oregon that cultivators can apply for. This certification follows rules similar to USDA Organic, but includes additional requirements for fair labor standards and rules to address environmental issues. Kind Certified also has a “Big Green List” of allowed growing materials under the certification. The certification conducts an in-house review of the allowed materials to ensure they are meeting accepted organic standards.
Sun + Earth
Sun + Earth is a new organic cannabis certification that was created by Dr. Bronner focusing on the three pillars: earth care and cultivation, human empowerment, and community engagement.
This certification focuses on supporting farmers and cannabis brands who are holistically responsible, and regeneratively grown for the well- being of all people, farmers, and the planet. They have set a standard that is beyond organic offering a certification to those who oppose harmful practices to Mother Earth. #KeepCannabisGood is their slogan.
For those interested in applying for the certification you will need to reach out directly to Sun + Earth as their specific requirements are not listed online.
For consumers looking to find reputable sources of cannabis products they should always take the time to do their research before stepping in a dispensary and should look for products that support their personal beliefs.
For those who are interested in ensuring the food they consume is healthy and free from harmful additives and pesticides the same should go for their cannabis. The Cannabis Certification Council is running a campaign #WhatsInMyWeed encouraging consumers to ask these questions and for companies to be transparent about the way in which their products were produced.
If you are interested in getting involved with the CCC’s mission please reach out to us.
We host a four-year running national Sustainability Symposium in Denver, CO as well as expanding into other markets throughout the year!