What is “organic” cannabis?
The use of the term “organic” to sell agricultural products is strictly regulated. Products sold internationally can receive the label if they meet local organic labeling requirements and conditions set by international trade agreements.
Cannabis is not a legal crop in most parts of the world, so it does not usually receive official organic labeling. Producers can label their products as organic but cannot legally claim to be certified organic. However, many cannabis producers are choosing to cultivate in a way that would meet current national and international standards for “organic.”
Some third-party certification services maintain standards for organic cannabis and certify legal farms and individual batches they produce. The first third-party organic certification available to cannabis cultivators was Clean Green, founded in 2004 by an attorney who worked with the USDA on their organic inspections. Clean Green was created to create a cannabis certification that mirrors the rigors of a USDA certification. Dragonfly Earth Medicine was founded in 2007 to certify all farmers who employ regenerative growing practices, including cannabis cultivators. While the biodynamic certifying group Demeter was founded in 1928, they did not begin to certify cannabis companies until more recently. The Cannabis Certification Council was founded in 2017 to certify cannabis both as organic and sustainable. Sun + Earth Certified and Certified Kind have recently been launched as alternate organic certifications focused specifically on the cannabis and hemp industries.
The State of California is leading the way for government-backed organic cannabis certification. Last year, regulations were approved to begin the OCal state-run organic certification program.
Not all cultivators are transparent with their growing practices. Discerning customers and budtenders can encourage dispensary management to stock products from cultivators who are transparent about their cultivation and production practices and receive third-party organic certification.
*Note: Cannabis is legal for all uses in Canada and can be certified organic.
This blog is excerpted from The Budtender’s Guide: A Reference Manual for Cannabis Consumers and Dispensary Professionals, published by Oaksterdam Publishing.