Organic Marijuana: USDA Set To Certify Pot Farms By 2021
As California gets ready to enact new cannabis legislation for adult use, state law requires that all organic products be certified through the Department of Food and Agriculture. Up until now, there has been no official organic standard for retail weed but some companies have labeled their products as organic marijuana.
California leads the agricultural industry in the United States by selling more organic crops than every state combined. California farmers produce 99% of America’s artichokes, 99% of its walnuts and even 94% of organic lettuce originates from The Golden State. Along with abundant fruits and veggies, California has been providing most of the US with potent bud long before there were medical taxes on marijuana.
According to California Senate Bill 94, Section 51, “No later than January 1, 2021, the Department of Food and Agriculture shall establish a program for cannabis that is comparable to the National Organic Program…” Section 52 goes on to state that “The Department of Food and Agriculture shall be the sole determiner of designation and certification.”
The verbiage seems to indicate that the initial organic marijuana guidelines will eventually be adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture’s current organic regulations which determine whether a business gets certified USDA Organic. Businesses in California can use advocacy groups like Quality Assurance International(QAI) to help them through the certification process. Programs like these support companies by keeping them up to date on compliance practices.
The National Organic Program(NOP) requires that the “producer must select and implement tillage and cultivation practices that maintain or improve the physical, chemical, and biological condition of soil and minimize soil erosion.” This is just one regulation that would have a big impact on the culture of the cannabis industry and organic marijuana. The high standard for soil quality will inspire growers around the world to adopt more extensive quality control guidelines and set them in place to ensure safety for all.
The NOP also requires “the producer must not use any fertilizer or composted plant and animal material that contains a synthetic substance not included on the National List of synthetic substances...” Producers of high-quality “organic” marijuana products can go ahead and eliminate any fertilizer, chemical or pesticide that is not approved on the National List. The law states that the Department has until the beginning of 2021 to create a program for organic cannabis which gives dispensary owners, edible makers, and growers enough time to get all their ducks in a row. There will be certification fees and the amount will depend on the annual revenue of each company.
Once standards are set in stone, many business owners will rise to the challenge of creating the cleanest organic marijuana to satisfy the foodies spending extra cash to eat organic munchies. Only certain companies will decide to go organic depending on their target consumers. Because of high supply, many stoners are able to find deals on ounces and are willing to smoke pesticides if it means they save some dollar bills. Many adult users in Colorado are willing to pay more per gram if the dispensary claims to use organic growing practices. One dispensary in Manitou Springs, Colorado explains their quality standard on the homepage of their website. They go above and beyond by claiming “all of our products are sun-grown from seed, in 100% custom-mixed, on-site soil, spring-watered, slow-cured and hand trimmed. We do NOT use ANY pesticides OR growth hormones. We also have been Clean Green Certified for the past 2 years, which is certification of organic standards and testing that mirrors the USDA organic certification.”
Since the Clean Green Certification for cannabis crop producers was established in California in 2004, dispensaries like Santa Cruz Naturals have also been Clean Green Certified, along with companies from 4 other states. The program provides a “label that stands for legal compliance, consumer quality, and environmental stewardship.”
It’s only been about 6 years since the first recreational cannabis shops started selling ounces to the masses in colorful Colorado. But it’s been over 2 decades since California opened its first MMJ establishment, becoming the first state to sell cannabis legally. Even without an established national organic standard, competition and demand have created the need for non-government agencies to monitor quality control within this emerging industry. Only time will tell how it all plays out but one thing is for sure, weed just keeps getting better!