How Cannabis Growers Can Prepare for Organic Certification

certified-organic-cannabis

One of the most widely discussed topics within the cannabis industry is the overall health and safety of the final product, which is almost entirely the result of cultivation practices.

Due to a few high profile cases where illegal pesticide residues were detected on marijuana products, this topic has gained much interest in consumers and has created a strong and growing demand for “organically” produced cannabis products.

Because marijuana is still ridiculously classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic, the Federal Government does not recognize it as a legitimate agriculture commodity and therefore does not qualify to be submitted for USDA Organic classification.

But as usual, the market is way ahead of the curve and doesn’t have time to wait around for the Federal Government to get with the program and growers have already started to implement organic growing practices on their own.

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As you can see from the graph above, more than half of US commercial cannabis growers are already growing to standards they believe are organic.

However these growers can’t really market their cannabis as “organic” because the USDA has yet to release any cannabis-specific guidelines nor will they certify marijuana growers as organic.

But when the USDA finally comes around, which is inevitable, how would you like to be one of the first growers to receive official organic certification?

organic4colorsealjpg-1Growers who will be able to legally claim “organic” grown cannabis, along with the recognizable USDA ORGANIC logo stamped on all their products, will most definitely have a huge competitive advantage.

I believe USDA Organic certification is just around the corner for cannabis growers and even if the Federal Government doesn’t embrace legalization in the near future, agencies like the USDA or others have no choice but to respond to consumer demand for verified organic products.

Some States are already taking action and starting to establish organic production guidelines for cannabis growers to follow.

And instead of re-inventing the wheel and starting from scratch, I’m sure States will follow the standards that have already been established by the National Organic Program (NOP).

The NOP is the regulatory agency within the USDA that are responsible for developing national standards for organically-produced agricultural products.

So how can you get ahead of the curve and be ready for official organic certification?  The good news is that you can start right NOW and have all the documentation needed for quick and easy certification approval when that time comes.

For the growers serious about producing organic cannabis as a means to differentiate themselves in an increasing competitive industry, I encourage them to start growing organically as soon as possible.

I instill urgency because under the guidelines of the USDA, it takes 3 YEARS to transition ground or grow facilities to organic status.

But if you get started NOW, you’ll be positioned to be one of the first officially recognized organic cannabis producers in the nation!  Just think about what that will do for your business and brand.  Here’s how you can get started…

Start Preparing for Organic Cannabis Certification

1. Document the Day You Start Managing Your Ground or Grow Facility as Organic

shutterstock_373299940-1If an official standard to follow already existed, this process wouldn’t be necessary but since you’ll be a pioneer in undefined territory, this could possibly be the most crucial step.

A notarized document giving witness to the day you started growing using 100% USDA organic practices will be critical in proving to an organic certifier the exact day your 3 year transition period starts.

2. Establish Your Organic System Plan (OSP)

shutterstock_361258568-1Under the USDA organic regulations, each certified organic grower must have an OSP which is a detailed outline that explains how you operate your growing operation to satisfy the organic growing standards.

So basically you need to start keeping extremely good records on every growing input used and quantity.  The OSP is also the document that establishes the area or site that you will be designating as organic.

Click here to download an OSP template for organic production.

3. Follow Growing Standards Laid Out by National Organic Program Religiously

shutterstock_367764335-1The term “organic” is thrown around a lot in our young cannabis industry but by following the standards established by the National Organic Program (NOP), used by organic food producers for years throughout the US, you’ll be very confident in your claim as a true organic cultivator and will have NO issues during certification process.

The guidelines are not that difficult to follow but the point is to never stray away from them…no mater what.  Click Here to download USDA’s Guide for Organic Crop Producers.

4. Only Use Input Products (Fertilizers, Growing Media, Pesticides, etc.) that Have Been Certified Organic

omri-listed-logo-rgbTheir are a lot of input products out there that claim to be “organic” and they may be but until they are critically reviewed and certified to meet the strict guidelines laid out by the NOP, you simply cannot risk using them.

There are only two recognized organizations that review products and publish lists of products allowed for organic production: the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and the Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Food Program (WSDA).

 

 

Did you find this post helpful? If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you commented below and shared on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Thanks! 

PS: If you’d like for me to send you a $20 Mantis Hand Lens for FREE, click here. 

Dallas Piscopo
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Dallas Piscopo

I am the founder of Mantis Plant Protection and also a certified pest control adviser working with organic growers throughout Southern California, Arizona, and Mexico.
Dallas Piscopo
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