Ask any legal marijuana grower and they will tell you that they are growing cannabis organically.
The claims may be well and good, but the thing is, there is no government-sanctioned certification that exists yet for organic marijuana. It might not happen in the near future as well as cannabis remains to be illegal on the federal level, and the plant is not currently on the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards Board’s docket for the creation of organic standards.
“Is there a legal definition at this point in time? No, there is not,” said Roger Hudson, spokesman for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. “But there is a general idea of what ‘organically grown’ is.”
For many, the use of pesticides is a clearly a sin against organic growing of marijuana. In early 2015, Denver officials have cracked down on some commercial marijuana growers that misuse pesticides despite the fact that some of them are advertising their products as “organic” and “chemical-free.” Until recently, Colorado marijuana growers can use whatever pesticides they wanted, leading to potentially dangerous experimentation inside grow facilities.
A change on the horizon
Many marijuana consumers are becoming more critical of how their weed is being cultivated.
“The customer started asking, ‘Well, wait a minute. What are you putting in our product?'” commented Eric Eagon, general manager of Sticky Buds, a chain of marijuana shops in Denver. Though Sticky Buds claims that they use kelp meal and earthworm castings to keep their cannabis plants healthy just like what are being used in other certified organic farms, there is no way to certify this at the moment.
The complaints from many cannabis consumers have pushed Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman to look into dispensaries that are claiming that their products are organic. Trade organizations, like the Organic Cannabis Association, have also entered the picture, aiming to make the necessary changes in organic marijuana regulation.
“We need some standards in cannabis production,” said John Paul Maxfield, one of the association’s founders. “People can grow in ways that aren’t organic and receive premium that should be going to the people that are doing it, what we call ‘right.'”
The Organic Cannabis Association is now offering auditing services to certify a business as “pesticide-free,” though Maxfield admits that they are not capable of doing a full organic certification. Other organizations doing the same include California-based Clean Green Certified and Oregon-based Organic Cannabis Growers Society.
For Sticky Buds lead grower Nilvio Aquino, it is high time to find the right mix of regulation and marketing so that those who follow organic growing methods will prevail as the industry matures. After all, there will always be a group of consumers who would want to pay premium for something superior.
“It’s a business. Your product speaks,” Aquino said. “Some people aren’t connoisseurs, but we’re trying to target connoisseurs.”
How can organic marijuana regulation change the game in the cannabis industry? Voice your opinions in the comments section below – your opinion matters to the nation.