Washington Looks to Create Certification for Organic Cannabis

Washington Looks to Create Certification for Organic Cannabis

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Flickr @ Bob Doran

As the cannabis industry grows, states who have chosen to legalize for adult use have realized that there are certain things consumers want – for example, organically grown cannabis. One of the more controversial issues in commercially grown cannabis is the use of pesticides. The state of Washington has recently made an agreement between the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board and the Washington State Department of Agriculture to create a system of random testing of cannabis for pesticides – and now they’re proposing an agreement that would create a program to certify cannabis as organic – or at least something similar.

Due to the fact that the USDA governs what is considered “organic”, those federal guidelines would not permit cannabis, a federally banned substance, to be labeled as organic. Instead, the WSDA suggested that they will come up with a similar name, and the cannabis under that label would have to pass a certification that is similar to that of other organically grown crops. The agreement would make this project a permanent venture of the WSDA, entirely funded by marijuana taxes.

“There seems to be consumer interest in that,” WSDA spokesman Hector Castro said. “We have done this for other commodities, obviously.”

Washington legalized the adult use of marijuana back in 2012, the same year that Colorado voted to legalize it as well. The two industries have both run into several similar problems, and each are handling them as they come. Colorado has seen changes to pesticide usage, product testing, labeling, packaging, and even created a symbol to mark cannabis edibles so they cannot easily be mistaken for a normal food item.

Similarly, Washington has had to take several steps over the last few years to create a solid system for testing and regulating the use of pesticides, the labeling of products and much more. Everyone knew there would have to be changes made along the way – but the more these first few states to legalize can figure out about best policies when it comes to the regulation of recreational marijuana, the better. It will be that much easier for other states to follow suit if they already have an idea of what to expect.

“All of this is new — the pieces of the support structure for the industry are coming together,” Castro said.

Giving control of product testing and the certification of “organic” cannabis products over to the Washington State Department of Agriculture will give them a permanent spot in the cannabis industry – which is as it should be, considering cannabis is a crop and therefore should be treated no differently than any other crop. It is important for the safety of the consumers that state level departments of agriculture are able to be involved in the decisions and testing regarding which pesticides are safe and in what quantities. If the proposal is approved, then an equivalent to meeting “organic” standards for cannabis will soon be a reality in the state of Washington.

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