The explosion of cannabis in the US, paired with minimal oversight from the federal government, has led to a pollution and labeling problem. Large grows in Northern California have been found to use toxic rodenticides and pesticides, which have then flowed into the surrounding areas, killing animals and polluting water sources, according to a JSTOR Daily article. And it isn't just the upper left in the ring — according to a Cannabistech article, Colorado law “requires cannabis waste to be mixed 50/50 with an approved non-consumable material before it can be sent to a landfill,” to quell anyone from taking discarded products from dumpsters, but this practice nearly doubles the waste output of cultivation facilities. Thankfully, new rules are coming into effect to make the discarded cannabis waste mix more sustainable, but that doesn't entirely offset what's already been dumped.
In addition to the environmental concerns of an ever-growing industry, identifying truthful labels can be a headache to consumers. Since the federal government enforces no regulation, there are no USDA or FDA-approved guidelines for cannabis to follow, so labeling is at a brand's whim most of the time
How do you know your “organically”-labeled weed is organic if no one is holding them to account? Can you trust all cannabis companies to label their products in good faith alone? Of course, we hope for the best, but that isn't always the case considering the multitudes of cannabis recalls in California, Colorado, Oklahoma and other states.
So, where can we as cannabis consumers turn when we want to support sustainable grows with organic-like practices?
The importance of Clean Green Certified weed
Chris Van Hook founded Clean Green in 2004. Van Hook was a former attorney who worked in the USDA national organic program. As he saw an evolving and constant problem in the unregulated cannabis industry, he decided to ensure both the environment and cannabis enthusiasts with the Clean Green Certification program.
To get Clean Green Certified grows must go through a strict testing and inspection routine that uncovers pesticide use and sustainability practices. The certification only lasts one year, so dedicated cultivation facilities must be continually maintaining their grow ethics.
Cristina Buccola, an expert in cannabis law and regulatory programs, told Weedmaps, “The process includes the completion of an application, intensive crop/facilities/operation inspection, and the performance of mock exercises,” and only state-licensed companies are eligible for Clean Green review.
Once cannabis is finally legal in all 50 states, federal regulations will undoubtedly change, and grow operations may be held to much higher standards. Until then, programs like Clean Green have stepped in to fill the gap and keep honest grows honest.
Sustainable and organic cannabis brands we love
Just in time for Earth Day, here are four Clean Green Certified products that offer peace of mind for both your body and the planet.
Lazy Bee Gardens
Award-winning sun-grown flower with no processed fertilizers in sight, Lazy Bee Gardens knows how to care for the environment while delivering potent cannabis. Check out their long list of dank strains and feel the difference with sustainable, sun-grown cannabis.
Snodgrass Family Genetics
Growing their cannabis under solar energy with water and soil conservation in mind, Snodgrass Family Genetics' plants are 100% free of pesticides, chemicals, and synthetic fertilizers. Not only can you smoke their small-batch, organic craft cannabis, but you can also light it up with their very own blown glass. Yep, it's that Snodgrass.
Sacred Sun Farms
THC isn't the only cannabinoid in need of an organic overhaul. Sacred Sun Farms, located in Montana, boasts Clean Green Certified CBD products and THC and even goes the extra mile by incorporating Korean Natural Farming methods using living soil and sustainable packaging their strains.
Applegate River Roots
Sun-grown in native soil and drip irrigated straight from the Applegate River, Applegate River Roots in Southern Oregon prides themselves on their sustainable practices, even using organic cover crop to boost the native soil, along with the use of local beneficial insects — like ladybugs — for organic pest control.
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps