Due to the current federal prohibition in place, cannabis isn’t legally recognized by the FDA or USDA as a legitimate agricultural crop, meaning even if cannabis plants are raised in 100 percent organic conditions, the term “organic”  still can’t be used in the branding and packaging of the product. Thanks to the Clean Green Certified Cannabis initiative, however, cannabis consumers have a group dedicated to maintaining cannabis cultivation standards. 

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Clean Green certified farms are the closest thing to being called organic that’s out there for the cannabis industry. Started in 2004 in California by former USDA accredited organic certifier Chris Van Hook, The Clean Green certification was established as a regulatory group to ensure clean, sustainable cannabis for consumers. The certification has since spread to California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Vermont, New Mexico, Montana, and even Puerto Rico.  The network of trained Clean Green handlers maintain the highest possible standards when it comes to “consumer quality and environmental stewardship,” according to their website.

The program is modeled on established national, federal and international agricultural standards with sustainability in mind. The certification covers every aspect of the growing process, from testing the soil and nutrients used, to only allowing for certain eco-friendly pesticides, to performing comprehensive mold treatments and verifying ethical and reliable electrical sources.

While there are plenty of natural ways individual growers can make their plants cleaner and get rid of pests, large scale grows and farmers are a different story. The program is designed for all types of cannabis businesses, whether they’re producing flower, processing oils or other derivatives, or making edibles, the Clean Green certification has you covered. To become Clean Green certified, the business will need to meet three requirements.

Legal Compliance

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As part of the first steps of the program, growers will need to do a comprehensive legal review of their operation to see where they meet and fall short of compliance standards. Due to the remaining federal illegality of growing and harvesting cannabis, not meeting those compliance standards can be a major problem for the industry as a whole.

The program suggests meeting with a compliance lawyer individually and reviewing the requirements since every operation will have its own challenges to overcome. According to Clean Green’s website, “a dollar spent in compliance is worth ten dollars in defense.”

Reviewing Their Plant Cultivation Methods

Before you’re certified, the farmer will need to fill out an application about how their farm is run. Some of those questions include the sources of water and electricity, protection from soil erosion and if the border areas, natural vegetation barriers between your crop and other outside plants, and what measures you take for pest, weed and disease control among your crops.

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Once the farmer fills out that application, another separate onsite crop examination is scheduled to confirm the information is correct. That crop examination will look through fertilizers, potting soil and pest control sprays used on the grow site to make sure that clean, sustainable methods are being used. While many cannabis companies do use third-party testing on their products to make sure they’re safe, Clean Green has labs within their network that do all of that testing regularly as part of their inspections.

Each of those on-site inspectors either has a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture or related science or ten years of experience as an organic cultivator, meaning growers can rest assured they’ll get a knowledgable, professional assessment. Clean Green will even assist growers in getting clean, sustainable nutrient application and pest control methods.

Plant Inspection

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The third step is an actual examination of the plants themselves to make sure there are no contaminating molds, mildews or pest-induced issues. Inspectors will collect samples and send them to labs for examination for pesticide residue, as well as inspecting the farm for soil erosion.

After the inspection, farmers and growers can discuss and make changes to their crop set-up to prevent quick degradation and crop contamination. In fact, according to Clean Green’s website, “contamination of a crop is often most likely to occur in the processing areas as the entire crop being concentrated into a smaller area.”

The main goal of this portion is to access the overall health of the plants and the growing area they’re being produced on. On top of that, Clean Green is committed to reducing the carbon footprint from cannabis farming, making sure their certified farms and grows take steps to reduce their carbon output yearly.

Why You Should Prefer Clean Green Cannabis

Just like any product you’re consuming, you’d be wise to try and get the cleanest, highest quality product available. Brands who are Clean Green cannabis certified consistently win awards at the Cannabis Cup, the premier cannabis festival, because it’s great quality bud that users can tell is different from the pack.

Many cannabis retail shops only partner with Clean Green certified farms and grows, giving customers the cleanest, best quality product on the market for an affordable price. Until 2004 when Clean Green came into the game, growing cannabis was the wild west. You as a consumer would have no idea where or how your cannabis was grown, what pesticides were used or if that cannabis was growth ethically and responsibly.

Plus, when full federal legalization finally comes as it’s looker closer and closer by the day, Clean Green can be adopted nationwide as an ethical, officially organic way to grow and cultivate recreational cannabis. Now, all you need to do is look at the packaging for the Clean Green Certified label to know that your cannabis is free from any harmful leftover residues and meet the Clean Green standard.