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, “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.