Cornucopias Take: With the rise in medical marijuana prescriptions, concerns arise about environmental practices and toxic chemicals used in growing the plants. MOFGA is now offering Clean Cannabis Certification to growers following organic guidelines.
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) today announced a trial program to certify that cannabis (marijuana) grown for medical purposes meets a verified production standard corresponding to the national organic standards now applied to food and other crops.
The trial program, to be known as MOFGA Certified Clean Cannabis (MC3), will verify that cannabis produced for medical purposes in Maine is grown, processed and handled within guidelines paralleling those of the National Organic Program (NOP) and the American Herbal Products Association. The USDA NOP standards currently do not allow for cannabis to be certified as organic.
MOFGA Executive Director Ted Quaday said consumer and producer interest drove the decision to create a trial program to test third-party certification services for cannabis grown using environmentally sensitive practices.
Cannabis is an emerging cash crop for a growing number of Maine farmers, said Quaday. A certification program will enable those growers to assure cannabis users that their medical cannabis is grown under strict production standards focused on environmentally sound practices and natural sources of soil fertility.
Five Maine growers are now participating in the one-year trial. All have demonstrated that they grow medical cannabis according to MC3 standards and have been inspected to verify that the standards are being met. Certifications were issued to these growers for the first time in August. Packaging labels are being developed, and once the label is approved, each farm will be able to label and sell its cannabis as MC3.
Erica Haywood of LoveGrown♥ in Farmington said that certification of the cannabis grown in her gardens will effectively demonstrate and communicate to her clients how she meets high standards of production and achieves best practices as a grower.
I hope the standards established by MC3 will help the general public understand what it means to grow cannabis using environmentally sensitive practices. I joined this trial because I feel that the MC3 label will become an important connoisseur-grade distinction for cannabis in the state of Maine, said Haywood.
It was a lot of hard work in terms of documentation and inspections and meetings, but earning this certification really lets my clients see the amount of care that goes into producing clean cannabis for them. This program is going to help medical patients all across the state feel more comfortable with their caregivers, knowing their plants are grown using verified methods, Haywood added.
During the trial MOFGA will collect data regarding consumer and grower demand for this type of certification. At the end of the trial, MOFGA will determine whether to launch a full statewide certification program for clean cannabis.
Consumers and growers who would like to learn more about this program are encouraged to visit the MC3 booth in the Social and Political Action area at the Common Ground Country Fair on September 23-25 in Unity, Maine. The growers participating in this trial will be on hand all three days to answer questions and discuss production techniques.