Allay Consulting March Newsletter: Organic Certification for the Hemp Industry

Interest in organic hemp products is steadily rising.  Whether it be end product consumers who prefer to purchase organic products or a wholesale product manufacturer looking to source organic ingredients, there’s increasing demand for these products.  Organic certification expands your sales market, commands a higher price for your products, instills consumer trust and confidence, and perhaps most notably, contributes to increasing water quality, conserves energy, promotes ecological balance, and conserves biodiversity.  There are many benefits to achieving organic certification, and the process is not as hard as you may think.


Which Agency Oversees the Program?

The National Organic Program (NOP) is a public/private partnership within the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS).  The NOP develops regulations for organic cultivation, processing, and labeling.  The NOP also accredits third-party certifying bodies and state Departments of Agriculture who certify operations to verify adherence to the USDA organic regulations (Title 7 Code of Federal Regulations Part 205 NOP Rule).


What’s the Purpose of Certified Organic?

Achieving an organic certification means that the operation has undergone a robust review and inspection to verify compliance with the NOP.  Being certified as organic ensures the integrity of organic products from the farm to the consumer.  The certified organic seal is a recognizable symbol of consumer trust and appreciation that the brand cares about our environment’s health.


Which Cannabis Businesses can get Certified?

Currently, the certification is available to hemp cultivations and hemp processors (such as product manufacturers).  Because the certification is a federal designation, it is not yet available to the THC industry, however California is developing their own state-level certification program called “Comparable to Organic.”  Additionally, the non-profit group, the Cannabis Certification Council, has developed an Organically Grown Cannabis Standard and certification program for the THC industry.


I use Organic Ingredients in my Products; Can I say I’m Organic?

No.  If your operation is not certified organic, making organic claims on a product’s principal display panel is federally illegal.  Fraudulently representing products as organic may be subject to fines of up to $11,000 for each violation. Without certification the only place a label could say “organic” is in the ingredient statement (such as “organic full spectrum hemp oil”).


What is the Process to get Certified?

Step 1: Implement organic farming or processing practices into your operation by developing SOPs and training staff.

Step 2: Select a USDA-accredited certifying body.  Submit the application packet and fees.

Step 3: The certifying body reviews the application packet and conducts an onsite inspection.

Step 4: The certifying body reviews the inspection report and may require corrective action.

Step 5: The certifying body issues the certification.

Step 6: The certifying body conducts an annual review and inspection to maintain certification.


The certification process is straight forward and not overly burdensome. And, if you are currently working towards cGMP or GACP certification, organic certification is an easy one to layer on, as it uses some of the same SOPs. Achieving organic certification is a worthwhile goal that is beneficial to your business, your customers, and to our environment.

Contact Allay Consulting to learn more about cannabis certifications: cGMP, ISO9001, ISO22000, Organic, US Hemp Authority and more!

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