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Organic Care of California BLOG

 Here is a few Blogs written by the owners Chaz & Shantel Cornellier about the industry and things they have experienced or learned while owning a cannabis delivery service in Chico, Ca in 2017 under Prop 215 and then moving to Sacramento to own a State Liscensed Delivery, C9-0000003-LIC, immediately in 2018. It has been a crazy ride and Chaz loves to explain what the market is doing and how he sees the company doing in the near future.

Please let us know if there is anything you want us specifically to write about or have any questions. Always open to input and ways to get better. Can reach us @ [email protected]

We truly work for YOU and always want your input. 

Blog / / Organic Cannabis Certifications in California: Navigating the Complex Landscape

Organic Cannabis Certifications in California: Navigating the Complex Landscape

The cannabis industry in California has been a topic of much discussion and interest, particularly with the rising awareness of organic products. However, when it comes to labeling cannabis as "organic," the situation is more complex than it appears. This blog delves into the nuances of organic cannabis certifications in California and explores why brands cannot use the term "organic" on their packaging.

Understanding the Legal Framework

To understand why cannabis brands in California can't use the term "organic," it's important to look at the legal framework governing organic products in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for the organic certification of products under the National Organic Program (NOP). However, since cannabis is still considered a Schedule I drug at the federal level, it falls outside the USDA's purview. This means that even if a cannabis product is grown using organic methods, it cannot be certified as organic by the USDA.

The California Organic Food and Farming Act

California has its own version of the organic certification program, known as the California Organic Food and Farming Act (COFFA). While this act provides guidelines for organic agriculture, it's complicated when applied to cannabis. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) oversees organic certification in the state, but due to federal restrictions, cannabis cannot be included in this program.

Alternative Certifications

In the absence of federal recognition, several alternative certifications have emerged in the cannabis industry. These certifications aim to verify that cannabis products are grown using organic methods. Some of these include Clean Green Certified, Certified Kind, and Ocal. These programs have their own standards and auditing processes to ensure compliance with organic farming practices.

Alternative Certifications: Navigating the Landscape

In response to this regulatory gap, several organizations have established their own standards and certification processes for cannabis that mirror traditional organic practices. Let's explore the key players: Clean Green Certified, Certified Kind, and Organic Cannabis Association.

1. Clean Green Certified

Clean Green Certified is one of the leading organic-equivalent certification programs specifically tailored for the cannabis industry. This program was established in 2004 and is based on national and international organic and sustainable farming practices.


Cultivation Practices: Clean Green Certified requires adherence to organic agricultural practices. This includes using natural pest management and fertilization methods, as well as ensuring sustainable water usage.
Carbon Footprint Reduction: Emphasis is placed on reducing the carbon footprint through efficient energy usage and minimal transportation of products.
Legal Compliance: Growers must comply with all state cannabis laws and regulations.

2. Certified Kind

Certified Kind operates similarly to Clean Green, with a focus on organic and earth-friendly cultivation practices. It's one of the closest equivalents to the USDA organic certification available to cannabis producers.


Organic Inputs: Only organic fertilizers and pest control methods are permitted. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are strictly prohibited.
Soil Health: There's a strong emphasis on maintaining soil health through organic matter, crop rotations, and cover cropping.
Water Conservation: Efficient water use and conservation practices are mandatory.

3. OCal

OCal is a statewide certification program that establishes and enforces comparable-to-organic cannabis standards. The OCal Program will ensure that cannabis products bearing the OCal seal have been certified to consistent, uniform standards comparable to the National Organic Program.


Local Sourcing: Encourages local sourcing of all inputs to minimize transportation impacts.
Non-GMO: Prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms in cultivation.
Community Engagement: Promotes community involvement and education about organic cannabis cultivation.

Why "Organic" Matters

Consumers are increasingly interested in organic products due to their perceived health and environmental benefits. Organic farming typically avoids or minimizes the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, which can be better for both consumer health and the environment. For cannabis consumers, organic products offer a guarantee of purity and sustainability.

Challenges for Cannabis Growers

For cannabis growers, meeting organic standards can be challenging. They must navigate a landscape where the federal government does not recognize their product, yet they strive to meet consumer demand for organic goods. Growers have to adhere to strict cultivation practices without the benefit of federal guidance or support. This often involves significant investment in sustainable farming practices and adherence to rigorous standards set by alternative certification bodies.

Consumer Awareness and Education

There is a significant need for consumer education in this area. Many consumers might not be aware of the reasons why cannabis products don't carry the "organic" label and might be misled by marketing tactics. Educating consumers about the alternative certifications and what they stand for can help them make informed decisions.

The Future of Organic Cannabis in California

The future of organic cannabis in California is tied to broader changes in the legal and regulatory landscape. If cannabis were to be descheduled or legalized at the federal level, it could open the door for USDA organic certification. Until then, the industry relies on alternative certifications to assure consumers of the organic quality of their products.


The landscape of organic cannabis in California is complex, shaped by a unique set of legal and regulatory challenges. While the inability to use the "organic" label might be a setback for brands and consumers alike, the emergence of alternative certifications plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality and sustainability of cannabis products. As the industry evolves, it will be interesting to see how these certifications develop and how they might integrate with federal regulations in the future.