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July 23, 2018

Certified ‘clean’ cannabis label creates branding opportunity for growers

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association reported that the number of medical marijuana growers certified as "clean" has grown from five in 2016 to 11 in 2017. MOFGA initiated the new certification program so that growers would have a standard for clean, chemical-free growing of medical marijuana.

The number of medical marijuana growers certified as "clean" by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association grew from five in 2016, the first year of the certification program, to 11 in 2017.

MOFGA created the new certification program so growers would have a standard for clean, chemical-free growing, Chris Grigsby, MOFGA's director of certification, told the Bangor Daily News.

"It's an opportunity for them to say in their marketing of their product they have growing practices on a par with the national organic standards," Grigsby told the newspaper.

Grigsby said about seven growers signed up for inspection for 2018 certification.

Maine's trend toward organic fruits and vegetables stoked interest from medical marijuana caregivers for the certification program. However, because the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn't recognize cannabis as an agricultural crop because it's illegal under federal law, marijuana cannot be called "organic."

And so, according to MOFGA, the program is designed to certify that cannabis grown for medical purposes meets a quality standard similar to organic. Growth of the $1 billion medical marijuana industry is expected to continue. In 2016, Maine ranked sixth for numbers of U.S. medical cannabis patients per capita. CNBC reported that legal U.S. cannabis sales soared to $5.4 billion in 2015, up 17.4% from $4.6 billion in 2014.

The program is a voluntary marketing label designed to ensure patient confidence in growing practices, according to MOFGA. To comply, all aspects of operation pertaining to MOFGA's standards must be verifiable through an audit process.

The audit process consists of a system plan, review of plan, record-keeping analysis, on-site inspection and ultimately a certification decision.

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