As we all now know, the CBD market is booming and there’s a wide variety of brands and products for consumers to choose from. Have you noticed that many CBD companies claim to sell products that are “organic”? BUT….does their website show the the official USDA organic seal of approval?
Plenty of US-based CBD companies say they sell organic CBD oil tinctures, gummies and topicals but the reality is, it’s a very gray area. Even though CBD use is on the rise and there is a huge “buzz” about the industry, the regulation of hemp and CBD products is still not yet where it should be. This has led to many companies fooling their customers into believing statements that aren’t true and many buyers trust brands that don’t actually deliver the quality of product they advertise.
Even though many brands make the statement that they are selling “organic” CBD, actual organically sourced goods are few and far between. Why? Well, let’s take a closer look at what actually constitutes an “organic” product.
Can CBD be Organic? If so, Why Organic CBD so Hard to Find?
As stated above, there is very little definite regulation in the CBD industry at present which has resulted in a very murky interpretation of what “quality” means. Companies are making claims that their products are “all-natural” and “organic” but, in reality, many are anything but. A quick internet search will prove that there are many CBD brands that have the word “organic” on their labeling. In order to understand why true organic products are hard to find, we must first examine what the term really means and the history of organic hemp certification in the US.
What is Organic CBD, in Legal Terms?
In 1990, the USDA allowed for national standards for the production of foods labeled “organic” by passing The Organic Foods Protection Act (OFPA) under that year’s Farm Bill. Through the OFPA, they further recognized the need for rules pertaining to the production, handling, and processing of organically-grown agricultural products with the National Organic Program (NOP). The Act finally allowed for the creation of a Federal Advisory Board made up of public volunteers from across the organic community to come up with actual regulations and called it the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).
Although it took over a decade, the final standards were completed in December 2000 and enacted in April 2001. From then on, there have been specific benchmarks companies must meet in order to become certified “organic” and carry the USDA Organic Seal.
First and foremost, produce and other crops must be grown without the use of chemicals, synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The actual text of the document outlining the regulations is lengthy and detailed but that’s the gist. To make sure US farmers are adhering to these standards and following these rules, third-party testing is utilized to assess their practices.
Domestic Organic Hemp Regulations
The 2014 Farm Bill allowed for and legalized hemp production but only did so under limited conditions in state-run pilot programs. By this time, the NOP had been operating for over 10 years and certified organic products were everywhere. Of course, hemp farmers cultivating under the 2014 Farm Bill became interested in getting their USDA Organic Certification, too.
The U.S. has been importing organic hemp for years. Domestic organic certification should obviously be the next step, right? Unfortunately it hit a roadblock. In February of 2016 the USDA issued an order stating that organic certification would not apply to domestically grown hemp. Six months later the USDA overturned this order and released a new directive allowing for hemp to be certified organic but only if it was grown according to the 2014 Farm Bill and under a state-run pilot program. In September 2018 the USDA finally announced that they were going to allow for organic certification for industrial hemp production as well.
Since then, domestic industrial hemp growers and producers are able to apply for and be granted an official Organic Certification….but the process is complicated, expensive and takes a lot of time.
Requirements For Certified Organic Hemp
According to the USDA there are measures companies must take and complete prior to receiving the Organic Hemp Certification. New Frontier Data, a company whose mission is to create an environment of transparency in the cannabis industry through diagnostic reporting and clear, honest data, simplifies these requirements in a five step process:
- The Development of an Organic System Plan
An Organic System Plan (OSP) is the applicant’s roadmap to becoming certified organic. An effective OSP will address all the farming or handling systems that the hemp farmer or manufacturer incorporates throughout the production process, and should include land-use history, storage, and soil-management activities.
- The Implementation of an OSP that is Reviewed by a Certifying Agency
After an organic system plan has been developed, it must be reviewed by a certifying agency. Certifying agents are accredited by the USDA to review and approve applications for organic certification.
- Facilities Must Pass The Inspection Conducted by a Certifying Agency
The agency will examine and scrutinize various aspects of the facility during the inspection such as fields used for cultivation, water systems, and soil conditions.
- Inspection Review
After inspection is completed the findings are reviewed by the certified agency. Items such as contamination risk assessments may require soil, tissue, or product samples and these factors are taken into consideration during the analysis.
If the operation complies completely with the USDA regulations, their application will be approved. In order to remain compliant and certified, OSPs should be updated if changes are made to the processes and annual renewal is required. As you can imagine, this progression is time consuming and potentially expensive so many smaller hemp processors and CBD operators may forego this course of action and choose not to pursue certification. Unfortunately there are also companies that claim to be certified but haven’t completed the process.
Why Is Organically Grown Hemp So Important?
Phytoremediation is defined as a process that uses various types of plants to remove, transfer, stabilize, and/or destroy contaminants in the soil and groundwater. Hemp, in particular, is a superstar when it comes to completing this process and has been used in an effort to clean up our environment. It has a fairly deep root structure and is immune to many of the toxins that may be present in the soil In which it’s planted.
Hemp is so effective at phytoremediation that it was planted at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site to get rid of
the contaminants present following the catastrophe. In an effort to confirm those findings, a team of German researchers conducted a study in 2001 proving that hemp was able to extract lead, cadmium and nickel from a plot of land contaminated with sewage sludge.
While this is a great thing for the soil, it must be noted that the contaminants don’t just disappear. During the process of phytoremediation the hemp plant comes infected with the contaminants it has drawn out of the soil. It follows that if that infected hemp plant is used to produce CBD products, the products will therefore contain the toxic elements present in the hemp plant. Consumers looking for clean, truly organic CBD must be able to trust that the hemp used in the production of that CBD must have been grown in clean, organic soil.
Are we suggesting that all companies that aren’t certified by the USDA produce CBD products that contain contaminants? Certainly not! But how, then, can
a consumer be sure that the product they use is free from pesticides, heavy metals and other potential contaminants? Other than the official organic certification, the only answer is third-party testing. ALL truly transparent CBD companies offer third-party lab results for each of their products. They should be easy to find and easy to read. If the company you use doesn’t offer this important information, it is best to steer clear and find a company that does.
What Are Organic Carrier Oils?
Carrier oils are an important component of all quality CBD oils sold to consumers. A carrier oil is just what it sounds like – it’s a base oil used to deliver, or “carry”, the primary therapeutic ingredient into the body. They help support the absorption process and should be chosen for their ability to enhance the effectiveness of the element they are delivering.
Organic carrier oils are thought to be far better carriers than non-organic carrier oils and they are also more expensive. Because you now know what it takes to produce an organic material, you also understand why. Much like organic hemp, organic carrier oils are free from any harmful ingredients that may be present in the plants from which they’re extracted. And, since you’re undoubtedly using CBD as a way to enhance and promote wellness, you’ll want to use products that only use organic carrier oils in their products. Purelix Wellness CBD Oil Tinctures are made using organic MCT oil (lemon and orange!) and organic olive oil (mint!).
Now that the USDA has given the green light to hemp growers for organic certification, we will undoubtedly see more truly organic CBD products enter the marketplace. As this groundbreaking industry grows and people begin discovering the many benefits CBD offers, truly organic products will be even more sought after. Remember that to ensure that the product you’re using is organically sourced, look for third-party testing and USDA Certification. As always, transparency is key!!