Certified Organic: It’s Not Just for Fruits and Vegetables Anymore

By Beth Gerber

July 26, 2011

Enter the Clean Green Certified Program, an organic certification program for pot growers and their “produce”.  Started in 2004 (so about as fresh as a 7 year old dime bag), Clean Green is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for purveyors of medical marijuana.  Actually, it’s more than that.  The program, which is currently only available in California but planning to expand nationally as other states follow liberal suit and pass medical marijuana legislation (go New Jersey!), follows the same rigorous standards of testing that the USDA uses to certify everything from mushrooms and nuts to tomatoes and medjool dates.  Extensive soil testing for pesticides, a review of crop inputs (i.e., natural pesticides), an agricultural inspection to ensure the source plants are disease and mold-free, and as of this year applicants even need to submit a plan for reducing their carbon footprint (including steps such as switching to CFL bulbs or solar panels to illuminate their little “buddies”).

I think it’s a convenient and serviceable (if not entirely creative) program name, but what I find most interesting about this program is the potential it creates for pot growers to really differentiate themselves, their products, and their brands, and to put pressure on all growers to either go green or develop creative ways to respond to the movement.  Like certified organic produce, Clean Green  introduces the perception of a higher quality (and healthier) product and socially conscious growing practices.  Of course, it also allows growers to price their stinky goods at a premium.

I suspect a lot of growers don’t have the “green” to invest in better growing practices.  It’s not the $2,000 a year program fee that’s prohibitive.  It’s the cost to upgrade to natural pesticides, provide lower energy growing environments, etc.  Organic products command a premium in the marketplace for a reason: they’re expensive to produce.  And this is probably just the first response offered by non-certified growers: that sh*t’s expensive!

Other likely responses to the competitive pressure:

  • “Cleaner” pot doesn’t mean “Meaner” pot.  You want pot with an attitude!
  • It’s a conspiracy, man!  They’re just trying to get you to pay more for the same sh*t!
  • We use the safest unsafe chemicals you can buy.
  • Ever try an organic apple?  Not as juicy, right?
  • C’mon, it’s a plant, man.  It’s already organic.
  • I’ll betcha a spliff that sh*t won’t get you high.
  • What?
  • Organic means they add organs, man.  I wouldn’t smoke that sh*t.

Would I pay more for organic certified pot??  Well, if I was a smoking man, probably not.  I fertilize my lawn with who knows what kind of chemicals, eat produce grown under who knows what sort of conditions, and have never detected much of a taste difference when ordering organically grown meats and poultry in restaurants.  I just haven’t been inspired to make the change, and pay more to do so.

Before I jump to conclusions though, maybe I need to sample some of this organic pot.  Ya know, just to be sure.

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