A pilot program in Maine now allows cultivators to have their marijuana crops deemed clean. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Clean Cannabis program has been up and running for two years. Those cultivating within the pilot program refrain from using synthetic chemicals.
A new certification program was started, which helped create a standard for clean marijuana, BDN reports. The existing certification program had to undergo a few changes before the marijuana growers could reach the chemical-free growing certificate. The new standards were developed by using a small group of just five cultivators.
Cultivator Nicholas Morton said, “I knew this flowering plant did something to balance me. But when I started looking around at products and dispensaries [in Maine] I found many grew their cannabis using some sort of [synthetic] growth product, leading me down the road of wondering, ‘How is that beneficial?’”
Director of Certification Chris Grigsby said, “Federally, cannabis is still illegal [and] with the USDA owning the national organic program we can’t certify it ‘organic. So if MOFGA wanted to take this on, we knew we wanted to mirror the national [organic] standards.”
Morton also said, “They came through and investigated everything I do. They looked at my buildings, my ingredients, my soil. I was really impressed in how they went from corner to corner and how nice they are.”
Once the pilot program was determined successful, MC3 applications were available to all Maine growers that met their standards. This took place in 2017.
Grigsby said, “We felt pretty good about offering to other caregivers and growers who essentially want that third-party verification. 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.”
The group of cultivators with MC3 certification is very small.
Cultivator Mike Howland said, “We have always grown [cannabis] organically, so why not assure people that we are following that protocol? It gives us a stamp of approval [and] from MOFGA that holds a lot of weight.”
Only those growing in soil are eligible for this special certification. It does not matter if the cultivation takes place outside or in a greenhouse; it just has to be in soil. Hydroponic growers will not be certified.
Grigsby said, “We are not certifying hydroponics. That does not fall under the principles of what MOFGA defines as organic.”
Grigsby also said, “The cannabis has to be grown in some kind of container that holds a soil-based medium. We do allow folks taking cuttings from a ‘mother’ plant to use a non-soil container at first, but that cutting must be moved into soil within three weeks of the cutting.”
Regarding their practices, Grigsby said, “We are looking at cannabis just like any other crop in Maine. We are the third-party verification organization in the growing process [and] the fact that these folks are seeking that verification to back up their [clean] marketing claims we feel is important.”
The 2018 certification deadline is closed with seven more potential certification holders awaiting their inspections.