Washington Organic Marijuana Assurances

Washington would not be the first state to consider tackling the organic certification issue. In February, Colorado lawmakers introduced House Bill 16-1079, which would create a certification program for Colorado cannabis that is pesticide-free. The summary of the bill states that “Because marijuana and hemp are illegal under federal law and federal law governs whether a product can be labeled or advertised as ‘organic’, marijuana or hemp that is cultivated, processed, and sold in accordance with state law currently cannot be labeled or advertised as ‘organic.’” The bill “directs the commissioner of agriculture to promulgate rules governing a program to enable consumers to easily identify medical and retail marijuana and industrial hemp that have been cultivated and processed without the use of pesticides. The department of agriculture will certify third parties who can certify whether the marijuana or hemp cultivated or processed at a particular cannabis facility is free of pesticides, [and the bill would] allow marijuana product labels to include a standardized notification that the marijuana has been certified as being pesticide-free.”

Washington was one of the first states where voters decided to legalize cannabis – and now they are the first state to create a certification process for organic cannabis. Governor Inslee signed this single marijuana-related bill into law this week, but this one bill covers a surprising amount of ground. Rather than going on record approving multiple marijuana-related bills, lawmakers chose to put multiple provisions into a single bill – including the start of organic cannabis certification, officially allowing people to “gift” or share their marijuana, and opening the door to allowing home grows and legalizing industrial hemp.

The WSDA already certifies approximately 1,100 agricultural operations in the state of Washington as organic. According to the report, the fee to cannabis business owners for certification would be approximately $1,800, and would provide a “guarantee of integrity,” something that has become increasingly important to consumers with the integration of Washington State’s medical marijuana system into the I-502 recreational marijuana system.

Cannabis consumers are demanding assurance that the cannabis products they purchase and consume are safe and business owners should be able to give that assurance and market their products as organic if they truly are pesticide-free. We see this as a step in the right direction toward a safe and transparent cannabis industry in Washington State, and we will be following the WSDA’s new role in the industry closely and reporting back to you as things change.