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MOFGA Trials MOFGA Certified Clean Cannabis Program

MOFGA Trials MOFGA Certified Clean Cannabis Program

September 1, 2016

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is trialing a program to certify that cannabis (marijuana) grown for medical purposes meets a quality standard similar to organic. (The USDA National Organic Program – NOP – does not allow the word "organic" to be used with cannabis.) This 1-year trial is called MOFGA Certified Clean Cannabis or MC3. The MC3 mission is to verify that cannabis is grown, processed and handled within guidelines paralleling those of the NOP and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), thereby assuring the patient safe, quality medicine.

Growth of the $1 billion medical marijuana industry is expected to continue. While complex legal and regulatory issues surround cannabis cultivation and distribution, users/patients need assured access to quality, safe cannabis.

Maine ranks 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 percent from $4.6 billion in 2014. This market likely will be redefined as more targeted medications with precise dosing and efficacy are developed. MOFGA is trying to anticipate providing third-party-inspected and certified safe medicinal cannabis to Maine patients. If recreational marijuana is legalized, many of those users will insist upon quality, "certified clean" cannabis products.

The increasing national legalization of medical marijuana suggests the need for a "Certified Clean Cannabis" label in Maine, so MOFGA's board approved a 1-year trial MC3 program. The board believes that Maine growers may seek certification to provide quality branding of their product and to distinguish local or boutique varieties of cannabis from large scale, nationwide "Big Ag" production. Also, many growers are developing cannabis products with different ratios of cannabinoids for different therapeutic effects.

The board also believes that consumers and public health need protection from unlabeled products that may include synthetics, pesticides, molds, additives and high concentrations of euphorics, such as delta-9-THC.

A fee-based, third-party service may provide resources beyond that of government to assure a safe, quality product.

The board's criteria for the trial require no liability to MOFGA or MOFGA Certification Services LLC (MCS), that the trial program be self-supporting, that MOFGA can terminate the partnership at any time, and that it be limited to six certified growers.

The MC3 program allows MCS to develop a separate trial program outside of its NOP confines to evaluate the feasibility of a longer term, separate certification process for cannabis. Over two years MC3 has developed standards that mimic organic standards and is now a unique program operating under its own governance in partnership with MCS. The program is limited to raw cannabis; processing certification will be considered later.

Five cannabis growers currently are participating with MC3: Erica Haywood of LoveGrown♥™ Caregiver Services, Education & Consulting, Farmington; Dawson Julia of East Coast CBDs, Unity; Tyler Omand of Dynamic Medicinals and Design, Greenbush; Ryan Clark of Green Fire Medicinals, Sangerville; John Black of Rocky Hill Landscaping & Nursery, Wilton.

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