By Chris Grigsby
The goal of MOFGA’s Certified Clean Cannabis program (MC3) is to offer an independent, third-party-verified marketing claim similar to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) but for cannabis products, which cannot be certified organic at this time. The standards were developed by MOFGA with a group of dedicated Maine caregivers. The program is entering its third year and will finish this application season with about 35 certified operations. MC3 certification covers both hemp and medical marijuana and is currently available only to growers in Maine.
With passage of the farm bill of 2018, hemp was removed from the controlled substances list and recognized as a legal agricultural crop in the United States. The USDA and FDA are developing regulations to oversee production. Once regulations are implemented, Maine hemp growers will have the option of seeking NOP certification through MOFGA for their hemp crop and value-added products. The goal is to have rules developed for the 2020 growing season.
Here are some MC3 program basics:
- The MC3 program requires an initial application and onsite inspection before certification and annual inspections and updating of the production system plan in order to maintain certification. Annual certification fees are required.
- Types of cultivation include indoor grow, outdoor grow and greenhouse. Hydroponic production is not allowed under MC3 standards.
- Plants, planting stock (clones) and seeds must have a record of their origin. Only untreated, non-GMO and second-generation feminized seed (unless from non-chemical process) can be used.
- Cuttings may be grown in a soilless medium for up to three weeks in order for roots to develop. Synthetic rooting hormones are not allowed, but several natural cloning options are allowed, including aloe, molasses, honey, willow and coconut water.
- Growing media can be soil (field based), approved compost, seed starter mix or container blend.
- Fertilizers, pesticides and other amendments must be approved for use by a recognized material review organization (OMRI, CDFA, WSDA, PCO, MOFGA Certification Services). The Maine Board of Pesticides Control requires that pesticides used in medical marijuana production be registered for use on this crop in the state.
- Each production system plan must describe how fertility will be maintained in the soil. No synthetic fertilizers or composts derived from human waste or municipal waste streams are allowed.
- Operations must use the pest and disease control hierarchy, in which approved pesticides are allowed only after cultural and mechanical management practices have been exhausted.
- Harvest and postharvest handling requirements include managing moisture and humidity to prevent mold. Cannabis must be protected from other potential contaminants, chemical and biological.
- Record keeping is required and includes crop production logs (planting records, propagation, harvest, etc.), receipts for inputs, traceable lot or plant codes, culls (including samples) or seconds.
- Inspectors conduct mass balance and traceback audits to ensure accurate record keeping and integrity of sales.
MOFGA believes that patients and users deserve access to third-party-verified cannabis that is clean, and that caregivers who prescribe to our standards deserve the ability to market their products accordingly. We hope that patients and legal users of cannabis and cannabis-related products will ask for MOFGA Certified Clean products in the marketplace, adding demand that will drive operations to consider certifying or at least adopting these growing practices.
Please visit the MOFGA tent at the Common Ground Country Fair on Friday, September 20, 2019, at 4 p.m. as we host a discussion on the clean cannabis program and growing cannabis organically.
For more about the program, please visit https://mofgacertification.org/mofga-certified-clean-cannabis-program/ or contact MOFGA Certification Services at 207-568-6030 or [email protected].