7 Steps to Organic Cannabis Certification - MediPharm Labs
Cannabis consumers have choice and some industry watchers believe that, increasingly, cannabis preferences will begin to mirror food choices, which favour organic over conventionally-grown and processed products.1
Obtaining an organic cannabis certification takes time and attention to detail. Still, it’s an investment that is worthy of consideration, to meet the needs of those consumers who prefer an organic product.
What is organic cannabis?
Certified organic cannabis is produced using sustainable agricultural and production practices. This means it’s grown and processed without ingredients considered hazardous or harmful to human health. Consumers may perceive that organic cannabis is superior in taste, smell and potency.
While any organization can purport to offer natural products, there’s a significant difference between products that are natural and organic. Natural products simply have no synthetic colours, flavours or added preservatives. Certified organic cannabis, on the other hand, must meet the strict standards of an accredited certifier, including a guarantee that the entire cycle of growing and processing is in accordance with the principles of organic production.
In order to go to market as certified organic, companies that produce sustainable cannabis must go through a rigorous certification process. In Canada, cannabis producers participate in a different process than agricultural producers in other industries. These agricultural producers are regulated under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Organic certification for cannabis falls into a different category because it’s regulated under the Cannabis Act.
Not every organic certifying body is set up to serve the cannabis industry. MediPharm Labs received its organic certification from Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd., or “Pro-Cert,” one of North America’s leading certifiers of organic products, accredited by International Organic And Sustainable (IOAS) to provide third-party certification to the Canadian Organic Standards.
Why get an organic cannabis certification?
Market research from the Canada Organic Trade Association found that 66 per cent of Canadians purchase organic products weekly, a number that jumps to 83 per cent among millennials.
This consumer group has a keen interest in health and wellness and is increasingly drawn to products that are considered organic, natural and holistic. As such, certified organic cannabis is likely to gain traction as customers become more conscious about how they consume.
What are the steps to organic cannabis certification?
Whether a micro-cultivator, an extraction specialist, an edibles start-up or a wellness tea brand, the steps to becoming organic cannabis certified are similar:
- Clarify and articulate your company’s objectives. Are you aiming to become organically-certified in your own jurisdiction or do you need organic certification in export destinations as well?
- Choose a certifying company. Because legalization occurred just over a year ago, not all certifying bodies are yet willing to certify cannabis. Start by contacting certification companies to secure initial application and information packages as well as a schedule of fees.
- Determine the products you’d like to receive organic certification. Is it your whole product line or just some of what you offer?
- Develop and submit an organic cannabis production plan. This involves developing internal documents to support your organic production and filling out your application and contract for certification. These documents will be returned to your accrediting body with a retainer fee. You’ll receive a preliminary evaluation, outlining any potential areas of non-compliance that you’ll have to address.
- Undergo inspection. The inspector assigned to your file will make an appointment for your on-site evaluation. During the inspection, your site will be evaluated and your organic system plan verified. The inspector will look to ensure there’s no evidence of contamination or commingling with unpermitted substances or non-compliant products.
- Receive evaluation and make necessary adjustments. After the site visit, your organic inspector and an evaluation committee will assess your operation and inform you if anything needs to be addressed. You will typically have 30 days to respond to questions and provide proof that you’ve corrected any areas of non-compliance.
- Receive organic cannabis certification. If you’ve met all the requirements and your application is approved, your cannabis operation will become “certified organic” and can begin producing organic products. Your certification will need to be renewed annually and can be suspended or revoked if your operation doesn’t maintain strict standards. Your certifying body can conduct unannounced visits to ensure everything is up to par.
MediPharm Labs is uniquely positioned to partner with licence holders and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies for organic cannabis extraction. With its organic cannabis certification, any of MediPharm Labs’ products can be manufactured with organic cannabis flower instead of conventionally-produced cannabis. MediPharm Labs’ organic cannabis concentrate, oil or distillate can be used as the foundation for cannabis oil, capsules, vapes, edibles and/or beverages.
With its GMP-certified facility and five primary extraction lines, MediPharm Labs has the annual processing capacity to deliver purified and precisely-dosable pharmaceutical-quality cannabis oil and concentrates, and advanced derivative products, including organic cannabis products, to the Canadian market.
1The Canada Organic Council says that 66% of Canadian shoppers are buying organic weekly. Up from 52% in 2012. https://www.canada-organic.ca/sites/default/files/quick_facts_organic_v4_0.pdf