By Steve Elliott
Colorado's marijuana industry has thus far benefited from the regulatory gray area where it resides, but according to an expert in organic certification, any other operation that routinely labeled its products "organic" without certification would have been shut down and fined almost immediately.
"If those farmers were farming any other agricultural crop, they would be contacted within a month or two," said Chris Van Hook, an accredited organic certifier for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and owner of Clean Green Certified, which offers alternative organic certifications for cannabis, reports Emilie Rusch at The Denver Post.
"It's very clear in the organic regulations," Van Hook said. "It's an $11,000-per-violation labeling infraction to call an uncertified product organic."
Industry figures are working to find a way to legitimately market cannabis products as pesticide-free and environmentally friendly. Van Hook established his "Clean Green" certification seal in 2004, and another organization, based in Denver, could begin certifiying marijuana as pesticide-free later this year.
"The quicker the cannabis industry can address the misrepresentation, the better it will be for consumers and farmers," Van Hook said. Clean Green, based in Crescent City, California, has already certified more than 100 cannabis grow operations, processors and collectives.