With the skyrocketing growth seen in the CBD industry over recent years, CBD has exploded into 2019, becoming one of the fastest growing industries of the year. As the market continues to expand, hundreds of companies – all eager to get in on the action – have started flooding the market with their products.
Less than a decade ago, CBD users were limited to very few product options from a few different brands. But today, you can just jump online and choose from hundreds of different brands and various different product options like beverages, e-liquids, oils, topicals, and more.
But, just like anything in life, more isn’t always better. One of the biggest challenges as a CBD consumer is that not all CBD products are created equal. There are high-quality products, low-quality products, and everything in between – and knowing how to choose the good from the bad can be quite a challenge.
There are a few terms that you have likely heard floating around the CBD world; organic CBD oil, organic hemp oil, organic cannabis oil, and more. But, is organic CBD oil a real thing? Or is it just a way for companies to market their products?
What Does Organic Mean?
Buying organic products can mean a variety of different things, both for the environment and yourself. But essentially, CBD products that are certified as being organic are as natural as possible – crops are grown without the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides. With this in mind, here are a few ways that organic products can benefit the environment.
- Better Quality of Fields: Chemical pesticides that are used on non-organic crops kills just about everything in the soil besides the plant itself, including microbes that are beneficial in fertilizing the soil. Farmers then need to make up for the lack of fertility in the soil by adding chemical fertilizers. Organic farming, on the other hand, retains the soil’s natural fertility.
- Fewer Superbugs: One of the other downsides of synthetic pesticides is that they give rise to super strains of microbes. Using better farming practices and organic pesticides to repel pests rather than killing them can hinder the growth of these super strains.
- More Pollinators: Synthetic pesticides aren’t able to differentiate between bad insects and good insects and end up killing many pollinators, which is an important part of the ecosystem. By repelling pests instead of harming them, organic farming helps to maintain biodiversity – meaning that no part of the ecosystem has to die.
So what exactly does organic mean? Well, it all goes back to the year 1990, when Congress passed legislation to create a legal definition for “organic” agriculture. This law, known as the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), led to the development of regulations for organic food and fiber. This also led to the creation of an advisory National Organic Standards Board. Their job was to recommend substances that could be used for organic farming in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). This group helped to create regulations for organic products.
From a legal perspective, to be labeled as organic, produce must be certified to meet certain standards. This means that growers must not use prohibited substances like most pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
Now, you may be wondering how this is implemented in the real world. Well, while the USDA makes the rules, they are not the ones who perform certifications. Instead, farms and processors are evaluated by third-party certifying organizations to ensure that they meet USDA certification standards.
What is Organic CBD?
CBD is a compound that is derived from the cannabis plant. The plant can most certainly be grown using organic methods, but many companies choose to label their CBD oil as organic, even if it isn’t certified to be organic by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
At about the same time that the USDA was busy creating the regulations for organic certifications, activists were fighting for the reinstatement of hemp, which had been prohibited in the United States for decades.
By the time that the 2014 Farm Bill was passed by Congress, the USDA organic certification process had been well established. This resulted in some of the first hemp cultivators that were working under the new pilot programs to seek out organic certification for their newly legal crops.
Ultimately, this meant that hemp could be certified organic, but only if grown in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill, through a state pilot program. In other words, only growers in states that had pilot programs were eligible for organic certification. If hemp cultivation was legal in a state, but the state didn’t have a pilot program, growers couldn’t be certified organic, regardless of their practices.
This was the case up until the 2018 Farm Bill was passed at the end of last year. The legislation is still in early stages but will result in many more domestic hemp cultivators being eligible for organic certification. But no matter what, there will still be some hemp growers who won’t qualify, no matter how sustainable their practices.
Here are a few of the reasons that hemp growers may not qualify to be certified as organic even if they use organic farming methods:
- Handlers or growers who sell less than $5,000 per year can’t be USDA certified.
- Applicants who have applied any prohibited substances in the last three years. This means that any grower who is switching from conventional to organic practices will need to invest a few years of work before they are eligible for certification.
Another thing to keep in mind is that growers have to apply for certification. No matter how clean and green growers’ products are, they can’t be certified as organic without an application.
So ultimately, although a product may be organic in terms of the growing process used, it will not be legally recognized as organic unless it has been USDA certified.
Should You Use Organic CBD?
For many consumers, finding a CBD brand that is made from organically grown hemp is a top priority because hemp is a natural bioremediator. This means that the plant has the ability to draw metals and toxins from the soil. Although this is a huge plus if you are looking to clean up the soil, it’s not desirable to make CBD from hemp that is grown in toxic soil. The plant will absorb any pesticides or chemical fertilizers that are used in cultivation. If your CBD is derived from contaminated hemp, it’s likely that a few of those chemicals will end up in the final product.
When shopping for organic CBD oil, organic CBD certification can get a bit complicated. This is because there are growers out there who use organic growing methods but don’t carry the certification. On the other hand, there are almost certainly also growers who claim to be using “organic” or “natural” practices, while in reality, they’re dumping chemicals on their crops.
Basically, the USDA certification is the gold standard for verifying a farm’s organic growing practices.
Final Thoughts on Organic CBD
At the end of the day, what you should take away from this article is that organic CBD oil, and organic CBD products in general, are an actual thing. Furthermore, just because products aren’t USDA certified organic, it doesn’t mean that they’re not. Organic growing methods may have been used, but the grower doesn’t qualify for certification, in which case they can’t certify their products as such. But USDA certification is the only way to know for sure.