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The word organic is seemingly everywhere these days: in grocery stores, health shops, and even toy stores! The Cannabidiol (CBD) and industrial hemp industries have not been immune to the trend toward organic products. But what does organic really mean, and is it really better? Understanding whether you are using an organic CBD product is only half the battle; knowing precisely what that means and how it impacts the final product is what’s really important.

What is organic hemp?

All CBD begins with the hemp plant, which contains hundreds of compounds. CBD is a cannabinoid, one of the many compound types in the plant. There are more than 100 cannabinoids found in varieties of cannabis and hemp, but CBD is arguably one of the most famous. Every CBD product, organic or non-organic, is derived from these plants through a process known as extraction. For a CBD product to be truly organic, it must be extracted from organic hemp.

The term “organic,” as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), refers to “any crop that is grown or produced without the use of genetically modified organisms, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation.” Hemp grown to these standards can be considered organically-grown, and any CBD extracted from these plants without the use of additional synthetic chemicals can likewise be considered organic.

Does a product have to be USDA certified to be organic?

Previously, it was difficult for many hemp producers to gain organic certification from the USDA even if their hemp was indeed organically grown. The only cultivators eligible for certification in the past were authorized institutions of higher education in partnership with state departments of agriculture operating under the 2014 Farm Bill.

However, the 2018 Farm Bill changed things when it legalized the widespread cultivation, processing, and distribution of industrial hemp nationally. Today, the USDA has clarified that any hemp produced under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program created as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill is also eligible for organic certification. To qualify for USDA organic certification, hemp producers must go through the following process:

  • The farm or business must adopt organic practices and submit an application plus fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent.
  • The certifying agent must review the application and confirm that USDA organic regulations are followed during cultivation.
  • On-site inspection of the applicant’s cultivation processes must be conducted by an inspector.
  • The certifying agent must review both the application and inspector’s report to decide whether the applicant’s operations comply with USDA organic regulations.
  • The applicant’s request for USDA organic certification is either approved or denied based on the findings of the certifying agent.

It is worth noting that, because the USDA organic certification process has so recently been extended to all domestic hemp producers, many cultivators might follow organic principles but not yet have obtained organic certification by the USDA. A product can be organic with or without certification from an outside body. Organically grown hemp will not always be certified, but certified organic hemp will always be organically grown.

Does organic CBD certification only apply to the hemp growing process?

Organic CBD is extracted from organically grown hemp, as well as processed using no additional synthetic chemicals. Therefore, only organically grown hemp can yield organic CBD. However, that alone is not enough to ensure the final CBD product will be truly organic. The process and final product must also only contain organic ingredients. Some additives cannot be produced organically and therefore must be omitted from the final product. Consumers should check to make sure all ingredients are organic, not just the CBD extract.

Why are organic CBD products superior?

There are a number of reasons an organic CBD product is superior to the non-organic alternatives. The first and most obvious is that the final products made with organic CBD, whether it’s a tincture, edible, topical, or other product, will not contain any synthetic chemicals like pesticides or fertilizers. Organic CBD also has not been genetically modified in any way. In other words, organic CBD is as close to what you can get directly from the plant.

Organic CBD products aren’t just better for you, though. They’re also better for the environment. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers degrade the soil upon which industrial hemp is grown, harming the land for future agricultural uses. Hemp is generally a very low-impact crop, invigorating the soil; however, when it is grown with these chemicals soil degradation is unavoidable. Further, synthetic chemicals seep into the groundwater, polluting the local watershed and potentially harming local wildlife. Organic hemp and organic CBD products prevent these environmental issues altogether.

It is also important to note that industrial hemp “soaks up” everything in the soil in which it’s planted. That means that hemp is especially susceptible to pesticides and other undesirable elements that may lurk in the ground. An organic cultivation process helps minimize this exposure to chemicals and other substances.

Unfortunately, there is no federal regulatory framework in place for CBD oil just yet, meaning the same organic certifications available to hemp cultivators are not available to CBD producers. That means it is up to CBD producers to be honest with consumers and committed to demonstrating their organic status in a transparent and truthful way. This means there is also some burden on the consumer to their own due diligence when researching organic CBD products.

How to know your CBD products are really organic

Generally, if a CBD producer is offering organic CBD products, they will be proud of that fact and willing to demonstrate it. Don’t just settle for a token “organic” plastered on the bottle or their website, though. You can usually request third-party test results from reputable CBD producers, many of which readily publish them for public review. Those who do not will likely make the test results available upon request. These results show all the compounds within the CBD product; if any synthetic chemicals are apparently present, then the product is non-organic. If there are no synthetic chemicals present, it’s a good bet that you are looking at an organic CBD product.

While third-party lab test results are the best method by which to know exactly what is in your CBD product, it’s also important to know the CBD producer and retailer you are buying from. You should understand their core values and why they got involved in the CBD industry in the first place. If possible, find out where they source their hemp; remember, organic CBD can only come from organically grown hemp. There are also many certifications CBD producers can obtain short of organic certification, such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certifications. Moreover, CBD producers can register their facilities with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for inspection, which is a good sign their operations are above board and transparent.

At Core Roots CBD, we believe only in sourcing organically grown hemp and organic CBD for our products. We believe in the quality of our products to speak for themselves, but don’t just take our word for it: review our third-party lab testing results to see for yourself. We also maintain GMP compliance and FDA registered facilities, so you know you’re getting the best every time.

Organic CBD products support health and the environment

The organic CBD products trend is more than just marketing schtick, it’s a health-conscious and environmentally friendly movement that puts people and planet first. By using only organic ingredients and processes, hemp and CBD producers can eliminate synthetic chemicals, like pesticides, fertilizers, and other additives in favor of natural ingredients that reduce pollution and protect human health.

The USDA is making strides toward availing organic certification to hemp cultivators and CBD producers, although there remains a long way to go. Many producers create products strictly in line with organic principles and yet have not attained certification; on the other hand, there are producers that willingly eschew organic processes for cheaper workarounds. Organic CBD products offer the natural support needed to help the hemp industry grow in a meaningful way, one that puts people and planet first.