As cannabis goes international, so will the standards we use to determine its quality like the Sun+Earth certifications that just recently entered the Canadian market.
Sun+Earth is a nonprofit that was created in 2019. The space has seen many for-profit certification programs get pushed in the wake of not being able to actually call your cannabis organic. Why Not? Schedule I narcotics are not eligible for the National Organic Program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. States also have started pushing their own organic programs like OCal here in California.
While many of those other programs have fallen off, Sun+Earth grew to California, Michigan, Oregon and Washington before this new move into British Columbia with Sea Dog Farm. They note the program was founded by those with a shared commitment to regenerative organic agriculture, farmer and farmworker protections, and community engagement. Currently, there are more than 70 Sun+Earth Certified cannabis farms and manufacturers.
“We chose to pursue Sun+Earth certification because we believe it is essential to use both organic and regenerative practices in our stewardship of the land, and while we grow for our community,” said Sea Dog Farm co-owner Katy Connelly. “The Sun+Earth seal will help our customers identify products that were grown using methods that help to sequester carbon and build healthy soil and don’t use fossil fuels or petroleum-based chemical fertilizers,” continued Connelly. “As more consumers become aware of the devastating impact indoor cannabis has on our planet, we hope they will choose ethical and sustainable products.”
The cannabis that has made it through the program is free of any toxic pesticides or chemical fertilizers. They note the standards of the program are more rigorous than what you would find in the USDA program or Canada. But it’s not just about clean weed by any means. The cannabis certified also must be sun-grown and cultivated on farms that strengthen habitats and build living soil. Sun+Earth argues the high bar for their standards encourages positive things like the planting of cannabis alongside food crops, and the strategic use of cover crops, composting, and reduced soil tillage.
While cannabis is legal in Canada for adult use, it is yet to be allowed inclusion in the country’s organic food program. This opened up this move for Sun+Roots.
“Sun+Earth strives to certify farms wherever cannabis can be grown under the sun, in the earth, and without toxic chemical inputs,” said Sun+Earth Certified director Andrew Black. “Sea Dog Farm is the first Sun+Earth Certified cannabis farm in Canada, but hopefully not the last,” continued Black. “Sun+Earth aims to point the cannabis industry—across borders—in a cleaner, healthier, and more ethical direction, and provide needed support for struggling small-scale farmers in our regenerative organic community.”
The certification is expected to give Sea Dog Farms an edge, as it’s finally allowed access to retail storefronts to sell its products. Up until last year, permitted cannabis cultivation operations in British Columbia were banned from selling their products directly to retailers. Last summer, the BC Liquor Distribution Branch which regulates the distribution and sale of cannabis for the province started its new Direct Delivery Program, allowing small growers to sell directly to independently licensed retail outlets.
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