USDA Reverses Position on Organic Hemp Certification

Industrial hemp farmers seeking organic certification for their crops should put their efforts on hold, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture has backtracked on an earlier decision to allow such certifications.

CBDRx, an industrial hemp farm in northern Colorado, recently became the first company of its kind to obtain the USDA’s coveted organic certification label.

The development was greeted as a major breakthrough for the cannabis industry because it boosted the industry’s legitimacy and promised to give individual hemp businesses another marketing tool. CBDRx requested and received the USDA certification after being audited by a Nebraska-based certifier.

But in a directive issued last week, the USDA said third-party auditors can no longer certify hemp operations because questions remain over the legal uses of the plant.

“Organic certification of industrial hemp production…is premature and could be misleading to certified organic operations,” the document said.

The agency added that it will work with other federal agencies to develop a solution.

On the bright side, Harvest Media reported that a USDA spokesman said the agency won’t take action on hemp farms that have already received their organic certifications.

Organic certification in the cannabis industry has been a confusing and sometimes controversial topic, with some cannabis firms using the label without really being organic, according to critics. That has prompted some Colorado lawmakers to try and develop their own state organic certification regime.