The Emergence of USDA Certified Organic CBD Products
Consumers are increasingly on the hunt for products free of pesticides, herbicides, and other harsh chemicals. But can CBD be USDA Certified Organic? Yes, a vid organic consumers can now buy certified organic CBD products.
USDA Organic certification provides hemp farms, processors, and CBD companies a way to stand out from the competition. It also offers the assurance of safety and high quality to both consumers and retailers. But the process of obtaining certification is not an easy one. Up until a couple of years ago, domestically produced certified USDA organic hemp was not widely available. In anticipation of the Farm Bill being signed into law in 2018, only a few industrial hemp farms, hemp processors, and CBD manufacturers began the process of applying for the certification.
How USDA Certified Organic hemp began
Following the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, the USDA authorized organic certification for hemp cultivation in the US. However, interest in obtaining USDA Organic certification for industrial hemp was limited due to restrictive policies. CBDRx was one of the first hemp farms to receive USDA Organic Certification for its hemp crop in January 2016. Notably, hemp imported from other countries has always been certified by USDA Organic regulations.
In February 2016, the USDA stated that third-party auditors could no longer certify hemp operations. Seven hemp producers already received organic certification prior to these new guidelines. In August 2016, the USDA reversed course and issued a statement of principles allowing the certification of industrial hemp crops grown only through state pilot programs in accordance with Section 7606 of the Farm Bill.
However, this statement of principles did not expressly include the flower (which has the highest concentration of CBD) of the hemp plant in the definition of ‘industrial hemp’.
Instead, the statement reads:
“The term ‘industrial hemp’ includes the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part or derivative of such plant, including seeds of such plant, whether growing or not, that is used exclusively for industrial purposes (fiber and seed) with a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in December 2018 legalized industrial hemp cultivation and declassified hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance. This encouraged more companies in the industrial hemp and CBD industries to pursue USDA Organic certification. In April 2019, Palmetto Harmony became the first CBD company to have their hemp flower and viable seeds certified as USDA Organic. This included hemp clones and hemp transplants, along with their flower extracted CBD product line.
Which brands have USDA Certified Organic CBD products?
In early 2021, there are still few CBD companies selling a full line of USDA Certified Organic CBD products. Because USDA Organic certifications are still difficult to obtain, most brands can only offer a selection of USDA organic products.
The Center for Food Safety released its 2020 “ Hemp CBD Scorecard ” which grades brands on four major categories. These categories are “(1) Hemp Farming and Organic Certification; (2) Processing; (3) Testing/Auditing; and (4) Transparency.”
Here are a few brands that received an “A” and offer a full line of USDA Certified Organic CBD products:
- Green Gorrilla
- Palmetto Harmony
- RE Botanicals
As mentioned, not all brands offer a full line of certified organic products. The following brands offer select USDA organic CBD products:
- Upstate Elevator Supply
- Cornbread Hemp
- Vitality CBD
How to obtain USDA organic certification for CBD
To obtain USDA Organic certification, CBD companies need to use specific extraction processes and USDA Organic Certified ingredients. This includes carrier oils and hemp that has already been USDA Organic Certified. Permitted extraction processes for use are CO2 extraction (an alcohol extraction method using USDA certified organic cane alcohol), and lipid extraction. CO2 extraction, utilized by Barlean’s, uses carbon dioxide under high pressure and fluctuating temperatures to act as a solvent.
For reference, RE Botanicals uses an alcohol extraction method with USDA certified organic cane alcohol. Palmetto Harmony uses lipid extraction (also called lipid infusion). This involves steeping the buds (dried hemp flowers) in organic MCT (coconut) oil before filtration.
Image Source: Re: Botanicals
Benefits of USDA Organic Certification for CBD
USDA Organic certification means that no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides have been used in the cultivation of hemp. It also ensures that farmers are using tillage and cultivation practices that maintain or improve the condition of the soil and minimize soil erosion. Obtaining USDA Organic certification can also help CBD brands enter retail channels by leveraging a positive environmental and sustainability story.
While not right for every brand, there are multiple benefits to obtaining USDA Organic certification. However, this process is most suitable for companies who are willing to invest the time, effort, and money required. The USDA Organic seal is one of the most recognized certifications among US consumers as it provides another level of assurance to shoppers who may be concerned about the safety of CBD products.
The USDA Certified Organic seal is emerging as a viable option for CBD brands willing to make the investment.
What Are the Best Organic CBD Oil Brands?
Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where “organic” labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Here you can learn about the importance of organic hemp oil, why it’s better for the environment, and which CBD companies actually make trustworthy products with sustainable farming processes. origins which weigh heavily on many consumers who want to buy a product that’s produced in the best way possible for not only themselves to ingest, but for the environment as well through sustainable farming methods.
What Is CBD Oil?
First things first, CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s a cannabinoid found within cannabis sativa plants. This plant compound is believed to have many potential benefits, and it is primarily derived from hemp plants via a CO2 extraction process.
Since CBD is extracted from industrial hemp, which contains only trace amounts of THC (the psychoactive component in cannabis plants), this means that CBD won’t make you feel high like marijuana, which has much higher levels of THC that causes psychoactive effects. Instead, the effects of CBD are much more subtle and promote a general sense of calm and relaxation in most users.
What Makes a CBD Oil Organic?
In terms of organic labels, perhaps the most important (and prominent) certification comes from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This government organization has been labeling foods as “organic” for many years, but what exactly does this certification entail? Essentially, a label indicating that a product is “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” means that at least 95% of the ingredients are obtained from organic sources.
For a crop to be considered organic by the USDA, it must be grown without the use of industrial solvents, irradiation, genetic engineering (GMOs), synthetic pesticides, or chemical fertilizer. Instead, farmers rely on natural substances and mechanical, physical, or biologically based farming techniques to cultivate healthy and organic crops.
Before the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, no hemp-derived products could be dubbed as “certified organic” since the hemp plant and its extracts were still categorized as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. However, it’s still difficult for CBD companies to obtain a USDA certified organic label for their products due to the legal grey area that still surrounds CBD extracts.
Because of these challenges, and due to the fact that industrial hemp has only recently become an agricultural crop, very few CBD oils are USDA certified organic. Rather, many CBD products contain hemp extracts from plants that were grown in organic conditions but may not be federally certified.
What are the Best Organic CBD Oil Brands?
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
As one of the best brands in the business, Spruce CBD is well-known for its potent CBD oils that feature many additional beneficial phytocannabinoids. This brand works with two family-owned, sustainably focused farms in the USA (one located in Kentucky and one in North Carolina) to create its organic, small product batches. The max potency Spruce CBD oil contains 2400mg of full-spectrum CBD extract, but the brand also offers a lower strength tincture with 750mg of CBD in total.
All of the products from CBDistillery are U.S. Hemp Authority Certified, and for good reason. The company only uses non-GMO and pesticide-free industrial hemp that’s grown organically on Colorado farms. Its hemp oils are some of the most affordable CBD products on the market, yet they still maintain a high standard of quality. CBDistillery has a wide variety of CBD potencies across its product line (ranging from 500mg to 5000mg per bottle) and offers both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oils to give customers a completely thc-free option.
For an organic CBD oil that has it all, FAB CBD offers plenty of variety for any type of consumer. All of its products are made with zero pesticides and extracted from organically grown Colorado industrial hemp. FAB CBD oil comes in five all-natural flavors (mint, vanilla, berry, citrus, and natural) and is also available in four strengths (300, 600, 1200, and 2400mg per bottle).
As an industry-leading brand, it comes as no surprise that NuLeaf Naturals sources its CBD extract from organic hemp plants grown on licensed farms in Colorado. The comany’s CBD oils only contain two ingredients: USDA certified organic hemp seed oil and full spectrum hemp extract.
NuLeaf Naturals uses one proprietary CBD oil formula for all of its products, so you will get the same CBD potency in each tincture (60mg per mL), but can purchase different bottle sizes depending on how much you intend to use.
Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte’s Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte’s Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.
Why Organic Hemp Oil Matters
Hemp is a unique plant, not only for its rich cannabinoid content, but also for its ability to absorb a wide variety of components in soil. But this trait poses great risks when it comes to the creation of CBD products derived from hemp.
Because hemp has a high capacity for compound uptake, this means that the plants can retain harmful chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals, and other residual solvents. This is especially true when it comes to synthetic chemicals that are more toxic to humans, and difficult to remove once they have been absorbed by the hemp plant.
Organic farming practices help reduce the risk of hemp crops absorbing harsh chemicals that may later end up in CBD oil after extraction. When you’re taking CBD as a wellness supplement to help alleviate your symptoms or improve your overall well-being, the last thing you want is to ingest compounds that might negatively outweigh the benefits of CBD. This is an important reason to look for third party lab test results when shopping for CBD products since these certificates of analysis can show the full cannabinoid and terpene profile of a hemp extract, as well as test results that search for the presence of any residual solvents.
In addition to creating a better end product, organic farming practices are also better for the environment. Sustainable and organic farming methods may reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. The use of natural pest deterrents as opposed to chemical pesticides is also better for nearby animal populations and ecosystems.
Organic vs. Natural
While there are only a select few companies offering certified organic ingredients in their products, almost every brand in the CBD market creates “natural” products. The term “all-natural” or “plant-based” does not mean that a product is organic, and since hemp oil is a natural derivative of hemp plants, these products are often referred to as all-natural. However, there are some synthetic CBD oils that should be avoided because they are chemically constructed and may produce unwanted side effects that are not caused by naturally derived CBD extracts.
What are the Benefits of Organic CBD Oil?
There’s a long list of potential CBD oil health benefits, and some of the most common wellness advantages include:
- Chronic pain relief
- Anti-anxiety effects
- Better sleep
- Improvements in mood
- Internal balance and regulation
When dealing with pain, inflammation, sleep issues, and mental health struggles, it can be hard to find sufficient treatment options. The use of certain prescriptions can cause unwanted side effects, yet they are often the only solution for patients with these medical conditions. In search of other therapies, people have started to flock towards CBD oil as an alternative remedy for a variety of conditions. However, it should be noted that CBD products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and you should seek your doctor’s advice before using CBD if you have a serious medical condition.
Look at the Labels Before You Buy CBD Oil
When you go online to buy CBD oil, you’ll quickly realize there is an overwhelming number of brands that are saturating the market. It can be difficult to determine which products are truly as good as they make themselves out to be. Always look for up-to-date third-party lab tests so you know you are getting a great product, and don’t hesitate to contact the brand if you have any additional questions. And if you’re intent on purchasing 100% organic CBD oil, it’s best to look for certified products or brands that are held to strict regulatory standards.
Melena Gurganus is the Reviews Editor at EcoWatch. She is passionate health and wellness and her writing aims to help others find products they can trust. Her work has been featured in publications such as Health, Shape, Huffington Post, Cannabis Business Times, and Bustle.
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