CBD – It’s Organic Unless it’s Domestic
Guest post by Robert Hoban, Managing Partner at Hoban & Feola, LLC
Robert T. Hoban, Esq. Hoban & Feola, LLC
Longmont, Colorado hemp company CBDRx develops, cultivates, processes and distributes wholesale hemp-based CBD products. The large-scale operation markets its products as the best high-CBD, broadspectrum cannabinoids. In an effort to further distinguish their hemp products within the industry, CBDRx applied for organic hemp certification and on September 29, 2015, CBDRx’s application was approved by accredited third-party certifier OneCert, Inc. This certification means the hemp company can legally market and sell its hemp products bearing the USDA Organic Seal.
However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an instruction on February 16, 2016 that undermines recent developments in organic hemp certification. The instruction, titled, “Organic Certification of Industrial Hemp Production,” instructs accredited certifiers regarding the certification of industrial hemp production. Notably, the instruction states that NOP- accredited certifying agents, “may not certify the domestic production of industrial hemp.” Purporting to clarify USDA policy, the memo justifies this instruction by pointing to confusion surrounding the legality of various uses of hemp under the 2014 Farm Bill. Specifically, the memo says that the confusion relates to federal jurisdiction over hemp research pilot projects, using industrial hemp in food and pharmaceutical products and organic certification of industrial hemp. Thus, organic certification of industrial hemp product must cease until the USDA releases further guidance.
The USDA Effectively Instructs NOP-Accredited Certifiers to Violate the NOP Organic Regulations
As an accredited certifier, OneCert must comply with organic regulations that the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) administers. These regulations direct the USDA to accredit third-party certifying agents. Once a third-party certifier is accredited, it has the authority to approve or deny applications for organic certification. The third-party certifiers review applications and product compositions, evaluate onsite inspections, make certification recommendations and ultimately issue organic certificates. Beyond the certification process, third-party certifiers have a regulatory obligation to follow and enforce the NOP organic regulations.
A few of the NOP regulations are problematic in light of the USDA’s recent instruction. Specifically, the certifiers are bound by the NOP accreditation rules regarding nondiscrimination.
This article originally posted …: National Hemp Association