On the lookout for organic CBD? You may have heard some conflicting information about the topic. Some sources say that organic CBD is a myth (it isn’t), while some throw the term about so freely that it seems to lose all significance.
The fact of the matter is that, as with any organic product, there are many different tiers and classifications of “organic CBD”. The lowest tiers are relatively easy to reach, while the highest tiers require extensive effort and cost to the manufacturers and farmers involved.
So just what is organic CBD? What terms should you look for (or beware of) when shopping for organic CBD products? In this article, we’ll cover the ins-and-outs of this important and interesting topic!
What is “Certified Organic”
When unpacking the confusing mess of terms that suffuse the world of organic CBD, “Certified Organic” (sometimes called “USDA Organic”) is by far the most important to understand.
Legally speaking, companies can’t just slap the “organic” label on their products. To have their wares considered organic, a farm or other manufacturer must go through a lengthy, extensive, and often costly organic certification process. This process is run by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which appoints agents to carry out verification on its behalf.
For a hemp plant or other crop to be Certified Organic, it must meet the following criteria:
- Grown in soil that has not had prohibited substances used on it for at least three full years (mainly includes pesticides and other chemicals that are harmful if ingested by humans)
- Natural, non-GMO crops
- Grown from unmodified (non-feminized) hemp seeds
- Grown using sustainable farming practices
- Isolated from nearby non-organic farms to prevent cross-contamination
In addition, farms must submit to the lengthy and often quite expensive certification process. Certification itself can take as little as 12 weeks, but the three year soil preparation requirement is far more daunting.
Clearly, the requirements for organic certification are stringent. As a result, some farms advertise their product under slightly different labels. One of the most common is “grown using organic practices”. This means that the farm claims to follow all rules laid down by the USDA but has not completed the organic certification process. However, without the completed certification, there’s no way to be sure such claims are truthful!
Is “Certified Organic” CBD Available?
Yes and no. The hemp plants that CBD comes from absolutely can be certified organic, and more and more farms are achieving certification every year. With finished CBD products, however, the issue is more complicated.
It’s important to note that raw ingredients can be “certified organic”, but the products made from them cannot. Thus, a hemp plant could be certified organic (provided that the hemp farmers complete the certification process). However, the CBD products made from certified organic hemp plants would not be certified organic!
“But wait,” you might exclaim, “didn’t you say that CBD could be organic in the intro to this blog?” Why yes! And, indeed, it can. It just can’t be certified so. So long as a CBD product is made with some or all certified organic ingredients, it may legally be labeled organic CBD under one of the following categories.
The Tiers of Organic CBD Products
The difference between “organic” classifications is one of the issues that most confuses new users looking for organic CBD and other hemp plant products. All organic classifications (“100% organic”, “Organic”, and “Made with organic ingredients”) depend on the use of certified organic ingredients.
Note that “natural CBD” is another term that’s often used alongside these organic categories. While “organic CBD” and “natural CBD” are often confused for one another, there’s a very real difference between natural and organic CBD!
The following list covers the different tiers of organic CBD products, from “most organic” to “least organic”. Bear with us: that will make more sense in a moment.
1. 100% Organic CBD Products
The highest possible standard for organic CBD products. This category indicates that each and every ingredient used to produce it was certified organic. With products like CBD, it may also impose other requirements, such as the use of Co2 extraction or other safe extraction methods. (Note that all products at CBD Choice use safe extraction methods, regardless of organic classification).
For some CBD products, 100% organic classification is relatively easy; with others, it’s a Herculean undertaking and a mark of true dedication from the manufacturer.
For instance, a 100% organic CBD isolate powder requires only a single USDA organic certification: that of the hemp plant. Because no other ingredients are involved, an organic hemp farmer simply needs to use Co2 or other safe extraction methods and may legally market their product as “100% Organic CBD Isolate Powder”.
100% organic CBD oils? An entirely different beast. CBD oil tinctures often contain a wide variety of other synergistic ingredients. At the very least, all CBD tinctures contain a carrier oil such as MCT (coconut) oil, hemp seed oil, or olive oil. But it rarely stops there. For instance, Pachamama often supplements their tinctures with black pepper, holy basil, ylang ylang, or a variety of other natural additives.
To be called 100% organic, CBD tinctures would need to ensure that all such ingredients have been USDA certified. Because of the time and expense involved in each certification, very few products (CBD or otherwise) meet this high bar.
2. Organic CBD Products
Organic CBD classification is comparable to 100% organic, but with a reduced standard.
A CBD product can be legally marketed as “Organic CBD” if:
- At least 95% of the ingredients used to make it are USDA certified organic.
- No ingredients from the USDA prohibited substances list were used in its manufacture.
Although this is still an incredibly high standard, the allowance for up to 5% non-organic ingredients offers manufacturers a greater amount of leeway in sourcing their ingredients and reducing overhead. Organic CBD products will typically be less expensive than 100% organic CBD, and they are far more common.
However, it is still a very high standard to meet, and few CBD manufacturers have cleared this hurdle. As the industry continues to grow, we are sure that more and more companies will transition to “Organic CBD”. Until then, however, most fall into the final category.
3. Made with Organic Ingredients CBD Products
The “Made with Organic Ingredients” classification is just what it sounds like: an indication that several of the ingredients used were USDA certified organic.
But the bar is still higher than you might think! Technically, these products must be made with at least 70% certified organic ingredients. As with “Organic CBD”, manufacturers are prohibited from using any of the USDA banned/restricted substances. Additionally, such products must publicly list the USDA agents that certified each ingredient!
This category is sometimes misapplied, however. Whether out of malice or ignorance of the requirements, some manufacturers will slap the “Made with Organic Ingredients CBD” label on their products, even if only one of the ingredients is USDA certified!
This is one of the many reasons it’s vital, when shopping for organic CBD, to purchase only from reputable vendors like CBD Choice. We’ve done the research and legwork to ensure that all products actually live up to their manufacturers’ claims.
Organic CBD, in Closing
Shopping for organic CBD can be a daunting process. With so many different terms and classifications, it’s difficult to identify the manufacturers who are truly living up to their claims.
But with knowledge of the industry terms and organic CBD categories, you’ll be better equipped to find the right organic products for your needs!
Have any questions about organic CBD? As always, we’re thrilled to hear from the CBD Choice community, so feel free to reach out to our knowledgeable customer support staff!