Posted by Glenn Beierle on 06/15/2018 in Growing
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
You may have noticed that medical marijuana patients tend to have a more holistic approach to life than other kinds of patients. Perhaps you consider yourself one of them. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “hippie,” you might have an interest in natural medicine now that you’ve experienced the benefits of cannabis medicine. No wonder plenty of medicinal cannabis patients value organic practices and products. But did you know you can medicate with organically raised marijuana? In this guide, you’ll learn about organic marijuana growing methods and how they compare to standard cannabis cultivation.
What Is Organic Marijuana?
In response to global food demand and climate change, many farmers opt for organic growing practices — cannabis growers included. In organic growing, the farmer uses natural resources and methods to raise their plants. The organic approach includes practices such as:
- Recycling and using renewable resources whenever possible
- Weeding instead of spraying
- Using organic nutrients that come from compost, mulch and manure
- Rotating crops to protect soil nutrients
- Growing “companion plants” that keep pests away
Since the federal government considers all forms of cannabis illegal, we have no unified standards we can use to declare a marijuana plant organic. Unlike produce, you won’t find a “certified organic” label on your medicinal cannabis. Plenty of cannabis growers use organic methods. However, we have no official benchmarks that help consumers determine if a marijuana product is organic. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother with organic cannabis medicine, though.
Benefits of Going Organic
Raising and buying plants that are considered organic has plenty of perks for the producer and consumer. Organic growing practices benefit people and the environment by:
- Protecting Soil: Cover crops replace pesticides to keep soil safe from erosion and preserve its nutrients. Anaerobic soil disinfestation gets rid of pests without adding any toxins.
- Reducing Waste: Relying on natural fertilizers and pest repellants lowers the number of containers you use. When an organic farmer uses plastic or another resource, they reuse and recycle whenever they can.
- Lowering Contaminant Levels: When you consume an organic plant, you don’t have to worry about any residual pesticides or chemical fertilizer going into your body.
- Keeping People and Other Organisms Healthy: Organic farming promotes the health and well-being of all forms of life by protecting them from toxins and preserving the planet.
Organic Marijuana vs. Non-Organic Marijuana
Medical marijuana patients can take advantage of the following perks by purchasing organic cannabis medicine:
- A Clean Smoke or Vape: If you prefer inhaling your medication, you can rest assured you won’t inhale anything besides the cannabis. You could breathe in the toxins from pesticides or artificial fertilizers when using non-organic bud.
- Purer Concentrates: When producers create marijuana concentrates like waxes and oils, they condense the chemicals in a marijuana plant into a potent medication. While the cannabinoids you need become more concentrated, so do any extra chemicals. Extracts taken from organic marijuana don’t have any added chemicals to consume.
- Consistent Relief: The chemicals that come with non-organic cannabis could change its effects. When you medicate with organic marijuana, you can focus on how the cannabinoids address your symptoms, not the added toxins.
- A Lower Energy Footprint: Indoor marijuana cultivation uses energy-intensive lights. Meanwhile, organic practices prioritize outdoor growing when legal, and the light and warmth of the sun use no power. When the grower can’t raise the plants outdoors, they use the most energy-efficient lights possible.
- Less Guesswork: While there are regulations for growing regular marijuana, organic sellers tend to offer more information about the standards used to raise their crop.
Of course, non-organic medicinal marijuana isn’t necessarily harmful. Patients can look out for organic medicine if they value the perks associated with it. You should also keep in mind that organic marijuana medication has a few drawbacks, too, including:
- Lower Availability: Just like organic produce, organic cannabis is harder to find than non-organic marijuana.
- Higher Prices: Organic growing takes extra labor, increasing the cost of your medicinal cannabis.
- No Official Standards: Organic produce comes from farms that follow specific guidelines. But, the cannabis industry doesn’t have a mandatory set of rules for organic farmers to follow. Depending on the state you live in, it can be challenging to determine what your dispensary means by “organic.”
Both types of medical marijuana have their pros and cons. As an informed patient, you should understand what each one has to offer.
Buying Organically-Raised Cannabis Medicine
Considering what we’ve discussed so far, a question comes to mind — what are the best practices for buying organic medical marijuana? We have a few ideas for figuring out what goes into your bud:
- Ask About the Chemical Profile and Source: Marijuana goes through lab testing that checks chemical content. The label or your budtender can tell you these amounts. You can also ask about the farm or producer where the marijuana comes from and research their quality standards.
- Look for a Cannabis Industry Certification: While the FDA hasn’t created standards for cannabis, some members of the industry have taken the job upon themselves. Check for labels showing approval from organizations like Clean Green, Global Culture, Certified Kind or the Cannabis Certification Council.
Growing Marijuana Organically at Home
Patients who grow their medicine at home can also go in on the organic trend if they have the resources. To reduce the toxins in your medication and minimize your environmental impact, consider:
- Using organic nutrients
- Installing energy-efficient lights
- Choosing less electricity-intensive methods like soil growing
- Supporting sustainable businesses when buying seeds and other supplies
More Resources for the Conscious Medical Cannabis Patient
To learn more about topics related to organic cannabis, check out these other guides:
- Marijuana Growing Guide
- Dispensary Directory With Menus
- Product Database With Purchase Links
- Marijuana Regulations by State
Professionals in the medical cannabis industry can also help you understand the state of organic marijuana in your area. Consult a cannabis-friendly doctor or dispensary staff member for advice on the subject.