Stoners who care about the planet should know this

sustainable cannabis certifications

There is a lot to consider while shopping at a dispensary. A first-timer at the weed store can often be overwhelmed by talk of cannabinoids, product factors, terpenes, and explanations for how debit cards are processed. With that sensory overload, many may not even consider asking about growing practices or test results until they’re already in the car.

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Even if consumers check the packaging or ask the budtender whether or not the products are “clean” or sustainable, the answers are often confusing. This is due in part to cannabis being state-regulated rather than federally, making cannabis farms unable to obtain Organic certification.

In response, third-party cannabis certifications and even state-designated certifications have popped up to indicate which weed is grown with the best farming practices. While various farmers have reasons for and against these certifications, it’s wise for consumers to know the badge and information before walking into the dispensary doors. These are the most commonly used cannabis sustainability certifications.

Clean Green Certified

This organic regenerative cannabis certification has been around since 2004. The certification indicates that a farm uses natural pesticides and best sustainability practices. They also ensure legal compliance with the state. The globally recognized certification is the longest-running, and once a farmer goes through the certification, consumers will find the Clean Green symbol on their packaging and website.


Growing Responsible and Socially Sustainable Cannabis (GRASS-C) is a California-based system recognizing cannabis land stewards. The organization is tiered, offering farmers various entry levels, including a self-assessment tool and certification through their Resource Conservation District, a state-designated hub for land stewardship and sustainable agriculture in each locality.

This is most popular from Central to Northern California. However, growers from all over the state are encouraged to chime in at quarterly advisory meetings so the organization continues serving farmers.

Simply Clean Certification

The Cannabis Conservancy offers the Simply Clean Certification to cannabis operators, which tracks multiple parts of cultivation to ensure environmental, social, and economic sustainability. This certification takes a 360-degree look at a grow op, from the cultivation rooms to employee conditions. They even weigh in on production. Go deep on compliance and sustainability with this certification.

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New England Sustainable Cannabis Certification

In New England, Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) offers the New England Sustainable Cannabis Certification (NESCC) to licensed operations in the area. The group pledges to focus on reducing landfill-bound packaging and production materials, reducing water consumption, removing hazardous waste from SOPs, and more.

OCal Certification

The California Department of Food and Agriculture regulates OCal certification with similar standards to Certified Organic products. Products with the OCal label are considered “comparable-to-organic” with consistent standards. Farmers who meet the regulations can apply to be OCal certified and get another label on their weed indicating to consumers that the pot is grown as sustainably as possible.

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Clean weed, verified

Sustainable weed has a long road, but some make an effort to green the green industry, and these certifications provide some recognition of those efforts. Unfortunately, most farmers have to pay for these certification processes, which isn’t attainable for every operator.

As the industry grows, product offerings often expand, making shopping clean more challenging. For consumers, these certifications are often front and center on the packaging. Those concerned with shopping consciously can go to the weed shop prepared to find Clean Green, Ocal, Simply Clean, or other certification badges.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.