CDFA recently published proposed regulations for its OCal program, a comparable-to-organics program intended to compensate for the lack of organics certification for cannabis at the federal level. Public comment is due by July 7, and the program is required to be implemented by January 1, 2021. Below is an initial review and summary of the proposed regulations.
What is the OCal Program?
- The program allows cultivators and distributors to become OCal certified, and use the
- OCal name and seal on its advertising, packaging, and labelling.
- The program is temporary and is designed to sunset once federal organics certification
- becomes available for cannabis.
- The use of the word “organic” will still be prohibited even after the program is implemented. Because “organic” is a federally-certified designation, state law prohibits its use on cannabis products. Instead, the program allows products to carry a comparable-to-organic “OCal” certification and seal.
- The currently-proposed regulations only cover flower and pre-rolls, but regulations for manufactured products are coming soon. State law requires DPH to develop rules for manufactured products certification by July 1, 2021, six months after the deadline for flower and pre-rolls. These regulations are likely to be released over the next six months.
- The proposed regulations are extremely similar to National Organic Program (NOP) regulations.
How does the program work?
- Cultivators and distributors may become OCal certified on part of, or all of, their premises.
- • Distributors must become certified to the extent that they handle unpackaged product.
- • Certification is performed by either an accredited private organization, or a local
- jurisdiction. CDFA does not perform the certification, but accredits the organization
- performing the certification.
- • Certified business may use the term “OCal” on their packaging and may use the OCal seal.
How do you quality for OCal certification?
- Cultivators are required to develop a written “OCal system plan” that includes: a description of practices and procedures, a list of inputs, monitoring and record-keeping practices, and land management practices.
- Cultivators are prohibited from using a specified list of synthetic and nonsynthetic substances, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge.
- Only approved fertilizers can be used.
- No prohibited substances can have been used on land for three years prior to the certification.
- Cultivators must implement practices for improving soil fertility and crop nutrient management. A list of allowable methods is included in the regulations.
- Cultivators must use seeds/clones produced on-farm, or sourced from an OCal certified nursery, unless these are not commercially available.
- Cultivators must implement compliant practices for pest, disease, and weed management.
How is the program enforced?
- Cultivators are required to keep records demonstrating compliance.
- The certifying agent will perform an inspection to grant the certification, and can conduct follow-up inspections.
- CDFA also has the power to perform inspections.
- Certifying agents also have the power to conduct soil or product testing for contaminants.
- CDFA can fine businesses up to $20,000 per violation for violations of OCal rules.