Organic Marijuana: Not Exactly

Organic MarijuanaAs new marijuana businesses continue to enter the marijuana marketplace, marketing and branding become increasingly important. How are you going to differentiate your cannabis company and its products from everyone else’s? Unfortunately, because cannabis is federally illegal, business owners do not have the same degree of marketing and advertising flexibility as other agricultural producers and sellers.

Federal illegality also means that protecting your brand through trademarks and other registrations is more difficult. For more on this, please check out Marijuana Trademarks.

But just because marijuana is federally illegal and the rights of marijuana businesses are federally proscribed does not mean that marijuana businesses are immune from federal law. Quite the contrary.

One obvious way that marijuana businesses have sought to distinguish themselves from their competitors is on quality. And one way marijuana businesses have sought to do this is by touting their cannabis as “organic.” There is just one problem with this. One big problem. Doing so is illegal under federal law. I repeat, it is illegal under federal law to label or describe marijuana as organic.

Labeling a product as “organic” generally requires an actual certification, and that certification is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Congress set forth general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific organic standards. Though alternative certifications exist for marijuana and marijuana products, none are approved or regulated by the USDA, and they therefore do not create an official organic certification.

As the cannabis industry grows and gains legitimacy, cannabis business owners must play by the same rules as all other legal businesses. When it comes to branding and marketing, be certain not to make false or misleading statements in your advertising or your packaging and be certain that your brand does not infringe on the trademarks of another company.