It is no secret that the North American consumer is taking note of agriculture practices
when it comes to their food, and that has increasingly become a theme in the cannabis
the industry as well.
Emerging consumer behavior points toward a continued surge in the purchase of
natural and organic products as the health and environmental impacts of conventional
chemical-based agriculture become increasingly clear.
Organic and natural are two distinct but relevant terms that people often confuse.
Natural products don’t include synthetic flavours, colours, and preservatives. Whereas,
organic is the more stringent of the two with products having all these requirements, as
well as the ones listed above. In short, a natural product has no synthetic ingredients in
the final product. However, the organic product requires all materials throughout the
growing or manufacturing process to be natural and strictly controlled.
When it comes to cannabis, there’s no doubt. Organic cannabis is every bit as potent as
cannabis that is grown using conventional methods. It also has added health and safety
benefits. The benefits of organic cannabis include superior flavour, less environmental
impact, and less chance of contamination with dangerous toxins and heavy metals.*1
The use of rock-wool (spun insulation) as a growing medium in large-scale cannabis
production is becoming a black eye for an industry that has promoted itself as a natural
health product. Only slightly better but still an environmental concern is the importation
of coconut waste which creates a massive carbon footprint for shipping. The
closer-to-home solution, again not without its own negative impacts is the use of peat
mined from bogs. It is a non-renewable resource ofttimes referred to as the lungs of the
planet.
Alternatives like aquaponics, hemp plugs and mats are gaining some traction, and
there is university-level study work being completed on more sustainable solutions.
Synthetic fertilizers and conventional growing techniques damage soil integrity, destroy
microbially, insect, and animal habitats, and deplete soils over the long term.
Conventional growing is an unsustainable practice that causes lasting harm to
surrounding land and water.
On the other hand, organic growing mitigates this damage by maintaining healthy soil
through a variety of low-impact techniques, from integrated pest management to natural
soil amendments.
From the grower’s perspective, it could be better for the bottom line, as the big licensed
producers struggle with profitability in an oversaturated market, organic growers are
holding their own, and in some cases making big gains.
According to San Diego-based market research group TrendSource and its 2019
Cannabis Industry Report, more than 53% of consumers are willing to pay more for
organic cannabis products.
Companies like Rubicon Organics reported a 54% increase in net revenue in the third
quarter of 2021 over Q2. *2Village Farms largely based on the success of their
Canadian cannabis division PureSun Farms has posted a 2021 quarter three year over
year increase in net revenue of 49 per cent.
PureSun Farms and Angus Reid released findings of a national survey in late 2020 that
found over 80 per cent of consumers want the cannabis they purchase to be free of
chemical pesticides, yet hardly any know if what they buy is pesticide-free or
not. *4
Organizations like the Cannabis Certification Council are helping organic growers and
consumers connect with its #whatsinmyweedcampaign.
As awareness of the potential negative health and environmental impacts of
chemical-based cannabis production and the many positives of organic cannabis
production by cultivators and consumers expect to hear a lot more about organic
cannabis.
*1https://www.castanet.net/news/Vernon/353253/Cannabis-contamination-concerns-raised-by-O
Okanagan-collective
*2https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/11/17/2336138/0/en/Rubicon-Organics-R
eports-Record-Third-Quarter-2021-Financial-Results-and-Operational-Update.html
*3 https://www.cannabiscertificationcouncil.org/
*4https://www.potnetwork.com/news/pure-sunfarms-finds-many-consumers-dont-know-much-ab
out-how-cannabis-grown