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DailyTidings.com
  • A budding idea on the West Coast: certifying marijuana standards

    Santa Cruz, Calif., looks into creating quality standards for marijuana
  • CAPITOLA, Calif. — Santa Cruz, Calif., has long established its bona fides when it comes to organic farming. But a nascent effort now on the horizon could lead to a new title: the birthplace of certified marijuana.
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  • CAPITOLA, Calif. — Santa Cruz, Calif., has long established its bona fides when it comes to organic farming. But a nascent effort now on the horizon could lead to a new title: the birthplace of certified marijuana.
    Clearly echoing the organic movement of the 1970s, a handful of county leaders and medical marijuana growers and dispensary operators are formulating a set of standards that set a new bar for best practices and quality standards for pot. Even county farming officials are lending their expertise.
    "Just like the food industry, you're going to have Safeway dispensaries and Costco dispensaries. And you're going to have New Leaf dispensaries," said Colin Disheroon, operator of Santa Cruz Mountain Naturals, who is expanding his offerings of responsibly grown medical pot. "And that's kind of our goal, to take it to the New Leaf step of things."
    Seen foremost as a way to comply with new county rules on marijuana cultivation, the certification program could represent a significant leap forward in early efforts to come up with standards in what remains a legally gray industry, but one taking cautious yet clear steps toward legitimacy by seeking government regulations.
    The idea was first brought forward, officially at least, by Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold. With new county rules for dispensary operators and medical marijuana growers, Leopold proposed third-party certification as a way for people to show compliance with those rules.
    But with legal prohibitions falling and public support up for even recreation use nationwide — Colorado legalized pot Jan. 1, and Washington state will soon follow suit — supporters of the idea say there's no reason a certification program started here couldn't have national reach.
    "I really think we're at a point in the industry where it's like cannabis 2.0," said Ian Rice, sales director at SC Laboratories, a Capitola cannabis testing company with 1,200 clients nationwide. "From people involved to the consumers themselves, the industry's really matured a lot."
    While marijuana isn't recognized by the federal government as an agricultural crop, some form of organic-like certification is available from companies like Crescent City, Calif.-based Clean Green Certification.
    The Santa Cruz version likely would feature legal checks, including zoning and code-compliance verifications, which can be especially important when it comes to electrical systems, a potential fire threat.
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