Why It's So Important To Make Sure Your Hemp & CBD Is Organic (And How To Do It)

mbg Senior Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."
Hemp Plant Growing in a Greenhouse

Image by Luis Velasco / Stocksy

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While lists like the Dirty Dozen provide an easy way to check on the average amount of pesticides in fruits and veggies, no such resource exists for supplements. However, like food items, supplements often contain plant material that has been sprayed with chemicals to protect against pests, so buying ones that are USDA certified organic is not a bad idea. One category of supplements that is less likely to have this certification label is hemp oil extract.

Pesticide use on industrial hemp plants.

The commercial production of industrial hemp—an endocannabinoid-rich variety of the cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% THC—has only been legal in the U.S. for two years, since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. This means that the government is just starting the long process of researching which pesticides are safe to use on industrial hemp, but that doesn't keep farmers from continuing to grow it in order to meet increasing consumer demand.*

When mbg recently spoke with industry expert Carl Germano, R.D., CNS, CDN, the author of Road to Ananda: Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System, Hemp Phytocannabinoids/CBD, and Your Health, he explained that he regularly sees pesticides and herbicides used to combat the slew of pests and natural predators that flock to industrial hemp crops.

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A 2018 literature review on cannabis contaminants backs him up: The audit found that pesticides are definitely being used on the different varieties of the plant. One study out of Washington State found that 84.6% of 26 samples of legalized cannabis products tested positive for "significant quantities" of pesticides including insecticides, fungicides, miticides, and herbicides. 

Aside from being dangerous for farmers and the environment, chemical pesticides could pose a health risk according to the review: "Their direct human toxicity is poorly quantified but include infection, carcinogenicity, reproductive, and developmental impacts," it reads. More research needs to be done to determine the amount of pesticides that are considered unsafe—but the versatility of the cannabis plant complicates such research.

"Unlike many of our currently regulated crops, cannabis can be dried or turned into oils, concentrating it and any chemicals put onto the plants... We don't know how those concentrations might affect users who ingest and inhale the end products," Janna Beckerman, a Purdue professor of botany and plant pathology, writes of her team's recent research paper titled Cannabis as conundrum. They suggest that some chemicals may be safe to spray on industrial hemp that'll be turned into a T-shirt but not hemp that'll become an ingestible supplement, so there's some nuance there.

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How to find an organic product.

Given the nascent hemp regulations in the U.S., Germano recommends looking for products that have been certified organic in countries where growing and selling the plant has long been legal.

The E.U. Commission is one governing body that has certified and validated hemp strains for decades, and their organic label guarantees that at least 95% of a product is organic. mindbodygreen's hemp multi+ is one of the few hemp supplements you'll find in the U.S. carrying the seal. In addition to being rigorously tested for pesticides in the E.U., it's also free of heavy metals and mold—two other potential contaminants of industrial hemp.

With daily use, the organic supplement promotes a sense of calm and well-being without the psychoactive effects of marijuana.* It's paired with other responsibly cultivated mood-supporting ingredients including hops, rosemary, and black cumin seed for a deeper chill without the high.*

You can learn more about the product here and shop around here.

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