A group of emerging and established organizations within the California cannabis market have joined forces to offer education, perspective and a solution to the contaminated cannabis problem facing the State post-legalization. Emerging cannabis brand The Handpicked Company, SC Laboratories, The Werc Shop and Envirocann will unveil a consumer awareness campaign and an industry call to action centering on higher standards of operation within cannabis farming, product manufacturing and in the lab to put the consumer first and provide clean cannabis to the country’s largest legal market.
The campaign will be unveiled during a panel discussion on the issue taking place at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 2 at the International Cannabis Business Conference at San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. The panel will be moderated by The Handpicked Company’s Co-Founder and CEO Steve Koskie who will discuss the issue and solutions with The Handpicked Company’s Cultivation and Agriculture Director Angus Mills, and SC Labs and Envirocann Co-Founder Ian Rice. Learn more about how to Choose Clean at www.handpickedcompany.com.
“For decades growers have passed down recipes generation after generation, but these pesticides and fungicides concoctions were developed with little regard to the harm they may do to the environment, the workers using them or the end consumer,” said Rice, co-founder, SC Laboratories and Envirocann. “This needs to change in the New Cannabis Era. Farmers, manufacturers and laboratories must come together, leveraging the new regulations as a starting point and sharing best practices to develop standardized procedures and processes for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and testing.”
SC Labs was among the first laboratories to work on developing acceptable testing standards for the cannabis industry. It was founded by Rice, Jeff Gray, Josh Wurzer, and Alec Dixon in 2010. Rice also co-founded Envirocann, a third party certification organization focused on the Quality Assurance and Quality Control of cannabis production and products in 2015. The Werc Shop is an independent development laboratory in Southern California founded by Dr. Jeff Raber in 2010. The Handpicked Company is an emerging brand redefining what it means to be a cannabis brand and cannabis consumer today. It is the company’s mission to drive normalization, which starts with holding cannabis to a higher standard and delivering safe, contaminant-free products to consumers. The Handpicked Company believes that everyone in the industry – from cultivators to manufacturers and consumers – must Choose Clean.
“I would estimate that over 70 percent of the cannabis previously sold in dispensaries would not pass the new California regulatory system due to high levels of pesticides and other contaminants,” said Raber. “There are a variety of ways cannabis can become contaminated – direct application by the cultivator, pesticides drifting from a neighboring farm, passed on via clone, or from soil, water and other nutrient inputs during cultivation. Contaminated cannabis is a huge concern because we don’t know the full extent of the toxicological harm it may cause consumers, which is why I am pursuing and advocating for more research and studies so we can finally have some definitive answers to the many unknowns today.”
Despite the new California regulations, contaminated cannabis will likely remain an issue even after the grace period for dispensaries to sell existing untested and potentially contaminated inventory expires on July 1, 2018. This is because some farmers may experiment with pesticides that are not currently banned, there are still labs with subpar testing standards and other methods of skirting the system will be exploited. The Handpicked Company, The Werc Shop, SC Labs and Envirocann are working together to demand more accountability from farmers, manufacturing facilities and testing labs, as well as be a part of the solution by offering their expertise to others in the industry.
“I have been borrowing ideas from organic commercial agriculture to develop sustainable practices and establish efficacy in cannabis cultivation for a number of years now,” said Mills. “The days of holding your best practices close to the vest must come to an end. My team and I have come a long way by following our guiding principle of working with nature rather than against it, but there is still much work to be done to create a strong agronomical base for cannabis, and we can’t do it alone. Cannabis farmers must learn to collaborate so that we are doing right by the environment, workers and consumers.”
Mills and his team began as Organic food farmers and used that knowledge as the foundation for The Handpicked Company farm, making it one the very few hybridized farms in the country and one that was uniquely designed using a commercial agronomical model from day one. Without the existence of regulations for Organic cannabis, Mills and his team leveraged USDA Organic requirements as a starting point for developing growing processes and practices tailored specifically to the cannabis plant by taking into consideration how the plant is ultimately consumed and how that differs from traditional agriculture. These processes and practices, which include cutting-edge substrate growing, organic inputs and commercial resources, are designed with waste diversion and utilization to support localization and resource management. They are also supported through efficacy testing in labs in an effort to develop Organic-like standards unique to cannabis, farm cannabis at higher standards than are required by law and build an agronomical base for sustainable, scalable commercial cannabis. Mills aims to create a commercial cannabis platform for transparent commercial production available to cultivators, agronomists, crop advisors, pest control advisors, product manufactures and regulators.
“I became acutely aware that contaminated cannabis was a widespread issue while working in the medicinal cannabis space a few years ago and I knew I had to do something about it,” said Koskie. “This is an industry in transition. With adult-use now legal in California, the industry is under a microscope and everyone must abandon former rudimentary practices and become legitimate businesses that are in compliance with new regulations. I am excited to be working with established players in the market that share my commitment to helping this industry thrive by working together to raise the bar and ensure consumers have access to clean cannabis.”
In addition to issuing a call to action to the industry, this group of organizations is committed to educating consumers and encouraging them to support brands that are committed to producing clean cannabis. Brands frequently tout words like “organic,” “natural” or “sustainably grown” while marketing products, but these labels are often used without any documentation of those practices to substantiate the claims. Consumers must look for brands that are able to verify that their products are clean via an independent organization, like Envirocann, which offers certifications for farms, manufacturing facilities and retail locations.
About The Handpicked Company
The Handpicked Company (THC) is an emerging brand redefining what it means to be a cannabis brand and cannabis consumer today. It is the company’s mission to drive normalization, which starts with holding cannabis to a higher standard and delivering safe, contaminant-free products to consumers. THC believes that everyone in the industry – from cultivators to manufacturers and consumers – must Choose Clean. The company was founded by Hollywood producer Michel Shane and tech industry entrepreneur Steve Koskie. THC will officially launch later in Q1 and product shipments will begin shortly thereafter. Choose Clean at www.handpickedcompany.com.