The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has released the proposed regulations for the OCal Program, a statewide certification program that will establish and enforce comparable-to-organic cannabis standards. The release of these regulations marked the official start of the public comment period provided under California law. All interested parties are encouraged to submit comments about the proposed cannabis regulations by Tuesday, July 7, 2020.
The OCal Program will ensure that cannabis products bearing the OCal seal have been certified to consistent, uniform standards comparable to the National Organic Program.
Per Business and Professions Code Section 26062(a)(1), CDFA is required to establish a certification program for cannabis that is comparable to the National Organic Program and the California Organic Food and Farming Act by January 1, 2021. CDFA proposes adoption of Chapter 3, within Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations, to establish the OCal Program for cannabis.
Comments on the proposed regulations may be submitted until July 7, 2020, via email to CDFA.CalCannabis_OCal@cdfa.ca.gov or by mail to:
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Attention: Kristi Armstrong
CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division
Proposed OCal Regulations
P.O. Box 942871
Sacramento, CA 94271
For tips on how to make effective comments about the proposed OCal regulations, please see How to Submit Your Comments.
Also see our new video, “Introducing CDFA's OCal Program.”
Proposed OCal Regulatory Materials
- Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
- Text of the Proposed Regulations
Initial Statement of Reasons (ISOR)
- ISOR Documents Relied Upon:
- Minutes of July 24, 2019, Working Group
- National Organic Program Regulations, Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7 – Agriculture
- "Soil Organic Matter and Available Water Capacity," Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
- "Increasing Cropping System Diversity Balances Productivity, Profitability, and Environmental Health," PLOS ONE
- National Organic Program Handbook: Guidance and Instructions for Accredited Certifying Agents and Certified Operations
- Key National Organic Program (NOP) documents
Why Do We Call It “Comparable-to-Organic” Cannabis?
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been mandated by state law to develop a program for cannabis that is comparable to the National Organic Program. The term “organic” is a designation reserved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for products it has certified as organic, per the terms of the National Organic Program. Since cannabis is illegal under federal law, cannabis operations cannot be certified under the National Organic Program, therefore the word organic cannot be used to refer to cannabis grown in California.
So how do we refer to cannabis grown in a way that’s comparable to the National Organic Program’s standards?
CDFA came up with the term OCal to identify what we will be considering comparable-to-organic cannabis in California. This means if you’re a commercial cannabis licensee in California, and your cannabis is produced according to OCal’s requirements, then you may be eligible to apply for comparable-to-organic certification through the OCal Program.
Certified operations will be authorized to sell, label, or represent their commercial cannabis products as OCal products. CDFA will be certifying cannabis growers and distributors, and the California Department of Public Health will be certifying manufacturers.
So what are these OCal requirements? Our proposed regulations were released in early May 2020, and the final regulations for the OCal Program will be enacted by January 1, 2021, and posted on this web page. We recommend that you sign up for email alerts issued by CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division for news and updates on important issues pertaining to commercial cannabis cultivation in California, including breaking news on the OCal Program.
- CalCannabis Comparable-to-Organic Cannabis Working Group Meeting, November 4, 2019, Notice and Agenda
- CalCannabis Comparable-to-Organic Cannabis Working Group Meeting, July 24, 2019, Notice and Agenda
- CalCannabis Comparable-to-Organic Cannabis Working Group Meeting, June 25, 2019, Notice and Agenda
- CalCannabis Comparable-to-Organic Cannabis Working Group Meeting, May 15, 2019, Notice and Agenda
- CalCannabis Comparable-to-Organic Cannabis Working Group Meeting, February 12, 2019, Notice and Agenda
Resources From the USDA National Organic Program
The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s OCal Comparable-to-Organic Cannabis Program will be comparable to the National Organic Program (NOP). The following NOP resources may be helpful to those who want to learn more about the program.
- Organic Certification Made Simple (video series)
- “The Road to Organic Certification” (video)
- What Is Organic Certification?
References and Resources
Alerts and Licensee Information Look Up a Cannabis