New, Local, Sun-Grown Cannabis Organization Grabs Attention
Humboldt County birthed a new cannabis organization this week and it’s grabbed a lot of attention for such a young group. The International Cannabis Farmers Association (ICFA), a non-profit organization, formed to represent and promote sun grown marijuana, splashed right into the state capital with a story in the Sacramento Bee last Friday.
One of the main missions of the group is educating the consumer about the benefits of traditionally farmed cannabis. “The consumer isn’t asking questions that differentiate the sun grown flower from the indoor flower,” Nevedal said. “We haven’t educated the consumer on the superior ecological practices of sun grown.”
The ICFA is working with a marketing and branding firm. “If we can’t drive consumer demand, we are going to continue to have a hard time getting our product into the marketplace,” Nevedal explained. “There is a huge portion of consumers that are concerned about what they put in their body. We can help that consumer understand why traditionally farmed cannabis is the product they want.”
Nevedal said that ICFA will be working with scientists to gather data. Right now, she said, facts need to be gathered to prove which practices are ecologically superior. “While we are doing advocacy work,” Kristin Nevedal the new organization’s chair said, “we want to focus a lot of our energy on research and education.”
In addition, the new organization, Nevedal said, exists to get cannabis growers the ability to market their product by appellation–so that flowers grown in Humboldt can be legally protected as having come from that specific region just as sparkling wine must be grown in the Champagne region of France to carry that designation.
“We’re looking forward to working with people throughout the world to establish cannabis appellations,” Nevedal explained. According to her, the Jamaican government filed application for appellations of origin for cannabis. So far that category while it exists internationally for wine and for other products doesn’t exist for cannabis. The Jamaicans, she said, have been gathering facts to support their claim that cannabis grown in different regions have distinctive features.
“They’re gathering the data,” she explained. “We’re hoping to piggyback on that data” to support the need for unique designations for cannabis grown in different regions.
“In order for [cannabis] to get international recognition, we are going to have to show it has contact with the natural world,” Nevedal said. “What that looks like we don’t know yet.” But, she said, it probably means the cannabis must have substantial interaction with native soil, native rain, and sun.
In addition, Nevedal’s farmers face another obstacle to selling their flowers. Many states do not allow sun grown cannabis to be sold to patients. “Currently, therapeutic varieties of cannabis are being required to be cultivated indoors or in greenhouses,” Nevedal pointed out. “We really need some education, some research, and some advocacy to bring cannabis back to being an agricultural crop being produced for human consumption…Regulators are pushing it indoors…from a lack of understanding.”
When asked about the low pass rate of sungrown cannabis when tested for microbials compared to indoor cannabis, Nevedal pointed out there is a lot “we don’t know.” But she said, there are two possibilities. One simply is that there are “a lot of the microbials in Mother Nature” and science doesn’t fully understand if some are useful or not. The other possibility is that farmers need to be educated on “food safety and handling.” (See information in blue below.)
One of the missions of ICFA is to provide help to farmers, too. “We will be opening a resource center in Garberville where folks come get educational materials,” Nevedal said. “Farmers need a central spot where they can get information,” she explained. “Eureka is kinda far.”
In addition, she explained, the ICFA hopes center will be “a stopping point for tourists.” Visitors from outside the industry will be encouraged to look into sungrown cannabis. Non-marijuana products from sungrown brands will be offered for sale. In addition, directions to places sungrown cannabis products can be bought will be offered. “People wanting to come to Humboldt for canna-tourism but not knowing how to engage in it” will be given help.
“When tourists come through it is not like they can come to our farms,” Nevedal explained. “So we’ll offer a map where they can purchase traditionally farmed cannabis products.”
In a male dominated industry, the all female current board of the ICFA is anomaly. “It wasn’t planned that way,” Nevedal laughed. “An all female board is just how it happened.”
“Pretty much all my board right now is from Humboldt or the Bay Area,” she added. “We are going to expand our board diversity through the advisory board. We have some awesome candidates…While we might lack diversity in our own strange way, [the board members] are passionate, committed and willing to put in energy.”
The ICFA is looking to increase diversity over time, she said. “Not just diversity in ethnicity, race and gender but also in what [members] bring to the table in their background. We are looking for scientists, regulators, and more….Hopefully a representative from law enforcement, and from…research. We want to round out the conversation.”
The group is partnering with several local cannabis organizations including the Southern Humboldt Community Alliance, the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild and the Mendocino Appellation Project.
To Reduce Microbial Fail Rates:
Everything that the cannabis bud touches is a potential source of contamination so it is important to get the protocols in place to sanitize everything.
Things to sanitize:
- harvest shears
- drying lines
- trays (stainless steel are easy to clean)
- trimming scissors
- screens used to sort buds
Buy new paper sacks to hold the buds. In addition, don’t use oil. Use alcohol to clean trimming scissors.
“It really, really needs to be a very, very clean setting,” Nevedal explained.
In addition, there is some anecdotal evidence, Nevedal said, that indicates waiting too long to harvest can cause higher microbial rates. ” As soon as the trichomes start to turn milky, then they start to shrink,” she argued. “They are decomposing then.”