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Be a Force for Good: Sustainable Operations, Organic Best Practices and Radical Transparency

This summer, leaders in the ethical and clean cannabis movements joined forces to establish a new third-party certification that addresses two unmet and growing concerns for marijuana consumers – organically grown and fairly produced cannabis. At time when dangerous pesticide use continues to cause havoc, such as the recent recall of concentrates laced with myclobutanil, a chemical banned for marijuana cultivation by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the need for a certifying body is clear.

The industry has made a lot of progress in very little time and with no federal guidance. When we opened L’Eagle Services – a dispensary and cultivation facility in Denver – in 2010, many viewed the cannabis sector as an energy hog that failed to meet any kind of sustainable, organic or even ethical standards. While many companies chose business decisions strictly for bottom line results, we saw these choices as critical issues to address head on through our business model.

Implementing sustainable and ethical practices do not mean you need to turn your business upside down. Simple adjustments to standard operating procedures can result in added value for your business and your brand, especially in the coming years as competition increases. From eco-friendly facility development and practices, to pesticide-free final product, there are many options for increasing sustainable efforts.  Businesses are adopting innovative new technologies and methods for cultivating clean cannabis while reducing environmental impact. Determine key areas of operation where small changes can be made, such as in lighting, water, air flow and recycling plant media. Assess options for sustainable sourcing of cultivation materials and agricultural supplies.

Consider joining your city’s sustainability work group and let your voice be heard in regulatory and policy meetings. Work directly with policy makers and government officials to determine how cannabis businesses might be incorporated into existing local sustainability programs and make small changes to improve sustainability in your business operations. Seek out opportunities for showcasing environmental efforts, such as Denver’s Certifiably Green Denver designation, which recognizes retail establishments that demonstrate exemplary environmental achievement in five key areas: energy efficiency, water conservation, resource management, alternative transportation, and responsible business management. There are 159 adult-use dispensaries in Denver. We call on them to consider applying for this designation.

Do the research to determine which cannabis certifications are available and how they help consumers to delineate options. Nonprofit organizations like the Cannabis Certification Council (CCC), of which I am a founding board member, offer cannabis brands a way to differentiate their products from others out there, and they also offer consumers confidence in selecting clean and safe cannabis they can feel good about consuming.

We know that many of our customers use cannabis because THEY ARE SICK, and we feel that it is a priority to provide them with a product that is safe, clean, and healthy.  An infused product manufacturer might want to designate safe testing. A supplier of flower and trim may want to guarantee a certain level of quality.

As we know, the marijuana industry originated from black market operations, where workers were subjected to unsafe and unjust working environments. With the cannabis industry operating under no industry oversight, it is up to us to ensure just treatment of employees, where they can receive a living wage and be treated fairly. Basic worker safety guidelines must be developed and implemented for production and processing methods.

The momentum we are experiencing is real – and there’s no stopping our efforts. Radical transparency – both with our customers and our staff – is essential to maintaining this momentum and continuing to move the industry forward. We are a unique industry in that we’re self-governing from seed to sale, and consumers are reliant upon us when making safe and healthy cannabis purchases. We must be completely open about our practices.

Consumers choose to purchase organic tomatoes, grass fed beef and free-range eggs. But what standards do they follow when buying cannabis? Certifications like the CCC seal provide consumers with the validation they need to make informed purchases. The national nonprofit will begin certifying “Organically Grown and Fairly Produced” marijuana in fall 2017.

Industry leaders must take action in educating consumers, working to ensure access to clean cannabis, and creating a healthy and protected workplace for those who keep our industry functioning. Be a force for good, implement sustainable and ethical standards, and be transparent about your practices. “A rising tide raises all ships,” and together we can make sustainable and ethical practices common place for the marijuana industry.



Amy AndrleAmy Andrle

Amy Andrle

Amy Andrle is one half of L’Eagle Services, working with her husband John, an all-natural and sustainable recreational dispensary and cultivation facility specializing in clean cannabis based in Denver, Colorado. Established in 2010, L’Eagle has positioned itself as a premier establishment that prides itself on offering the cleanest product while also investing the time to educate consumers-both novices and connoisseurs-on the intricacies of the cannabis plant and its derivatives. L’Eagle is the first cannabis dispensary to earn recognition as a Certified Green Business from the City and County of Denver Department of Environmental Health.

Prior to working in the cannabis industry, Andrle, who holds a graduate degree in nonprofit management, was an executive at a cultural art organization, where she gained an appreciation of cooperative compliance and collaboration.

Today, in addition to being a mother and running day-to-day operations for L’Eagle, Andrle actively participates in outreach by contributing her time serving on the City of Denver’s Cannabis Sustainability Work Group, and as a founding board member of the Cannabis Certification Council. She also provides consulting services for legal marijuana companies looking to improve sustainability in their operations.

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