Under current federal law, cannabis is a controlled substance and such products cannot legally use the term "organic" or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal. California Business & Professions Code Section 26062(a)(2) provides that, by July 1, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is to establish a certification program for manufactured cannabis products comparable to the California Organic Food and Farming Act (COFFA) and the federal USDA National Organic Program (NOP). CDPH's Food and Drug Branch (FDB) regulates the manufacture of foods, drugs, medical devices, pet foods and cosmetics including processed products sold as organic pursuant to the NOP and the COFFA. FDB was tasked to develop and administer the OCal program for processed cannabis products.
Q1. What is the term "OCal"?
A1. Because cannabis products cannot be labeled as "organic", "OCal" was created. "OCal" is a California unique labeling term that identifies California commercial cannabis products produced according to the OCal regulations, which are comparable to the NOP and the COFFA.
Q2. What is the OCal Program?
A2. The OCal Program is administered by CDPH-FDB which enforces the standards for manufactured cannabis products sold, labeled, or represented as OCal.
Q3. How will the OCal Program work?
A3. The OCal Program will safeguard the integrity of the OCal standards by working with third-party certifying agents to ensure they are certifying consistently and follow OCal Program regulations. Certifying agents must be accredited by the NOP to the scope of organic handling and be registered with CDPH-FDB's OCal program. Commercial cannabis manufacturing licensees with a valid commercial cannabis license interested in OCal certification will follow these steps in order to be eligible to sell manufactured cannabis products as OCal:
Contact and retain the services of a certifying agent registered by CDPH-FDB.
Obtain OCal certification from the selected certifying agent.
Once certified by an approved certifier, apply for OCal Manufactured Cannabis Product Registration from CDPH-FDB.
Once registered with CDPH-FDB, manufacturers can begin to sell and distribute OCal manufactured cannabis products.
Q4. When does the OCal program start?
A4. July 1, 2021.
Q5. What are the requirements to register with CDPH-FDB's OCal program?
A5. Each applicant must possess a valid commercial cannabis license issued by the cannabis licensing authority and a valid OCal certification from a certifier that is registered with CDPH-FDB. A copy of each certificate is required when submitting the OCal Manufacturer application.
Q6. What are the registration fees for manufacturers of OCal cannabis products?
A6. New applicants will pay $350 for the first year of registration. The renewal registration fee is based on Gross Annual Revenue from the sale of manufactured OCal cannabis products from the previous year. The fees are due annually on or before the expiration date. Fees are as follows:
Q7. What is the contact information for any question(s) about CDPH-FDB's OCal program?
A7. The contact information is as follows:
A8. Currently, the only way to submit an application and pay fees is by mailing them to the address identified on the bottom of the application instructions page.
Q9. What happens after submission of an OCal application for manufacturers?
A9. Submission of the OCal application does not authorize a manufacturer to begin selling manufactured cannabis products as OCal. Once approved and a manufacturer's application and fees have been processed, the manufacturer will be scheduled for an inspection. Once the inspection process is complete, an OCal certificate will be mailed and the manufacturer can begin selling manufactured cannabis products as OCal.
If the application is incomplete, additional information will be requested for submission within a specified timeframe. If the missing information is not submitted within the specified timeframe, the application will be deemed abandoned and cannot be processed. Prompt response to requests for additional information is strongly encouraged. Fees are not refundable.
Q10. How long is the OCal registration period?
A10. Once approved, OCal registration is issued for a one-year period. Courtesy Renewal Notices are generally provided prior to the expiration date. It is the manufacturer's responsibility that its registration remains current and is renewed prior to the expiration date. Registrations are not transferrable. Any change in ownership or relocation requires a new registration.
Q11. Can OCal and organic ingredients be identified in the ingredient statement with a valid OCal registration from CDPH-FDB?
A11. Yes. A valid and approved CDPH registered OCal manufacturer of cannabis products may identify OCal and organic ingredients in the ingredient statement on the information panel of the product only (back panel). It is prohibited to list "organic" or "OCal" in any other area of an OCal manufactured cannabis product other than the ingredient statement if you are not a certified operation.
Q12. Can a manufacturer use a certifier that is registered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture's OCal Program to certify manufactured OCal cannabis products?
A12. No. Only certifiers that are registered with CDPH-FDB to the scope of organic handling may certify manufactured cannabis products that are sold as OCal.
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