If cannabis and CBD enterprises hope to be successful, demonstrating social consciousness and long-term sustainability efforts will be key. That’s according to a survey conducted by Clutch of 420 consumers who shared their views on the importance of corporate social responsibility.
More than two-thirds (70%) of Generation Xers (ages 35-54) said they would likely stop patronizing a company that supports an issue with which they disagree. A majority (54%) of participating Millennials (ages 18-34) agreed. Supporters among Baby boomers (ages 55+), an age group known to be more loyal than younger generations, numbered 37%.
Consumers and businesses concerned with the social impact and environmental pursuits of a CBD company can now rely on a recently established certification program at Green America.
According to Fran Teplitz, executive co-director of Green America and the organization’s director of its Green Business Network, there had been no certification as to the sustainability and social impact of the CBD industry until now.
What Does Certification Mean?
Earning a Green America certification for social action and sustainability translates into a report card for consumers and others involved in the CBD industry about the business practices of an entity, explained Teplitz.
“Our certification seal informs consumers that businesses that earn it have high social and environmental standards,” said Teplitz. “Earning the seal is also a gateway to additional visibility for businesses through Green America because we tell the green business story through the members we certify,” she said.
Being certified ensures consumers, manufacturers, and others involved in the CBD industry that an entity “meets a certain threshold of social and environmental impacts,” Teplitz said.
Any member of Green America may apply for Green Business Network Certification. Green America also certifies the green practices of businesses in over 40 other industries that similarly must meet rigorous Green Business Standards to gain the designation.
A Green Business Network certification is based on a company as a whole, not solely on the product level.
“Our strategy is looking at the overall business operations and their environmental and social impact pursuits,” Teplitz said.
A benefit of earning certification is recognition on a national level of meeting stringent industry standards, according to Deepak Panjwani, a consultant and brand developer in the cannabis industry for the past decade. His involvement with Green America began in 2015; he was named to its Board of Directors in 2018.
“There isn’t anything out there that emulates what Green America is doing for everyone in the cannabis industry (from a production-side business perspective),” said Panjwani. “This certification takes the industry all the way from seed to sales.”
Criterion for Certification
Earning a Green America certification in social action and sustainability is not an easy feat. According to Teplitz, Green America’s certification program “looks at a wide range of issues.” They include:
• Does the applicant’s website include an environmental and social vision?
• Any other certifications the company has already earned
• Reviewing the entity’s business operations to determine, for example, whether the company recycles
• Where and how it does its business banking (for example, do they bank online? Can customers pay their invoices online?)
• Supply chain considerations
• An in-depth look at the company’s labor policies
• Inquiries into pesticides used on any products
• Questions about the source of their seeds
“We ask a lot of questions about being a green business, overall. Some questions are CBD-specific and some are directed at determining how environmentally friendly and socially responsible the business is,” said Teplitz. “It is a truly green certification that covers everything,” Panjwani noted.
Who Benefits From the Certification?
In Gaither Whaley’s mind, anyone involved with CBD products, ranging from hemp growers to manufacturers to consumers and everyone in between, benefits from Green America’s certification program. Whaley, founder and president of Rohtah LLC, which provides wellness products for a holistic lifestyle, is all in favor of Green America’s certification of CBD companies.
“Currently, [the CBD industry] is like the Wild West,” he said. “Anyone can slap a label on a bottle that may contain CBD but this certification guarantees a quality that is helpful and not detrimental to a patient’s health. It holds the industry and anyone involved in it accountable to a standard and helps sustain the industry.”
Certifications like this also lend credibility to the industry it pertains to. That’s imperative, not only because it makes for sound business practices, it also reassures patients they may “rest easy and not worry about what they’re putting into their bodies,” Whaley said.
If a CBD company earns a Green America certification, it is then authorized to display an official seal from Green America highlighting the designation on its website. Consumers concerned with the social impact and sustainability successes and visions of a CBD company can click on a link to Green America’s website that is paired with the seal to read more about the certification process.
Such certification was necessary for the CBD industry, said Teplitz, so consumers know and understand the products and companies that meet a certain threshold of social and environmental impacts.
However, the certification’s purpose is not solely to reassure consumers about the ethics and social consciousnesses of a CBD business. “The Green Business Network certifies a business as a whole, not just at the product level,” said Teplitz. “Our strategy is looking at a company’s overall business operations and their environmental and social impact pursuits.”
This article was first published in the spring 2022 issue of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here.