What does US Hemp Authority Certified mean? Does it matter?
Written by Jason Brett
Edited by Cathy Rozyczko on
December 7, 2021
If you’re a regular CBD oil shopper, you may have come across the US Hemp Authority certification seal on CBD products and the websites of certified brands.
In our CBD consumer market research, we’ve come across lots of companies that are certified by the US Hemp Authority. The familiar badge on their websites and their packaging suggests legitimacy and quality, much like the USDA organic seal.
But what does US Hemp Authority certification actually entail?
For CBD users, is it really important when looking for a CBD product? Or is it just a pay-to-play branding ploy?
And for CBD brands, how do you go about getting US Hemp Authority certification? How much does it cost?
We want to answer these questions and more for both CBD users and new CBD brands with this article, so follow along to learn more.
Who is the US Hemp Authority?
The US Hemp Authority is an independent SRO or Self-Regulatory Organization for the domestic hemp industry. Per the US Hemp Authority website:
The U.S. Hemp Authority® Certification Program is our industry's initiative to provide high standards, best practices, and self-regulation, giving consumers and retailers confidence in hemp and CBD products.
The US Hemp Authority was founded in Kentucky, a state now well-known for industrial hemp cultivation that supplies the consumer CBD market. The organization kicked off in 2016 as an organized effort by the Kentucky Hemp Industry Coalition (KHIC) to develop industry-wide standards for hemp as an agricultural commodity.
The KHIC landed on forming an SRO to promote beneficial legislation while at the same time keeping superfluous regulation at bay, regulations that might harm the domestic hemp industry because of marijuana’s illegal history.
At the beginning of 2017, the KHIC regrouped to form the US Hemp Roundtable, which included around 30 established companies in the industry. Other organizations also joined the US Hemp Roundtable, including the National Hemp Association, Hemp Industries Association, and more. Representatives from each of these organizations came together to create formal documentation for the cultivation and processing of hemp. The first draft of this documentation was released in early 2018 by the US Hemp Roundtable, and established hemp businesses and hemp activists across the country gave their feedback. A new Guidance Plan was drafted, inspired by this important feedback, and version 1.0 was released in May 2018.
After another round of pivotal feedback from the people on the ground driving the hemp industry forward, the US Hemp Roundtable finally approved what are now officially known as the US Hemp Authority’s Guidance Procedures. The group secured the funding needed to form the US Hemp Authority: a new, independent organization complete with a Board of Directors.
Since then, the US Hemp Authority has updated their Guidance Procedures several times; today, their certification program has been using version 3.0 since January, 2021. Companies who follow these guidelines and pass the organization’s third-party audit are eligible for the official US Hemp Authority certification seal.
What does US Hemp Authority certification mean?
If a company is certified by the US Hemp Authority, it means:
- The company has a licensing agreement with the US Hemp Authority.
- The company has passed an annual third-party audit to ensure they comply with current US Hemp Authority Guidance Procedures.
Companies eligible for US Hemp Authority certification include three categories: consumer brand owners, hemp growers, and hemp processors/manufacturers. This covers everyone from farmers to extractors and online CBD brands.
What is required to get US Hemp Authority certification?
We took a hard look at the current US Hemp Authority certification guidelines. While there are too many to list in this article, here’s a list of the major requirements that stood out to us:
- Synthetic cannabinoids and/or bioengineered hemp are not permitted for use at any stage.
- Staunch record-keeping on personnel training, crop handling, and all processes is required for growers and processors.
- Growers must control waste and erosion; protect wetlands and waterways, and other non-cropped areas from degradation.
- Staunch soil-testing required, including samples for heavy metals, pesticides, and pH.
- Growers must use pest-control practices that mitigate ecological harm caused by chemical pesticides.
- Cleanliness of facilities, machinery, transport vehicles, and more is laid out in detail to pass the annual audit.
- Sanitation, hygiene, and pest control have strict requirements.
- Steadfast record-keeping is required across the board for all organization types.
- Laboratories used for analysis must be ISO accredited.
- Cannabinoid profiles for all finished batches of product must have less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.
- Final batches of product must be tested for the following potential contaminants: pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, microbiology, and mycotoxins.
- All hemp products must be “labeled to represent their contents truthfully and clearly.” This includes labels of cannabinoid potency levels and claims of full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate.
- Operators must have a system in place to receive complaints and document explicitly.
Does it matter for CBD users?
Yes, especially for CBD users who are not industry nerds (like us) and are perhaps less-educated on what hemp growing and CBD processing actually entails.
US Hemp Authority certification can take some of this guesswork out by holding companies to high standards. The burden of research is therefore less for CBD users to be sure they’re getting a safe, high-quality product.
When you see the US Hemp Authority seal for a company or product, you already know that the organization has had to pass an audit and will continue to have to pass one annually to maintain certification. The US Hemp Authority certification guidelines hold these companies and products to a high standard and require meticulous documentation.
Really, CBD users can rest a bit easier when they see the USHA seal. For example, a CBD product certified by the US Hemp Authority will have the following attributes:
- Lab-tested for multiple contaminants (all that we require for the COR Safety Badge)
- No synthetic cannabinoids allowed
- Lab-tested to be below federal THC limit
- Any claims of ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘full spectrum’ can be verified
- The label matches the cannabinoid content inside
- Fully traceable lot or batch number that goes all the way back to original hemp plant material
IN A NUTSHELL, with US Hemp Authority certified CBD, you know that what you’re getting has been heavily scrutinized to be safe, legal, and contain what is advertised on its label.
Is US Hemp Authority CBD oil higher quality than non-certified CBD oil?
Not necessarily. Just because a product or company does not have US Hemp Authority certification doesn’t mean their CBD is of inferior quality. Said organization or product could possibly fulfill all USHA requirements or even exceed the standard. The major difference is that you will have to look into the brand yourself to learn if proper testing, labelling, etc. is happening (which you can do on this website). With US Hemp Authority certification, these inquiries have been made for you, and the CBD product or brand in question has passed the annual test.
CBD companies with US Hemp Authority certification
The following organizations represent the current US Hemp Authority certified CBD consumer brands:
- CBD American Shaman
- Balanced Health Botanicals
- Bespoke Extracts
- Bluebird Botanicals
- Charlotte's Web
- CV Sciences
- Dr. Whitt's
- Dynamic Blending
- EVG Extracts
- Evolution CBD
- Global Widget
- Good Hemp Wellness
- Hemptown USA, KY
- Highland Laboratories
- Kannaway, HempMeds, Dixie Botanicals
- Natural Native
- Nutrition Formulators
- Pet Releaf
- Puffin Hemp
- Pure Vision Technology
- Queen City Hemp
- RAD Extracts
- Restorative Botanicals
- Ridgway Hemp
- R+R Medicinals
- West Coast Extraction
- Winged Wellness
How to get US Hemp Authority certification
US Hemp Authority certification can boost revenue for CBD brands by engendering consumer trust. Here’s how the process works to get your organization certified by the US Hemp Authority:
1. Download the latest standard version of the US Hemp Authority Certification Program. This is currently in version 3.0 but gets updated as the domestic hemp industry grows and hemp legislation changes.
2. Prepare your company for an audit to ensure you meet all the requirements.
3. Apply for an audit online. US Hemp Authority audits are conducted exclusively by a third-party auditor named FoodChain ID. You will have to pass the initial audit to earn USHA certification and every upcoming annual audit to retain it. All certifications expire within one year of issuance.
4. Successfully pass your audit.
5. Receive your US Hemp Authority certification. After you pass the audit, submit your results along with a licensing agreement and all fees to the US Hemp Authority.
How much does US Hemp Authority certification cost?
How much it costs to get US Hemp Authority certification for your business will depend on which category you fall into: growers, processors/manufacturers, or CBD consumer brands. Here’s a general idea of what you can expect:
Daily rate: $1399
Desk audits: $649 per facility (all brand owners must pay for a desk audit)
For growers: $249-$999 depending on acreage and hemp varietals
For processors and brand owners: $2,999 for up to 5 products; $249 per product up to 25 products; $199 per product up to 50 products; $99 per product for next 51+
Our final word on US Hemp Authority certified CBD oil
According to our research, the US Hemp Authority is a legitimate regulator in the CBD business. While USHA certification is indeed expensive, its requirements are in the best interest of both producers and consumers. With their certification program, the US Hemp Authority holds domestic companies to stringent standards, especially when it comes to labelling and record-keeping. All in all, if you see this seal on a CBD product, you know that the processes and materials behind it are transparent and traceable. For CBD users everywhere, we can conclude the USHA seal is a proven symbol of quality.
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