The greenest greens

Does organic-certified cannabis make a difference?

El Camino Wellness Center co-owner Sonny Kumar wears nitrile gloves while inspecting his dispensary’s organic medicine.

El Camino Wellness Center co-owner Sonny Kumar wears nitrile gloves while inspecting his dispensary’s organic medicine.


Stay informed on all of El Camino Wellness Center’s latest Clean Green strains by visiting it at, or at 2511 Connie Drive; (916) 473-2427.
Each week, SN&R’s The 420 will highlight Sacramento’s medical-cannabis community—in exactly 420 words!

“Organic medical cannabis.”

These three words often brand jars of cannabis meds at dispensaries throughout Sacramento. But according to El Camino Wellness Center owners Sonny Kumar and Nick Street, unless a dispensary has the Clean Green Certified or similar stamp of approval, a patient’s “organic” cannabis could be anything but.

Providing medicine to more than 5,000 patients, ECWC is the only local Clean Green Certified collective. “It’s good for the safety of the patients,” explained Kumar. “It’s real. It’s not just ‘organic’ because this guy said he used ‘organic something.’”

Clean Green Certification works like this: An inspector, following U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program guidelines, reviews dispensaries’ practices and visits its medical-cannabis cultivators to inspect crops. As part of the Clean Green process, ECWC has copies of every farmer’s certification, which confirms that the dispensary’s medicine comes from reputable sources.

ECWC also follows extensive guidelines when processing medicine. Employees wear nitrile gloves while handling strains; stainless-steel trays are used while pressing, and later cleaned with an alcohol solution and fresh-water rinse; and all medicine is packaged in an unused glass container or Mylar bag.

For terminally ill patients, or even those who are mindful of what they inhale, the Clean Green medical-cannabis label offers not only a certified organic product, but also peace of mind.

“Terminal patients really want to take the time to know what is going into their body,” explained ECWC co-owner Street, “because something wrong anywhere along the line can speed that process up for them. They don’t want to take any chances,” such as consuming mold or medicine that has been treated with pesticides or other carcinogens.

“More cities are going to require stuff like this,” co-owner Kumar added. “Local jurisdictions are requiring all kinds of stuff for the safety of patients. And, hopefully, more people can get on board and really help the whole [medical-cannabis] movement.”

It’s important to remember, as one ECWC employee noted, that the USDA does not recognize cannabis as an agricultural product, so it cannot truly be certified organic by the federal government. This places the burden on dispensaries to produce organic cannabis via a legitimate third-party certification.

And of course, organic medicine can impact taste, high and appearance. ECWC employee Katie Cajigas says patients notice the difference. “[The flavor] will be much tastier because it’s not tainted with chemicals,” she said. “With flowers, they’re usually just going to be cleaner, more beautiful-looking buds, because they have that extra care put into them. People really notice the quality difference.”