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Cannabis Compliance: What Pesticides Are Safe for You to Use?

May 16, 2016

The aim of every grower is to produce a high-quality, high-yield crop. But the succulent, green and vibrant plants are not only appealing to consumers, they can be appealing to bugs, too. And growers are weary about letting even a portion of their grow succumb to devastation.

Pesticide use can cause trouble both plant-wise and legally-speaking. Testing plants for specific and potentially toxic pesticides can cost thousands of dollars. But recent regulations and the craze of organic makes testing more appealing. Consumers are beginning to desire their MMJ pesticide-friendly, and states are getting pickier about pesticides.

Pesticide use varies across the U.S. Yet, growers are expected to produce high yields with either no knowledge or a lengthy legally binding approved list of what is safe. Here’s a look at pesticide requirements for some of the most active legal medical and recreational cannabis states.

Arizona – Don’t ask, don’t tell
In Arizona, no state mandate exists for pesticide regulation. Marijuana dispensaries must alert the state when pesticides are being used; but the state performs no follow-up nor regulates pesticides. Arizona permits medical-use MMJ and will vote on recreational in November. A key aspect of regulating pesticide testing is the concern for higher prices for consumers. (The testing costs get passed on to the consumers).

California – They’re in the works
California allows medical marijuana use. It also allows any and all pesticides. The trio of laws (AB243, SB643, AB266) all concern regulating MMJ activities, including pesticide use—specifics the state will determine by 2018. These regulations include labeling cannabis on the same level as other agricultural crops. These bills should help stop farmers who grow illegal MMJ crops and siphon off water from streams. These illegal grows use pesticides and risk releasing contaminates into runoff—impacting human and animal life who reside below the crops.

Colorado – Better safe than sorry
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper issued an Executive Order on pesticide use in November of 2015 that resulted a recent recall of over 100,000 plants due to pesticide concerns. The Colorado Department of Agriculture has compiled a regularly updated list of “pesticides [that] are allowed for use in the cultivation of Cannabis.” Through the Department of Environmental Health, additional information can be found for compliance. Colorado permits both medical and recreational use.

Washington – Recall and destroy
Washington allows both medical and recreational marijuana use. The state Department of Agriculture provides an approved list of pesticides. For compliance purposes, it is important to note that the Liquor and Cannabis Board has implemented a recall process for violators of pesticides or inappropriate product labeling.

Oregon – The label is the law
The Oregon Department of Agriculture defines cannabis as an agricultural crop. The state provides a list of acceptable pesticides to be used. The label on pesticides is the law in Oregon. The list helps growers sort through pesticide labels that “do not legally prohibit use on cannabis from those that clearly do not allow use.”

Nevada – Fail the test, can’t be sold
Nevada requires laboratory testing on every MMJ batch. Failed batches cannot be sold in dispensaries. The Department of Agriculture provides an approved Medical Marijuana Pesticide List.

New Mexico – Growers must test
The Department of Health requires laboratory testing for pesticides and contaminants on medical marijuana. The reasoning behind this stems from individuals who may have weak immune systems that could be compromised by an infection. Cannabis producers must adhere to the New Mexico Pesticide Control Act. All pesticides used must be labeled on the product.

By Kimberly Reichert

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