Organic Marijuana: Why Pesticide Use Needs Tighter Control


Organic marijuana is becoming key for the industry, as concerns grow over whether pesticides in our cannabis will have an adverse effect on our bodies.

Apr 13, 2016

Buying organic is becoming a popular health choice when it comes to our food, considering the information that has been coming to light over the years about what gets sprayed on our produce. The trend is also becoming a key concern for the marijuana industry, as concerns over pesticides and fertilizers being in our cannabis could have an even stronger effect on our bodies, so will people atrat demanding organic marijuana?

New standards

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The herb you buy at your local dispensary might not be as healthy as you think. Reports coming out of Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have noted that while the list of pesticides and fertilizers that are allowed on cannabis is by no means comprehensively limited, there are some chemicals that have been specifically forbidden that are still making their way onto crops that end up at dispensaries.

Until recent testing standards for cannabis, the only way to know if a prohibited chemical was used was to discover it on a surprise inspection. Now that cannabis purchased by dispensaries is going through more rigorous testing for potency, mold, and chemicals, more growers are seeing their products put on hold or even pulled from shelves until they are tested clean.

Why it should be important

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Aside from the obvious health factor in inhaling the combusted fumes of pesticides, there is a huge benefit to this rigorous testing. One of the key premises of legalization is to control the market and the potential harms to users. The difference in danger between black market marijuana that can be laced with hard drugs and legal cannabis that has pesticides is irrelevant.

The point is that legalization is supposed to make cannabis safer, and if it fails in that regard, the whole industry could suffer the consequences of not living up to its promises. Growing with illegal pesticides puts another bullet in the gun of Prohibitionists.

A change in control

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The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) fined and gave 10-day suspensions for first-time pesticide violations. One of the companies fined stated that the reason it failed was that plants on the medical side were brought over to populate the recreational side, but this doesn’t make the situation any better. Some pesticides can stay inside a plant, and through cloning, be passed on to generations of crops. The WSLCB has a zero tolerance policy for any level of contamination, as it should, and even trace amounts are unacceptable.

The producers also had bottles of products that are on the prohibited list on site. The list of prohibited products is available online in alphabetical order, so a mistake like this was easily avoidable, and a further embarrassment to the industry as a whole. Each producer should not only be checking this list but have a dedicated compliance officer to prevent situations like this from occurring.

Why so strict?

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Unlike foods, which the EPA estimates were sprayed with about a billion pounds of pesticide a year between 2000 and 2007, cannabis products aren’t usually digested in our stomachs, (edibles are growing in popularity, but vaped or smoked cannabis is still the primary delivery method). The restricted list of chemicals for cannabis are based on the approved chemicals for tobacco, the only other agriculturally smoked product. This does limit the available choices to growers, but leaves hundreds of products still acceptable.

The cost of testing, replacing equipment that could be contaminated, and the lost revenue from shutdowns or holds are also costs that end up being passed on to the consumers. Even if the costs and the legal issues weren’t factors, it still remains that if we want to continue to tout cannabis as a healthy choice, we need to make sure it really stays one, for ourselves and our loved ones. And organic marijuana may provide that option.

Do you grow your own organic marrijuana? What do you use to keep the pests at bay? Share your secrets to a better garden with us on social media or in the comments below.

Apr 13, 2016