Sorry to harsh your mellow, but that pot isn’t pesticide-free
Good news, all you sustainability-minded Coloradans smokin’ the devil’s lettuce: An ongoing court hearing may make your green a little greener, by clamping down on pesticide use.
Colorado legalized pot in 2014 and OK’d a handful of state-approved pesticides to grow marijuana. Because the feds still classify pot as a Schedule I drug, hashing out pesticide regulations is still essentially left up to individual states. And that’s where things get complicated. USA Today has the story:
The court fight is over whether Denver health officials and state agriculture inspectors have the right to quarantine and test marijuana they believe has been improperly contaminated with certain pesticides.
Marijuana store Organic Greens is asking a city judge to lift one of those quarantines and allow it to sell 15-20 pounds of marijuana its owner admits was treated with a fungicide called Eagle 20. He says the chemical is widely used within the industry and by other farmers to fight powdery mildew, and that it poses little risk to consumers.
Just to give you an idea of how challenging it can be to determine appropriate pesticide regs, take Washington state, one of the four states with legalized recreational pot (Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska make up the other three). When it comes to spraying its weed with pesticides, the Evergreen State models the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s studies on hops and tobacco. The Stranger reports:
The state appears to have done a good job at regulating a previously unregulated and unstudied area of agriculture—a plant the federal government still classifies as a Schedule I drug. All pesticides used on any crop in the state of Washington must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, and the list of approved pesticides is available via the Pesticide Information Center Online (PICOL), a database operated by Washington State University. There are, by my highly scientific estimate, a metric shit ton of allowed pesticides in our state. How many of those pesticides are recreational pot growers allowed to use on pot that ends up in your body? Two hundred and seventy-one.
That number is not nearly as upsetting as it may sound, given a little context. At a recent meeting of state and local officials working with the recreational cannabis industry, one attendee voiced concern that 271 legally allowed pesticides seemed like a large number. In response, Erik Johanson, the WSDA’s special pesticide registration program coordinator, offered this sobering bit of information: “If we were talking apples, the number would be 1,000.”
Colorado’s hearing is still ongoing, so it remains to be seen how its own pesticide regulations will pan out. In the meantime, I’ll let Rick James do all the talking: