Pesticides in Pot Becoming a Growing Concern


The domestic marijuana industry is still in its infancy, but many are already calling for better regulations from governments, both state and federal. One of the most alarming issues for consumers of the product is the popular and liberal use of pesticides on cannabis crops, and how unregulated misuse of harmful pesticides will affect the health of literally millions of users.

In his August 2015 article in The Atlantic, Brooke Borel paints a worrisome picture of how a federal drug law has left marijuana farmers without any approved pesticides. This means that farmers who are putting profits before consumer health are able to use pesticides that are not meant for human consumption on the plants and these microbes are then ingested by users when using marijuana in edible or smokable form.

What’s worse is that many consumers use medical marijuana at a time when their immune systems are likely compromised by disease. If they ingest harmful microbes then this may make their health much worse.

States such as Colorado and Washington have tried to help by developing their own approved lists, without violating federal law, but on those lists are mostly low-toxicity pesticides, such as petroleum oil, soap, and sulfur. These low-toxicity agents are not very effective if a farmer is up against spider mites or mildew, and numerous other infestations. So most growers are left without guidelines or help when they have problems like this and they end up using a laundry list of pesticides that save the plants but in the process could be harming consumers.

To compound the issue, there is no research on how these pesticides affect people who come in contact with them when consuming marijuana. Most research institutions are very hesitant to pursue marijuana research because pot is still a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level. Borel reports, for instance, that the Washington State University extension program, which provides scientific assistance to farmer’s throughout the state, has told its agents that they cannot assist marijuana growers because of federal law.

There is no argument that as long as the federal laws remain the same, it will prevent industry and academia to interact and find a resolution to the issue of pesticides in pot.


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