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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Cannabis' Category


09
Feb

Health Canada Will Begin Pesticide Testing of Cannabis After Recalls and Consumer Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2017) The failure of the U.S. pesticide regulatory system to protect marijuana users was highlighted as Health Canada announced Tuesday that it would begin conducting random pesticide residue testing of marijuana products to ensure that only registered products are being used in medical marijuana production. This comes on the heels of voluntary recalls in 2016 by two licensed Canadian cannabis producers due to the presence of the prohibited pesticides bifenazate, myclobutanil, and pyrethrins in or on marijuana products. Especially concerning is the detection of myclobutanil, a powerful fungicide that, when heated, converts to the hazardous gas hydrogen cyanide. The detection of these toxic chemicals in medical marijuana products is distressing since many users have compromised immune systems or health conditions that make them more susceptible to toxic chemicals. Moves by several states in the U.S. to curb illegal pesticide use in marijuana contain significant pitfalls and loopholes that allow contaminated cannabis to enter the market, where it threatens public health. Without examination of residues in inhaled, ingested, or absorbed cannabis, the user’s health is not protected by pesticide registration addressing other uses. In addition, environmental impacts associated with growing practices are generally ignored. On January 9th, […]

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02
Nov

Study Reveals Extent of Pesticide Contamination in Medical Marijuana

(Beyond Pesticides, November 2, 2016) A California-based company, Steep Hill, revered as the global leader in cannabis testing and analytics, recently released a report on the prevalence of pesticide contamination in the medical cannabis supply chain in California. The results reveal that 84% of samples tested positive for pesticide residues, a number significantly higher than experts had previously expected, causing great cause for concern for California medical cannabis consumers. While the issue of illegal pesticide use in states with legalized recreational marijuana markets, such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington State, has become an area of concern for consumers and public health groups in recent years, this data is significant in that it looks specifically at the medical marijuana market and the impact pesticide-contaminated marijuana may have on medical marijuana consumers, who are often individuals suffering from chronic disease or illness. A law intended to address this issue, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, was passed in 2015, but its oversight provisions, which include mandatory testing, will not go into effect until 2018, leaving California consumers to fend for themselves when it comes to determining if their cannabis has been contaminated by pesticides. In its  analysis, Steep Hill found residue […]

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05
Oct

Oregon Approves 26 Recreational Marijuana Retailers

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2016) Last week, the  Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) approved 26 licences for 26 recreational marijuana retailers as well as modified state rules regarding state licensure testing requirements and packaging limitations. According to a OLCC press release, some of the marijuana retailers began operating on October 1st, fulfilling the OLCC’s promise to Oregon’s citizens that recreational marijuana stores would be open for business in fall 2016. OAR 845-025-5700 previously required that all batches be tested for pesticides. Under the new Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) Temporary Pesticide Rules (“Limited Batch Testing”) OAR 845-025-5700, effective September 30, 2016 until March 1, 2017, the OLCC requires a minimum of 33.3% of batches per harvest lot of cannabis to be tested. According to OAR 333-007-0010, if the OLCC finds that there is not enough laboratory capacity for pesticide testing, the Commission may permit randomly chosen samples from batches of usable marijuana to be tested for pesticides by a licensed lab, rather than requiring every batch of usable marijuana from a harvest lot to be tested. If any part of those samples fails pesticide testing, every 10-pound lot is required to be tested. If the samples that are tested all passed, […]

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31
Aug

Cannabis Certification Program Restricts Pesticides and Residues

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2016) Last week, a Denver marijuana company went through its first inspection for the Colorado-based Organic Cannabis Association’s (OCA) new “pesticide-free” certification. This voluntary certification program was developed by OCA following an indefinite postponement of the Pesticide-Free Marijuana Bill, HB 16-1079 by the Colorado Senate and the failure of  the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) to implement meaningful regulations to protect  users within the state from pesticides that are not regulated  for use in cannabis production by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states. While the certification program is characterized as “pesticide-free,” it is focused on residues on the finished product, allowing the use of pesticides that do not appear on the narrow list of those restricted by the state of Colorado. The certification is a a step in the right direction for consumers who wish to protect themselves from unwanted pesticides in their cannabis products, however it is important to note that it  does not equate to a USDA organic inspection, as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and is unable to qualify for certification under the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). While discussing his inspiration for developing such a program, OCA […]

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25
Jul

Oregon Prohibits 14 Horticultural Products Used in Marijuana Production, Not Labeled as Containing Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides July 25, 2016) The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) last week issued 12 notices of statewide detainment and stop sale and removal orders for horticultural pesticide products that contain active ingredients not listed on the label. The orders call for the product manufacturers to immediately cease all sales, offers of sale, or other distribution in Oregon. This is the latest effort by a state with a legalized marijuana market to try to  curb the use of illegal pesticides in cannabis production, a practice that poses potential health threats to consumers, creating a regulatory challenge for state officials in states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal and or recreational purposes. Because the U.S. government classifies cannabis as a narcotic, the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) does not register pesticide products for use in its production, leaving consumers exposed to hazardous pesticides through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption without any evaluation of potential health effects. The products in question are commonly used in horticulture and hydroponics, including cannabis production. The 12 notices cover 14 products sold in Oregon that were also identified by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in late June as containing undeclared pesticide active ingredients. In an […]

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24
May

Washington State Institutes Recall Procedures for Pesticide Tainted Pot

(Beyond Pesticides May 24, 2016) Nearly two years after the first legal retail sales of marijuana in Washington State, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) finally took action to protect the rights of consumers by strengthening its ability to issue product recalls when there is a risk to health and safety. Under the new rules, businesses will be required to isolate and prevent the distribution of products that violate state pesticide regulations, and, in certain cases, may mandate that some products be destroyed under the LCB’s supervision. This action is the final codification of emergency rules that were passed by the state earlier this year to combat contaminated cannabis products. The move by Washington follows  widespread cannabis recalls  in the City of Denver,  and actions from Colorado’s Governor  to declare pesticide-tainted cannabis “a threat to public safety.” However, it is not all good news as the state also set allowable levels for unapproved pesticides on pot. Washington State currently lists  over 200  pesticide products as permitted in cannabis production, despite their lack of compliance with federal and state testing requirements for the range of consumer, worker, and environmental exposures. Outside of that list, the state previously employed a “zero […]

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29
Mar

Washington State’s Emergency Rule Allows Recall of Contaminated Cannabis Products

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2016) Last week, Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) adopted emergency rules allowing the state to recall cannabis products that have been tainted with illegal pesticide residues. The move follows widespread cannabis recalls in the City of Denver, and actions from Colorado’s Governor to declare pesticide-tainted cannabis “a threat to public safety.” Earlier in the month, Beyond Pesticides sent letters to Washington State Department of Agriculture  (WSDA) and Governor Jay Inslee imploring the state to take a proactive approach in restricting the use of hazardous pesticides in cannabis production. Until now, Washington State had no process in place to remove illegally contaminated cannabis products from the market. WSLCB will now issue recalls or allow producers to initiate product removal if there is evidence that pesticides not approved by the state were used or are present on salable marijuana plants or products. However, because the state does not mandate batch testing of cannabis plants or products, it is unclear how or whether the new rule will be enforced. In an interview with the Seattle Times, WSLCB spokesman Brian Smith indicated that the state will not be taking a zero-tolerance approach.  “If a product tests very high […]

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24
Feb

Colorado Legislature Considers Pesticide-Free Marijuana Bill

(Beyond Pesticides February 24, 2016) Last Friday, Colorado’s House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee heard a proposal to create a contaminant-free certification system for marijuana sold within the state. This program, intended to resemble the federal National Organic Program, was offered as a legislative response to protect consumers after the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) failed to implement meaningful regulations to keep marijuana users within the state safe from the harms associated with unregulated pesticides use on cannabis crops. If the proposal moves forward, Colorado will becomes the first state to establish and regulate an organic label in its marijuana  industry, paving the way for other states with legalized marijuana industries to follow suit. Massachusetts and New Hampshire require that cultivation practices are consistent with USDA national organic standards. “Consumers have a right to know what they’re putting in their body,” said Colorado Rep. Jonathan Singer, co-sponsor of HB16-1079, which requires that CDA set up an independent program to certify that cannabis sold in the state is pesticide-free. Companies that  meet the standard would then be able to use special labeling to alert consumers that their products are entirely pesticide-free. The program will  also attempt to address concerns […]

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22
Jan

Oregon, Colorado Move Forward in Regulating Pesticides on Marijuana

(Beyond Pesticides January 22, 2016) Last week, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) released a list of pesticide products available for use on marijuana cultivated within the state. The list, which contains 257 pesticide products, aligns with similar product lists published by Washington State and Colorado, and raises the same concerns over the allowance of products that violate the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and have not been subject to health evaluations of public exposure to the pesticides used. Those concerns were on full display last week in Colorado, when the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) held a public meeting to discuss amendments to its Pesticide Applicators’ Act that would allow growers to use pesticides that violate FIFRA. Additionally, in an attempt to address consumers’ concerns over the issue of unregulated pesticides in marijuana, two lawmakers in Colorado introduced a bill that would establish a program for certifying marijuana as “pesticide free” within the state. Oregon Releases List of Approved Pesticides for Cannabis Growers Like Colorado and Washington, the Oregon list construes broad label language to allow the use of pesticide products that have not been specifically tested for use on marijuana, despite the fact that the Environmental […]

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09
Dec

Oregon to Consider Stop-Gap Measure to Test for Pesticides on Marijuana

(Beyond Pesticides December 9, 2015) Last week, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) signaled its willingness to address a gap in the regulation  of pesticides in  marijuana production caused by a lag in the start date of the state’s revised testing program. After new regulations were adopted  last month to increase the amount of pesticide residue testing on cannabis required by the state, concerns were raised about the delayed  June 2016 start date. The  committee that advises OHA on medical marijuana pressured the agency to expedite the rules. While a final decision is pending, the    stop-gap testing rules would target the most commonly used pesticides in marijuana production and go into effect as early as January. Advocates are urging states to ban registered pesticides, since they are not labeled for use on marijuana and not evaluated for exposure associated with inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption, as well as potential environmental contamination. 70,000-plus medical marijuana users, as well as recreational users, within the state will be affected by the regulations. In November, the state of Oregon updated its rules governing pesticide use to require the mandatory testing of nearly  60 pesticide compounds  that are of particular concern. Under the new rules, […]

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17
Nov

Colorado Governor Calls Pesticide-Tainted Cannabis “A Threat to Public Safety,” Oregon Updates Regulations

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2015) Last Thursday, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper issued an executive order directing state agencies to address public safety concerns related to pesticide-contaminated cannabis. The next day, the state of Oregon adopted new rules strengthening its requirements for laboratory testing of cannabis for pesticides. The state-level action on  pesticide-tainted cannabis is viewed as responsive to an ongoing public health threat. However, safety advocates say steps are needed to ensure that cannabis users, particularly medical patients with cancer, seizures, or other immune compromising diseases, are safe from toxic chemicals. Governor Hickenlooper’s Executive Order As a result of a number of quarantines on pesticide-laced cannabis in Denver, a warning letter and testimony delivered by Beyond Pesticides, and a recent lawsuit against a major Colorado grower, pressure has been building on the state to address this issue. In the executive order (EO), the governor acknowledges that because of cannabis’ status as a schedule 1 narcotic under federal law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has “neither assessed the potential health hazards posed by treating marijuana with pesticides, nor has it authorized the application of any pesticide specifically for use on marijuana.” The EO notes that it is a violation of […]

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08
Oct

Colorado Consumers Sue Over Illegal Pesticides in Marijuana

(Beyond Pesticides October 8, 2015) Colorado’s largest pot grower, LivWell Inc., was sued over illegal pesticide use in a law suit filed Monday in Denver District Court. Two marijuana users, one of whom suffers from a brain tumor and holds a medical card to use the product, allege that the grower used a potentially dangerous pesticide in the production of marijuana they later purchased. The suit asks for an undisclosed amount of damages and also claims that an implied promise to consumers was breached when LivWell sold high-grade and medical-grade marijuana treated with unapproved pesticides to consumers. The main pesticide at issue in this case is myclobutanil  or Eagle 20, which is the same product that led to tens thousands of plants being  quarantined last spring after testing positive for the  fungicide during a routine inspection by the Denver Department of Environmental Health. Growers claim that without the fungicide their plants are endangered. The 40-page lawsuit claims that myclobutanil, when heated, breaks down to “poisonous hydrogen cyanide” and alleges that consumers who smoke marijuana treated with Eagle 20 ingest the gas.” While neither plaintiff alleges they were sickened from ingesting the marijuana they purchased at LivWell, both claim they would […]

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23
Sep

Colorado Attorney General Takes a Stand to Protect Organic

(Beyond Pesticides September 23, 2015) Last week in Colorado the attorney general (AG) began an investigation into the use of the word “organic” by marijuana businesses operating within the state amid complaints of misrepresentation by consumers. This decision to look into potential misuse of the term “organic” follows on the heels of a recall  for marijuana plants that was voluntarily issued by two Denver marijuana growing facilities after city health officials found unapproved pesticides on their crops during routine testing. The AG’s office decided to review this issue after complaints from consumers that merchants are misrepresenting their products when they claim they are “organic” or “organically grown.” State marijuana license records in Colorado show that 29 businesses ””growers, retailers and dispensaries”” use the word “organic” in their name. Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, and use of the term “organic” is federally regulated, a licensed cannabis business cannot be certified as organic no matter its practices. As such, city and state officials as well as industry insiders argue that no marijuana business in Colorado can technically use the word in its name or in selling its product. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Marijuana may not […]

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15
Jul

Colorado Warned of Its Illegal Allowance of Pesticides in Marijuana Production

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2015) Yesterday, Beyond Pesticides sent a letter to the Colorado Department of Agriculture  (CDA) urging officials  to reconsider their latest position on pesticide use in  cannabis cultivation  and warning them of potential violations of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) that would likely arise moving forward. This letter was written in response to recent actions by CDA that encourage stakeholders to pursue exemptions for highly toxic pesticides and other indications that the state intends to allow the use of other pesticides under general label language that does not specifically address use on marijuana. Both of these approaches violate federal law and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. Given the potential legal challenges associated with approving toxic pesticides for use on cannabis, Beyond Pesticides encourages CDA to allow within the state only the use of pesticides of a character unnecessary for regulation, which fall under section 25(b) of FIFRA. For several months, government entities in the state have been at odds with marijuana growers over whether or not pesticides can be used to cultivate their crops. In early June, CDA published a list of pesticides it  believed, through general labeling language, may be used on cannabis, […]

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19
May

Denver Pushes Back Against Pesticide Use in Marijuana Production

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2015) Last week in Denver, Colorado a U.S. District Court judge handed down a preliminary decision that may  dramatically alter how marijuana is grown across the state. On Friday, Judge John Madden sided with the Denver Department of Environmental Health (DDOH), refusing to lift a quarantine that has been keeping tens of thousands of marijuana plants off the market since March over suspected use of certain pesticides. In the absence of federal regulations governing pesticide use on marijuana plants, as highlighted in a report written by Beyond Pesticides this March, the state-level decisions coming out of Colorado on this issue have the potential to set important precedents for pesticide regulation and pot production in other states that have legalized marijuana. The plaintiff, marijuana producer Organic Greens, took the fight to court to ask a judge to determine 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. On March 25, DDOH found “sufficient evidence that marijuana plants or marijuana product on the [Organic Greens] premises may have been contaminated by pesticides that have been determined by the Colorado Department of Agriculture […]

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14
Apr

California Releases New Guidelines for Pesticide Use on Marijuana

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2015) Last week California released its first guidelines for the management of pests and use of pesticides on cannabis. Cannabis cultivation in California, particularly in the northern areas of the state, has been associated with rampant use of heavy construction equipment and pesticides to clear land and control pests, resulting in contamination and runoff in local streams, and widespread poisoning of non-target wildlife. Although growing cannabis on public lands in California  has always been illegal, private production of the plant in environmentally sensitive sites has gone largely unregulated due the plant’s illegal status under federal law, but legally allowed  in the state under California’s Compassionate Use Act. According to Beyond Pesticides’ recent report on state pesticide use on cannabis, California was one of six states silent on pesticide use on marijuana. Until now, the only discussion of the issue came from a 2012 report from the California Research Bureau, commissioned by CA Assembly member Linda Halderman, M.D. The report indicated that because no pesticide products were registered for use on cannabis by EPA, and given that applying a pesticide for an unregistered use is illegal under federal pesticide law, the state could confiscate any medical marijuana […]

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12
Mar

As States Legalize Marijuana, Study Finds Uneven Pesticide Use Restrictions on Growing Practices

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2015) Marijuana may be legal in your state for medicinal and recreational use, but are toxic pesticides used in its production? A study released today of the 23 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana finds a patchwork of state laws and evolving policy that define allowed pesticide use and management practices in cannabis production. This variety of state law is occurring in the absence of federal registration of pesticide use for cannabis production because of its classification as a narcotic under federal law. The investigation, Pesticide Use in Marijuana Production: Safety Issues and Sustainable Options, evaluates the state laws governing pesticide use in cannabis production where it is legalized. “The use of pesticides in the cultivation of cannabis has health implications for those growing the crop, and for users who are exposed to toxic residues through inhalation, ingestion, and absorption through the skin,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “The good news is that five states and DC have adopted rules that require marijuana to be grown with practices that prevent the use of pesticides. State officials have an opportunity to restrict all pesticide use at the front end of […]

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