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Daily News Blog

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.

foliage-1157792_960_720OAR 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, the entire harvest lot is considered “passed,” and may be transferred or sold.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a news release on September 30, “Based on what we have learned from the nationwide legalization effort, it is more important than ever to ensure certain products that make it to shelves are free from pesticides and contaminants.”

In July, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), in an effort to curb the use of illegal pesticides in cannabis production, 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. This raised serious public health, statutory, and regulatory compliance concerns, pushing ODA to make pesticide testing more of a priority. Oregon’s guide list for pesticide products allowed for use in the production of cannabis contains 313 pesticide products, and aligns with similar product lists published by Washington State and Colorado. This list raises concerns over the lack of health evaluations of public exposure to the pesticides used. The 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 EPA has not registered or reviewed any pesticide product for use on cannabis. For example, one ingredient approved through these standards that raises a red flag when it comes to human health and safety is the synergist piperonyl butoxide (PBO), which is often mixed with pesticides to increase their potency.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and OLCC decided not to change the packaging and labeling standards for new products, yet instead allow licensees who do not have pre-approved packaging and labels to use generic packaging and labeling until their packaging is approved by the OLCC. The OLCC did, however, pass a temporary rule that prohibits wording that is deemed “attractive to minors,” as defined in OAR 845-025-7000(1).

In early September, King County in Washington State, proposed creating their own program that would test marijuana for prohibited pesticides. In the absence of state and federal testing programs to keep consumers safe, King County stands to be the first local jurisdiction to take protecting marijuana consumers from the potential harms of toxic chemicals into their own hands.

In Washington State, it took nearly two years after the first legal retail sales of marijuana before 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. The move by Washington followed widespread cannabis recalls in the City of Denver, and actions from Colorado’s Governor to declare pesticide-tainted cannabis “a threat to public safety,” highlighting the ongoing struggle of states to regulate marijuana despite its federal status as a Schedule I drug.

Beyond Pesticides is urging states to prohibit registered pesticides in cannabis production, given the lack of testing for increased exposure through inhalation, ingestion, and skin absorption. Beyond Pesticides supports criteria that limits allowed pesticides to those that are exempt from registration under federal pesticide law and also permitted for use in organic production, as long as they do not have a tolerance established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As outlined in a letter sent from Beyond Pesticides to Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) officials, adhering exclusively to pesticides allowed under 25(b) [Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)] is the best way to avoid any legal ramifications for unregistered pesticide use, as well as protect workers, consumers and the environment safe from the unstudied side effects that may result from the use of toxic pesticides on marijuana crops. With this approach, Beyond Pesticides urges growers to develop an organic system plan that encourages pest prevention, and eliminating pest-conducive conditions. Implementing this approach, advocates say, will ensure the sustained growth of cannabis production that protects public health and the environment.

For more information and background on this important issue, see Beyond Pesticides’ report: Pesticide Use in Marijuana Production: Safety Issues and Sustainable Options.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Cannabis Business Times, Oregon Live

 

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  • Archives

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