I was asked by the Organic Cannabis Association (OCA) to present at their Kaleidoscope Event, which took place last Sunday in Denver at Culture Garden Market. The topic of the presentation – titled “Process Before Products” – was Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies able to employed by anyone safely, effectively, and at little to no cost, as they rely on conscientiousness and effort, rather than specific pesticide products or materials. You can view the slides from the presentation below. I’ll update this post with photos or videos if good ones arise.
Last month, the Cannabis Safety Institute published an important paper, “Pesticide Use on Cannabis.” I encourage everyone interested in the issue to read the full text, which includes sensible recommendations for regulating pesticide use in cannabis cultivation and processing, as well as for lab testing and effectively enforcing said regulations.
The paper was authored by Dr. Rodger Voelker and Dr. Mowgli Holmes and provides one of the first truly scientific approaches to analyzing the cannabis industry’s pesticide problem using actual data gathered within Oregon’s legal cannabis system. Dr. Voelker is the Lab Director at OG Analytical, an independent testing lab serving the cannabis industry in Oregon, and has been refreshingly outspoken regarding the need for proper standards in cannabis cultivation, processing, and testing, the entirety of which is performed by for-profit laboratories that are not subject to any universal standards.
The final takeaway from this paper: “It is the opinion of the Cannabis Safety Institute that for the time being states should adopt policies restricting pesticide use on Cannabis to those products that are listed as minimal risk under FIFRA Section 25(b); have broad and non-exclusive language on their labels; and, in addition, are considered acceptable for use in organic practice.”
Visit the Cannabis Safety Institute’s site, linked above, to read additional White Papers and links to other studies regarding cannabis and consumer safety.
Those of you who read my previous essay, “Pesticide Use in Colorado’s Cannabis Industry: Assessment and Ramifications,” should be familiar with the dispensary Natural Remedies, located in downtown Denver. The grow operation associated with Natural Remedies, ironically named Organic Greens, was one of eleven cited this past spring for illegal pesticide use. The owner of the company, Andrew Boyens, even went so far as to challenge in a court of law the city’s right to enforce long-established pesticide regulations. Even though chemical pesticides were admittedly used, Boyens and his attorney asserted that the cannabis produced in the Organic Greens facility was safe, according to reports from 9NEWS of Denver. While certain pesticides may in fact be safe to use on cannabis, no research on the subject has been performed; thus it simply cannot be stated with certainty what is safe and what is not. You can read more about the details of the case here and here.
Yesterday, a friend patronized Natural Remedies; against my advice, I should add. However, this gave me the opportunity to peruse the label attached to the 1.75 grams of cannabis flower that was purchased.
In my initial essay on this site, I raised the issue of pesticide use in cannabis cultivation. This post explains more fully the conundrum created by the lack of research on cannabis and hemp as legal, commercial crops, which puts these plants in a somewhat unique situation relative to federal pesticide regulation protocols overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency. I summarize the current regulations governing pesticide use in Colorado’s cannabis industry, as well as the short history of pesticide enforcement in the state. Finally, I consider the multifaceted ramifications of the approach to pesticide use by cannabis growing operations in Colorado, which threaten public health, while also providing biotech and chemical-producing giants such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, and others an easy avenue into this young field when they so choose.