Impact of Pesticides on Cannabis
Cannabis has a pesticide problem.
As states legalize cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, the regulations governing the application of pesticides has become untested, raising safety issues for consumers. The push for growing at home has never been higher. Cannabis has a pesticide problem. Fortunately, the federal government takes pesticides that are used to grow our food pretty seriously.
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There is constant testing, law reformation, and active lobbying to get proper labeling of those pesticides out to the public. This is a good thing, the public has a right to be informed about what they are consuming. Yet, in the world of cannabis cultivation, the use of pesticides is largely unregulated. It is often confusing for growers to know what they can and cannot use. States have tried to implement pesticide regulations, but without federal testing, these lines continue to be blurry.
“In the world of cannabis cultivation, the use of pesticides is largely unregulated.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the use of pesticides throughout the country. The federal government continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule 1 Narcotic.
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Because cannabis is still federally illegal, the EPA cannot register any pesticides for use for cannabis commercial cultivation.
The use of pesticides that are not registered by the EPA is illegal. Some states interpreted this rule by adopting policies that prohibit all federally unregistered pesticides. However, other states are looking the other way, because the EPA has not registered any pesticides as illegal for cannabis production directly. The EPA also does not currently have a list of pesticides that are illegal for the cultivation of cannabis. Confusing right?
“Because cannabis is still federally illegal, the EPA cannot register any pesticides for use for cannabis commercial cultivation.”
Is the public adequately protected from pesticide use in cannabis production and residues on the crop that could be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed? Are states doing an adequate job to enforce the law? These questions loom in the air as states continue to legalize the consumption and cultivation of cannabis.
The states’ standards range greatly and the lack of a federal role in establishing which pesticides are allowed for use in the plant’s production is concerning. These concerns are related to:
- Exposure from inhalation, ingestion, or absorption, of pesticide residue on the crop
- Exposure to workers cultivating the plant
- Environmental contamination and wildlife effects
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Not only does the EPA have no authority to establish restrictions, but they also cannot conduct federally regulated research for pesticide use in cannabis production, worker health and environmental effects. As a result, the consumer does not have the proper information on the direct and indirect effects of the use of these pesticides.
“The states’ standards range greatly and the lack of a federal role in establishing which pesticides are allowed is concerning”
A 2013 study, published in the Journal of Toxicology, found that up to 69.5% of pesticide residues can remain in smoked cannabis, which inhaled, goes directly to your bloodstream. Pesticides can have extremely harmful effects to humans and other living things, producing dangerous side effects like cancer, liver damage, and weakened muscle function to just name a few.
Since cannabis is illegal on the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate it either. This is problematic and dangerous! It is logical to assume that the prohibition on the use of a federally registered pesticides would result in a zero tolerance policy on allowable residue on the cannabis. However, there is no such policy and no oversight.
Inhalation of Pesticide Use
The very little peer-reviewed research that has been published indicates significant consumer concerns, especially from medical patients or those with elevated risk factors. Studies on tobacco provide good examples of the threats that may arise from smoking pesticide-laced products and, thus, the importance of federal regulation. According to Jay Feldman’s 2015 study, pesticides are the primary underlying causes that have associated cannabis use with negative health outcomes.
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The concern about the lack of regulation on pesticides in the cannabis industry are to be taken seriously. They affect our health greatly, and are putting medical patients in a place of uncertainty. The lack of transparency on these issues is unsettling and seriously needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. These are legislative matters that our government needs to address as the state of legal cannabis moves forward.
“The appeal of home grown cannabis continues to increase as the transparency of the legislation behind the use of pesticides within commercial cultivation operations remains blurry and unclear.”
The appeal of home grown cannabis continues to increase as the transparency of the legislation behind the use of pesticides within commercial cultivation operations remains blurry and unclear. Growing your own cannabis indoors gives you ability to control all factors and produce clean, safe, and ultimately quality cannabis for your personal use.
Cannabis Strain: Blue Cookies
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