The last quarter of 2018 was an interesting one in the Washington Cannabis Market. Here’s everything you need to know about the current pesticide problem in WA and what this could mean for cannabis in 2019.

Updates to the ‘Ike’s OK’ Program

Much of the late 2018 pesticide awareness was started with the launching of Uncle Ike’s program ‘Ike’s OK’. When one of the biggest retail chains in the region starts testing products off their shelves, farms take notice.

Here’s a recap of the October / November testing:

October
Oil Tycoon (Concentrate) – PASSED
Tikun Olam (Flower) – PASSED
Boggy Boon (Flower) – PASSED
Artizen (Flower) – PASSED
Flower Tree Gardens (Flower) – PASSED

November
Soltice (Flower) – PASSED
House of Cultivar (Flower) – PASSED
Fire Bros (Flower) – PASSED
Freddy’s Fuego (Flower) – PASSED
Gabiel (Flower) – PASSED
Elevate (Flower) – PASSED
Phat Panda (Flower) – PASSED
Falcanna (Flower) – PASSED
Experience Organics (Flower) – PASSED
Artizen (Flower) – PASSED
Top Shelf (Cartridge) – PASSED
Exotikz (Concentrate) – FAILED, Pesticide – Piperonyl Butoxide
— Retest (Concentrate) – PASSED
— Retest (Flower) – PASSED
Sweetwater Farms (Flower) – FAILED, Pesticide – Carbaryl, & B.T. Gram Neg.
— Retest (Flower) – PASSED
Ionic (Cartridge) – FAILED, Pesticide – Myclobutanil
— Retest (Concentrate) – FAILED, Pesticide – Myclobutanil
— Retest (Concentrate) – FAILED, Pesticide – Myclobutanil, & Imidacloprid


In the first two months 24 total tests were taken, and 5 failed for pesticides. Not a good start.


December Results
1937 Farms (Cartridge) – PASSED
Avitas (Cartridge) – PASSED
Harmony Farms (Cartridge) – PASSED
Peak (Cartridge) – PASSED
LeafWerx Refined (Cartridge) – PASSED
Ayra (Flower) – PASSED
WA Grower (Flower) – PASSED
Bacon’s Buds (Flower) – PASSED
Cascade Crest (Flower) – PASSED
Skord (Flower) – PASSED
Heylo (Concentrate) – PASSED

Looking Forward: Pesticides in 2019

Expecting every farm to grow 100% pesticide free is unrealistic. Expecting every farm to pesticide test their crops is much more likely.

In an industry where it seems like everybody calls their stuff ‘100% pesticide free Organically Grown’, words aren’t enough anymore. Whether by mandatory testing passed down by the LCB, or by industry demand we do see pesticide testing as a must for all farms in 2019. In the retail market we expect to see more awareness passed down to end users, and on the wholesale market we are already seeing the effects of weary buyers. 

On the Kush Marketplace, look for our ‘Trusted’ sellers. A requirement for all our ‘Trusted’ sellers come January will be a clean pesticide test on file, updated every six months.

Common Practices

Getting every 5lb lot pesticide tested would be very costly. We don’t see buyers requiring every lot to be checked for pesticides, but we have come across buyers looking for each strain to be tested. 

The most heat is on extraction material. If a large portion of your sales are to extractors, consider getting a pesticide test per strain to maximize your products value. It also might be a good idea to move towards less strain diversity, 5-10 strains max.

If most of your sales are for retail ready flower, then you’ll need strain diversity and testing each strain might be less important. Testing each crop will still be vital. You don’t want to end up on an independent testing list for a failed lot, things happen, make sure you catch it before it’s hit the shelves or suffer a hit on your brand.

Other Pesticide News

For a very well written breakdown of the pesticide issue, especially in WA, check out Herb(n) Elements, “A Smoker’s Guide to Pesticides”. They go into the dangers of smoking pesticides, and the current issues being faced in Washington State.

Now here’s some pesticide related news around the industry..

Maryland Cannabis Grower ForwardGro is Fined for Pesticides

Starting back in July of 2018 the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has been investigating the politically connected farm, ForwardGro. Sworn statements from former employees started the investigation, and as of 12/18/18 the Commission officially handed down a six figure fine, and 2 years probation. Read a deeper analysis in this article written by Doug Donovan of the Baltimore Sun Link Here..

Conventional Farmers Worried About Pesticide Drift Claims

Read more about this fascinating issue in the article written by Mateusz Perkowski of Capital Press. Link Here

The main issue comes down to insurance companies and if they would cover drift claims by a cannabis farm. Farms that are close to each other do risk ‘drift’ of pesticides, many of which are OK in growing produce but will make cannabis illegal to sell.

“While an insurance company may not think much of paying out a claim for a few rows of organic sweet corn that’s been contaminated, an acre of contaminated cannabis would be a much bigger financial hit”

– Tim Winn, a farmer in Benton County

Right now it looks like the solution is to recommend cannabis farms locate themselves on the outskirts of farming areas instead finding space in between traditional farmers.

“Wine grapes are similarly a high value crop that’s sensitive to herbicides, which is why neighboring growers take careful measures to avoid drift” he said. “If that’s your situation as a grower, you need to be extra cautious.”

– Scott Dahlman, policy director for the Oregonians for Food & Shelter

Falsifying Results in California?

Rolling Stone released an article this week discussing testing labs in the emerging recreational state. Read the full article written by Amelia McDonell-Parry at rollingtone.com

Much of the heat comes from backlash after Sacromento based Sequoia Analytical Labs was proven to be falsifying test results since they started testing cannabis back in July. In Washington we’ve seen labs taken down for simply stating THC levels too high, but falsifying pesticide results is a much bigger issue that the State will need to address.

Of particular alarm is the fact that it took so long for regulators to catch on; testing companies act as gatekeepers, and are more likely to be targeted by those looking to bend the rules, or circumvent them entirely.


“We need more labs. We need better labs,” Swetha Kaul, chief scientific officer at Santa Ana-based testing company Cannalysis, told the AP. “We have bad actors, just like every other section of the industry.”


– Amelia McDonell-Parry at rollingtone.com

Sources:

Maryland Marijuana Grower Forwardgro Ordered To Pay Fine For Using Banned Pesticides on Cannabis Crops
Doug Donovan – https://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-md-marijuana-grower-fine-20181218-story.html

Cannabis Pesticide Contamination a Concern For Oregon Farmers
Mateusz Perkowski – http://www.union-bulletin.com/news/northwest/cannabis-pesticide-contamination-a-concern-for-oregon-farmers/article_e06a7fde-0219-11e9-8d99-ab9c65b1914e.html

Pot in California: What’s Going on With Cannabis Testing?
Amelia McDonell-Parry – https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/california-weed-testing-cannabis-lab-770320/