Pesticides: Is Self Regulation Coming

At the Kush Marketplace, we’ve been keeping a close eye on pesticides within Washington Cannabis. By now you’ve heard about the Ike’s OK program, but what’s coming next might change the industry.

LCB Considering Changes

There’s alot to talk about on the pesticide front so far this year. The good news is that the LCB is talking about changes that could help ease the pressure on farmers during the transition. Back in January LCB director Rick Garza, and board chair Jane Rushford did a quick podcast with Kip Hill and the Spokesman-Review (find the podcast audio and summary here).

“…if there was a fault in that initiative, [it] was not allowing for the vertical integration”

– Rick Garza via The Spokesman-Review Podcast

In the interview a few things came up, the most promising being the possibility of vertical integration within Washington. Farms are struggling, and the LCB might allow producer/processors to own their own retail licenses in hopes to give farms another way to survive. Not only do we have other states like Colorado to look at for examples, but Garza also makes the point to look back at wineries in Washington before they were allowed to vertically integrate. 50 years ago, the farms that grew grapes were not allowed to sell wine and they also had issues with the ‘race to the bottom’ market.

So far no big statements or changes have happened since Uncle Ike’s started its random pesticide testing program. After listening to the interview and hearing from the LCB it sounds like their vagueness and avoidance of the topic is no mistake. For them to take action they need science that will hold up in court.

When you take action against a licensee for pesticide use, remember that you’re going to have to go to court, or you’re going to have to go before a judge, and you’re going to have to prove that these action levels that you’ve placed into rule are acceptable, and how are you going to do that?

– Rick Garza via The Spokesman-Review Podcast

How This Effects You

Self regulation isn’t going anywhere. With all the attention Uncle Ike’s has received over it’s testing program we expect to see more from both retailers, groups like C.O.R.E. and programs like ‘Clean Green’.

Why do we need self regulation? Because we heard it from Rick Garza himself. Without the federal governments support and solid science, the LCB will not be able to regulate the industry alone. This does not give farms the green light to use pesticides improperly, in fact it’s now your responsibility to grow safe cannabis or risk the plants reputation.

In 2019 the wave of legalization is so close we can smell it (skunky with lemon notes). Though it may feel like a inevitability, the pesticide issue could be enough ammo to shut it down.. If we give politicians a reason to go anti-cannabis, they will. Here’s some popular scientific studies on the issue (believe me, they’re even scarier then they look):

Chemical Pesticides and Human Health: The Urgent Need for a New Concept in Agriculture

“The numerous negative health effects that have been associated with chemical pesticides include, among other effects, dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological, carcinogenic, respiratory, reproductive, and endocrine effects”

Pesticides and human health:

“Examples of acute health effects include stinging eyes, rashes, blisters, blindness, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and death. Examples of known chronic effects are cancers, birth defects, reproductive harm, neurological and developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity, and disruption of the endocrine system.”

Impacts of Rodenticide and Insecticide Toxicants from Marijuana
Cultivation Sites on Fisher Survival Rates in the Sierra National
Forest, California

“Further investigation indicated that the most likely source was the numerous illegal marijuana cultivation sites currently found on public lands throughout the western United States.”

Maternal drug use and risk of childhood nonlymphoblastic leukemia among offspring. An epidemiologic investigation implicating marijuana (a report from the childrens cancer study group)

“These results suggest that maternal drug use of marijuana may have an etiologic role”;2-W

The effects of pesticides are real. And they’re already being blamed for bird deaths in the Sierra National Forrest. What happens when cannabis gets blamed for birth defects? It might be the pesticides fault, but if growers continue to fail tests then politicians won’t be blaming pesticide companies, they’ll blame cannabis. I personally question what I smoke more than ever these days. Self regulation may be scary for some farmers, but it’s important to keep cannabis safe if we want to reach legalization.

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