Safety Concerns Arise as Marijuana Growers Use Herbicides, Pesticides

As with any crop, pests such as bugs and mildew are detrimental to marijuana, but what is safe to use on this newly legal plant?

by Cari Jorgensen

Concerns for Safety Arise as Marijuana Growers Use Herbicides, Pesticides (


Marijuana can be destroyed by spider mites and mold. Given its newly legal status, these problems can potentially harm crops of substantial size (and substantial profits), leading growers to use industrial-strength pesticides and herbicides, NBC News reports. While there are have been no reports on individuals getting sick from the chemicals, some are still very worried.

Unfortunately, given the illegal status marijuana held for so long, there are no government regulations to help farmers choose the best option to deter the pests and ease worriers’ minds. NBC News reports that horticulturalists and chemists are in disagreement about the issue because of the many different ways the plant is used, from being rubbed on the skin to being eaten or juiced to being smoked, but that officials are looking into drafting rules that advise on safe chemical levels.

“We have an industry that’s been illegal for so many years that there’s no research. There’s no guidelines. There’s nothing,” Frank Conrad, lab director for Colorado Green Lab, told NBC News.

Because of the lack of guidelines, health inspectors have investigated the use of pesticides at various marijuana growing facilities. Several plants were quarantined in Denver until tests showed the pesticide levels were safe. NBC News reports that “The Oregonian newspaper found pesticides in excess of legal limits on products ranging from marijuana buds to concentrated marijuana oils.”

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While some regulations are in place in various areas, they don’t seem to be fully enforced or thorough, given the issues in Denver and Oregon. There are options for growers to apply for a special local need registration for cannabis-related chemicals, NBC News reports, but that process is likely to take years. The state of Washington is currently deciding on pesticide rules, while the state with the largest production of marijuana, California, doesn’t have any regulations in place.

“There is no federal agency that will recognize this as a legitimate crop,” Whitney Cranshaw, a Colorado State University entomologist and pesticide expert, told NBC News. “Regulators just bury their heads, and as a result, pest-management information regarding this crop devolves to Internet chats and hearsay.”

Given that hearsay and information found online can often be incorrect or misleading, do you think testing should take place across the nation to find out which pesticides and herbicides are safe for use on marijuana crops?


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