Article by Ricardo Oliveira, Lift News
In the United States, pesticides are regulated by both the federal and state agencies, but because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, states are left to manage how to regulate pesticide use on cannabis.
With a federal framework that criminalizes cannabis and an informal policy that de-prioritizes enforcement against those following state law, the U.S. finds itself in a difficult position. This means that states are implicitly allowed to legalize cannabis production, while at the same time remaining blocked from the assistance of federal agencies such as the EPA and FDA.
This concern is addressed by a new report published in the International Journal of Drug Policy by Dr. Todd Subritzky, Simone Pettigrew and Simon Lenton.
The authors analyzed the situation in Colorado, which in 2014 was the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize the production and commercialization of recreational cannabis. A task force report that predated the legislation raised concerns about pesticide contamination, pointing to the problems plaguing the existing black market.
The incentive for using pesticides is understandable, as cannabis is vulnerable to parasites (see a lift report were we analyzed the recent case of roundworm infestations in China). In addition, even under legal circumstances, insurance companies usually refuse to cover damages incurred by pests.
But pesticides can pose a significant threat to public health. A 2013 study showed that smoking through a water pipe can filter pesticide residues from smoke, whereas unfiltered glass pipes allow the transfer of 60 to 70% of these to smoke. More concerning is the case of concentrated extracts used for oils, waxes, and edibles. A 2015 report from the Cannabis Safety Institute showed that cannabinoid extraction processes intensify the levels of pesticides in the final product, up to 10 times the original concentration.