THE BLOG

Feds Say Pot is Illegal, but Using Pesticide on it is Not?

03/13/2015 04:39 pm ET | Updated May 12, 2015

A new study raises concerns about state and federal laws regarding harmful pesticide use in the production of marijuana.

The analysis by the nonprofit group Beyond Pesticides says that six medical- or recreational-legal states, including California, are "silent on pesticide use in cannabis production."

Those states also include Montana, Michigan, Rhode Island, Alaska and Hawaii. The group says in a statement that it's an important topic as pot goes mainstream because pesticides can have "potential adverse impact on health and the environment."

What's more, the investigation revealed that federal law doesn't require states to enact pesticide policies when it comes to marijuana:

Many have incorrectly assumed that, since there are no federal pesticide registrations for marijuana production, all pesticide use is illegal, except those materials that are exempt from federal registration. States are required under federal law to only permit pesticides registered or exempt by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The study raises safety concerns due to loopholes in federal law. For example, recently EPA told the states that while marijuana does not fit into any general group, such as an herb, spice, or vegetable, "[I]t may be legally used on marijuana under certain general types of crops/sites when there is an exemption from tolerance" (allowable pesticide residues in food set by EPA).

Uh. Yeah. Marijuana is illegal on a federal level, but using pesticide on it is not.

In any case, this is important business when it comes to your health. Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, says:

The use of pesticides in the cultivation of cannabis has health implications for those growing the crop, and for users who are exposed to toxic residues through inhalation, ingestion, and absorption through the skin. The good news is that five states and DC have adopted rules that require marijuana to be grown with practices that prevent the use of pesticides. State officials have an opportunity to restrict all pesticide use at the front end of a growing market, require the adoption of an organic system plan, and set a course to protect health and the environment.

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