As marijuana crops move out of the shadows and into large growing warehouses in Colorado, Washington, and elsewhere, growers are running into a problem faced by all farmers of large, single crops: pests and disease. And many growers are turning to a popular agricultural solution, The Associated Press reports: pesticides and fungicides. The problem is that since pot has long been illegal, and is still illegal under federal law, nobody knows which pesticides are safe for a plant you smoke, eat, or rub on your skin.
Recent investigations in Oregon and Colorado found unapproved pesticides on commercial marijuana buds and in other byproducts, or pesticide residue above legal limits. One fungicide commonly used on cannabis plants, Eagle 20 EW, is regularly used on crops like grapes and hops, but it is considered toxic when burned and is banned in tobacco, for example.
You can watch more about the mites and blight that can wipe out entire marijuana crops, and what Colorado and other states plan to do about it, in the video below. But the obvious solution is organic, pesticide-free, possibly artisanal weed. You can already buy purportedly organic marijuana buds and byproducts, but as Boulder Weekly points out, many of the growers busted for alleged pesticide abuse last month claim to be organic. So far, there is no organization that certifies organic pot, and few people test weed for pesticides. Yet.
"The misuse of that word [organic] in this industry is pretty astounding," John Chandler, an organic horticulturalist, tells Boulder Weekly. "Consumers just don't realize how much pesticide use there really is." When they do, expect demand to rise for certified organic marijuana. Peter Weber