The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board recently stated that it is slated to begin robustly testing and verifying cannabis products for illegal pesticide use. The Board asked the state Department of Agriculture for $1 million in new equipment and two full-time workers to conduct the tests, which are slated to begin in 2017.
About Cannabis Pesticides and Why We Test For Them
Cannabis, being a plant grown for human consumption, is tied to many of the same statewide regulations that apply to fruits and vegetables. While there is little to no indication that people become ill as a result of pesticide use in marijuana products, the state of Washington has a list of pesticides that are approved for use and a list of banned pesticides. Colorado and Oregon have similar lists, as well—but Washington has required testing for mold and other impurities since 2014, meaning that many parts of the mechanism needed to test for pesticides are already in place.
In Washington, Colorado and Oregon, officials are compelled to test growers and dispensaries when they receive complaints from customers, but do not issue their own random sample tests yet. Colorado has already opened more than 100 investigations and found that between 40 and 45 percent of them resulted in the discovery of unapproved pesticide use.
How to Test for Pesticides
Testing for specific traces of pesticides is a difficult and time-consuming process. It’s a costly and complex procedure that requires specialized laboratory equipment and highly trained staff. This is because rather than testing for pesticides in general, the state of Washington wants to test for specific pesticides that may represents hazards to human health or to the environment. Having a functional testing apparatus that can determine this and issuing random sample tests of locally grown and distributed marijuana products sends a strong message to suppliers of illegal pesticides.
While the state has performed tests before, it has done so on a case-by-case basis that required outsourcing the project to testing facilities at great expense. This new equipment will enable the state to test 75 samples per month, covering over 100 different unapproved pesticides. The results from these tests will also arrive faster than previously—between 15 and 30 days.
Which Products are Banned
Examples of some of the pesticides on the Washington Department of Agriculture’s list include SNS 217C All Nuatral Spider Mite Control Concentrate and Safergro Mildew Cure for Powdery Mildew Control. Furthermore, plant cleaners Mega Wash and Mighty Wash have been found to contain illegal pesticides as well. The state has also issued bans on specific types of fertilizers and other plant products.
While the list of banned pesticides has about 100 entries, the list of approved pesticides stands at about 320. With further regulation and testing, the commercial market for cannabis products will get increasingly better access to safe products across the board.