Without Federal Input, Colorado Pot Is On Its Own With Pesticides

The marijuana industry has a pesticide problem.

Many commercial cannabis growers use chemicals to control bugs and mold. But because of the plant’s unresolved legal status, Colorado regulators are having a tough time making sure pot buyers don’t ingest those pesticides. The parts of the federal government that regulate agricultural pesticide use want nothing to do with legalized marijuana.

“In the absence of any direction, the subject of pesticide use on the crop has just devolved to just whatever people think is working or whatever they think is appropriate,” says Colorado State University entomologist Whitney Cranshaw.

Tobacco farmers, for example, have a stable of pesticides the federal government says is safe to use. But no pesticide in the U.S. has been approved for use on cannabis.

“Sometimes [marijuana growers] have used some things that are inappropriate, sometimes unsafe,” Cranshaw says.

Educating farmers who grow different types of crops about safe...

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