Oregon state authorities warn cannabis growers about using banned pesticides. They also warned, products testing below “action levels” for permitted pesticides might still be in conflict with state regulations.
Public health alerts prompted state regulators to warn cannabis producers about the use of pesticides
A letter was sent to cannabis growers, according to The Bulletin, warning against the use of banned pesticides and the level of permitted pesticides.
Two public health alerts were received according to Jonathan Modie, spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority. The first was received in October, and affected about 130 consumers. Samples tested higher than the action level, 0.2 parts per million (ppm), of the pesticide spinosad.
The second alert was received in November, advising 370 consumers might be affected by marijuana with high levels of spinosad, and levels of piperonyl butoxide higher than the action level of 2.0ppm.
The Department of Agriculture oversees the use of pesticides. There is some ambiguity; it listed piperonyl butoxide as low risk for use on cannabis, and spinosad is not listed at all, while health authorities test for spinosad as illegal to use on cannabis. The action level is not an indication of what is allowed, but rather an indication of the presence or absence of pesticides.
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“No lab can certify zero,” said David Farrer, Oregon Health Authority toxicologist. “What we’re testing for is presence or absence, it’s there or not there, but there has to be some number associated to it.”
He stressed that “action level” does not imply safety at all, the more sophisticated the equipment used, the lower the level that can be detected.
Farrer and Modie said very little is known about the health effects of pesticides on cannabis, let alone if they are burned or smoked. Carcinogenic compounds could be consumed when marijuana products are smoked. Modie said. “We’re the Health Authority, we don’t want anyone to be breathing in any kind of smoke.”
The Health Authority and Oregon Liquor Control Commission agreed early in October to temporarily relax testing standards to catch up on the backlog created at the few certified testing laboratories. Modie said the state system is now working on identifying suspicious batches, but that consumers must check product information on pesticides.
Authorities are investigating how the tainted marijuana reached the dispensaries from the growers, while the Agriculture Department is investigating the use of pesticides, according to the health alerts.
No pesticides should be considered safe for a plant with medicinal use. The only medical marijuana that can be considered safe is organic cannabis. Please be aware that products not stating they are organic could contain harmful compounds. The risk of using medicines which are not organic, is just too great, so don’t even consider anything less than organic for medicinal use.
Regulation on the use of pesticides on cannabis is of utmost importance, and it is actually good that these issues are raised so that regulatory measures can be clarified.