As support for both recreational and medicinal cannabis continues to expand across the country, so does the use of various pesticides and other highly toxic chemicals to help protect plants from insects and other general pests. Irrespective of how one may feel about marijuana legalization, the use of pesticides to help protect cannabis crops poses not only a potential health hazard to humans but is also highly destructive to the environment and wildlife too.
The issue is complicated and derives from two opposing realities. On the one hand, federal resistance to legalizing marijuana has limited, what, if anything, federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) can do to help regulate one of the fastest growing and most convoluted industries in the United States today. Still officially labeled as a Schedule I Drug, marijuana interstate commerce is still considered a federal offense and may incur a lengthy federal prison sentence. Until the Federal Government officially decriminalizes marijuana and subsequently changes its status as a Schedule I drug to anything but, the reality is the cannabis industry and its supporters will continue to exist in a semi-permanent state of confusion with no obvious guidance from federal regulatory agencies on how to properly grow their product under safer conditions.
On the other hand, growing acceptance of marijuana nationwide as a medical alternative has not only fueled a former underground cottage industry into one of the most profitable ones today but also has led to intense public scrutiny and debate on how best to control it by instilling a certain degree of “Best Practices and Processes” to help shield users from unnecessary contaminants. As local and state governments continue to wrangle over the issue, major product recalls as seen in Colorado in recent months have destabilized the budding industry. Unfortunately, no two states or local municipalities have identical policies on pesticide use which only complicates the situation by lending further confusion to dispensaries and cannabis growers like on which pesticides are considered safe to use and those that are not.
Today the cannabis industry lacks a general forum to help educate dispensaries and growers alike on “Best Practices and Processes” that is acceptable from region to region. With no apparent structure, process or standards in place to help protect farm workers and marijuana enthusiasts, product recalls will become the norm. The probability that people will eventually become sickened and develop life-long illnesses if not immediate death increases dramatically over time. This will lead to further destabilization of the industry as people file grievances through class action lawsuits targeting those individuals and companies that have the most to profit from its continued use.
Unregulated pesticide use also contaminates groundwater, lakes, rivers and streams as runoff seeps into the soil and pollutes areas on a vast scale. Salt-based fertilizers too pose a hazard to the environment as its residual effects leaves the soil unusable for other farming products. Together, habitat, wildlife and human lives are adversely affected.
Think WI-SH is leading the way by advocating and educating an otherwise disorganized and labyrinthine industry with the goal of preserving habitat, protecting wildlife and ultimately saving lives.
We do so by the following means:
- Encourage cannabis growers nationwide to institute “Organic Best Practices and Processes” that rely on minimal use of pesticides to ensure a cleaner product.
- Push for mandatory testing on all cannabis-related products including edibles,cannabis concentrates and extracts.
- Encourage self-policing by way of instilling OSHA-like standards outlining general practices that stipulate the importance of using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when applying and / or spraying potentially toxic substances onto virgin or mature plants (i.e. gloves, masks, protective clothing, first aid etc.) in order to protect both field workers and customers.
- Act as a conduit between dispensaries and testing facilities in accordance to Think WI-SH standards of Organic Excellence.
- Liaison between State and Local governments to encourage the wide-spread use of non-pesticide farming and alternative organic methods.
- Help educate the general public on the pros and cons of utilizing organic cannabis growing methods as well as the dangers associated with overuse of certain pesticides.
- Create a centralized educational database and industry forum that provides up-to-date information on the hazards of specific pesticides when farming cannabis.
- Provide alternative options to minimize the use of dangerous toxins on outside and inside cannabis grows.