A bill introduced to the state legislature in January would create a certification program for commercial marijuana growers to label their products “pesticide-free.”
As the legal marijuana industry and the authorities that regulate it try to figure out the snowballing pesticide issue in Colorado’s cannabis products, state representatives Jonathan Singer of Longmont and KC Becker of Boulder have proposed House Bill 16-1079 to create a certification process for medical and recreational marijuana products and industrial hemp that would tell consumers if the products potentially contained pesticide residue. The bill will be presented to the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee on Tuesday, February 9.
“The Department of Agriculture will certify third parties who can certify whether the marijuana or hemp cultivated or processed at a particular cannabis facility is free of pesticides,” the bill reads. Currently, the Colorado Department of Agriculture has a list of approved pesticides for commercial marijuana grows that was last updated in January.
Since March 2015, over 1 million retail marijuana plants or products have been quarantined or recalled by the Denver Department of Environmental Health for using banned or potentially harmful pesticides to treat pests and fungi. In November 2015, Governor John Hickenlooper declared marijuana treated with unapproved pesticides a threat to public safety.
“It doesn’t require that all marijuana be pesticide-free, but for those who want to meet that market demand, they need a state certification program to do so,” Becker said in a statement on Facebook.
Because of marijuana’s federally illegal status, Colorado marijuana growers are barred from applying for organic certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but that doesn’t stop many marijuana companies from using the term loosely: Some dispensaries and their products have the words “organic” and “all-natural” on them, whether they truly are or not. In September, the Denver Post reported Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s office was looking into pot businesses using the word “organic” in advertising.