Colorado: Beyond Pesticides Notifies State of Illegal Pesticide Use On Cannabis Crops


Group Proposes Alternative Approach that Complies with State and Federal Law

Beyond Pesticides on Tuesday submitted a letter to the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) highlighting violations of federal law and encouraging CDA to implement an alternative approach to allowing the use of unregistered pesticides on cannabis crops throughout the state.

This letter was written in response to recent actions by CDA allowing the use of hazardous pesticides under general label language that does not specifically address use on marijuana, and encourages stakeholders to pursue exemptions for other highly toxic pesticides.

Both approaches violate federal law and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, according to Beyond Pesticides. Given the potential legal challenges associated with approving toxic pesticides for use on cannabis, Beyond Pesticides is "encouraging" CDA to allow within the state only the use of pesticides that fall under section 25(b) of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

For months the state has been at odds with marijuana growers and municipalities, most notably the City of Denver, over whether or not pesticides can be used to cultivate marijuana crops. In June, CDA published a list of pesticides it believes are available for use on cannabis, despite the fact none have been registered by EPA, as required by FIFRA.

"That list was accompanied by a letter to stakeholders guiding them in the process of attaining a Special Local Need exemption (SLN) under FIFRA to allow use of these highly toxic chemicals in cannabis cultivation," Beyond Pesticides announced in a prepared statement.­

Because marijuana is federally classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, EPA is barred from reviewing any application, whether for a SLN exemption or to set tolerance levels for pesticides used on the plants. "Absent EPA's review and oversight of toxic pesticide use on cannabis, CDA may only allow use of those pesticides found in section 25(b) of FIFRA, found by EPA to be of minimal risk," according to Beyond Pesticides.

"As outlined in the letter sent to CDA officials, adhering exclusively to pesticides approved under 25(b) is the best way to avoid any legal ramifications for unregistered pesticide use, as well as to keep workers, consumers and the environment safe from the unstudied side effects that may result from the use of toxic pesticides on marijuana crops," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

See Beyond Pesticides' investigative report:

Read the letter here: